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Monday, March 19, 2018

Tesla 3 - My First Impressions After Seeing Elon Musk's Wondercar

On Friday I was contacted by a researcher from Florida State University to be interviewed about what it was like to own an electric car. Mike's research was designed to find out what things led buyers to purchase an electric car. He wanted to find out if the electric car lived up to expectations. 

I pulled into the stadium parking lot and noticed a Tesla parked there. I thought it might be the researcher's car. I figured I would park next to it and wait. When Mike showed up - he assured me that it was his dream car - but not his car. He was driving a Pontiac. 

We had our interview - which will be another story someday. What changed everything for both of us was when the owners came to get in their car. I said to Mike - let's talk to them. He was too embarrassed - so I told him I would leave the window open and he could listen. 

The Tesla owners were visiting from Tampa - taking their daughter on a campus tour. It was their first time in town and their first big trip in the Tesla. Boy - were they willing to talk and show off their new toy. 

All I said was - that is my Leaf there - and boy I love your new Tesla 3. For the next half hour - no question was off limits. We were a mutual admiration society - it got so good - in minut4s Mike was out of my car and sitting behind the wheel of the Tesla. 


Elon Musk is a $20 billionaire. He made his money on PayPal among other things. He has branched off into making spaceships and electric cars. 

Nikoli Tesla was a scientist that invented alternating current and our present system of transferring electricity. Many scientists believe he did more to advance electricity than Thomas Edison. Musk named the car after him. 

Tesla currently makes 3 models - Tesla Model S - Tesla Model X - now the Tesla Model 3. the Tesla 3 is the one that excites the public because supposedly at $35,000 - it will be the car for the masses - like the Ford Model T. 


It is a 5 passenger car that can be purchased with a 220 mile range battery or a 310 mile range one.  It can go form 0-60 MPH in 5 seconds - faster than many Corvettes. The base prices is supposed to be $35,000. 

When Musk announced the vehicle - 500,000 people put down $1000 deposits to buy them. They started delivering them in 2017 from their Fremont California plant. Tesla builds their own batteries in their $11 billion factory in Reno Nevada. They are currently producing 2000 cars a month - far slower than they expected. 


This family from Tampa had already owned 2 Teslas - a Model S and a Model X. Their 2 kids have own Chevy Volts - plug-in hybrid cars. They are super advocates.

Although Tesla Model 3 is hyped to be a $35,000 car - this one was loaded up to the price of $57,000. One big option was the $9000 lithium battery that extended the range to 310 miles. 


I was surprised to learn that this Tesla is self-driving. On the interstate - the car drove 99% of the way for the 5 hours drive! It would speed up and slow down to any parameter you want. You can even set it to tailgate someone if you want  :-)  It can safely pass other vehicles.

I have told Lulu that the next vehicle we buy will be self-driving - a car or a camper. I like driving cars - but at age 70 - I realized that a computer would 100 times better than me - particularly at night. It will dramatically extend our adventuring into the future. 


I love electric cars - they are quiet - fast - efficient - dependable. I am not a greenie thinking they are saving the planet. Remember - most of our electricity is made burning - coal - oil - or gas. Pollution is made somewhere. I hope someday we will make most of our electricity from water power - wind power - or solar power. Countries like Ireland - Germany - and Holland do much of that now. 

My big problem is depreciation. I will use my Nissan Leaf as an example. In 2012 - it cost $40,000. I did not pay that - the original owner paid that. I bought it when it was 2 years old for $12,000. Imagine kthat - depreciating $28,000 in 2 years! It had 30,000 miles on it. I have driven it for 4 years and put on 10,000 uneventful miles. I plug it into my garage every night. when it was new it got 70 miles to a charge. That has dropped to 50 miles a charge. Now the car is 6 years old and the book value has dropped to $6000. It is still a great ride around town and our favorite runabout. But when we want to go on a long trip - we take our 2016 Honda Van or our 2004 Roadtrek camper. Our Leaf gets the equivalent of 120 MPG in cost benefit. If gasoline shot up to $4 a gallon - electric cars would be popular. Right now with cheap gasoline - Americans are back to their Ford F150's and SUV's.

I love electric cars - and this Tesla Model 3 seems like the most practical one. The fact that it can drive itself is a big bonus. But for now - I will be happy driving my little $6000 Nissan Leaf. Some people drive electric cars because they are green - they want to save the planet. I like to drive electric cars because I am GREEN - as in I like to save money. 

Lulu often says to me that when she met me in 1969 - I had a brand new VW Beetle that I paid $1600 for brand new. She says - think of all the money we would have saved if we just kept that one car. 

