November 07
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Wednesday, November 6, 2007

For a couple of days we have been heading north to our home in Vineland, New Jersey.  We took 'local' roads until today when we hopped on 95 around Rocky Mount, NC.  We drove the center of Florida and were duly rewarded with views of sugar cane city and horse country.  It was very nice.  In Georgia we moved inland a bit to 301 which is really in a remote area with little development.  There was a crossroad with a gas station and food mart that was incredibly busy, as it was the only store within 12 miles.  Because of this we turned back to the shore in South Carolina and happened upon Hampton Plantation, which is a Plantation Home built around 1700 and was in the same family until 1973 or thereabouts.  

Cathy and I spent a long time touring the home and attending a guided tour that was superb.  The lady leading it is a descendent of a slave that worked the plantation before the Civil War and she was terrific and factual.  Her history made her presentation all the more interesting and kept the group attentive and appreciative.  Apparently this is one of very few plantations that survived the War.  In the low country Rice producing Santee area of South Carolina it stands alone.  I've take a bunch of pictures and plan to create a new web site for the Plantation.  It will be ready in a few days.  I've got the structure complete and pictures added and will begin writing soon.

We purchased many books ranging from the Swamp Fox to Gullah cook books and we are planning a few meals at home to which we will invite our local friends and musicians that will be a recreated plantation dinner.  I'll do some cooking and give Cathy a break as she has worked very hard to support my successful effort to ride from New York to Key West.  

In North Carolina yesterday we decided to drop the shore and move back inland heading to the Shenandoah Valley on route 29.  We had not idea where to stay and so looked for sites around Sanford, NC.  The nearest sites were in Apex.  Apex? I said.  That's where Phil Stork lives.  And lo and behold we were able to get to Phil and had a terrific lunch with him at the local Perkins.  Big meal and lots of talk.

This area of NC is enticing as a place to live.  The weather is moderate in the winter.  Cathy was pleased with it and we will probably take a good look at it for a retirement home.

We also stayed at a State Campground, Crosswinds, within the Jordan Lake State Park.  Cathy got an idea that it was perfect for a Thanksgiving Dinner and so we are inviting the family to join us in 08.  The event will be a camping trip, and will recreate exactly the dinner served in Plymouth.  We will dress as the Pilgrims and Indians did and prepare food in similar fashion.  So we will try to be as close to the original Thanksgiving, including costumes, as we can muster.

Daughter Jennifer is up for it and we will see son Paul soon. 

Jennifer is now on strike with the Writers Guild and was on a picket line today.  I was watching CNN for the first time in six weeks and they must be owned by a company with interests in television as the reporting was biased in the extreme.  They belittled writers and did not at all get the point of the strike.  This ownership conflict of interest in news organizations, now used for propaganda purposes, is clearly something that would not have happened if the FTC and FCC were still as strong as in the sixties and seventies.  When banking was my trade I supported privatization of about everything on the broad basis that private individuals and business would do a more efficient job than government.  But today I see the fallacy of my thinking.  The problem is the consolidation of power in fewer and fewer CEO's and Boards of Directors, who. for there own interests are maximizing profits and in some cases 'creating' and 'molding' public attitudes with fiction and tripe.  The CNN reporting of the Strike is a good example.  All they did was criticize the signs and slogans used on the line.  On Strike was not a good enough sign for the reporter, and by extension, the network.  They suggested the writers could have been more creative and that was the focus of the reporting.  Tripe.  There was no discussion of the issues at all.

Cathy and i have not watched Television for many weeks now.  We have done quite well and limited our boredom and snacking as a result.  I find in hindsight that I have eaten profusely while watching the TV in my favorite easy chair.  Inactivity and carbohydrates and salt and sugar all down the old gullet which sitting mindlessly watching news that is inaccurate and live entertainment, and now spiced with e-mails from the crowd.  Certain dramatic shows I exclude.  If well written and requiring thought then they are in my opinion worth watching.  The War by Burns is an example and certainly Jennifer's show, Cold Case is another, and I do so solemnly swear that I have an enormous bias in Jennifer's "Cold Case".  

