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Friday, March 26, 2021

On The Florida Road in Our Camper - St Augustine

We had supper last night at Lulu's - Lulu and Joan enjoyed the outdoor dining along the Inter Coastal Waterway. 

Our camper 200 miles from home at the St Augustine Outlet Mall

Doctor Fauci said old people that got the vaccine can visit other old people that got the vaccine. So we decided to hop in the camper - with minimal stuff - and headed to see our friend Joan in Nocatee FL. It is about 200 miles from our home to hers. We stopped by Bradley's Country Store to get some of Joan's favorite sausage. I-10 from Tallahassee to Jacksonville is really quiet and in just a few hours we were enjoying the Florida East Coast. To our surprise - the ocean temperature here is 62 degree. We left 68 degree surf at Panama City Beach last week. No big deal - because I refuse to swim in anything under 88 degrees. 

Joan is about 8 miles from a lovely beach at Ponte Vedra. 

Thursday - Lulu wanted to visit the outlets at Saint Augustine. I stayed in the camper and watched TV while Lulu shopped in the empty open mall. 

Thursday night supper was spent at Lulu's on the Inter Coastal Waterway. We ate outside - and it was a beautiful way to end a busy day of beach and shopping. 

Joan has a dog now - his name is Manny. It is not nice to describe humans by color - so I won't do it with Manny. I won't describe size either nor age. I will just say he is a pleasant creature. 

What I love about traveling in the camper is that we see all different kinds of vehicles. This area seems to have a wealth of exotic toys. 

First - I saw a real Shelby Mustang. Many people do not know that Shelby still makes cars in Las Vegas. We have visited the factory near the airport there. I took a few pictures of this 700 HP street screamer. 

Next - at the beach - we saw this Ural Motorcycle. It has a sidecar and it is from Russia. At least it is a replica of an old Russian cycle. It had a Wisconsin plate on it - but it was much too clean to have been driven from that winter wonderland. I am guessing it is a "trailer baby." Many folks will bring their bikes down from up north in a covered trailer - then unload them and ride in the warm sun. 

We really do not know where we will go next. Lulu said she would go as long as I found a place to watch the FSU game on Sunday. Daytona - Orlando - Disney - Tampa - St Pete - Ocala - who  knows?

We are at night number 60 in the camper. Since we are staying in Joan's - these nights do not count. 

I am home alone typing this story with Manny. Joan and Lulu are at the beach again. I was really surprised when no one protested that I wanted to stay here and type. 

A Ural Motorcycle with sidecar.

The Inter Coastal Waterway goes all the way up the east coast. It is protected from waves by the island chain. 

What a nice boat right by the restaurant. 

That is Lulu's. We ate where the yellow chair is.

This is a real Shelby Mustang. You can still buy them. Built in Las Vegas. 

They are $70,000 and 700 horsepower. 

Note the spare tire and spare seat.

Too clean to ride from Wisconsin

Lulu says no to a side car.

The cylinders stick out the side. 

How is that seat for a 3000 mile ride?

Sunday, March 14, 2021

My Test Drive of a Tesla Model 3 - Thanks Peter


Peter and his Tesla Model 3.

It has a trunk in the front and back - I will not say "frunk."

Everhart's love to go. My Mom used to say - "Everhart's have gypsy blood." There was a time we used to drive to Disneyworld from Pennsylvania - for a long weekend - 20 hours each way. Now most of our travels are overseas - our last big one included a 10-hour non-stop flight from Beijing to Paris - to spend Christmas with the Everhart 10. 

In the old days - travel meant driving. A friend once said - the Everhart's will never go to Hawaii because you can't drive there. Although we are old - we still enjoy driving - especially in our camper. We are like turtles - carrying our home on our back - bed - toilet - refrigerator - etc. 

But most of all - I love cars. I have owned 75 in my life. Some I have owned for as little as a month - but now my 5 vehicles are getting long in the tooth. Our camper has 30,000 miles - the Honda Van has 26,000 miles - our electric Leaf has 43,000 miles - your Ford pickup shows 238,000 miles! The baby is our Vespa scooter at 1000 miles. They are collecting pollen just sitting here. I have finally convinced Lulu - we should get rid of some and get a new one. 

