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Friday, June 30, 2017

LONDON - We Picked Up Our Stuff From The FSU Vault

When Lulu first started teaching at the FSU Campus in London in 2008 - we bought many household items. Appliances run on 220 Volts over here - thus they have skinnier cords. At higher voltage more watts can run through skinnier wires.

FSU has a vault left over from World War II where they store the faculty boxes. Lulu wanted her toaster - one of her hair dryers - a cooking pot - and 2 baking pans. She bought the gray velvet hangers at Primark. Note the strange plugs on the appliances.

Lulu will use that pot to make supper tonight. Bangers and mashed?

LONDON - The British Pound - 1 pound = $1.30

The queen is on every pound - old and new
The coins are thick and the edges are different.
In England - the pound is queen. Even though the United Kingdom joined the European Union - they never switched over to the Euro. The pound is quite a coin. First of all - it is very thick. When you have 10 of these coins in your pocket it is a heavy. They do have 5 - 10 - 20 - 50 -100 euro notes. Each one is a different size and different color.

Few people use credit cards or checks over here - they mostly use debit cards. When you buy something - your card never leaves your hand. You put it in the machine - you approve the purchase.

They recently released a new pound - that is made of two different metals - making it very easy to identify. The edges are also very different. They also have  a two pound coin.

There are 1 - 5 - 10 - 20 - 50 pence coins. Each one is progressively larger. When you shop - price tags seem cheap because one pound is worth $1.30. Lulu has it all down pat already.

LONDON - Monthly Tube And Bus Pass - 126 Pounds

The map of the London Underground is considered a work of art.
Find our Warwick Avenue Station on the brown line.

This is an Oyster card we had left from the 2012 Olympics.
We loaded the monthly fee on it at a card reader machine.
In London - the Tube and the Big Red Double Decker Buses - are the world standard of a great transportation system. Think New York City - but 100 times cleaner. The transportation system is one of the hallmarks of the Capital of the Free World.

Thanks to our generous gift from Delta Airlines - today we bought a monthly pass to ride all over London. For 126 pounds (1 pound = $1.30) - we can hop on and hop off any bus or subway. The Oyster is our key to freedom. When you get on the bus or go through the subway turnstile - the computer reads you card and gives you a green light. I am able to store my Oyster card in the slot on the back of my iPhone - I can use the card without removing it.

Each subway line is a different color. We live along the brown line - they call it the Bakerloo Line. Underground you can change from one line to another and keep going. On the surface - red buses go all over. Our favorite is to get in the front seat on the top of one of the new quiet hybrid buses. You can ride for hours and see so much. It is so quiet.

On Google Maps on our iPhone - you type in where you want to go. It will tell you what bus and/or subway to take. It will tell you exactly how long it will take to get there and how far it is. The blue line takes you all the way to the Heathrow Airport.

We just came back from the FSU center. We took the red line - then changed to the brown line underground at Oxford Circus. We were home in minutes. Our Warwick Avenue station is within sight of our front door.

One cash ride on the subway is 4.90 pounds - with an Oyster card is is 2.40 pounds. We paid 126 pounds for our monthly Oyster card. One day - I plan to take 53 rides on the subway - it would be worth 127 pounds - we would get our money's worth in one day :-)  That sounds like a pretty good story.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

London - First Day Exploring Little Venice

Lulu found her clone at the
London Girl doll store. 

Joan and Lulu in front of the home
of the famous computer scientist -
Alan Turing. He lived next door to us.
The Saint Mary Magdalene Church
in our neighborhood.
Paddle boarding through Little Venice.
We have hundreds of pictures of
Lulu and the Library
Long shirts and pants were
required with a high of 63 today.
My shirt is from the
Crafts and Barrows Collection
at Kohls for $6.
I have a feeling we will not leave
London without a London Girl Doll

London - Cell Phone Service

I have internet at the apartment through
Sky Cable and internet on the iPhone
through O2
We got 5 GB data - 3000 mins of phone calls -
4000 texts for $25 for a month
We just bought cellphone chips for our iPhones. In Europe - you can have a different cell phone service company every month. No need for a contract - cancellation fee - up front charge - our separate taxes.

We did not even shop from store to store. We walked into the O2 store and bought the first one plan offered.

O2 is as big here as ATT is over in America.

The clerk offered us 2 GB data plans and 5 GB data plans. 2 GB was 15 pounds - 5 GB was 25 pounds. That includes everything - taxes - fees - even installation. It took about 2 minutes - and we were in and out of the store. We charged the 50 pounds total for 2 phones on our American Express card. Over here they never touch your credit card. They bring the point of sale machine to you - you put the card in - press the buttons - and they print out a bill.

We will be making very few phone calls here - except to each other and Joan. But the main reason we like our phones - it being able to read email - and surf the net on the go. I am also able to post stories on my web page from the phone - send pictures back live - and post on Facebook.

The actual phone chip is smaller than your finger nail. We kept our old ATT phone chips - we will put them back in our phones when we are on the plane heading home.

London - Little Venice - We Are In Our Apartment - Warrington Gardens

Warrington Gardens
Thursday 4 PM - We are in our apartment in Little Venice - London. It is easy to find because there are canals around it. We are very close to Warwick Tube Station and Paddington Train Station.

It is 63 degrees and cloudy - we are gingko take a walk shopping now.

