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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

River Traffic on the Meuse River in the Netherlands

The Meuse River flows north from France to the North Sea. Through the city of Maastricht - traffic can get busy at times. Lulu and I walk the driver banks every evening near sunset. You can see people openly smoking marijuana - mother nature's son.

Video from my iPhone. My regular camera broke - Sony RX100

Monday, June 29, 2015

Netherlands or Holland? - Day 5 Of Our Trip

It is Day 5 of our trip. Lulu has a busy convention here - school librarians from all over the world. I like to say we are in Holland - but technically we aren't. The Netherland has like 20 provinces. Two of them are North Holland and South Holland - that is where Rotterdam and Amsterdam are. You think of the tulips - windmills - and wooden shoes from those provinces. A majority of the people live there.Right now we are in Maastricht - in the province of Limburg - famous for that cheese. Since Holland is so easy to spell - I usually reach for it when I am writing. 

There is a sweet grocery store next to our hotel - big variety and good prices. It is common here for people to shop for fresh food every day. Since they are riding bikes or walking - they only buy a small bag full. They also bring their own bags. Notice that Amstel Beer is 99 cents for a 16 ounce can. This is the store where I stock up on my 19 cent puddings - vanilla and chocolate. I will miss those. 

I saw this very nice 1960 MGA sitting by our hotel. It is 55 years old. I had one of these in 1968 - I paid $650 for it as it was 8 years old. Mine had the rare twin cam engine in it. 

This would make a cool camper - really it was for a handicap passenger. It reminded me of the pope mobile - with all the glass.

Our hotel sits on the Meuse River which is 500 miles long. It flows north to the North Sea. It is way east of the Seine River but flows the same way. Lots of large cargo ships pass by every hour. We were on th bank watching last night late.

The scooter rental business must be pretty good. They guy these Chinese scooters that are copies of Italian Scooters. They cost about 1000$. They rent for 40$ a day on weekdays. So after 25 days of rental - everything is profit. They say they are not as rugged as the Italian scooters - but the Vespa cost 4000$. I rented one for 3 days for $120 and they gave me an extra day. 

This is Maastricht's market square. I took this picture from my scooter - right before the camera broke. This is the second Sony RX100 that broke on me - same problems - lens won't close - nothing but static on the screen. A $600 camera should last more than 2 years. 

This is my rental Chinese knock off scooter. It is governed down to only go 25 KMPH - about 15 MPH. That way you are allowed to drive on the sidewalks - bike paths - plazas - etc. You also do not need a helmet. It is comfy for two people - it does have a burglar alarm. I did bring a bike lock and cable with me. And a GPS. I just took Lulu to one of her convention meetings on it. You should see Lulu in a skirt on this. 

This is a VW Caddy. They do not import them to the USA. They are a sweet little wagon. 

My picture quality is going to drop. I will be using Lulu's camera - and sometimes my iPhone. 

Gasoline in Holland Is $8 A Gallon

A Tesla and a VW electric "plug er up."

They buy their gasoline from the same Arabs we do - why is it so expensive here? Simply- their government taxes it heavily so they use less. As a result cars are much smaller here - and bicycles and scooters are a way of life. It is common to see men in business suits and women in dresses riding bikes all over. Some women have two "car seats" for kids on their bikes - occupied.

Above - in front of a row of homes - I found these two electric cars. The one on the left is a white Tesla - the one of the right is a Volkswagen GTE. The cars can do a full charge here in 20 minutes.

Today I am renting a scooter for 3 days. It will be 30 euros a day including insurance. Scooters can ride and park anywhere for free. They can ride on the street - but they have their own special "red paved" streets where cars cannot go. You can even see people ride on sidewalks and plazas. There are plenty of free parking spaces for scooters. I can park right on the covered porch of our hotel.

On our trips we want to see so much. A car is a pain - finding places to park. Also - you can't get off the beaten path places in a car - you must walk. Our scooter will save our legs - at any rate that is the reason I gave Lulu. She takes a free bus to the convention which is 1.3 miles away.

I brought along my Garmin European GPS just in case - also I brought a bike lock and cable.

When gasoline went up to $4 a gallon in the USA - people were buying hybrids and smaller cars. Now that we discovered gas in Pennsylvania - we are back to SUV's and motorhomes. Go figure. I bought an electric car that sold for $40,000 two years ago - for $12,700. Only in America.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Keeping Up With The Simchak's

Here we have Alexis - Cambodian Country Director of Rustic Pathways - and Stephen  - InfusionPoints  LLC Director. They are in Cambodia right now.