Yesterday - I think I convinced her that we should get a new Tesla. I told my friend George about it - and he said he has a friend that has had one for 18 months. I quickly called friend Peter - and he said we could come over for a demo. 

Peter leased a Tesla Model 3. It is a top of the line all wheel drive model with two motors. It has a range of 315 miles. It can go 162 MPH. It goes 0-60 in 3.1 seconds. That is not a typo! It is that fast. Peter leased it over the internet and in 5 days it was delivered. Peter has only put 6000 miles on it in 18 months but he is now a super advocate. 

Right away - he told us to hop in - and we all went on a long loop featuring interstate highway cruising. This particular model is $55,000 new. Tesla will not haggle on the price. In the old days there was a $7500 tax credit but that is gone now because Tesla reached the limit in the tax credit. 

0-60 in 3.1 seconds. That is fast. To compare it - the hottest Z-51 Chevy Corvette right now does 0-60 in 2.9 seconds. That is blazing fast. And yet when you push the pedal - the Tesla is silent. I did not floor it - but I pressed it down a few times - and was startled by the burst. 

Peter's Tesla has auto-pilot. This allows the car to do it all on the highway. It is an $8000 computer option.  It is in every car - you must pay to download the software. 

It has so many neat features. But the quiet and speed just blow me away. I do not drive fast - but enjoy the power. 

If we buy one - it would be the basic Model 3. It only has RWD and one motor. The base price is $39,000 - add tax - out the door. The white color is standard - other colors cost $1000 and $2000. 

The dash has one large computer screen that you touch for most controls. The cars are as nice as any Mercedes or Cadillac inside. 

Lulu has a busy summer. If covid lifts we are in Australia July and August. So it looks like Sept 1st will be the date to buy one.  

Thank you Peter for showing us your Tesla. You would be a great salesman. 

Here are the base prices.

It has a big trunk and plexiglass roof.

Two motors - one for front wheels - one for back wheels.

Plexiglass roof was tinted so sun was not bad. 

Easy entry. Note the dash board it empty. 

Peter had such a neat garage - the car can come out of the garage by itself.

That is my Nissan Leaf to the right. 

Day 10 - Flying Home From Costa Rica - Reflections

This was pool at our San Jose Hampton Inn on our last morning. 

Only one runway points up over the mountain. 

Tuesday we flew home from Costa Rica. It was the end of 10 days of fun. Nothing went wrong. We did not lose anything - no one got sick - nobody robbed us - all our hotels were good - all 4 flights were on time. 

We woke up in our Hampton Inn at 5:30 am. Sunrise there is always near 6 am. We looked out of our hotel room and saw the pool that we never tried. The water was cold after the heated pool in our Marriott Beach Resort. It was about 83 degrees. We got our showers and packed our bags. We really checked the room making sure we left nothing behind. Extensions cords - iPhone cords - power supplies - computer bricks - stuff in the safe - we wanted to make sure we got it all. When you are old - you forget stuff - so we double check. Check the bathroom - shaver - comb - etc - we got it all. We each have one little roller bag and one backpack. 

Downstairs they had breakfasts in bags for us to take with us on the bus to the airport. By the way - the terminal is just across the street so we were in and out of the bus just like that. I gave him a tip of 1000 Colones. The airport was not busy. I think our American Airlines flight was the only one going out. They take your temperature - they check your passport - they also insist you have a fresh covid test paper. We did. They let us through - just like that - no lines - no hassles. 

We were at the gate one hour early. Lulu loves this time. She gets to spend any left over cash - she had 20,000 Colones to spend. That is $33. I sit at the gate with our bags. We had good wifi there - and I just read the news. When the gate attendant arrived - I asked if they needed volunteers for bumps. A bump is giving up my tickets for cash plus a later flight. No luck - the plane was half full. 

It is a nice airport - it has a pretty large terminal - but only one runway. It heads west to east - right up over the mountains toward the Atlantic Ocean. As we cleared the mountains - we had a few bumps - then it smoothed out all the way home. Lulu and I had our own row. The row in front of us and the row in back of us were empty. There was plenty of room overhead for our 4 bags. Our Boeing 737 had new seats and a new entertainment system. They have little brackets to hold your cellphone. There is a USB plug right there for your cellphone. Using my iPhone and my AirPods Pros - it was the best movie experience in a plane for me. My iPhone screen is super clear - and the AirPods are noisy cancelling. That is great when you are hard of hearing. I really enjoyed the movie I chose - "Across the Universes." It had lots of 1960s music in it. 

