Africa 2016 – Before We Leave

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April 19

Well, checking in last night took an hour (until midnight!!).

Checked in for Washington–>London–>Johannesburg. Lisa doesn’t have frequent traveler status so she has two choices. Pay $135 a leg to pre-select or select at checkin 24 hours out. So, you checkin for both flights but they want to charge $135 for seat selections on the connecting flights as it was more than 24 hours for London–>Johannesburg. This is after I called 5 hours earlier and explicitly asked this question and was told “no problem.” After 45 minutes and 2 supervisors they waived the fee.

Apparently all international carriers have adopted this policy as another way to make money but it’s the worst customer experience in the world.


April 18

Today is the last work day this month and after today I only have 8 more before “retirement”. I say that in quotes as you never know what the future will bring.

Have to stay up late tonight to check in (24hrs before my 1020 PM departure tomorrow from Dulles) and get a British Air seat assignment for the Heathrow–>Joburg leg. Even at outrageous British Airways Club World prices they charge $135 to get a seat more than 24 hours before checkin. “WTF”. Since I have status on AA I was able to get a seat assignment for myself and now I have to stay up so Lisa and I can sit together on this 11 hour flight. For a $7,000 ticket, this is ludicrous (speed).


April 17

Packing complete 48 hours out. Had to “test pack” for weight on Airlink, SAAs regional carrier from Johannesburg to Skukuza (gateway to Kruger and Sabi Sands, the private reserve where we will be. 20kg each checked and 2 x 8 kg hand carry. Sounds easy until you get to my camera gear 🙂

S Mack Peters ( a less wild cat) is also ready to get rid of us as shown by the photo below. He realizes he can be packed and we are still under the 40kg limit.

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There had been a lot of planning on this trip as the 10 days after our safari ends I planned mostly myself with help of our Cape Town friends Mary und Karlheinz as well as booking.com and AirBnB.  I even purchased South African maps on microSD for our Garmin (US$99, don’t know how they stay in business) so we could navigate the Garden Route in our rental car without worrying about wireless data.

And of course making sure we had all the necessary accoutrements for our fun excursion with the Great Whites in Gansbaai.

My First Trip to Augusta!

What an experience! We left from our home near Greenville around 7 AM and made the 120 mile trip in 2.5 hours winding through rural western South Carolina after going South to Greenwood.

The last couple miles of the trip were bumper to bumper even on the first practice day, Monday April 4. People hawking tickets flagrantly even though Augusta is very strict on resale.

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Once there we went to the Masters store. We waited 45 minutes in queue to get in and then parted with money at $100 a minute, including the belt below that I misplaced a decimal point on the price tag.

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The course was immaculate as expected except the azaleas appeared to not yet have reached full bloom. We went straight to Amen Corner the most famous couple holes at Augusta. The sites I had seen dozens of time on television now had smell and felt the grass under my feet. We got to see Tom Watson on his final Masters as well as others including Adam Scott. Truly memorable.

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Entering the lottery for 2017’s tournament as I write this. Nuff said!

Another ride for Charity, cmon!!

 

no, this is a great cause that you’ve all heard about!!

Multiple Sclerosis.

Every hour of every day, someone is diagnosed with MS. That’s why I am turning this years ride to ride 200 miles across North and South Carolina (my new home), and why I’m asking you to support my fund raising efforts with a tax-deductible donation. 

Click here to visit my personal page.
If the text above does not appear as a clickable link, you can visit the web address:
http://main.nationalmssociety.org/site/TR?px=9625975&pg=personal&fr_id=16424&s_tafId=213393

Click here to view the team page for Cycle-icious
If the text above does not appear as a clickable link, you can visit the web address:
http://main.nationalmssociety.org/site/TR?team_id=254172&pg=team&fr_id=16424&s_tafId=213393

Follow along this summer and during the ride for live blogging at my site located here

215 Southwind Drive

We have been here 17 years and its time to retire down South.We just listed the home we’ve come to love. It will be hard to leave this quiet cul-de-sac in Doylestown. I hope if you read this and like what you see, you’ll contact me or your realtor to arrange a showing. It will make some buyer very happy. If you know that buyer, put them in touch as well.

The full write-up of this Glenn Hess/Phil Mack custom built home is here. Its ~4300 square feet and now listed at $609k

Exterior

First Floor

Second Floor

The hardest part of course is leaving the many friends and few family members behind here in beautiful Bucks county! We will, of course, have a big bash after we sell! And all are welcome to come visit in SC to cycle, play golf, hang out!!

