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Kenny and Nancy call Oconto, Wisconsin home during the summer boating season where together they enjoy recreational boating on the Oconto River and the Bay of Green Bay. When boating season is over they become snowbirds and head south for the winter in their Monaco Windsor luxury motor coach named OWFISH.

Kenny lived and traveled in OWFISH with his late wife Barbara from 2002 until she had a disabling stroke in 2011 and passed away the following year. From then the OWFISH set, except for a short trip in 2013, until Kenny started traveling again with his new wife Nancy in 2014.

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Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas, Marina Merle

The old man sat at the fuel dock on a cold Christmas Eve. He hadn't been anywhere in years since his wife had passed away. He had no decorations, no tree, no lights. It was just another day to him. He didn't hate Christmas; just couldn't find a reason to celebrate. He and his wife bought the marina years ago ... and it was their life. They had no children. His wife had been gone now for a few years. Working on Christmas Eve just seemed to be the right thing to do.

He was sitting there looking at the snow that had been falling for the last hour and wondering what it was all about when the door opened and a scraggly looking sailor stepped through. He smelled of fish and cigars ... like he had been on the river for awhile.

Instead of throwing the man out, Merle ... Marina Merle as he was known by his customers ... told the man to come and sit by the space heater and warm-up.

"Thank you, but I don't mean to intrude," said the stranger. "I see you're busy. I'll just go"...

"Not without something hot in your belly." Merle turned and opened a wide mouth Thermos and handed it to the stranger. "It ain't much, but it's hot and tasty. Stew. Made it myself. When you're done there's coffee and it's fresh."

Just at that moment he heard the squelch on the VHF radio. "Excuse me, be right back," Merle said.

Coming into the harbor was an old green Chris-Craft Roamer. Black smoke was rolling from the exhaust. The boater was panicked. "Mister can you help me!" said the boater with a deep Southern accent. "My wife is sick and the starboard engine has just quit."

Merle opened the hatch. It was bad. The block looked cracked from the cold; the engine was dead. "Looks like it's gone," Merle said as he turned away. "But mister. Please help...." The door of the fuel dock closed behind Merle as he went in.

Merle went to the office wall and got the keys to his old truck, and went back outside. He walked around the building, started the truck to warm it up. He went back around the fuel dock to where the couple was waiting.

"Here, you can borrow my truck," he said. "She ain't the best thing you ever looked at, but she runs real good." Merle helped put the woman in the truck and watched as it sped off into the night.

Merle turned and walked back inside the fuel dock.

"Glad I loaned 'em the truck. That boat's not going anywhere for awhile. But that 'ol truck will get 'em where they need to go..." Merle thought he was talking to the stranger, but the man had gone. The thermos was on the desk, empty with a used coffee cup beside it. "Well, at least he got something in his belly," Merle thought.

Merle went back outside to see if the old Chris Craft would start. It cranked slowly, but it started. He pulled it around to the side of the fuel dock. He thought he would tinker with it for something to do. Christmas Eve meant no customers. He discovered the block hadn't cracked, it was just some trash in the strainer. "Well, I can fix this," he said to himself. So he cleaned it out. "That anchor's not gonna hold that boat in these waters..." So he took the anchor off of he and his wife's old Sea Ray. It was like new and he wasn't using the boat anymore. His wife sure loved that boat.

As he was working he heard a shot fired. He ran outside and beside a police car an officer lay on the cold ground. Bleeding from the left shoulder, the officer moaned, " Help me..."

Merle helped the officer inside as he remembered the training he had received in the Army as a medic. He knew the wound needed attention.

"Pressure to stop the bleeding," he thought. The laundry company had been there that morning and had left clean shop towels. He used those and duct tape to bind the wound.

"Hey, they say duct tape can fix anythin'," he said, trying to make the policeman feel at ease.

"Something for pain," Merle thought. All he had was the pills he used for his back.

"These ought to work." He put some water in a cup and gave the policeman the pills. "You hang in there. I'm going to get you an ambulance." Merle said, but the phone was dead.

"Maybe I can get one of your buddies on that radio out in your police car." He went out only to find that a bullet had gone into the dashboard destroying the two way radio.

He went back in to find the policeman sitting up. "Thanks," said the officer. "You could have left me there. The guy that shot me is still in the area." Merle sat down beside him. "I would never leave an injured man in the Army and I ain't gonna leave you."

Merle pulled back the bandage to check for bleeding. Looks worse than what it is. "Bullet passed right through 'ya. Good thing it missed the important stuff though. I think with time your gonna be right as rain."

Merle got up and poured a cup of coffee. "How do you take it?" he asked.

"None for me," said the officer.

"Oh, yer gonna drink this. Best coffee on the river."

Then Merle added: "Too bad I ain't got no donuts."

The officer laughed and winced at the same time. The front door of the fuel dock flew open.