So join me folks on the road to recovery of my senses and body on the next bike adventure that we will announce soon.  Down with CNN and Fox and General Electric and Sony and all other conglomerates that mix media with other companies they own and report on trends and events in a way that will maximize their sales and not the truth.

As soon as we are able to dislodge this administration and replace it with a thoughtful group that is truly governing for the people I hope we can return to some basic honest behaviors and good manners.  

Spinning began perhaps with Roosevelt and his fireside chats.  It was sharpened by John F. Kennedy who defeated Richard Nixon in 1960 largely because Nixon sweat during the first TV debates.  Oh, his beard was also not clean or made up.  Kennedy was made up and killed Nixon.  Now I was against in every way Richard Nixon, but this is not the point.  Spinning of meaningless and untruthful information has got to stop.  Everyone is learning from the TV folks how to do it.  Dodging questions is now an art form and direct answers are just not in vogue.  Certainly the current administration spin doctors took full advantage of the catastrophe's of this decade.  But their performance has gone down as the truth begins to rise to the service.  Think Katrina and Oil, please.

Stop the spin.

Always do the right thing, even if you risk you livelihood.  Always say what you will do and then do what you said.   Your customers will respect you and come back.


Friday, November 2, 2007

We are headed up US 27 to Ocala where we plan to pick up 301.  We are actually in rolling hills in Florida, which were totally unexpected.  After riding for six weeks on flats it was a surprise that you can keep.  I've heard folks describe wind on flats as our flat mountains, but no matter how hard it blows its nothing like a long up hill ride although I am much stronger now than in September and October.  

I dread going home to the cold and not riding for a while.  It has been a great trip, a great ride, and a neat way to drop some pounds, although I was surprised to find it is still 25 pounds down, or about 10% of my body weight.  What about Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners?  I'll have to get out the long John's and heavy weather gear and get out there after a few good KMO coffees and perhaps a few KMO espresso's.  There is nothing like a double espresso with a shot of almond syrup, or vanilla syrup to start your ride.  Or to perk things up in the middle.

Did you know there are real live Florida Panthers?  There was one treed by a few local dogs and it finally got out its perch and ran off into the Florida Jungles.  This camp site, Lake Griffen State Park has all the trimmings including rattlers, water moccasins, alligators, and other friendly critters along with some song birds.

Today we got the oil changed on the Ford E450 and in the generator.  New filters as well as some lube and fluids.  

In Business always do what you say you will do.  If you make an appointment you can be up to 5 minutes late, but not more.  You must respect your customers and their time and schedule.   You can never cancel on a customer with no notice or a few hours notice.  Especially if you're with another prospect and like what is going on there.  Get to the appointment any way you can.  We had an interesting experience today with a RV service department but I don't want to get into it.  Suffice to say they did not do what they promised and we lost a couple of hours on the road.  No big deal but a pain.  It could have been superior.  So always do what you say you will do.

Sales people can keep you informed about current events.  See the ones that help you out, as in business one hand does indeed wash the other.  Always return favors and always acknowledge the favor extended.  And if you have an appointment with a sales person, please keep it too as they are your source for new ideas, products and current information.  Some sales people can talk you ear off.  If you are still talking about baseball or some other non business topic after five minutes you might need another sales person.  I'm not talking about relationship building topics like the history of the company and other clients experience.  Good sales people get to the point quickly as their time is valuable too.  I toured a new RV as I was waiting for the service to be completed, and the young beginner salesperson did a fine job.  Jake was his name.

Coffee stores along 27 must be in strip malls and enclosed malls as I have not spotted any.  I'm also driving not riding so it may be me.  The development on 27 is astounding.  To actually see what I've been reading about for so many years is quite something and I'm happy to be going up the center of the state.  There are developments it seems about every 100 yards, from the low 100's to high 190's.  What is high 190's?  And up.  I've got to find a time of  year or location that has the Florida features and less humidity.  Help!  Perhaps we can open another plant here.   Or ...  