It took 4 hours to Dallas - we landed - and got directly into a plane to Tallahassee. We have quick entry ow thru customs - you just use your entry card - it looks at your face - bam you are through. The home flight was 2 hours - and we were home. We traveled along the Gulf Coast and could pick out the cities - Pensacola - Destin - Panama City - Lake Talquin - then home. 

We got the first cab in line at Tallahassee - and were home by 6 pm. Our house was perfect. Our camera system showed only my neighbor George patrolling our home while we were gone. No one else approached the house. 10 days away and no one came - pathetic. Don't people check on old folks anymore to see if they have fallen and could not get up?

I have had time to reflect on the trip - here are a few comments. 

Our trip cost $3800 - planes - hotels - food - admissions - etc. Of that - $900 was covid related stuff - travel insurance - car insurance - covid tests. If we failed a covid test - we could have been quarantined there an extra week - in a hotel - with room service. The insurance would have covered that. 

The airline were real strict about covid prevention. They took our temp many times - wiped everything - made us wash - everyone wore masks - no exceptions. Everyone complied - no jerks. They did not care if you had your shots. They wanted covid tests - both going and coming. Our test here in Tallahassee was free - Costa Rica charged us $160 for a test. 

People in Costa Rica were very appreciative that we came. They kept telling us that. Their number one industry is tourism. They all wear masks all the time. They do not have vaccines yet there. Even out in the country you see people walking the road with masks alone. Every now and then I forgot to put on a mask - and they remind you politely. 

We did stop at a hospital that was giving tests to locals. When they asked us what were our symptoms - we said we had none. They said we must have symptoms - we did not lie. We walked. 

We stayed in many very nice hotels - from the Marriott Pacific resort - to our volcano lodge - to the Grand Hotel in San Jose. We stayed at a few chains - one Hilton let us stay free for points. We did not eat fancy - but the meals were nice. We ate mostly at little outdoor restaurants - some chains. We even had our last meal at the mall that had about 20 American chain restaurants. 

We tend to enjoy cultural places - historical stuff - museums - buildings - downtown squares. We do like natural things like volcanoes - canyons - oceans - lakes. We love trees and animals - but they are not our main focus - ever. We have lots of trees and animals in Florida - and with exception of color - they are pretty much the same. Just like we do not like to emphasize the difference of colors of humans - same way with other animals - we do not chase them around because they are red or orange. 

Cultural differences are cool. Cost Rica has no military. They spend the extra money on education. They are 99.5% literate. It is a third world country - the lower class is larger than the middle class and upper class combined. The average person earns $2.25 an hour - that is $4500 a year. It would be hard owning a home and car on that. 

Their roads are mostly two lane and winding. It is common to stop in line for repair for landslides - or a wreck that blocks the highway both ways for hours. We drove 500 miles at an average of about 30 mph. Other roads are dirt and very bumpy. Little SUV's are the common car. 

Since the country is stable - they have lots of American chain stores - like Walmart - McDonald's - Burger King - KFC - Hilton - Holiday Inn - etc. They also have chains of their own - like Pop's - an ice cream parlor. 

We did not see one camper - travel trailer - motor home. We did see one place to plug into an electric car - but not one electric car. 

We stayed at a fancy hotel that rivaled anything we ever stayed in. We stayed in a cabin with no heat and no air conditioning. Many of the bathrooms asked that you to not put toilet paper in the toilet. They had a wastebasket that was covered - next to the toilet. 

Costa Rica has excellent fruit - pineapples - water melons - canalopes - bananas - and so on. They sell much of their fruit and vegetable to the USA. 

We visited a coffee plantation ands a chocolate plantation. They make 1% of the world coffee - it is considered top drawer. 

They only have 5 million people - 2 million are in the capital of San Jose - the rest are spread out over a diverse farming country. 

The weather is tropical - always warm - with a wet and dry season. We were in the dry season. It is 90s along the coast and 70s in the mountains. San Jose is about 4000 feet up in the mountains. Some say it has the perfect climate. In wet season they do get 120 inches of rain a year - compared to Miami's 100 inches of rain a year - compared to Tamaqua's 40 inches of rain a year. 