In burst a young man with a gun.

"Give me all your cash! Do it now!" the young man yelled. His hand was shaking and Merle could tell that he had never done anything like this before.

"That's the guy that shot me!" exclaimed the officer.

"Son, why are you doing this?" asked Merle. "You need to put the cannon away. Somebody else might get hurt."

The young man was confused.

"Shut up old man, or I'll shoot you, too. Now give me the cash!"

The cop was reaching for his gun.

"Put that thing away,"! Merle said to the cop. "We got one too many in here now." He turned his attention to the young man.

"Son, it's Christmas Eve. If you need the money, well then, here. It ain't much but it's all I got. Now put that pee shooter away."

Merle pulled $150 out of his pocket and handed it to the young man, reaching for the barrel of the gun at the same time.

The young man released his grip on the gun, fell to his knees and began to cry.

"I'm not very good at this am I? All I wanted was to buy something for my wife and son," he went on. "I've lost my job. My rent is due. My car got repossessed last week..."

Merle handed the gun to the cop.

"Son, we all get in a bit of squeeze now and then. The road gets hard sometimes ...but we make it through the best we can."

He got the young man to his feet, and sat him down on a chair across from the cop. "Sometimes we do stupid things."

Merle handed the young man a cup of coffee. "Being stupid is one of the things that makes us human. Comin' in here with a gun ain't the answer. Now sit there and get warm and we'll sort this thing out."

The young man had stopped crying. He looked over to the cop. "Sorry I shot you. It just went off. I'm sorry officer."

"Shut up and drink your coffee." the cop said.

Merle could hear the sounds of sirens outside. A police car and an ambulance skidded to a halt. Two cops came through the door ... guns drawn.

"Chuck! You ok?" one of the cops asked the wounded officer.

"Not bad for a guy who took a bullet. How did you find me?"

"GPS locator in the car. Best thing since sliced bread."

Who did this?" the other cop asked as he approached the young man. Chuck answered him, "I don't know. The guy ran off into the dark. Just dropped his gun and ran!"

Merle and the young man both looked puzzled at each other.

"That guy work here?" the wounded cop continued.

"Yep," Merle said. "Just hired him this morning. Boy lost his job."

The paramedics came in and loaded Chuck onto the stretcher. The young man leaned over the wounded cop and whispered, "Why?"

Chuck just said, "Merry Christmas, boy. And you too, Merle, and thanks for everything."

"Well, looks like you got one doozy of a break there. That ought to solve some of your problems."

Merle went into the back room and came out with a box. He pulled out a ring box.

"Here you go. Something for the little woman. I don't think Martha would mind. She said it would come in handy some day."

The young man looked inside to see the biggest diamond ring he ever saw.

"I can't take this," said the young man. "It means something to you."

"And now it means something to you," replied Merle. "I got my memories. That's all I need."

Merle reached into the box again. A toy airplane, a racing car and a wooden boat appeared next. They were toys that the oil company had left for him to sell.

"Here's something for that little man of yours."

The young man began to cry again as he handed back the $150 that the old man had handed him earlier.

"And what are you supposed to buy Christmas dinner with? You keep that, too. Count it as part of your first week's pay." Merle said. "Now git home to your family."

The young man turned with tears streaming down his face. "I'll be here in the morning for work, if that job offer is still good."

"Nope. We close the marina on Christmas day," Merle said. "See ya the day after." With a hand on his shoulder for comfort, he walked the boy outside and watched as he disappeared on the road for home.

Merle turned around to find that the stranger had returned.

"Where'd you come from? I thought you left?"

"I have been here. I have always been here," said the stranger. "You say you don't celebrate Christmas. Why?"

"Well, after my wife passed away I just couldn't see what all the bother was. Puttin' up a tree and all seemed a waste of a good pine tree. Bakin' cookies like I used to with Martha just wasn't the same by myself and besides ... I was getting a little chubby."

The stranger put his hand on Merle's shoulder. "But you do celebrate the holiday, Merle. You gave me food and drink and warmed me when I was cold and hungry. The woman who was sick is going to bear a son and he will become a great doctor. The policeman you helped will go on to save 19 people from being killed by terrorists. The young man who tried to rob you will become a rich man and share his wealth with many people. That is the spirit of the season and you keep it as good as any man."

Merle was taken aback by all this stranger had said.

"And how do you know all this?" asked the old man.

"Trust me, Merle. I have the inside track on this sort of thing. And when your days are done you will be with Martha again."

The stranger moved toward the door. "If you will excuse me, Merle, I have to go now. I have to go home where there is a big celebration planned."

Merle watched as the man's old yellow slicker, his ragged fisherman's sweater and his torn denim pants turned into a white robe. A golden light began to fill the room and lit up the river behind his shoulder.

"You see, Merle, it's My birthday. Merry Christmas."