I've gotta get some good coffee tomorrow and will keep an eager eye out and will check with Goggle, the fifth largest company in the US now and about to pass Microsoft.  How is that possible.  The newspaper was talking about stock market capitalization, not sales or profits or real capital.  How did I miss that run up.  Or, what should I be doing right now to catch the next sale.

I don't believe much in miracles and so don't rely on luck to bring me financial success, however I might define that.  I believe in hard work, focus, and expanding the base of customers.  I urge you to do that as well.  Expand your base.  Goggle's are few and rare.  But getting another 10 or so consumers to come to your store and then getting them to come back is easy.  Call some of your friends and ask them to bring their friends around for a demo and some free instruction.  Or let the local Chiropractor come in and give an explanation of their trade.  Something to bring in 10 people and then repeat it.  Expand your base.

Goodnight again.  Oh, we paid 17 dollars for our stay tonight.  The state parks in Florida are definitely the way to go.  The product is quite good and service fine.  The don't have propane or stores and most don't have sewer, only dump stations, which is always my job, which is fine.  We have been big fans of KOA but they have raised prices and don't seem to provide much for the tripling of cost.  There are many independent camps that do provide good service at a reasonable price.

Ah business.  The challenges are never over.  Isn't it grand.


Thursday, November 1, 2007

Bear in Florida

No kidding.  On Route 27 there were signs warning of Bear Crossing and lo and behold we came across another dead bear at the side of the road that we could not stop to see.  It was a sorry sight.  Tonight we arrived in Highlands State Park and there are five Boar about 200 yards from our site.  Also many deer.

A few days ago we rode through the Key Deer preserve.  Key Deer are an endangered species.  We did not see one but they are supposed to be a bit larger than a dog.  Clic on this link for a brief look at them.  They are 24 to 30 inches high at the shoulder.  Rich McKay has seen them and says they are very tame.  Interesting thing is today we rode by a very very large ranch with a fair amount of cattle and big signs on the perimeter saying "Tame Deer, Do Not Hurt".   I wondered if they were breeding venison.  No time to find out.

At the South Bay County Camp Ground, which was about the nicest we have stayed at, Cathy saw more Alligators and the signs were all over the place telling you to stay clear of the water if you are with a pet.  The local manager, who is top draw in my opinion, so much so that Cathy is sending a letter of commendation to her boss, says a 12 footer will out run you in the short distance.  People say to zig zag should this happen.  This camp culls out any gator over 4 feet.  I saw anther gator in a drainage area for Lake Okeechobee while riding around the perimeter on a Levee build by Herbert Hoover and his boys.  This was after Okeechobee was blown out of its boundary during a heck of a hurricane and killed several thousand people.  It is the best bike path I've seen in Florida to date.  It is wide, smooth and I rode for 24 miles and did not see another biker.

I did see several walkers, one of whom I could see needed water.  But I had none to spare at that moment.  Fortunately I was only 3 miles from Pahokee where, at a Cuban/Mexican convenience store I got three bottles and brought one back to the walker, who was really ready for a cold one.  We did not chat, but her look was worth a thousand words.

A couple at the campground hail from North Carolina and come down on October 1 and go back home around April 1.  They were both riding Sun Tricycles, that is, three wheel bikes.  Both of them were well over 70 but in apparent fabulous health.  They were interested in my bike of course and we chatted for 15 minutes.  They now carry repair kits, food, and water with them in baskets behind the seat and over the rear axle when they ride .  I'd think about a tricycle at a later date if it meant more years of riding.  I could not do these long distance rides on highways but I'm sure I could find routes that would work.  Anyhow, they were very nice people with finally a real down home accent, natives of North Carolina.

I have fallen in love with this state and can not get over that it is November and I'm biking, walking around in shorts and tee shirts, tanned, and enjoying fantastic blue sky, short cloud bursts, big humidity, and sweat.  Sweat.  Sweat.  Which has helped me on the weight side.  I've not gotten on a scale yet but we passed a YMCA on the way into the camp ground tonight and I may try to impose on them for a quick weigh in, like Weight Watchers.  But I won't have a crowd to clap and scream and shout and stamp their feet.  So if I get good numbers I am asking all of you classmates and music friends to stamp your feet, clog a little, clap and sing "You Are My Sunshine" and then Are You Missing Me.

