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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Cool New LED Light For My Camper

LED lights use maybe 10% of the electricity that incandescent and fluorescent bulbs do. They also last much longer.

This particular light is much thinner than the 2 inch thick one we replaced. This one is about ¼ inch thick.

In my camper - it was simple to install. The two wires were there from the old light. The new light is very bright - dimmable - and safer for your head. There are two small mounting screws that are covered by a plastic snap-on cover.

It is a 7 watt bulb - but it seems as bright as a regular 100 watt bulb.

The light - with bulb - cost $20 on Amazon. I do not hold stock in Amazon or the light company. since I published this story - the price shot up to $25 - I am not kidding.

It is installed in my 2004 Dodge Roadtrek.

Three Videos From Our Seminoles Victory Over the Gators

See the Victorious Seminoles Leave the Field with the Gatorhead

Hear the Gator Fans Sing - The Boys of Old Florida

Hear the Gator Fans Sing - I Won't Back Down - in Honor of Local Boy - Tom Petty

Monday, November 27, 2017

Camper Trip To Gainesville - Weeki Wachee - Cedar Key - Suwannee - The Seminoles Beat the Gators for the Fifth Time in a Row

Lulu and Harry wrestling the Gators

Weeki Wachee Show - really fantastic

11/27/17 - Monday - 2 PM - I am in the back of the camper - just leaving Suwannee FL. It is a small fishing town at the mouth of the famous river. Stephen Foster never visited the Suwannee River when he wrote his famous song - Old Folks At Home. It is not a tourist destination at all - it is 25 miles off the main highway on the West Florida Coast. We had lunch on the banks of the river - there were few services there - we had no ATT cellphone - no digital TV signals - no places open to eat. There was just a small market there catering to the roughly 300 permanent residents. There were lots of neat rustic homes - homes on stilts - car ports - trailers - and boats. The signs called it the Gateway to the Gulf. We walked around and then headed home. We are about 2 hours from home now.

Our trip started Saturday at 7 AM. We left Tallahassee to travel straight to the Florida State and Florida game in Gainesville. We got into Hogtown at 9:30 PM. Places were asking $20 to $50 to park. We were lucky to find a street slot about 1/4 miles from Steve Spurrier Field. We were pretty proud of ourselves and took a little nap. At about 11 AM we went to the stadium and scouted out tickets. 

Regardless the rivalry with the Gators - the University is very nice. The town has lots of nice things too. It is truly Florida's flagship college. Unfortunately - their sports teams are not doing too well against FSU. We really like Tallahassee and FSU - Nancy's alma mater. But I could see us being happy in Gainesville. It is 150 miles closer to Disneyworld and South Florida - but it is much busier too. There are also many many more scooters there. 

This is our third game trip to The Swamp. We saw Tim Tebow beat the Noles bad once - and then we went back for Jameis Winston to return the favor. This time was a toss up with both teams sporting losing records. The Seminole are in a trough - possibly having their first losing season in 40 years. They could be out in the cold come bowl season after 35 bowls in a row. Minor bowl games lose money - but they give you an extra month of practice to work the team. 

Normally tickets are not cheap in Gainesville - but this time - with losing records - we got $125 tickets for $20. We were happy and went in early. 

FSU shot out to an early lead and the game was over by half. It ended 38-22 - with a mop up touchdown for the Gators. At the end of the third quarter - the crowd sings - The Boys of Old Florida - and also Tom Petty's - I Won't Back Down. There is something nice about a big crowd singing in unison - even though they were being pummeled. We heard very little swagger. Gator fans were much nicer without all the bravado. We were nice - after all - I had a camper sitting on their streets for free.

After the game - we walked around town - and had supper at Amelia's Restaurant. One homeless guy did tell me my old lady had a nice a--. I asked her if that was sexual harassment - she said at 63 it was a compliment. Then we drove to Walmart and parked for the night. 