One of my favorite Panther Valley Families is the Simchaks. It started out when I had father Steve in my first science class in 1970. This was followed by Steve the son - and three pretty girls.

They are sprinkled all over the globe now as directors and teachers. you can't tell the family without a program.

Stephen and Alexis are in Cambodia right now - I received an email from Steve saying he was in the Netherlands - but it was a false alarm. His regular job is in Washington DC.

Masstricht - I Never Heard Of Her And Had To Learn How To Spell It.

I took a guided tour with Lulu and some of her library buddies this afternoon.

Maastricht is a very old city in the Netherlands along the Meuse River. The Meuse is a 500 mile long river flowing north from France to the North Sea. It is fully navigable from end to end. The Romans selected this place to build a bridge across the river because it was shallowest here - that is what the name means. On the way to England - the Roman highway crossed through Gaul here - so the city was inhabited before the birth of Christ. Today it has 120,000 people. 

Maastricht (Netherlands) - First Morning in Town - Shopping For Groceries

These pies reminded me of friend Josh and Melissa. They make 25 different pies every Thanksgiving. 

After a long plane flight from home - and walk around Amsterdam - we fell asleep at 10 PM local time last night. We got up at 6 AM local time. It was only midnight back home. 

At 9 AM - we walked down for breakfast and a little shopping. 

Maastricht is a pretty down - our Crown Plaza Hotel is right along the river downtown. There is a really nice groceries store right next to the the hotel. We bought a big bag of groceries.

My favorite will be these small cups of chocolate pudding. They are 19 cents each. I could eat them all day - a great substitute for ice cream - healthier - and a lot cheaper. 

There are lots of bikes downtown - a few electrics. One of the most impressive things are the mobility scooters. In America they are for senior citizens and go barely 5 MPH. Over here you see them tooling by at about 20 MPH - I will video one. They have 3 wheels - handlebars - and a nice padded chair on them. To heck with safety gear - I love it.

This electric bike has the motor in the front wheel and the battery in the saddle bag. It is super quiet. You can also pedal along. 

I love the hardware stores here. This weather station was 15$. 

Lulu loves to shop anywhere.

What wonderful fresh fruit and good prices.

Check out my puddings here - long with Salami - cheese - bread - strawberries - oranges - wine - orange juice - chocolate

I have friends that are always losing power cords - chargers - and adapters. I avoid that by putting surveyor hot pink ribbons on each cord. When you are packing up - you look around the room for hot pink.

Friday, June 26, 2015

NETHERLANDS - Maastricht - We Just Arrived In Our Hotel For The Next 6 Nights

George dropped us off at the TLH airport at 2 PM Thursday. We each have one carry-on bag. That way if there is an opportunity to get bumped - we are ready.

Here is everything I take - computer - phone - camera - cpap - passports - shoes - shirts - pants - shorts - underwear - socks - belt - tie - sweater - rain coat - comb - toothbrush - toothpaste - deodorant - phone charger - computer charger - camera charger.

Lulu manages to book the exit row for free. It gives us 6 feet of leg room. Since I could not plug my cpap in - I was not able to sleep. We are in the Netherlands for a 6 day convention. That pays all Lulu's expenses. I am flying free on a Frequent Filer Miles ticket. Our Boeing 747 holds 400 people. We took off in Atlanta and landed in Amsterdam.

This morning when Lulu woke up we were over Liverpool. We had 47 minutes to eat before we landed. What a very smooth landing - the 747 is a nice bird.

In Amsterdam - we were really tired. I did not sleep all night - I had some jet lag. Also my butt was sore from sitting. Some people go to the "coffee shops" and "red light district" in Amsterdam. We went to the Jewish Museum. It is a Synagogue build in 1672 - and gutted by the Nazis.

Jewish Museum in Amsterdam.

At supper last night we had chicken and pasta. We also had Tellamook Cheese. Two weeks ago we were at the Cheese Museum in Tillamook Oregon. Our friends Jan and Dick Davis lived there for 5 years. 

I will be doing several stories about Maastricht. I am ashamed to say I never heard of it before. It has been here since the Roman occupied Gaul around 200 AD. We are staying at the Crown Plaza. Although Maastricht is in the Netherlands - it is surrounded on 3 sides by Germany and Belgium.