They have 23 different poisonous snakes - we did not see a one. They have tiny poison frogs - we saw a couple - you get sick if you touch them. They are pretty colors. We saw a couple sloths - monkeys - but few birds.

They like Americans - American clothes - American music - American movies - and there are lots of chain stores. The average person does not have a lot of money to buy extra stuff. Prices at restaurants included tax and service charge - but any tip was gushed over. We did not see any beggars. 

We have had our covid vaccines for over a month. No one has died from virus after getting the vaccine - but it is unclear if we can carry it. We wear masks - we wash hands - we stay away from crowds. We do this to protect others. We will probably not leave the country again until after the covid restrictions are lifted. 4 of our family lives in Paris. We want to visit them next. Lulu has a fellowship to do research in Australia for 2 months - hopefully July and August. Paying all the extra "covid taxes" is a bummer. 

We would suggest to others - going to Costa Rica is great. I would wait - although we saw it when it was empty of tourists. That was nice. Even going to Hawaii right now - they demand you quarantine for a week once you get there! They truly do not want you to come. 

Our next trip will be a 10 day camper trip. We will compare what we spent in Costa Rica - versus - what we pay on a 10-day camper trip. 

This is the covid test that cost $160.

Our hotel was just across the highway from our airport. 

I think this was Guatemala. 

Just west of Tallahassee is Talquin Dam. We produce 4% of our electricity here. You can see the dam and waterfall. 


Monday, March 08, 2021

COSTA RICA - Day 9 - Monte Verde Cloud Forest

It is our last full day in Costa Rica. Lulu wanted one more last try and "finding nature." The Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve was less than a mile from our cottage. we woke up this morning hoping our covid test results would be in our email - they were not. So we decided to walk in the jungle -up to the top of the mountain to the continental divide. You probably learned and forgot in grade school what the great divide is. It is an imaginary line on the ground from Alaska to Chile. On one side of the line - the water runs into the Atlantic. On the other side of the line - the Pacific gets the water. One could literally walk that line and pee - and you could determine which ocean it will end up in :-)

In Costa Rica - it almost runs eats and west - with the Atlantic to the north and the Pacific to the south. The winds blow up over the mountains from the Atlantic to the Pacific. This makes The Atlantic side lush and green as the rain falls going up the mountain. the Pacific side of the mountain is drier and more brownish from dried plants. 

25%. of Costa Rican land is locked up in natural preserves. I guess there is some tax incentive to say your land is a preserve. I am guessing you promise to keep it natural - and you avoid taxes - but still own it. 

In Costa Rica - major roads are pretty good - paved well - but they meander very much. It is hard to average over 30 miles per hour. It took us 3 hours to get from Monteverde to San Jose. For a spell - we were on Costa Rica Highway 1 - this is part of the famous Pan American Highway. One can drive from Alaska to Argentina. 

Along the way - we got emails that said our covid tests were negative - we could go home tomorrow. 

We pulled into our Hampton Inn by the airport. We went shopping in a local mall and had supper. WE filled the rental car with gasoline and took it back to the airport. We drove a total of 507 miles. Avis took us back to our hotel and here we are. 

Tomorrow - Tuesday - we fly from San Jose to Dallas to Tallahassee. After I get home tomorrow - I will give a final report. 

Our chalet had water heaters like this. Simple - the sun heats the water - it comes down into the house. 

We did not see nearly the wildlife we expected. 

We saw wild impatiens - in the forest. 

Elevation 1600 meters - that is the metric mile. 

We walked along the Continental Divide.

Looking west we saw the Pacific.

Looking east we saw rain clouds obscure the Atlantic.

I was leaning because I was tired. There was a gentle mist in my face. 

I loved this Suzuki Jimmy - 4WD. I had two similar Suzuki Samurais back in the 80s and 90s. They still make them new but do not import them to the USA. 

Monteverde was full of four wheel drives because their roads were poor. 

The was taken from down by the Pacific looking up to the Continental Divide. 

You could see the clouds roll down over the mountain.

The shipping port of Caldera was along Route 1.

The City Mall in San Jose was full of American chain stores. 

From the mall - I watched the clouds roll down the mountain. 

We had ice cream at Pop's in the mall. This was the view from Pop's. We shared a banana split at Pop's twice.