Sunday we woke - cleaned up - and drove to Weeki Wachee. It is a very nice old Florida attraction. It was private but now the state owns it. It costs $16 for the day. It includes swimming in the spring - seeing the Mermaid Show - a river cruise - and an animal show. The college age girls train for over a year to do the underwater show. The water slows down their motions to make a beautiful underwater ballet. During the whole show - they are underwater - taking air from hoses. That show is worth the admission alone. Everything is performed inside the 74 degree spring. 

We drove to Cedar Key for our Sunday supper at Steamers - and our camp site on the bridge over the Gulf in downtown Cedar Key. At one time Cedar Key was the hub of the cedar lumber industry - used for making pencils - among other things. The Chalet that Lulu and I built in Tamaqua PA was all cedar lumber. We had a wonderful supper at Steamers on Dock Street. We sacked out in the camper at a bridge in downtown at 8 PM. It was a very quiet - the furnace only came on 3 or 4 times all night. We had good TV reception - but cellphone service was spotty. In the morning we walked the historic little city on the island in the Gulf. It is like Key West - but without the long car ride. 

Finally we drove to the town of Suwannee on the Suwannee River. The little town  of 300 is at the river mouth. This is not a touristy town - most of the residents enjoy fishing boats and golf carts. Insurance companies have required them to put their homes up on stilts to insure them. There are lots of carports - boats - covered boat docks - trailers - and golf carts. It is 25 miles off the main highway - both TV and phone did not work there for us. We had lunch in the camper because nothing was open. Lulu took over the driving - and now we are tooling up US Route 19 home. When the trip is over - we will have gone 540 miles. 

The highlights of trip were - beating the Gators badly keeping 3 streaks alive - staying 2 nights in the camper for free - the lovely mermaid show - exploring Cedar Key - enjoying the comforts of traveling with our home on our back. 

Free parking before the game in Gainesville.

Two tickets for $20 each ($125 face)

Seminole Band in the Swamp

FSU sidelines

FSU 38 Gators 22 - 5 straight wins

Camp Walmart in Gainesville FL

Part of a wonderful show at Weeki Wachee

Parked at the front door of Weeki Wachee

Supper at Steamers on Cedar Key - Dock Street

Monday morning wakeup at Cedar Key

Cedar Key - old shipping port
off the beaten track

We spent 15 hours in that spot on the bridge at Cedar Key

The Library at Cedar Key

Downtown Cedar Key - right on the water

Cedar Key Beach on the Gulf of Mexico 

Cedar Key homes

Lulu's Dad used to deliver Tasty Cakes -
how about these caramel apple donuts

Downtown Cedar Key - a Winnebago camper

We just spent our 8th night in the camper.
312 more to break even

We had lunch in the camper at Suwannee.
Monday the restaurant was closed.

The mouth of the famous Suwannee River.

The Steve Spurrier Field runs north and south.
We sat in the south end zone - in the shade. 

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Camper - New Batteries For Old

The new installation - one goes in the battery box -
the other rests under the bed. I will
install a hold-down strap.
The camper is charging in our driveway. See green cord.
What a nice way to spend Thanksgiving morning. I am thankful for the new batteries for our camper. A camper has a lot of electrical devices that need a lot of power. Campers have at least two batteries - one for the engine up front - and one or more in the back for the coach. That way - when you are camping - you can use the appliances without worrying whether your engine will start and you can drive home. 

My Roadtrek has two coach batteries. The ones I had were 5 years old - they still worked well - but they were getting a little tired. So I decided to replace them. The old batteries were simple lead/acid batteries. I wanted the newer AGM batteries because they have a few neat features. First - they are sealed so there is not worry of them leaking acid or hydrogen gas. Second - they can be stored in any position - there is no worry about acid coming out. Third - they are supposed to last longer. Finally - you can put them anywhere. 

