The Salt Shaker – August/September 2019

God said . . and . . the earth sprouted and abundantly produced vegetation, plants yielding seed . . . and trees bearing fruit . . and God saw that it was good and He affirmed and sustained it.  And there was evening and there was morning . . .
Genesis 1:11-13 (Amplified Version)

Praises – Recovery from colds; travel protection; safe arrival after each move; God is good!

Prayers – Discipline as we take steps to better improve our health; recording some songs

Greetings to our friends, followers, and families:

We have had a lot of traveling days through old and new territory since our last update!  Our trip to Bushnell mid-August included a pasture full of what we have named “Oreo-cookie cows” and calves (belted Galloway) followed by a pasture of seven camels both one and two humps!  On arrival we parked at a cousin where we were able to hook up to water and electric from the garage, across the park from John’s family home.  Although hot, we had air conditioning and fans and were quite comfortable for our 5-day stay.  After a brief detour to dump our waste tanks, we moved east to Little Galilee Christian Camp outside of Clinton, IL.01 camels 0819 1

The first week at Little Galilee we volunteered 27 hours including putting up baseboard in the “penthouse” of the new dining hall and lots of power washing of dining area floors and shower room walls and floors.  We drove back over the weekend to Bushnell for the funeral and were so encouraged by the conversation and comments on how Shirley (John’s Mom) touched so many lives.  What a legacy to leave!  Back at camp we help out with another 82 hours of labor over the next three weeks plus preparing and leading worship sessions for Labor Day weekend Family Camp.  John had more power washing to do, cleaning a few cabins, fixing a few things, and prepping and painting a total of 25 metal exterior doors.  Connie helped remove the tape from metal studs (after the foam sealant was sprayed) in preparation for drywall installation at the new dining hall, and then organized all the kitchen areas in the six cabins assuring guests would have enough plates, cups, silverware, etc. for the cabin capacity.  Our trailer site gave us views of deer playing on a gravel pile, hummingbirds at our feeder, and wonderful sunsets.  The camp grounds allowed for lots of bike riding and a dip in the pool.

Our home church (Lane Christian Church) hosted this Family Camp so it was a wonderful time of being with many of our church family.  We were quite blessed with all the comments we had for the songs we chose for the various sessions as well as what we received from the morning devotions and speakers.  While in our home area we were able to connect over some meals with many friends and Connie even played piano once a week for the residents at Eagle Ridge in Decatur.  This brought back many memories and, as usual, a blessing to both the residents and us.  We will try to do this more often as we continue in our travels!

September 15 found us back on the road again for a two-day trip to central Minnesota for a reunion of area SOWERs (Servants on Wheels Ever Ready).  Along the way we stopped for gas in Iowa at “The World’s Largest Truck Stop” where we found backed up gas lanes and people leaving their cars at the pump while they shopped.  A bit too busy for us, but many interesting things to see there.  We went by “What Cheer, IA” with their “Pleasant Stay Inn” and stopped for our overnight stay in a Walmart lot in Albert Lea, MN before arriving outside of Long Prairie, MN the next afternoon.  It was extremely hot for mid-September in Minnesota, but the trees had started to change color just a bit making it feel more like fall.05 IA MN Travels

Our devotion music and concert for our fellow volunteers went well and we met many “new to us” from our SOWER family.  It was a great time with a 50’s theme allowing John to use his electric guitar for their talent night, something he really looks forward to since it is much too loud to play in the trailer!  With all the music over Connie was able to join in a card game of “Hillbilly Rummy” which is a treat for her (even though she ended in last place).

Thursday September 19 found us again on the road headed southwest to Sioux Falls, South Dakota.  Mostly highway traveling gave us time to notice this part of Minnesota – wetlands, changing colors, farms, logging, horses, pasture of mini-horses and worn out farm implements, elk farms, lots of lakes, bald eagles, granite falls, windmills (the new kind) and fields of solar panels.  Going through Belgrade we passed their Centennial Memorial (2012) of the world’s largest crow, several Sinclair gas stations (thought those were extinct), and the Fagan Fighter Museum (WWII) just south of Granite Falls with P51’s noticeable from the highway.  We arrived mid-afternoon, got set up and were looking forward to a few days of rest and quiet – then the F16’s flew overhead!  Connie plugged her ears for the second one, and we tried over the next few days to get pictures but they kept changing their flight route getting further away.  The little gray triangle in the middle is a F16!

