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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Going To Virginia Tomorrow To Visit Kids and Grandkids at Black Bear Lodge

Friday we are heading north to see the kids. We will be driving the Honda van with something new inside. We are taking along our electric bikes for the first time. Of course - I am always concerned about bike theft. We had one stolen from our camper in Washington DC a long time ago. Ever since then we lock them up.

Lulu was concerned about scratching the van up inside - I was worried about hurting the bikes. I built this little garage that protects the bikes - prevents rattling noises - and keeps the van clean. It reminds me of those trailers with horse stalls in them. There is also plenty of foam rubber from an old camper mattress.

I took the van for a test ride and it is nice and quiet. It is about 800 miles up and 800 miles back. 

It is supposed to rain for the weekend - we might not get to ride the bikes. But we will get to celebrate   grandson Max's 1st birthday and grandson Jack's 9th. 

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

We Got New Electric Bikes

The company is Rad Electric Bikes. They build the bikes in Seattle.  Our model is the Rad Mini.

It is a folding bike that can be carried inside our Honda Van. It has a 750 watt motor in the rear hub. It has a Panasonic 11.6 amp hour lithium battery in the frame under the seat.

It goes 20 MPH for 40 miles on battery power. You can extend that by pedaling along. It has 2 disk brakes. The 20 inch wheels have 4 inch wide tires for riding on the beach or off road.

The bike folds in half in the middle. The handlebars fold down. The pedals fold inward. The seat and handlebars slide up and down.

On our first trip to campus - Lulu and I got caught in the rain. We spent 10 minutes under a bridge waiting for the storm to pass.

The bike has plenty of power - it goes easily up hills without pedaling. Pedal along to extend your range.

It has a LED headlight and flashing tail light. It has a computer that reads out battery strength - miles - speed - trip odometer - and light controls.

The bikes cost $1400 each - that included tax and shipping. Some assembly was required. I installed the front wheel - the pedals - and the headlight.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

We Took The Long Way Home - From Palma Maria - We Toured Custom Coach Creations

This was our route home Altamont Springs - DeLand -
Ocala Forest - Palatka - Starke -
Lake City - Tallahassee - 285 miles
On Friday we drove from the Palma Maria back home the long way. We wanted to visit a few places we never were - and also wanted to visit Custom Coach Creations. We like touring in camper vans and this place in DeLand makes them from scratch. You tell them what you want - and they fit it altogether. They start out mostly with Mercedes Sprinter or Dodge Promaster vans. Then they add bathrooms - beds - kitchens - batteries - generators - and anything else you want.

DeLand's pretty downtown and
Stetson College surprised us
Our first stop was DeLand - a beautiful small city that is the home of Stetson University and also the county seat. It has a wonderful walking downtown - an old working theatre - and an opera house. It reminds you of Tallahassee a bit but with much better developed downtown. 

CCC builds great van campers from scratch
Custom Coach Creations is about 10 miles west of DeLand on a 5 acre ranchette. The owners are Robert and Lois Murphy - they live on site. It looked like they had about 10 workers and they produced about 3 vans a month. The vans we saw are very plain on the outside like I prefer. Inside they had the latest electrical technology. Wade handles most of the electrical work - and he gave us an outstanding tour. If we ever do get another camper - this might be the best way to go. 

This old home sits on the banks of
the superwide St Johns River
Our last stop was Palatka. We visited there before when we traveled from Philadelphia to Kissimmee on Amtrak Trains - when we took several groups to Disneyworld. Palatka sits on the St Johns River which is one mile wide at this point. We crossed the bridge to the east side to visit Corky Bell's - a famous seafood place. They had an extensive menu - thankfully it included ribs. 

St Johns River at one time was the major highway to Florida starting at Jacksonville - one could sail all the way to near Orlando. Large paddle wheel steamers brought the first snowbirds to this orange blossom paradise. This is the largest USA river flowing true north. 