Of course in a perfect world - I would have bought a lithium battery. They are smaller - lighter - but more expensive. Our size would have cost $2000. We have lithium batteries on our bikes. 

Sam's sells Duracell AGM Batteries with 105 amp hours of power for $179 each. I bought two giving us 210 amp hours of power to use. I was tempted to get four because we have plenty of room under the king size bed in the back. 

They were easy to install.  The old batteries are still good - they hold a full charge. I can use them for other jobs - like when the power fails in Tallahassee. 

The batteries can be charged in 3 ways. 1 - you can plug the camper into a wall outlet. 2 - you can turn on the on-board Onan generator. 3 - or the batteries charge from the engine when you are going down the road. 

Here are a few things that use battery power in a camper - light - television - furnace fan - refrigerator - water pump - smoke alarm - gas alarm - carbon monoxide alarm - vacuum cleaner - range hood vent - TV antenna booster - power converter (12 volt to 120 volt). To run the air conditioner and microwave - you still have to use the generator.

The last batteries were still going strong after 5 years - these batteries should last at least that long. They have an 18 month full replacement warranty. They can replaced at any Sam's store. 

These are the old lead/acid batteries. They are
5 years old and still hold a 12.78 charge.
I used my "crane" to lift them out.
The finished look - one battery under the carpet in box -
one battery on top - under bed.
They are wired in parallel circuit.
They deliver 12 volt DC - 210 AH

Happiness Is Being Published on Thanksgiving Day

Zings in the Tallahassee Democrat.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Dale Freudenberger - Fellow Coal Cracker - Has This Beautiful Old Caddy

Nothing says the 1950s and 1960s like this beautiful old Cadillac. They weighed over 2 tons - and got about 10 MPG. But when you arrived - you really arrived.

The color of Anthracite - this turnpike cruiser would have probably made many trips down the NE Extension to Philly or the Jersey Shore. It might have been purchased at J Keilman Dudley's Cadillac dealership on West Broad Street.

One thing for sure - not too many coal miners or railroad workers in Tamaqua could afford one when I was a kid there.

What a beautiful car - Dale.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Tamaqua PA - My Hometown

This video makes my hometown of Tamaqua PA looks so beautiful.

I lived in Tamaqua from 1948 to 2004. I was a teacher near there and taught for 33 years. I met my wife Lulu there - built a home - and raised a family.

Tamaqua was a coal mining and railroading town. There is still plenty of coal there - but not much of a market. Almost everyone in town heats their homes with oil or electricity. burning coal produces about twice as much pollution as oil.

There is not much work there - so I have watched the town dwindle from 12,000 people to 6,000.

People from town travel to NewYork City and Philadelphia for major entertainment. The big cities are about 100 miles away. The nearest major airport is Allentown - about 40 miles away.

My old high school has been torn down - part of it has been turned into a community college. Due to the John Morgan Foundation - any local high school graduate can obtain two free years of education at the community college - which is transferable to all of the Pennsylvania State Colleges.

Housing is plentiful and one can buy a nice home for $30,000 to $40,000.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Life in the Citrus Groves of the Florida Panhandle

Three years ago - we planted 4 tiny fruit trees that we bought at Lowes.  They barely came up to your waist. We have been lucky - they have bore fruit each year so far.

Today Lulu picked one piece of fruit off each tree. The trees are arranged in a square - lemon - orange - grapefruit - tangerine.

The bright yellow lemons are very big - I have a slice in my tea every morning. I am not picky with food details - but lemon in my tea is something I like - so Lulu makes fun of me for it.

Next to the lemon is an orange. The oranges are very sweet.

The giant grapefruit in the back is pink. Again - they are very juicy.

Finally - the tangerines are sweet and plump.

Up north - we could not grow a thing. Down here - everything grows. There is nothing quite like going out in the morning - grabbing the newspaper - then picking a lemon for our tea. It is a simple life - with simple pleasures. Life has loveliness to sell.