We were able to get our driver’s licenses, vehicle registrations, and new plates all done on Friday with lots of patience, one second visit, and several long lines to wait in.  That left the rest of our time for relaxing, enjoying a guided tour from a fellow SOWER couple, visiting the downtown area, and walking around the waterfalls.  (Just a few days before our arrival three tornadoes and heavy rain caused some flooding and damage.)  Tower Campground was quite large with lots of trailers, great weather during our stay, and very friendly squirrels.  They would enjoy the bird seed and bread we put on the table and seat, not minding us sitting a few feet away.

Then there was morning and evening (day one of our three-day trip south) and it was good.  As usual there were several stops in the first few hours, getting our schedules aligned to days of travel.  The weather was mostly cloudy which is great for traveling south, but lots of flood damage as we passed into Iowa with boats, RV’s, trailers, and soccer fields in and under water.  We detoured around Council Bluffs, IA/Omaha, NE due to interstate closures from flooding, putting us on state roads that went through Wahoo, York, and Hebron Nebraska where we passed a Sinclair gas station with the dinosaur!  We were in four states (South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas) ending the day at Walmart in McPherson, KS.  Of note, Iowa has two kinds of rest areas; some “modern” with facilities and others for “rest” only!

Then there was morning and evening (day two) and it too was good.  Our first sighting of oil rigs and a very long horned longhorn steer were in Kansas!  We had some beautiful clouds, of course the photos did not turn out, but they looked like God was looking down into the white clouds and gently circling them with his finger (kind of like stirring the foam of a Frappuccino).  Kansas had a lot of sorghum fields as well; trivia of the day–Kansas leads the nation in the production of both wheat and grain sorghum (milo).  We also found lower Oklahoma and north Texas to be hilly and rolling with clouds meeting the fields at the horizon.  We usually take a longer early afternoon break on long drives, and this was no exception with a stop at Cracker Barrel in Norman, OK.  It was good to be fueled up when, shortly after leaving, we hit multiple areas of road construction slowdowns, one lasting 45 minutes for 8 miles!  We arrived, a bit later than we hoped, staying another overnight at Walmart in Sheldon, TX with no electricity for an extremely hot night.

Our final travel day started with a beautiful sunrise followed by nothing when we turned the switch to start the van!  After several false tries, popping the hood, and a lot of conversation and self-diagnosing, John realized the shift lever wasn’t fully in the Park position.  We won’t say who parked it the night before!  This was our musical city day, passing through Bell and Celeste, Texas.  We arrived just before noon to our volunteer work project east of Big Sandy, TX where we got set up, turned on the air conditioning, relaxed, took a leisurely bike ride, and a short walk to finish out the day.

For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving.  1 Timothy 4:4 (English Standard Version)

Thanks for traveling with us!  We so appreciate your prayers and notes of encouragement!!  Let us know what you’ve been doing too!
John and Connie Nicholas, Salty Strings Music Ministry

Contact Information:
Phone – John 909-336-8910 or Connie 909-336-8912      Email –
Facebook – Salty Strings Music Ministry                         Web site:
ONLINE DONATIONS via PayPal through our web site

John & Connie Nicholas ~ Salty Strings Music Ministry,
3916 N. Potsdam Ave. #3962, Sioux Falls, SD  57104


  • September 27-November 21 – ALERT Academy (2 months) – Big Sandy, TX (northeast)
  • November 21-December – Riverbend Retreat Center – Glen Rose, TX (north central)
  • January 2020 – Phoenix Christian School, Phoenix, AZ
  • February 2020 – Coachella Valley Rescue Mission, Indio, CA (southeast)

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