In Netherlands on the Train to Maastricht

Our flight out of Atlanta was delayed two hours. We took off and caught a 90 mph tail wind so we were going over 600 mph. Our Boeing 747 is one big plane that was full with 400 people. 

We had good seats but I did not sleep a wink. We arrived in Amsterdam at 11 am. Since we only have 1 carry on bag we were thru customs in a blink. 

We took the train downtown and went to the Jewish Museum - also had lunch there. 

We are now on the 3:08 pm train to Maastricht. Should be there a little after 5 pm. The train is a double decker and very quiet up on the top deck.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Plane to Amsterdam - Plenty of Legroom

EUROPE - starting our 17 days train trip thru the old country

Lulu and I are in our seat at Tallahassee Airport preparing to lift off on a 18 day adventure.

Lulu has a convention in Netherlands. Then we have a rail pass to visit 6 countries. We are taking suggestion of special places to visit.

We just found out our plane from Atlanta to Amsterdam is overbooked 11. We hope to get bumped and get a free flight to be used later. Wish us luck.


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Happy Birthday Joel Dawson

Joel Dawson is our neighbor. We had a little birthday party for her - she is 75. That is her husband George next to her. Lulu cooked and also served an ice cream cake.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

I Sold My 1986 Honda Helix 250 Scooter

Leaf pulling Honda Helix

To make a little space in the garage - I have sold my white Honda Helix scooter. The scooter is in great shape - it is 29 years old and only had 2800 miles on it. 

The Honda Helix was a scooter made for long cruising by old men. It had a long wheels base and a large on cylinder 250cc water cooled engine. It was belt driven with a continuously variable transmission - well ahead of its time. Today - they are just starting to put this type of transmission in autos. 

John - the fellow that bought it - plans to drive it to work every day - 15 miles each way. 

Other features of this Honda were - digital dashboard - plastic body - windshield - electric start - water cooled engine - giant trunk - and two large seats. It could go 70 MPH all day. It got about 80 miles per gallon and held about 3 gallons of gasoline. It has the step-thru body that old men love. 

Some people said that the body reminded them of the Jetson's TV Show. 

I delivered the bike using the Nissan Electric Leaf and a Lowes trailer. 

We are now down to a BMW - the Leaf - a Vespa Scooter - mower - tools - gas grill - sweeper - in our garage. There is enough room in there for our trailer if we wanted to store it inside. 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Saw Brian Wilson/Beach Boys Movie At Old Theatre In Downtown Richmond

Westhampton Theater - Richmond
Lulu and I enjoyed the 4:30 PM show of "Love and Mercy" - story of the heartbreak of Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys

After seeing the real Beach Boys last month down the street in Cascades Park - we were disappointed when no local theaters carried the movie "Love and Mercy" - the saga of Brian Wilson the man who wrote all the Beach Boys songs.

We drove 800 miles to Richmond for our grandson's 7th birthday party - and to our surprise - an old local theater was showing the movie - they even had tons of early hour showings. The theatre was in a small downtown near The University of Richmond. The old - single-standing - brick structure looks like it may have been there when Lincoln came to visit after the Battle of Richmond. To our surprise - the inside was beautifully done. We found out later that it is closing at the end of the year.

The movie was superb but very sad. Brian Wilson had mental problems - and a quack psychiatrist took advantage of them to control the artist's wealth. Wilson's father Murray was abusive and controlling - adding to his problems. Wilson languished for years in bed. He became very fat.

He was eventually saved from that mess by Belinda - his future wife. Today they live together in Los Angeles with their 4 kids.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

471 Miles - It Is 103 Degrees In Florence SC

We stopped in Florence SC for a little break and walk at the Magnolia Mall. Same stores as back at home.
We have had clear weather so far. GPS says 300 miles to go and will arrive 7:15.

I-95 has grown. Many places it is 4 lanes each way. BMW has very long legs. Quiet. Smooth. We are staying in right lane at 75 mph. We expect pop up storms soon.

We are near Myrtle Beach.

Looking forward to seeing the kids.