Tesla Model 3 - seats 5

The fancy wheels were an option

Electric cars do not need a grill

Mike could not stop smiling

Car has the lowest co-efficient of drag

Plain dashboard - just one big screen

Two trunks - one in front - one in back

Sunday, March 18, 2018

The Pinta and The Nina - 500 Year Old Recreation Vehicles

About 20 miles south of our home is the Port of St Mark on the Gulf of Mexico. From there - you can sail around the world. Yesterday - two ships that are replicas of Columbus's Pinta and Nina were docked in town - drawing attention and inviting anyone that wanted to come aboard. The ships are exact replicas - built with tools from the 1400's period.

The first thing you notice is how small these ocean-going ships were - around 50 feet long. There was no admission - I was tempted to ask who was funding the adventure. There were several crew members there to answer such questions.

We have been on cruise ships that were over 1000 feet long - these ships could fit into the ballroom on some of today's ships. The ships remind me of recreation vehicles - they emptied their toilets over the edge.

For safety - the ships have backup diesel engines - and plenty of modern navigational equipment.

Christopher Columbus sailed from Spain to America in 3 similar ships in 1492. King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella were monarchs of the two sections of Spain at the time. They funded the expedition - actually 4 expeditions - to find a better route to Asia. Columbus accidentally ran into America on the way.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Harry's Favorite Car Of All Time - Just $7800 Brand New

My Nissan Leaf and this beautiful 1965 Ford Cobra

The original aluminum bodies were made by AC Bristol
in England - and shipped to Shelby in California

Last night Lulu and I went out to dinner with our friends Josh and Melissa. After a couple hours of good friendship - food - and fun - Lulu noticed something out of the corner of her eye - a bunch of cars with their hood up. She knew right away what that meant - an old guy's car show. We hopped into our electric Leaf and sped to the scene.

I have owned 75 cars in my short life of 70 years - more than one a year. I always wanted more than I could afford - a trait that does not seem to wane as you get older. Some old guys like guns - probably replacement therapy - I like cars.

When I was 16 - a car came onto the scene that was my dream. I always loved little cars - they did not have to have a big engine - but a small nimble car that did not use a lot of gasoline was my goal. American Carroll Shelby seemed to have the ticket. Carroll was a racer - he won the famous LeMans race driving a Ford. So he had some connections with the company. Carroll went to England and found a company AC Bristol that made a sleek light sports car. Shelby's idea was to buy the British bodies - ship them to California - and shoehorn small block Ford V8's under the hood. He eventually figure a way to fit the Ford 427 engine under the hood - and he invented a fire breather that could beat the Chevy Corvette on almost every track.

In 1966 - when I turned 18 and graduated from THS - one could buy Carroll Sheby's Cobra for $7800. I have proof because I wrote to Shelby - and they sent me sales literature. I have very few things left from 50 years ago - but I still have that orange piece of paper.

In my hope chest - I keep this original
Shelby Cobra sales literature.
Pretty rustic huh? Note the price.

The Cobra weighs about 2800 pounds and had 465 horsepower. It could go and stop like no other. It could go from 0 MPH to 100 MPH and back to 0 MPH in 12 seconds! It was loud - brash - has no power steering or air conditioning. The clutch pedal required weight training to engage it.

Maybe I can get one of these engines - and put it into my motor home :-)

I did not even engage the owners - I say owners because there were two Cobras there. The one looked original - some of these cars have sold for over one million dollars today. The second one may have been a replicar - several companies make a "mock off" of the car. Carroll Shelby is dead - but his company still makes the specialty car in Las Vegas. See the my tour of the factory here -

Shelby Factory - Las Vegas

I will probably never own one. I would probably have trouble getting in and out of it. But it does not stop me from admiring one - especially one this pretty.

That is my Nissan Leaf behind this
1965 Ford AC Cobra. Look hard - you can see Lulu waiting
inside - letting me have some drool time. You can see I was in a hurry -
my wheel was on the curb. 

This Ford 427 aluminum block engine was spotless
This second Cobra appeared to be a replicar
Roush is a modern company that builts
high performance race engines

Monday, March 12, 2018

14 Nights In Our Camper - Monticello Downtown Dropped Down To 45 Degrees - Windows Closed All Night

($32,000/14 nights = $2285 per night) We now have spent a total of 14 nights in our 2004 Roadtrek camper. Monticello is 25 miles from our house. We were going to see a Blue Festival there. What a lovely little town.

Here are our 14 nights on the road - most recent first -

14 - Monticello FL - Mar 10 - 2018 - Saturday night in down Monticello FL - we went to see the Florida Blues All-Stars. There was a parking spot right in front of the opera house - no signs saying parking or no parking. So we squatted.