Covered Bridges of Bucks Series – part 3 (Frankenfield)

Location: Cafferty Rd., Tinicum Twp. (Google Map)
Height Limit: 9.5 ft. Width: 12 ft.
Length: 130 ft. Weight Limit: 15 tons

Frankenfield Covered Bridge

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This covered bridge was built to allow people, horses and wagons a dry passage across the Tinicum Creek, an area once known for an abundant turtle population, on a common travel route of the day. In the winter time workers would “snow” the bridges for the benefit of uninterrupted sleigh rides.  Historically covered bridges have been called “kissing” or “Wishing” because young couple used the shaded passages to steal a kiss or make a wish before entering a new bridge for the first time.  The bridge was made with a roof to protect the wood and timbers from rotting.  People were not to drive or ride over the bridges faster than a walk (about 3 to 4 miles per hour) and smoking was prohibited.  Ithel Town, an engineer and architect from new Haven, CT, Patented the lattice like design in 1820.  Timbers were held in place by wooden pegs know as “tree nails,” allowing the bridge to be built by less skilled workers.

 

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According to a 1982 publication on covered bridges, the county had recently restored it.  It is in excellent condition with vertical plank siding, gable roof, inside walls in the portal area and cut stone abutments.  In 1984 it was one of thirteen remaining covered bridges in Bucks County of the 26 that had been built. Haupt’s Covered Bridge (Which bears the name of some of Simon Frankenfield’s descendants) was burned in January 1985 to bring the number of covered bridges in the county to 12.  In October 1991 arson destroyed the Scholfield Bridge in Tyler State Park.  hence Bucks county had only 11 covered bridges left in 2000.

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Thanks to friend and fellow photographer, Mike Rubillo, for braving the cold to go take pictures! Additional thanks to John C. Frankenfield forthe history. 

The Saga of the (World’s Richest) Trailer Park

While on vacation this week, I decided to share the most unbelievable story of wealth and greed. Oddly, you might not expect that involves a trailer park!  This is the saga of Briny Breezes, Inc. in Palm Beach County, Florida. The trailer park (411 residents as of 2000) has been incorporated into a town since 1963, It is only 1 of 2 trailer parks in Florida incorporated and the only one with beach-front property.

I was staying right across the street at a friend’s Casita in Delray Beach.  I shot some photos (ableit without getting a fine) to give you a feel for the community.

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In October 2005, developer Jean Francois Roy, of Ocean Land Investments, made an offer to buy the entire town for $500 million. This would equate to an average of slightly more than $1 million per residential lot. In December 2005, it was announced that 73 percent of the 488 lot owners had voted to hire a lawyer to pursue the sale. Later, Roy raised his offer to $510 million.

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Had the sale gone through, it would have meant a huge windfall for each lot owner. Many people paid between $30,000 and $40,000 when they purchased their homes. In comparison, the 2000 census reported $129,000 was the median value of a home in Briny.

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A vote to ratify the deal was set for January 10, 2007 and 80 percent of residents approved of the sale, with 97 percent of owners voting. The residents would not receive any compensation until 2009 and the plan was yet to be approved by state and local officials, due to zoning concerns.

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However, on July 30, 2007, when the “earnest money” was due to the town, the deal was cancelled by the land developer over a dispute with the town board of directors over how long a period was to be allowed for due diligence.

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As a result most of the landowners (median household income $34,583) lost the chance to become millionaires. That said walking around and talking to residents today they all seemed to be very content with a beautiful setting and great sense of community.

Thanks to Wikipedia for verification of the story’s details!

 

 

Thankful for the 4 Fs

Its the time of the year to count your blessings. Throughout the year, I, like many others, will occasionally whine and complain. Every now and then its nice to sit back and count your blessings. I reflect on what’s really important to me as I inwardly mumble “quite ur bitchin”!

Family

Thanks to my immediate and extended family for making my life complete. Thanksgiving is a time for family and sharing all that we have with each other.

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In my case, my family includes my 4 children who all happen to have fur.

Friends

Virtual and physical, online and offline, I am thankful for all the friends that I have made recently or over the many years, I have rekindled some friendships from high school as a result of social media.

Friends

Making friends and networking is one of the beauties of social media. As I move south, I have made good friends through a “self-selection” process online that matches interests, styles and personalities and then chosen to meet those people face to face. Much more efficient (and fun). Thank you all for enriching my life!

Fitness

So I forced this one to be “an F”. Fitness is important. Maintaining good health and quality of life is paramount.

Fitness

 

As I lay yesterday in an MRI tube for a silly wrist injury and thought, “this is horrible”, I caught myself. I said to myself that this is just a small artifact of aging and that at my age I am still able to do the things I love athletically and physically. I remembered riding across the state of PA last year and thinking of the kids I was doing it for. The Make A Wish foundation helps kids who do not have the good fortune to have the good health that I do. Thank you for my good health and allowing me to help others that don’t!

Fun

And even without the other 3 “Fs” aligning perfectly, I am grateful when I remember that life is richer and fuller when you think about smiling and having fun! It makes each day that much more fulfilling!

Fun

Happy Thanksgiving to all!