On The Road To Richmond

We left home at 7 am in the BMW. We have driven 1000 miles on our way to Richmond to celebrate the Everhart 8. It is sunny and 83. The traffic is very light. We have covered 100 miles. Lulu is driving now. Much of I -10 has been repaved. I am guessing we will reach Richmond around 6 pm. More updates as we go.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Tallahassee Named All-America City

June 14, 2015

DENVER, CO. -- It's official. Tallahassee is an All-America City! Judges from the National Civic League named Tallahassee as one of the ten cities to win the prestigious All-America City (AAC) award this evening from the 2015 All-America City Conference in Denver. The All-America City award is the most coveted award that a community can win. The annual award recognizes exemplary grassroots and problem-solving efforts of communities that cooperatively tackle challenges and achieve measureable results. Judging is based on the overall level of community involvement in solving critical problems, including public-private partnerships. This is the second time that Tallahassee has won the All-America City award; it was first recognized in 1999.

Thursday, June 11, 2015


Lulu and Chris and the Dodge
Today we sold Lulu's Dodge. You may recall that in August of 2014 - Lulu bought a BMW Convertible in FSU garnet color. When she got that - her old Dodge languished in our garage. 

You may remember the story of the old Dodge. Lulu had one in Pennsylvania - used to drive the kids to school in it - Drew even took it to Duke for a year. A few years later - she decided she wanted a Miata sports car. Every now and then she would pine for her old Dodge. I found another Dodge in the middle of nowhere - Illinois. I hitchhiked there - and drove the Dodge back to Tallahassee. Lulu drove it 6 more years since then. 

Repo Man - Gone in 60 Seconds!

Recently - we listed the car on Craigslist. Yesterday - Chris drove over from New Orleans. This morning - as I type - he is towing it across I-10 to his home. 

We are now down to 2 cars - 2 scooters - a mower - and a lawn sweeper - in our garage. 

The Dodge is in remarkable shape. It only has 16,500 miles on it. It has original paint - original leather interior - and original top. I replaced the battery - tires - and brakes on it. We wish Chris the best of luck with it - we plan to visit it some day during Mardi Gras. 
Odometer of the Dodge
Chris is towing it home with his diesel

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Apple Watch - I Think This Is How I feel About It

NY Times article - 

Why I’m Breaking Up With the Apple Watch

Credit Earl Wilson/The New York Times 
I wanted it to work. I wanted to fall in love, like so many of my friends. “It takes a while,” they said. “Don’t expect a coup de foudre. Let it build over time.”
So I did. I knew other people looked at what I had with envy. But a month and a half after we first got together, I have decided it is time to — well, call time.
I am breaking up with my Apple Watch. The relationship was, despite all expectations, not what I needed. All the focus on San Francisco and Apple’s next big innovation this week (streaming!) made me realize it was not playing my tune.
Still, I will never regret the weeks we spent together. They taught me some valuable truths about myself.

Social Security Says I Will live to 85

How long will you live - click here -

Go here and figure out how long you will live. This means I have 18 more years to break the Pennsylvania Retirement System. Lulu will have at least 8 years without me. I predict that she will outlive me by 20 years.

Alligator Point Florida - Surf Temperature 84 Degrees - 44 Miles South From Home

Lulu's new beach tent - bring on the cousins

Monday it was 91 degrees in Tallahassee. The sky looked like rain - but the radar weather said the coast was clear. Ever since Lulu and her cousins went to the beach and bought back our tent in tatters - we were looking for a time to try out the new beach tent. Lulu loves sitting in the sun - but I am the gray head old man that insists on sitting in the shade. Get off my lawn.

Our new beach tent opens like an umbrella - everything is connected in one piece. You simply pop it up and then put 4 tents pegs in the corners to keep it from blowing away. I can sit in the shade - open up for screened windows to let the wind blow through. It can also be closed up to tight to provide a private place to change your clothes. It is not a motor home - but it will do. 

The beach was lovely - less than a dozen others there. There was a group of guys flying their kite/boards. We had the rest of the beach to ourselves. I was very surprised that the water temperature was 84 degrees - certainly not as good as the hot tub - but much higher than the 45 degree water we just visited in Alaska. 

We arrived at 5 PM just in time to eat our picnic basket supper. Still there was 3 hours of sunshine. As the sun went down - the rays angled more and enhanced the colors. We took a 2 mile walk on the beach and then literally popped the tent - put the convertible top down and drove home. It takes under an hour to cover the 44 miles. 

On the way home - the car thermometer said it was 77 degrees but when we got back into town was 81. 