~Author Unknown~

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving

In homes across America, friends and family will soon gather around beautifully decorated tables filled with warm, scrumptious food to give thanks. It’s Thanksgiving Day. However, this day will be nothing like holidays of the past for many people.

Lonely but committed soldiers covered in the dust of battle will patrol foreign borders, fighting for our freedom while their families back home long for word of their safety. The homeless will make their way to the nearest soup kitchen, hoping for a warm meal and a smiling face as so many celebrate this day of abundance. An empty place at the table will be a painful reminder of the loved one lost. A worried husband and dad will sit at the head of the table, wondering how he is going to tell his family that he just lost his job. The list of wounded hearts and unmet needs is brutal.

We convince ourselves that life will be better when we have more money, when we find the right mate, when we get the kids raised or build the right house. We tell ourselves that our life will be complete when our spouse gets his or her act together, when we buy a nicer car, when we get that promotion, when we are able to go on our dream vacation or when we retire.

We keep trying to find joy, contentment and peace in lifeless places and useless things. Jesus Christ is life. He is Joy and He is Love.

We can give thanks when it seems like there is nothing for which to be thankful because Jesus Christ took our place on the cross. It always comes back to the cross.

One day, a man went to visit a church. He arrived early, parked his car, and got out. Another car pulled up near him. The driver rolled down his window and shouted, "I always park here. You took my place!" The visitor went inside for Sunday school, found an empty seat, and sat down. A young lady from the church approached him and stated, "That's my seat. You took my place." The visitor was somewhat distressed by this rude welcome, but said nothing.

After Sunday school, the visitor went into the church sanctuary and sat down. Another member walked up to him and said, "That's where I always sit. You took my place." The visitor was even more troubled by this treatment, but still said nothing.

Later, as the congregation was praying for Christ to dwell among them, the visitor stood, and his appearance began to change. Horrible scars became visible on his hands and sandaled feet. Someone from the congregation noticed him and called out, "What happened to you?" The visitor replied, "I took your place."

Yes, we live in a broken world. Life is filled with pain, challenges, dark times and trials. But today can still be a day of celebration because praise and thanksgiving have little to do with the Thanksgiving holiday and everything to do with our inner attitude toward God.

It really doesn’t matter how much we lose here, my friend. I have read the Book, and we win! We just need to take the time to remember … and give thanks.

Let’s Pray

Father, we come to You today, praising You for meeting our needs this year in ways that we may or may not have understood at the time. Looking back, we see Your hand of mercy and love. We recognize Your presence and your power, and we celebrate You. Today, we celebrate life.

In Jesus’ Name,

Dear Lord,

We come with hearts of gratitude today to bless Your name and to ask that Your hand of blessing would be upon us. THANK YOU, Father, for loving us with an eternal love that stands firm, even when we are unlovable. THANK YOU for being faithful, righteous, holy and just, yet willing to see us, Your children, through divine eyes of compassion, mercy, forgiveness and grace. THANK YOU for being a God of restoration and renewal in the midst of a broken, pain-filled world. THANK YOU for providing for our needs, directing our paths, and establishing our steps.

We acknowledge Your sovereignty, Lord, and freshly submit to Your will today. We ask Your BLESSING and GUIDANCE over our children, grandchildren, marriages, families, and loved ones. We ask Your BLESSING and GUIDANCE over our country, president, governors, senators, representatives, and local officials. We ask Your BLESSING and GUIDANCE over our communities, churches, schools, work places, decisions, and opportunities. Please FILL US with the presence of Your joy, peace, patience, goodness, gentleness, and self control today. HELP US to see as You see and to love as You love. HELP US to serve others humbly for the sake of Your name. HELP US to be light that shines in the darkness. HELP US to follow Your ways and continually seek Your leading.

You are our hope and our strength, Lord. We give you THANKS in all of this and ask for the fullness of Your BLESSING in all these things, according to the power of Jesus Christ who is at work within us through Your Holy Spirit.


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Tombstone, Arizona

2449 miles after leaving home three weeks ago we finely made it to Tombstone, Arizona where we will be for most of the winter at the Tombstone RV Park.
Tombstone RV Park

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Grand Canyon National Park

Ride the Grand Canyon Railway from Williams, AZ to the Grand Canyon.

We had a seat in a dome car on our way to the canyon.

View of the train from our seat.
Nancy's first time seeing the Grand Canyon. She said it was so surreal. She never thought she would ever see the Grand Canyon.

Got to have a selfie of us with the Grand Canyon in the background.
What's a train ride out into the Wild West without an old fashion train robbery.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Petrified Forest

We left Albuquerque around 7:30 this morning with our next stop at the Petrified Forest National Park. After our tour of the national park we headed to Williams, Arizona where we will catch the Grand Canyon Railway train on Saturday morning to visit the Grand Canyon.