Between DeLand and Palatka is the Ocala National Forest. Florida recently passed New York to be the 3rd largest state by population - but there are still places in this state where you can drive 40 miles and not see a house or get a cell phone signal. The Ocala National Forest is one of them. We passed right through it south to north. This area is Gator Country - both from real alligators - and the blue and orange football fans. 

We got home before sundown - UPS delivered our electric bikes from Seattle while we were away. On to the next adventure. Oh yes - Sunday morning we had the greatest French Toast made from Italian bread from the Palma Maria. 

Building a camper kitchen
Giant battery pack and inverter
turn 12 volt DC to 120 volts AC
That area will be a queen size bed
¾ inch plywood floors - foam insulation 
This one was going to be a mobile office
Plywood floor to be covered with laminate
Refrigerator and Freezer 
Cutting area for plywood - carpet - lining 
The whole shop was out in the middle of
Gator Country
Our Honda van did not miss a beat
the whole trip - got 28 MPG
Downtown DeLand Athens Theatre

Friday, June 02, 2017

5 Hours To the Palma Maria

Carl - Marylou - Lulu - Me
Pete Rosinola Sr - on wall
Parm and Anna were our servers

It all started with an email from Marylou Zimmerman. She said they were snowbirding home this week from Tampa to Tamaqua - and wanted to get together. We both had visited Dick and Jan Davis out west in May - and wanted to share stories. Nothing is better than a Honda van trip with the 6 Amigos going up the road 2-2-2. But we could not pass up a trip to the Palma Maria to share the good times.

Everybody thinks because we live in Florida and the Palma is in Florida - we can drop by every day for lunch. It is 5 hours from our house to our favorite restaurant! It is so far - and we are old - Lulu had to get us an Embassy Suite to veg out after our wonderful meal. 

We left Tallahassee at 10 AM and by 3 PM we were in our suite. A half hour later - Carl and Marylou rolled in. We got a suite - just in case they wanted to stay - we were lucky they stayed until 11 PM. The time flew by. 

The Palma is just 4 miles down the road from our hotel - after the 3 of them shared a bottle of wine - I chauffeured them to the restaurant. The absolute best part of the Palma - besides the food - is the special treatment you get for sitting at the Tamaqua Table. Lulu has been calling it that for decades. Eating a splendid dinner under the gaze of Pete's picture - is spiritual for Tamaqua people. Imagine having a place like home - from 40 years ago - that is special. 

The Palma existed on Broad Street in Tamaqua from 1950 to 1980. Everyone has stories of eating - working - hanging out there. In 1980 - the whole family moved south - and now they have been in the same spot in Casselberry (30 miles north of Disneyworld) for the last 37 years. Anna - Parm - MaryAnn - and Pete Jr serve up the same wonderful food - bake fresh bread daily - and their pies that are out of this world. When they wanted to invent the term - time warp - they picked this place. Even the prices are surprisingly low - for fine dining. All 4 of us had something different - mine was Sausage Parmesan. Email me if you want prices. 

Carl and Marylou are a trip. They just came back from a month on the Left Coast to visit their son and Dick and Jan Davis. Now next week they will drive to Tamaqua for 5 months. They keep a home in Hometown PA mainly because they have nowhere to put their stuff. 

After dinner - we retreated to our hotel where we gabbed and gabbed until 11 PM. Lulu and Marylou shared a hot tub with other hotel guests - and Carl and I played with gadgets - always a fun past time. 
We wanted them to stay - but it is only an hour to their winter home near Tampa. 

Out hotel is next to Altamont Springs Mall - it beckons Lulu. After that - there is a firm that builds camper vans from scratch in DeLand FL - which is about 20 miles away. I would like to see them in action before we go home. 

Before we drove down - Dick Davis called to video chat. I said 5 hours is far to go for dinner. He said - is there any doubt at all that you are going to do this? Never a doubt Dick - and you were there the whole night. 

Sorry Pete - it is blurred - but you look more like your Dad
this way 

Palma Maria momentos

Pete and Dolly