Now - on Saturday the Seminole must go down to Hogtown and play the Gators. If the Seminoles lose - it will be our first losing season in 40 years. That is a bitter lemon no one in Tallahassee wants to taste.

Real Seminole Scores First FSU Touchdown

Yesterday we saw a real Seminole score a touchdown at FSU.

Justin Motlow is the first Seminole tribe member to play at FSU.
And now the first to score a touchdown.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Homecoming Game at Florida State - Seminoles 77 - Delaware State 6

Crowning the Homecoming Chief and Princess

It was Homecoming at FSU - and even though Lulu and I were jet lagged from being home - coming form London - we had to go. We wanted to stand behind FSU. While we were gone - a kid died in a hazing incident. The President shut down all the Greek organizations - and it is not good. Yesterday - the "Greeks" boycotted the Homecoming Parade - because they could not drink it up.

Delaware was one of this cupcakes you schedule for Homecoming. They were 1-8 and they came here to collect their check.

FSU was 3-6 with 3 games left. They must win them all or be the first team in 40 year sot have a losing season - and not go to a bowl. FSU won 77-6.

After the game there was a concert on the field - Cole Swindell. We stayed for little of it.

We drove the scooter to the game.  A man outside the stadium gave me 4 FREE tickets on the 50 yard line - 35 rows up from the field. At first - we were walking right in  then I told Lulu to go in - I would sell the other two. I got $20 each for them. The couple sat with us. They rode their new camper from Pensacola.

The game was like playing a high school team. But FSU at 3-6 is not much better. Still the people that came acted like it was a major win. It was Homecoming - although - many of the "Greeks" boycotted the game. The student section was half empty. the stadium holds 80000 but it looked like 40000 showed up. This is what a losing season does to you. Just 4 years ago - FSU was national champ - and had the best college season ever - both yardage and total points scored. Now they play to a half empty stadium on Homecoming.

Cole Swindell concert

The stage was right in front of us

Homecoming band - alumni in red - Note student section on left

More band

The game was played to clear skies - low 70s - we were in shade.

Friday, November 17, 2017

What the heck is Apologia?

Guest post by Lulu

Apologia is a smash hit play playing in London at the moment.  It stars Stockard Channing and our host Joan Varner wanted to see it.  Harry, the ticket fairy, will do anything to keep Joan happy as we love visiting her.  He dutifully went to the box office and got us two seats in the fourth row (which was actually the front row – long story) for Tuesday night’s performance.  He declined going himself as he prefers musicals and was theatre weary after three plays already.

The play is about a career-driven woman (Kristen/Stockard) who fought for all kinds of causes in the sixties but who didn’t fight for custody of her sons when they were 7 and 9 years old.  She is now a famous art book author who has lived in England for the past 20 years.  The play takes place over one evening and the following morning in the kitchen of her house.  Her grown son comes to visit with his girlfriend/fiancĂ©e to introduce them.  She is snarky with the girlfriend who is trying desperately to make a good impression.  The evening descends further and further into dark territory as the guests (which include a neighbor and the brother’s girlfriend) drink more and more wine.  It reminded me of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf with Liz Taylor and Richard Burton. 

The play is getting great reviews and in addition to Stockard Channing there are huge stars from the UK.  Joan told me that the Laura Carmichael who played the American girlfriend was the pregnant sister on Downton Abby.  Desmond, who played a neighbor, has been in many British TV shows including Dr. Who.  Joseph Millson played not one, but both sons, and I didn’t even realize it until Joan pointed that out too!  He was so different – sort of like Adam and Stuart Chandler from All My Children. 

Stockard Channing is now 74 years old.  She is a petite thing – much to my surprise as she usually plays very strong women.  I googled her after the play.  The British tabloids were all commenting about her facial plastic surgery.  Who cares I say. She is still a great actress and had so many lines and several monologues. 