Sunday, March 07, 2021

Monte Verde - Our Cabin in the Sky - Costa Rica - Days 7 and 8

Our chalet high in the mountains at Monte Verde.

This is a chalet just like ours but ours is in the tree canopy.

We took this cable car ride in very windy conditions. 

It was just 100 miles and 4 hours of driving from our luxury resort along the Pacific Coast to our Eco-Tourism Chalet at 4300 feet above sea level near the Great Divide of Costa Rica. We left 93 degree tropical sunbaked lounging to a night of sleeping in a cabin with no heat and no air conditioning - just an open wood fireplace. Instead of having fancy poolside meals - we stopped for groceries and Lulu cooked our meals in a tiny kitchen with a propane hot plate. 

It has been bright sunny up here - but we did experience 57 degrees outside during the night. I woke up at 6 AM to build a fire for breakfast. 

A big concern of the trip for me is the covid test. Although we have both had our covid shots for over a month - we still have to be tested before we came back to the USA. Lulu was able to arrange the covid test with a doctor here in town - we fly Tuesday and must have our test results before the flight. Two things can happen - both bad. First the test could not come back on time - and we would miss the flight. Second - one of us could test positive - and we would be quarantined here in Costa Rica for a week. Supposedly - we will find out Monday morning - then fly home Tuesday. We have no symptoms - but supposedly you can carry covid - after the shots and show no signs. I worry. 

Our chalet is in the woods - heavily surrounded by tree canopy. We have seen a few ground animals and birds - but nothing like we expected. I was a science teacher - but my interests are more in Earth and Space Science and less in Biology. Still we expected a virtual zoo. 

We did take at ride on the Sky Tram - a cable car of sorts - high above where we are living. It was only 60 degrees and winds gusted to 50 mph. It was not fun in open cable cars. We did do some hiking on the premises of our cabin - and that was really nice. We did some mountain climbing and came back very tired. 

Although the chalet is lined with shiny wood - there is no insulation in the walls or roof. The windows are just single thickness glass. Our hot water is simple a shiny stainless tank on the roof. 

The water gets piping hot - but if you waste too much doing dishes at night - the morning showers are just warm. You live and learn with a place like this. Lulu is right at home with the kitchen - a propane hot place - refrigerator - coffee maker - tea boiler - microwave. 

Lulu says she would like to have a chalet like this on Saylor's Lake. It does remind me of our old home in Tamaqua. The living room is glass on three sides. 

Monte Verde has a special history. It was developed by a group of Quakers from Alabama in 1950. They did not want to fight in the Korean War - so they came here. We just visited their schools - the meeting house - and library. It is a Sunday - the school was empty - but the library operates on the honor system. You can take out library books by signing the card with your name and phone number. All the cataloging of books was done by hand. 

When the Quakers got to the area - annual visitors stood at about 100. Now 250,000 visitors come every year. Of course - with covid it is sparse now. The roads are horrible by USA standards - but the people seem to be happy driving SUV's and pickups. No worry about snow or ice. Mud??

We have good internet here - not real fast - around 7 mbps. It is good enough for us to stream Hulu - Netflix - and our Xfinity from home - and of course our Slingbox. The TV's down here do not have an HDMI port - so we cannot hook our iPhone to the TV here. We did it at the other hotels. 

We have T-Mobile service so we can make phone calls from here - also free data and text. 

Monday - we drive to San Jose Airport - Tuesday we fly to Tallahassee. 

Most people decide to go on a vacation to the shore or the mountains. Here we were able to do both. 

Our bedroom for two nights.

Bathroom - toilet - sink - shower stall

The kitchen had a refrigerator - a sink - a propane hot plate.

Both nights we kept a wood fire going. 

We got covid tests - required by USA - before we returned. 

Dr Fernandez - 9 AM Sunday. Results hopefully Monday. 

We caught the cable car in that building. 

Suspension bridges over the forest. 

Eco-tourism - looking for birds - butterflies - ground animals.

Volcano Arenal from our cable car.

Near the Great Divide - lots of wind. Dry season. 

Our volcano. 

Lookout tower on top of mountain. 

Giant leaves - 3 feet across

Our porch had a hammock. 

You could see all the way to the Pacific. 

Quaker School and Meeting House

Library door was open - honor system.

Lulu seeing if they had her books. 

Quaker Library.

Quaker Meeting House was very nice.