The Salt Shaker ~ September 2021

Praises – Finished “Conductivity” recording; wonderful time of recreation and being with family; protection while traveling

Prayers – New trailer tires and on-site installation before end of month; safe travels to Florida; recording success; wisdom for copyrighting songs and making them public

“Let your kingdom come, let your pleasure be done”
Unknown translation, from The Lord’s Prayer, Matthew 6:9

Hello to our followers, family, and friends:

The first week of September we were still in Wisconsin enjoying some great sunsets, cooler days and evenings, and even needing our heater a few nights.  We made a trip to Madison, WI looking around for sound equipment, and had some time to walk around Olbrich Gardens before meeting our Beloit friend for dinner.  The gardens were more elaborate with GLEAM exhibits (art installations with lighting for after dark visits).  It is still hard to find indoor seating restaurants and we wanted one close to the interstate for our trip home.  In our searching we happened upon a diner with great food!

We were up early the first Sunday morning, traveling north to Osseo, WI for a wonderful opportunity to reunite with a great church family.  After our music ministry message (Who do we Worship?) we shared a bratwurst potluck lunch before heading back home.  Labor Day afternoon was another (bratwurst-remember we are in Wisconsin!) potluck lunch and afternoon of music with our hosts and their family and friends for their annual Barn Praise.  John helped refurbish the picnic table and added lighting in the “barn” just for this occasion.  It still amazes us how God uses music and our efforts to be a blessing to others.

The following day found us packing up for our longest trip with our new truck/trailer – 4 days on the road!  You have to pack a bit more securely and plan things like food and weight distribution a bit better.  We left (after struggling a bit to get hooked up) on Wednesday, September 8 around 9am and arrived safely in Marshall, Virginia Saturday, September 11 just before noon.

Some highlights from our travel to Virginia:  the mission of day 1 was to get an air hole in John’s gas station coffee cup!  We noticed the soybean fields were starting to yellow among the brown corn fields and thought about what that would look like from an airplane.  Day 2 found us delayed quite a bit with traffic west of Indianapolis and a 45 minute-10-mile trip out of Columbus.  We found Walmart’s in east Ohio don’t allow overnight stays, but had a DEF fluid warning that put us in a strip mall parking lot overnight right next to the Walmart lot (thankfully we had no problems staying overnight).  The next morning, we filled up with DEF, got ready to leave, and the truck wouldn’t start!  There happened to be a tow truck in the Walmart lot that got us going quickly.  Night 3 we had a reservation at Happy Hills Campground very close to the Maryland/West Virginia state line.  We went up, down, and around on a narrow road with low branches at 35 mph to get there, and again the next morning to get back to the interstate meeting fire trucks on the way!  There were more narrow, low branch back roads (we found a better route later on) before arriving at Stillwaters Studios, Marshall, VA.  After a few spinning tire ruts in the still damp grass, we were parked, mostly set up, made a trip into town for ice cream, and took good, long, hot showers!

We were within 30 minutes of Manassas and made several trips there to spend time with our youngest son’s family, enjoying our youngest granddaughter and her escapades.  Before we left, she had a few more teeth and was walking on her own, what great milestones to be a part of.  They also made a few trips to the country to visit us.  We were able to be part of the audience for a live recording session (outdoors) of Orpheus Jazz, doing a tribute project to a local leader and jazz musician.

There was some good recreation time this month as well.  One of our day trips we went to the National Museum of the United States Army (Fort Belvoir).  It was a beautiful building and had displays for 245 years of Army history.  You could spend days there.  On our final visit we had breakfast at Ducks Donuts (watching donuts being made and enjoying maple bacon, oreo, and pumpkin streusel flavors), spaghetti lunch at their house, and Jitterbugs ice cream (more flavor choices) after a bit of walking around downtown Manassas.

Connie finished up the sewing projects for sound proofing our “studio” office room.  Then came the test – we set up one microphone and recorded our first go-by track with hammer dulcimer and guitar.  It worked, leading to many hours getting microphone positions for each instrument, laying down loop tracks, and comping the sections to make the finish tracks for each instrument.  There is still a bit of guitar work to do and adding in a few more instruments (including learning midi recording with the keyboard) before that song will be finished.  John also did some recording with two other songs that will be next in line.

We were able to take fairly frequent walks down the lane and back road where we were parked.  Most of our days were too hot and humid for Connie with lots of early morning dew, but it did cool off a bit in the evening.  One cooler day there was a very large dark brown/red fox that jumped across the lane right in front of us.  The lane also had some great flower plantings at the end of the driveways as well as wild flowers along the road edges in some areas. 

During our last week there were several rainy days after which our water quality turned to Sulphur taste and smell.  God provided us with a water purifier for our drinking water thanks to our great hosts whom we got to know a bit better on our last evening over dinner.  Pack-up day came along with a very happy bird calling “Vir-gin-i-a” in two to four repeats at a time.  This went on for 15-20 minutes with pauses between – very fitting for our final day in Virginia!

Friday, October 1 found us on the road again with a supposed 6-hour trip south to Fairmont, NC.  Traffic wasn’t bad getting to the interstate, or as we travelled.  About an hour before getting to our destination, Connie was driving and heard a loud “pop” followed by seeing debris coming from behind our trailer.  God again provided protection and provision – there was a semi-truck behind us and another in the right lane.  Both slowed down, allowing us a clear path to slow down and get to the side of the road where exit 55 was right in front of us!  We pulled over, crawled to a very wide ramp shoulder area, assessed the damages (cosmetic and a piece of rubber in the suspension), and made our roadside assistance call in the shade.  While waiting to contact a tow truck and their arrival we did a Bible flip-open-and-read finding appropriate comfort:

“. . . For the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.  You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him.”  Deuteronomy 13:3-4 ESV

In closing, this is from a message sent to our Wisconsin hosts (who were full time RV’ers as well) after our arrival in Virginia: “. . . no TV, better phone service, nice view, no bird feeders or cat, one dog, a row boat, and a glorious mellow wind chime.  That’s travel life for you, you never know what you’re leaving behind or what is waiting for you at the next stop!”

Thanks for traveling with us and being part of our family too!
John and Connie Nicholas, Salty Strings Music Ministry

Contact Information:      Mail:  John & Connie Nicholas ~ Salty Strings Music Ministry,
16 N. Potsdam Ave. #3962, Sioux Falls, SD  57104

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


  • October 1-27 –Volunteer work, SOWER Project – Fairmont, North Carolina
  • Oct 27-28 – Travel to Hudson, Florida
  • Oct 28-Nov 27 – Volunteer work, SOWER Project – Hudson, Florida
  • Nov 27-Jan 2 – Time off, Haines Creek RV Village, Leesburg, FL; music engagements
  • Jan 2-February 2022 – Time off, River Palms, Thonotosassa, FL; friends, music engagements

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