13 - Auburndale FL. Feb 25 - 2018. We spent the last night of our trip in the front yard of our friend Sandi Jimmerson. She lives in the cute little town of Auburndale in the lake district. We spent the afternoon in Lakeland - at Florida Southern College. It is the home of 18 buildings designed and built by Frank Lloyd Wright. We took the extensive tour of the buildings - listening to the stories about the infamous architect. The next day we also visited Sandi's library at Citrus Grove Civics Academy. After that we headed home - the entire trip took about 700 miles.

Sandi's home sits on an isthmus of land between two lakes.
We also visited her school library within sight of Disneyworld.

12 - Daytona Beach FL. Feb 24 - 2018. Ironically - we were driving on the beach at Daytona while the Daytona 500 was going on just 2 miles away. You pay $20 a day to drive on the beach - but you cannot camp there - at sunset the cops clear the beach of cars. We stayed in a Walmart lot just a couple miles south in Orange Park. Although we were less than 2 miles from the track - we heard nothing - saw no crowds - and enjoyed a nice quiet windows-open sleep.

Lulu loves the beach - it was sunset and also time to leave.
Water temp was 60. 
11 - St Augustine FL. Feb 23 - 2018. We decided to make a short circle drive around some towns in Florida. We headed east about 200 miles from home to America's Oldest Continuous City - St Augustine. It has so much to do - so much history - nice shopping - water - sunshine - but still a very small town. We pulled up to a meter and slept right on the street. We had a late Saturday night supper at the Bull and Crown Pub and then went to bed. On Sunday morning the streets were empty. We had the town to ourselves.

This picture was taken from the St Augustine Marina

Camping In Front Of The Monticello Opera House - Like Groupies We Spent The Night At The Door

We spent Saturday night right in front of
the Monticello Opera House

Last week - I read that Mary Everhart was playing at the Blues Festival in Monticello FL. We have been living in Tallahassee 15 years - and have heard about the Hall of Fame local star - but we never saw her. I heard her records and they are great.

I bought 2 tickets online - second row - center for $20 each. We even printed them out early. So we were set.

On Saturday at 5 PM we headed toward Monticello - just 25 miles east of us. We figured we could get a nice parking spot - have dinner - a few drinks - then see the show - and stay overnight in the camper. It was a nice evening drive east with the sun at our back. We arrived in the county seat of Jefferson County and to our surprise - there was a free parking spot right in front of the old opera house.

The Monticello is a restored historic landmark. The town is very proud of it. I can't imagine what great stars appeared here in its long history. It has main seating for 310 people. A full house would only bring in $6200.

First - we went to a local restaurant - and had a nice supper. Even with the tip - we only spent $20. There was a band playing in the street in front of the restaurant. There was a row of shiny Harleys on the fenced off street. After supper - we returned to the camper to watch the local news and see a little bit of the ACC basketball tournament. We had a little time to lie down and wait for the show.

At 7:55 PM - we went inside - then up the old wooden open staircase to the theatre. The crowd had not yet arrived - you can see by the picture below - it seemed empty. Most of the people were downstairs - having dinner and drinks. At 8 PM - they filed in like a school group.

The crowd was pretty old. I tease Lulu about being the prettiest girl in the room. On this night I was number 2. A lady sat in front of me that looked just like Johnny Winter - but I looked around and many of them did.

At about 8:10 PM - the theatre went dark. Music started up and when the lights went on 5 old Bluesmen were standing on the stage - not just white skin - but white hair. They are called the Florida Blues All-Star Revue. Their names were - Jim Crozier - CS Holt - John Babich - David Cotton - and Michael Harrison. CS Holt was singing the lead and when the music stopped - he announced that Mary Everhart was sick and would not be there tonight.

The theatre did fill up.

For the next 2 hours - these 5 fellas played some very tight Blues numbers - but only one that I recognized. I am used to people doing covers of Robert Johnson - Muddy Waters - BB King - etc. They played called "You Never Can Tell" recorded by Chuck Berry. I was very disappointed not being able to see Mary Everhart - but out of respect for the 5 senior musicians - you can survive anything for 2 hours.

We had a couple drinks - since I knew I was not driving anywhere after the show. It made things go quite well.

The Opera House crowd arrived very late

After the show - we walked out the front door and right into our camper. The windows are tinted black - and the curtains are opaque. We undressed for bed - the bed was already made. We turned on the TV and watched North Carolina beat Duke. Lulu was gone in minutes.

It dropped down to 45 degrees outside - I had the thermostat set for the propane furnace to come on at 70 degrees. I heard it flick on during the night 2 or 3 times. The street outside was quiet. A couple times I pulled the curtain aside to see the lights on the courthouse on the roundabout just across the crosswalk.