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Albuquerque, NM

Today was a much better travel day. The winds weren't blowing and it was cooler.

We were on the road by 8:10 this morning with today's destination just 290 miles west to Albuquerque, New Mexico.  Here we'll be guest of the Enchanted Trails RV Park for 2 nights before moving on. I lived in Albuquerque for 2 years some 20 years ago so I know my way around.

We'll leave out of here on Thursday morning with an overnight stop in the Petrified Forest National Park. Friday morning we'll head to Williams, AZ for the weekend. While in Williams we will visit the Grand Canyon via the Grand Canyon Railway.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Amarillo, Texas

The winds blew hard all last night and all day today. Today was not a good travel day but we pushed forward another 281 miles west to the Cadillac Ranch RV Park in Amarillo, Texas. We'll be here overnight then on towards Albuquerque, New Mexico tomorrow.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Tinker Air Force Base

We were on the road again by 9:30 yesterday leaving Seminole on our way to the FamCamp at Tinker Air Force Base. I had talked to them a couple of days before and was told that they would probably have a site for me bit they could not reserve me a space though, to call and check before getting there. I kept calling but there was no answer. A few miles out I stopped for fuel and called again. They had space to come on in. We'll be here until Monday morning.

Our new refrigerator is working great.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Winter Trip 2016 - Day 4

We were at the RV service center at 7:40 for an 8:00 appointment this morning and back on the road heading toward Oklahoma City by 12:30 this afternoon. They had to remove one of the side windows to get the old refrigerator out and the new one in. Today's destination was the Catfish Round-up RV Park in Seminole, Oklahoma.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Winter Trip 2016 - Day 3

We left Independence, Missouri at 7:40 this morning. Today's destination was only 165 miles to the Beagle Bay RV Haven & Campground in Sarcoxie, Missouri, about 20 miles northeast of Joplin. Today's driving conditions was rain and thunderstorms. In route we stopped at the RV parts and salvage yard to check out the refrigerator that will be installed in the motorhome tomorrow. Tomorrow's destination will be Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City for a few days.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Winter Trip 2016 - Day 2

Today started off much better than yesterday. We were up, showered and on the road by 6:30 AM. Destination today was Campus RV Park in Independence, Missouri, home of Harry S. Truman, 33rd President of the United States (1945–53).

Today's trip was only 316 miles pulling into the RV park around 12:30. After unhooking the car and went looking for something to eat. After lunch we visited the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and then visited his home. By then it was dinner time.

Tomorrows route is only 164 miles stopping at Beagle Bay RV Park in Sarcoxie, Missouri, about 20 miles northeast of Joplin on I-44.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Winter trip 2016 - Day 1

Most of our bags were packed and we were about ready to hit the road. Destination today was just under 200 miles away, Fort McCoy, Wisconsin.  I spent 4 months there on a TDY assignment with the Army back in 1973. My first wife Chin and I were married just a couple of months prior to getting there so she went with me. We lived in a little house just out side of the base. Well that was a long time ago.

We were loading the last few things in the motorhome. Nancy was putting things in the refrigerator and I was putting some things away in the bedroom when all of a sudden the refrigerator door fell off. The bottom hinge just broke. OWFISH! It's made out of plastic and was only some 20 years old. It was bound to happen sooner or later. Stay calm I told myself. Lets see if I can find the parts to fix this thing.

While Nancy went to her nail appointment I got on the computer and started searching the internet for parts. I call the manufacturer and was told I was going to have to replace the whole door but they didn't have one, a dealer might be able to come up with one though. He gave me the name and number of a dealer in Rapid City, SD where I could have it fixed since our plans were to stop there for a few days. There was no door available. It was some 20 years old and discontinued years ago. OWFISH! My best bet was to try to find one in a RV salvage yard somewhere or replace the refrigerator with a new one. The replacement refrigerator was taller and deeper which would require some remodeling to get it in and then the retail price of it was some $4000. OWFISH! My best bet was to find a used refrigerator.

I got back on the computer searching the internet for a used refrigerator on ebay or somewhere. I found one at a RV salvage yard outside of Joplin, MO. $1500 and another $250 for truck shipping to Rapid City. But there was a RV shop right across the street from them who could install it for me. So... change of plans. We're not going to South Dakota and Montana like we had planned before heading to Tombstone. Got to be flexible while traveling in an old RV.

We were on the road by 12:30 with an appointment at the RV shop outside of Joplin. MO for Thursday morning to replace the refrigerator. I didn't know how far we were going to travel today, I just knew a direction. 350 miles later we pulled into a rest stop on I-480 between Cedar Rapids and Iowa City at 8:00 PM. Tomorrow we'll make an overnight stop in Independence, MO for some sightseeing. Wednesday we'll stop for the night at a RV park just down the road from the RV shop. I've been just about everywhere so we'll make a good trip out of this anyway.
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