One of the best things about London is the ability to buy tickets to a show and walk in the same day.  Tickets are reasonable prices and Harry manages to score great ones.  I’m writing this on the plane home and can’t wait to return London again soon!

Afterglow of the London Trip

That is me on their left holding up the camera.
See the whole Rod Stewart thing -
Rod Stewart Video

(Note - my friend Fred said he saw me in the video at 1:46 and Lulu at 1:47)

It is 5 AM and I am wide awake. We went to bed right away at 9 PM last night after neighbor George picked us up at the airport. It is already 10 AM across the pond at Piccadilly Circus - but it is still the dead of night in Tallahassee.

I am wide awake - I am not one of those guys that tries to fight jet lag. I just take it as it comes. In about 3 days - we will be back to normal - but I am not sure what normal is anymore. We love to travel to England - but love returning to our home in Tallahassee and the charm of this Southern city.

I slept like a log - this old house is so quiet - of course sleeping without hearing aids makes it quieter yet :-) We always do a special cleanup right before we leave. Our bags are always packed early - and Lulu and I are usually staring at each other for an hour before we go to the airport. So we do a real good cleanup of the house - laundry - dishes - floors - bathrooms - kitchen. That way if our plane goes down - our family will not be embarrassed by the mess we left.

Lulu and I are on a diet - but over the last 16 days we let go a little. We did not want to miss out on the good food the road offers. I left Tallahassee 213 pounds and returned at 216 pounds. 16 days of real sugar cokes - sticky buns - hot chocolate - meat and potatoes - pubs - yellow matter custard buns will do that to you. It is not too much damage in the scheme of things.

We visited Germany - Luxembourg - Scotland - England. We were to the cities of Luxembourg - Trier - Glasgow - Blackpool - London. We went to 4 plays or shows. We rode red double decker buses - black cabs - subways - trains - and planes. I got to see Andy Murray and Roger Federer play a tennis match. We enjoyed the Christmas lights of Oxford Street.

Thanks to Joan and Jodi - we stayed in two places which would have been 5 star hotels.

We enjoyed the use of our iPhone 7s for 15 pounds each. We chose the EE company - and their package was great. We each had 10 GB of data - but only used less than 2 GB of it. Their plan even works in the Tube now. It is also good all over Europe. We saved the Sim chips and will probably use their service again the next time. It is so much better seeing Europe when you can use Google Maps - Wikipedia - and yes - call each other when we need something. It is also great being able to post to my web page - or Facebook right from the iPhone - or read email.

There were lots of highlights - but stumbling on Rod Steward at Picadilly Circus and listening to him singing Handbags and Gladrags was just beautiful.

We may be stopping in London in the spring when Lulu has business in another country. Also we plan to spend July 2018 there when Lulu teaches a course at the FSU London Campus. But as you get older - your realize that you must savor each trip like it may be the last time you visit. I never get jaded by it all. I thank Lulu for providing all this. Werner Von Braun is not my hero.

This is Lulu's recording of the event.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Last Night In London - Shopping With Joan

Tomorrow we fly home to Tallahassee. The 16 days over here flew by. We visited Chelsea - and the National Army Museum. We ate at the Pizza Pilgrim near Carnaby Street - then we shopped that famous lane. Finally we spent some time in the Liberty Christmas Store. 

Over here - Nov 11th - is Remberance day

Lulu piloting a tank at the Army Museum

En electric UPS truck

Fortnum and Mason shopping

Poster in Pizza Pilgrim - this movie was filmed near Tallahassee

Carnaby Street

In th e1960s - Carnaby was a Mod shopping area

It was only 6 PM but pitch black

Nice clean dry streets

Steps in a shoe store

Mod Shoe Store

I would wear these Bambi shoes

The Liberty Store

The liberty store

Piles of carpets in Liberty Store

More piles of carpets

Carpets piles like cord wood - look at the prices!

The Liberty Store

Mailbox to the North Pole