If I don't get a good number I'll probably start peddling back to Key West and then as Mike Edgerton suggested, off to Texas while I'm at it.  I'd love to go through the Florida Panhandle and then cruise the shore of Alabama and Louisiana, where there governor is the first politician to pay the ultimate price of failing to respond appropriately to the Katrina debacle.

My high school friend and wildly succesful businessman and sailor, Alan Colletti wrote congratulations to me tonight and I had to mention to him an article I was reading in Harpers October 2007 edition.  The article is titled "Disaster Capitalism: The new economy of catastrophe", by Naomi Klein.  Rich McKay gave me the magazine and it sure is not in any way a conservative publication.   So far it is very interesting.

Did you know there are more mercenaries on our payroll in Iraq than Soldiers?  Did you know that a mercenary firm can now respond faster to a catastrophe than the government or the Red Cross?  They own the trucks, planes, earth movers and other supplies needed to respond.  They also have the tools to supply security in Iraq.  The short version of the story is that Government, whom we elect to protect us, and to come to our assistance in the event of Katrina sized catastrophe's can not do it.  They simply don't have the resources any more and since around 2000 have given this 'work' to private companies, who will only go if they are paid.  So God forbid you are a poor black person standing on your rooftop in New Orleans.  The people who pay the most get the help first.  I'm not in any way criticizing the Coast Guard who acted in what appeared to be a random fashion helping people of all colors.  

These private companies are not bound by the same rules as the United States Government and are being used to fight too the War on Terror.  It is shameful to me that our country has resorted to torture and then parses the word in every sentence.  Like Bill Clinton, who said "It depends on what you mean by the word is".   I heard that Chaney was in legal trouble in France and had to leave quickly, but saw no reports of this and so can not vouch for it, but he should be in my opinion also in legal trouble in this country.  So why is he not?

I suggest you read this Article: Disaster Capitalism, Harpers, October 2007, Naomi Klein.  Enough all ready.

We are headed north on the inside route up 27 to Ocala then not sure if up through Georgia center of back to shore.  After riding 24 great miles around Lake Okeechobee, well not around, but from South Bay to Pahokee, first into the 30 mph wind from Noel, and then back with the wind at my tail, but pushing hard for more speed.  I had a good workout after no riding beyond a lazy ride with Rich downtown Key West.  

Rich and I rode downtown to visit with Tina and Phil, owners of the Sugar Apple Juice Bar and Veggie Deli, and Vegan Supermarket.  We had jammed in their home the previous night and had a great time.  Tina has a broken leg and was not at work, but Phil was.  Great store without coffee!  Phil also rides a recumbent, I think one he made.  It is longer than mine and steers with bars under the seat, which would unnerve me, but he feels is more secure because of the natural position for the arms.  I see his point.

He is a first class guitar flat picker.  Tina is guitarist and singer with great voice.  Phil is good singer as well.  It was a good night.  Turns out they have family in Philadelphia and in Ocean City.  We had purchased a pizza locally in Key West which we brought to the jam.  We mentioned it tasted like Mac and Manco's, which led to the mutual history we have in Ocean City.  Small world isn't it.

I am a very lucky guy to have had the time and resources and sponsorship to take this ride, and it will not be the last.  I have in mind, thorough rides to many coffee stores, by State.  And more long rides on different routes with more publicity and more coordination with local stores to assemble folks to ride on segments of the ride.  Like a day here or a day there.

So there is much to do to spread the word and work of successful coffee houses, but also to organize more rides and get more publicity for these hard working folks.

Right now though I'm going to bed.




This site is sponsored by Kaffe Magnum Opus, the coffee roaster.  To contact Bob please call his cell 609-247-9683 or e-mail or  Or call the office at 800-652-5282 and the folks there will find me.