At a little past 7 AM - I heard Lulu up and around. She told me to stay in bed - she was going to back out the camper and drive home. It sounded reasonable and my head hit the pillow. Then - she put the key in the ignition and all hell broke loose. What she did not know is that you must press the key fob button to turn off the alarm first - before you turn the key. A car alarm cannot be any louder than it is at 7 AM. Everyone in the small town came out to see what was going on - especially two police officers from the police station just a couple doors up the street. After what seemed like an eternity - I got out of bed - grabbed the key fob - and pressed the button. As the cops watched - but did not stop us - or ask any questions - we pulled into the roundabout and Lulu headed for home. I went back to bed - and enjoy the 40-minute ride home - on my back.

You know Harry - always wanting to get his money's worth. This was night number 14 that we spent in the camper. I want to stay in the camper enough times to get the price down to $100 a night.  $32,000/14 nights = $2285 a night. We have a long way to go.

It is a lot of fun traveling in a small camper. You have a full kitchen - a full bathroom - and a king size bed. You have a widescreen digital TV. You can watch anything you want. The camper is 19 feet long and fits at a standard parking meter. It is 8 feet 4 inches tall.

Maybe the next time The Everharts will get to see Mary Everhart perform.

The Florida Blues All-Stars

The John Wilkes Booth box seats were empty

The opera house is 128 years old

The corner entrance

Inside the door were wooden steps
to the second floor theatre

Restoration project

Jefferson County Court House behind our camper. We slept
here - no one bothered us. 

If we were arrested - we would not have
to walk far.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Weather Back Home in Pennsylvania - My Niece's Home

Suzie Fritz Roberts lives in this real log home in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. She is a school librarian in Honesdale PA. She got the job right out of Kutztown State College and she is still there. She is likely to retire after only having one real job :-)

They have been going through some really tough weather. Note the long driveway and the snowblower.

Friday, March 09, 2018

Saturday Night - The Monticello Opera House - To See A Blues Show Featuring Mary Everhart

The Monticello Opera House holds seats 310. 
Yesterday we bought tickets in the second-row center section for the Blues Revue at the Monticello Opera House in Monticello FL. Monticello is 25 miles east of Tallahassee. I like Blues Music - and Mary Everhart is featured. That gives us about 5 reasons to go.

Tickets were $20 and I was surprised to be able to get the second row.

Monticello is named after Thomas Jefferson's home in Virginia. There is a strong connection being the Jefferson family and the founder of Florida State University - Francis Eppes.

This will be our first time in the opera house there although we have attended the Watermelon Festival in town.

This poster lists the performers.
The opera house is near the courthouse

Thursday, March 08, 2018

Day Trip To St George Island and Apalachicola FL

St George Island Beach - the yellow flag means medium surf

The winds required us to stay
covered - note the camper

They call it the Forgotten Coast. About 70 miles southwest of Tallahassee is St George Island and Apalachicola. They are echoes of a very romantic historic time - when this was the capital of the oyster world. Today - St George Island is a quiet tourist town on a barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico. There is a beautiful state beach there with powder white sand and emerald green water. Just a few miles away on the mainland is Apalachicola.

Apalachicola reminds you a bit of Key West and New Orleans. At one time it was one of the top three ports on the Gulf of Mexico - just full of oyster and fishing boats. Now it is a wonderful tourist spot on US Highway 98 - that hugs the Gulf Coast. It is very popular with the RV crowd because Route 98  is flat and two-laned - and not heavily traveled.

We left Tallahassee after lunch in our camper - with our 2 folding bikes and 2 beach chairs inside. We had no intention of swimming in the 67-degree surf. We thought the 61-degree air temperature would be nice - but did not figure on the 15 MPH wind. We did not freeze - but were happy we had jackets - sweatshirts - and wool blankets with us.

It took about 2 hours to get there around 3 PM. There was still plenty of sunshine. We had the beach to ourselves. We were able to park the camper within sight of our chairs and the surf. We walked 2 miles on the beach. Our Slingbox TV worked well on the beach on my iPhone. We watched a bit of the basketball playoffs.

After that - we had supper at the Seafood Grill. It is right downtown on the corner where US 98 makes a 90-degree turn. We really like eating there. Lulu had the seafood combo. I love their chicken. Lulu also had a margarita made with Tupelo honey.

The camper was perfect. The new GPS spent a lot of time reminding us what the speed limit was. 55 MPH - 45 MPH - 35 MPH - back and forth - back and forth.

We stopped at the Walmart in Crawfordville on the way home - and got home at 9 PM.

We did not plan to stay the night - we have other obligations Friday.

Saturday night - we are going to Monticello Opera House in Monticello FL to see a Blues Festival. We plan to park the camper out in front of the Opera House and spend the night there. Monticello is 25 miles east of Tallahassee.

Parking is free in Apalachicola

Oyster City Brewery
Things were starting up for a festival weekend

The Seafood Grill on the corner of US 98

Seafood Grill - great food - rustic setting