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Messages - RonLeavitt

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Recreational Vehicles / Re: chosing an RV
« on: February 25, 2016, 10:39:05 AM »
The Winnebago view is very reliable, comfortable.  If you wind up with a newer model, expect people to stop and ask you about your experience.  The view is in the size & maneuverability sweet spot. Small enough to drive with ease and access state parks.  There are other options out there, but the Winnebago View is one of the best in this size IMO.

New England / Route Optimization Software
« on: July 20, 2015, 10:51:46 AM »
Randal Olson (
has created a route optimization program that takes a list of way-points as you would enter them in google maps and calculates an optimal route between them.  The program is freely shared.  I have run it on my PC locally and I'm hoping to make it accessible on my website.  Randal used this program to generate the map attached below.

I've described the issues I encountered loading and running his program in my blog dated 7/20/2015.  It is quite easy to load and run.  I recommend loading python 2.7 and avoiding the issues I had with version 3.4.

New England / Planning a trip to New England in the Fall of 2015
« on: July 18, 2015, 03:05:43 PM »
We have started planning our trip to New England this September and October to visit friends and family.  I grew up in the Boston area.  Weekends we would take drives to New Hampshire or Vermont as our family get-away.  I remember visiting Gloucester, Franconia Notch, the Flume, Conway, and Hampton and Rye Beaches fondly.  I also spent a few weeks one summer on Martha's Vineyard and Moosehead Lake, Maine, with neighbors.  It will be fun getting back "home" and re-visiting these sites and finding more.  Ideally we'll visit in peak foliage season.

I had thought fall foliage developed from north to south.  It is more accurate to say foliage develops from inland towards the coast; from the Canadian border to the sea.  For that reason I'm considering driving from up-state  New York into Northern Vermont and Maine then down the Maine coast into New Hampshire and inland and south into central Massachusetts then east toward Boston and south to Rhode Island.   Ideally I'll plan a short drive between campsites with daily sight-seeing excursions.

In researching the best time to go and sites of interest, I've discovered a number of websites that will help me in my trip planning.  Here are a few of those:

An interactive guide to peak color in New England:
Maine, past foliage reports (slow site):            

I'll add to this section as our plans develop and I would love to hear from people who know the areas or who are planning a similar trip.


Venice, Italy / homeaway flat in Venice Italy
« on: May 22, 2015, 11:36:10 AM »
We disembark our Seabourn cruise in the wonderful city of Venice.
I cannot imagine a better place to unwind after our opulent cruise.
We will be focused on discovering the charm of Venice and perhaps visiting the islands Burano and Murano.
Burano is famous for lacework; Murano is famous for glasswork.   Italian craftsmanship and design is outstanding.
Yes, you can find very cheap and poorly made goods, often made for export.  High end Italian design is incomparable.

We will be staying in quiet Dorsoduro for four days, near Gallerie dell'Accademia and Ponte dell'Accademia.  Dorsoduro is  on the south side of Venice.
Nina Croze, the owner/manager, has pulled the homeaway listing probably because it is unavailable for 2015.
I found another listing for the property on an Australian website:

Rome, Italy / homeaway flat in Rome Italy
« on: May 22, 2015, 11:22:31 AM »
Rome is our first stop on trip to Italy, Turkey, and Greece this spring; next week actually.
I have traveled through Italy a few times, but never took or had the time to see Rome.
Ellen has visited Rome a number of times.  It will be fun to see the sights she loves.

We will be staying in a flat booked through in Trastevere, to the south of the old city.
There is a trattoria very close by; I can smell the early morning espresso now.

Here is a video of the "artist loft" we booked in Rome.  It is simple and perfect for us.  I expect we will be seldom indoors, preferring to walk the city.
I'm told living in Rome is like living in a fairy tale museum.

Florence, Italy / Homeaway flat in Florence Italy
« on: May 22, 2015, 11:08:21 AM »
Our last city visit on our spring trip to Italy, Turkey, and Greece is Florence.
We arrive by train from Venice on the 24th and fly out on the 29th.
We will be staying five days at this flat (see below).  It is just across the Arno from the Basilica.
Based on the photos, the flat looks charming and is relatively close to the center of Firenze.

Recreational Vehicles / Re: chosing an RV
« on: May 18, 2015, 02:21:32 PM »
Here is a photo of "The Beast" taken at Oak Hollow Campground North Carolina

HomeAway, VRBO, and AirBnB / Trip to Italy, Turkey, and Greece
« on: May 18, 2015, 11:10:57 AM »
Our Retirement Celebration is upon us!

We're headed off on a one month trip to Europe next month.  We'll be staying a week in Rome and Istanbul, taking a two week Seabourn Greek Island Cruise, and staying a week in Venice and Florence.  Ellen has traveled extensively in Italy and she is excited to be going back and to show me some of her favorite places.  I've traveled by train through northern Italy stopping in Milan on the way to southern Germany.

In the past we had used travel agents to arrange hotel accommodations.  This trip we have booked through  I looked into AirBnb, but I did not like their full payment up front policy.  Based on the pictures, the map location, and email chains with the owners; we should have very comfortable if modest flats close to the city centers. 

I have long wanted to sail the Greek Islands in my own skiff or sailboat.  For now a comfortable and elegant cruise will do nicely. Ellen and I prefer to be spontaneous in our travels and love the freedom to pick and chose what we want to do once we have arrived.   We are not schedule driven people; our plans are always flexible.  Now a cruise is quite different.  The ports of call are fixed, the Seaborn shore excursions are fixed, arrival and departure times at each port of call are fixed.  Worse, we had to book our excursions ahead of time to be sure to get a spot. A 4x4 tour of one of the islands had just one spot open.  We had to go on a waiting list for the second seat!