We slept from 9 AM to 2 PM - so we are pretty fresh now. I did not sleep on the 8 hour plane ride over.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

This Camper Just Became Available at Tallahassee Camping World

It is a 2015 Winnebago Mercedes Era 170x. It cost $115000 new. This one has 13000 miles on it and they want $79000.

It is perfect inside and out. King size bed. Full bathroom. Seats 7 facing forward with seat belts.

It would be our beach house - vacation cottage - highway cruiser - Disney visitor - grandkid carrier.

Maybe it will be here when we come home.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Just Bumped From Tallahassee to Atlanta Flight For $1600

We are at the tally airport. We just accepted a $1600 offer to give up our seats to Atlanta on way to London.

They needed 8 people.

We will stay home tonight. We fly tomorrow at the same time.

What a great way to start our trip to Loddon -  $1600.

Nancy bought 3 tickets to see Tony Bennett in Royal Albert Hall Wednesday night. We could walk to it from our apartment. Joan did not know about the tickets.

Later added - we ended up with $1800 of vouchers. We are booked on same flight tomorrow - which is overbooked.

Monday, June 26, 2017

ENGLAND - We Are Flying To London Tomorrow - For A Month

Little Venice in London features
canals and canal boats
Little Venice is rated 98 out of 100
for walkability - everything is local

Usually when we go to London - Lulu is teaching a course there for FSU. But this time it is strictly pleasure.

Tomorrow we fly to London for a month. It is hot and humid in Tallahassee in the summer. Although we love this town - during the summer the college students and legislature go home - leaving it a sleepy quiet balmy Southern town. It has become fashionable for many of the professors to find a summer distraction. Lulu and I have chosen London. It is the Capital of the Free World.

Please - no warnings about trouble in London. Even with the recent news - London is now only 10 times safer than New York City. We feel safer there than we do here.

Normal days in the summer in Tallahassee reach the mid-90s. We have been blessed with beautiful breezy sunny mid-70s days while in London. Can you believe I am packing long sleeve shirts and pants - even a sweater and jacket?

This year we are staying in a very fashionable apartment in Little Venice. It is a section of London - close to downtown - between Hyde Park and Regents Park. You can see the apartment here -


Knowing Lulu and I - you know we can't afford that - and are not paying for it. I cannot release the full story without permission - but we are guests.

I have enough frequent flyer miles on Delta to get there free. We fly from Tallahassee to Atlanta to Heathrow.

While we are there we plan a trip to Durham to attend the famous Miners Union Parade. Lulu also wants to make a side trip to Switzerland to hike the Alps in the summer.

Our apartment is in Warrington Gardens - floor 4
We are just north of Paddington Station
The apartment has 2 BR - 2 BA - balconies 

Friday, June 23, 2017

Fathers Day With Family At The Black Bear Lodge In The Appalachian Mountains

Paul Askew - Max - Me - 2 Grandfathers
just happy to be there on Fathers Day

Black Bear Lodge - 4 cars from 4 different states -
Florida - Washington DC - Virginia - North Carolina
The Cornwall flag hangs proudly -
Lulu's great grandfather (James Cox) emigrated from Cornwall
When three big events - like Fathers Day - your youngest grandson's 1st birthday - and you oldest grandson's 9th birthday all line up - it is a special occasion. So - last weekend we rented the Black Bear Lodge in Wintergreen VA as a place for all the Everharts to meet and spend 4 days celebrating our good fortune.

I never met my grandfathers - both were dead before I was even a thought. One died in 1942 - the other in 1945 - and I was born in 1948. I always wondered what they were like - William J Quick and Roy S Everhart. I wanted to make sure the newest Everhart - Max - knew his grandfathers - and also knew they were good friends. Max's first year seems to have flown by - but when you approach 70 - they all fly by. My oldest grandson - Jack - is now 9 - and my only granddaughter Kate is 6. They are all such joys to us. The worst part of living in Florida - is being 800 miles away from the kids.

Lulu and I left Tallahassee in our Honda on Thursday. We spent a night in Charlotte NC on the way up and Columbia SC on the way home - 750 miles each way. The van was marvelous on the road getting 28 MPG - traffic was light - but we got lots of rain.

Paul and Evelyn Askew drove from North Carolina to share Max's 1st birthday. Max is Paul's first and only grandchild. Also we found out Paul and Jack are both born on June 20th.

On the way home we also stopped in Augusta to see Jack and Lottie Robinson - Robin's grandparents. You may remember Jack as the 1948 London Olympic Gold Medalist. I wish they were at the Black Bear Lodge with us. I showed them the pictures. I wish I got a picture of them too.

We rented Black Bear Lodge for $300 a night. It had 5 bedrooms and 5 baths. Everyone had a master suite. We enjoyed the fireplace and a big back deck overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains. We hiked - cooked - ate - played games - and swam. Just a great time together.

See the lodge here - Black Bear Lodge

As you get older - you can count the number of Fathers Days on your fingers - and if you are lucky on your toes. Also when you are senile - the last one is always the best one.

The Everhart 9

Max opening up his new bike with Liz

We could see for miles - I swear almost back
to Andreas PA where I was born on the side of
these Appalachian Mts

Paul and Evelyn Askew - Max's grandfather and step grandmother.

Three Everhart boys and a lady

5 Everhart Men

The whole clan

Lulu and Michigan Rummy with her boys

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