There is nothing that seems to put Lulu in a good spirit than sitting on the beach a couple hours. When Lulu was a kid back in Pennsylvania - her family spent a week every summer sitting on the Jersey Shore. In my opinion she enjoyed this time with her cousins - the beach was secondary. I like the beach as long as I have a radio - some reading material - the Internet - or food. Then I can enjoy sitting there. After 2 hours - it is time to do something else.

One thing nice about having a camper - you have a nice shower to clean off the crud for the ride home. Here we go again. 

When we moved to Tallahassee - Lulu threatened to buy a house at Alligator Point - and commute to campus 44 miles each way daily. The place is a ghost town - no store - no restaurants.
These kite/boards were very entertaining

Monday, June 08, 2015

Seminole View - Tallahassee

 Built by Gary Shiver and Gary Shiver Jr

 It is like living on a Southern Plantation - about 1 mile from the Florida State Capitol.

This picture is facing west from Seminole Drive - large pines give a little shade - also some azaleas

 Everyone says it reminds them of Cracker Barrel. They are right - the Florida Coal Cracker Barrel

The roof is 3/4 inch thick plywood - then one foot of spray foam insulation inside keeps the heat out

 The informal back porch shelters the hot tub - a dinette - and two lounge chairs

Sunday, June 07, 2015

Six Months Of Driving A Used Nissan Leaf

My 2012 Nissan Leaf - after 3000 miles and 6 months of driving
 I have owned electric golf carts - electric motorcycles - electric weedwackers - electric lawnmowers. Yes - my Apple laptop and iPhone even run on rechargeable batteries. But I always wanted a real electric car. Finally - in November of 2014 - I got my chance. 

I was planning to buy a street legal golf cart for $8000. Lulu did not like that idea and told me to go buy a real car - like the Leaf. I went to Kraft Nissan to drive a new one - and the sticker was $42000! I loved the car but that was just way too much for a second around town car. Lulu did a search on Craigslist and found this car for me.

It is a 2012 Nissan Leaf that had 30000 miles on it. A 60 year old fella bought it in town - drove it 2 years - and died. His wife wanted to sell. It was in like new condition - I checked all the service records at Kraft Nissan - and it was in great shape. I bought it for $12,700. 
The interior is roomy and nicely appointed. The doors open wide.
I have been driving it for 6 months and 3000 miles. Of course I think I am an expert now :-) I am going to give you my completely biased opinion. 

Since we bought this car - we have hardly used our other vehicles. Lulu's garnet BMW convertible sits in the garage collecting dust. Every time I go for the keys to the Leaf - they are gone. Lulu loves driving it around town. Why? We both love the car because it is so quiet - peppy - nimble - easy to park - and you never have to put gasoline in it. It has all the latest electrical gadgets - GPS - iphone connection - rear camera - elegant air conditioning. It has roomy seats for 5 people. The 5 doors open wider than the dentist requires. When you come to a red light - and stop - it is silent. 

The car goes 80 miles on a charge. There is a big number on the dash board that says how many miles are left. It has been pretty accurate. Usually we got maybe 20 or 30 miles in a day. We plug it into a 220 volt outlet in our garage. Usually it is fully charged in less than an hour. It costs about $3.20 of electricity for a full 80 mile charge - about 4 cents a mile. Our longest trip was to Tallavana and back - about 50 miles.

My Neighbor Fred Got A New Honda Fit

I think Fred is the only guy in the neighborhood that has bought more cars than me. In the short time I have known him - he has owned a Honda Ridgeline - Honda Element - Mazda Miata - Subaru - 400 horsepower Ford Mustang convertible. Now he bought my favorite car - the Honda Fit. This car is tiny on the outside and gigantic on the inside. He gets 51 MPG on a trip.

I know they make an electric version - but it is only available in California - New York - and Maryland.

Lulu Made A Scratch Peach Pie

Life in the South. Our friend Joan Varner brought us some peaches yesterday. Lulu made a scratch peach pie with them. I always loved a pie with a lid on.

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Alaska - We Hardly Know Ye

Alaska is over twice as big as Texas - yet it only has 770,000 people - compared to Texas' 25 million. It is a giant wealth of minerals. We purchased it from Russia for $7 million. What a bargain!

Look at the red area on the map. That is where we spent our week - on a ship cruising thru fjords. We visited three small towns - Juneau - Skagway - and Ketchikan. We visited during the best weather possible. I know as much about Alaska as someone would know about Florida after spending a week in Disneyworld.