Still we expect the cruise to be one of our most memorable.

I'll post more detailed information about our homeaway bookings and the cruise soon.


Wow, what a bunch of crazy trash posts appeared on this forum.  I'm a retired software professional, but I'm new to WordPress and Simple Machines Forum.  As I learn how to filter out the garbage, this forum will become more useful to other travel enthusiasts.  As I'm recently retired and have not done all that much travelling, this forum is necessarily sparse.  I'll be adding what I can over time and hope that others will follow suite.


Recreational Vehicles / Re: chosing an RV
« on: May 11, 2015, 06:56:19 PM »
In 2014 I started looking into RVs and as stated above settled on the Winnebago View 24J built on a Mercedes Sprinter chassis with a 3 liter diesel Mercedes engine.
I went back and forth between a used 2013 or even 2008 and getting a new one.  There are a few advantages the 2015 has over prior years: it is a full 1.5 feet longer with a larger oval second sink, it has a much larger kitchen window, and it has canvas wrap on the cabinets.  The canvas wrap makes the interior look much lighter than the prior all wood cabinets.  It's much more "euro" in appearance.

For those reasons I chose to look for a new 2015 just around the time the 2016s hit the market, around September 2015.  So we put a plan in place to purchase an RV in the fall of this year.

Even so, I recorded the best deals I found nation wide and every week researched the market for better deals.   Last February a used 2015 View 24J came on the market for $89,950.  It had 100 miles over the delivery miles.  This was a deal but I was not sure I could sell my wife on an early purchase.  Fortunately she recognized the opportunity (or perhaps that this was something I really wanted to do).  The Crowley RV salesman, Tony Virello, suggested we don't wait if we are interested.  So there was interest,  we sent a modest down payment to him right away and made arrangements to fly to Connecticut in February.

Tony was a man of few words.  The technician who gave us an informative tour of the vehicle was great.  It took 2 or 3 hours to thoroughly explain the ins and outs of the View.  This is our first RV and there was quite a bit to absorb.  With the insurance, payment, and temporary registration in place, we drove off in our "new" 2015 Winnebago View.

It is amazing how a person faces their best and worse self when doing something brand new.  It couples confidence and uncertainty.  The confidence evident in flying across the country to get the RV, and the uncertainty of, now what the crap do I do with this thing: propane fills? Diesel gasoline?? Campground reservations and availability?? Tire pressure?? And just exactly how does this thing work??

First thing I recommend to anyone purchasing an RV for the first time:  video record the technician as he/she explains how the RV works.  My wife video taped Dave's explanation and though the video is often pointed who knows where (photography not videography is  Ellen's strong suite), the audio was perfect.  At least twice in our journey across America I referenced that video.  After a while the controls and how the appliances draw power becomes obvious and second nature.  For the first week that audio tape was great to have.

I figure the first, very brief owner paid for 100% of the depreciation for the first year.  The family had a medical emergency and had to sell quickly.  I'm glad both that we could help liquidate their RV "investment" and that Crowley RV gave us such a good deal.

I will describe our cross country trip in our new and very unfamiliar RV in another topic.  We found some very beautiful campgrounds on our way home as we avoided a very rough winter with a cold front that dropped down from Canada and forced us to drive down the east coast and all the way to rt. 10 west to Joshua Tree then north home.

We have the View with the over cab  bed.  Ellen would prefer a profile, but it is what it is.  I think any family with young children would benefit from the over cab bed and it provides a bunch of storage.  It sure looks funny from outside, but it's great inside.

Recreational Vehicles / Re: chosing an RV
« on: January 11, 2014, 12:28:13 PM »
I am leaning toward a Winnebago View 24J.  It's a 24' class C RV that sleeps 6.  It is small enough to be manageable. I do not need a large rig, there is very little to carry with us and my ego at this point doesn't need stroking.  I don't have to be the biggest, baddest, or most expensive rig in the RV park.  Nor do I need to talk RV types/options/pricing.  The RV is a tool; I just want a very reliable tool.

A "Winnebago"?  What baggage that name carries.  "Old fart's" transportation.  Still and RV by any other name is still a winnebago.  And there's a reason Winnebago is synonymous with RV.  They're well built and reliable (a gross generalization).

There are so many brand of RVs to chose from, it's a crap shoot.  It is a bit like window manufacturers in California.  There are hundreds of them, but only a hand full have high quality glass, frames, and construction.  Often you get what you pay for, but sometimes not.  So the research begins.

Anyone have an opinion of the Winnebago View 24J?  I'm thinking 2008 or 2010 with the 3 liter Diesel.  I'll probably be towing a small 4x4 (suzuki/subaru).

Recreational Vehicles / chosing an RV
« on: November 23, 2013, 05:20:18 PM »
With retirement less than two years off, my mind wanders to travelling this great country of ours. The most efficient method appears to be an  RV.  Drive to a beautiful spot, park, and live for a few days then move on. Sounds idyllic.

But the choices: Class A, B, or C.  Personally I think I'd prefer a smaller rig, a sprinter van perhaps, then the class B look good, but the Class A can be more comfortable inside.

I am a scientist/engineer and I enjoy researching alternatives before making any choice.  I have two YEARS to select an RV which means plenty of research and give and take, some short term rentals, and driving impressions.  This will be fun for me and I look forward to seasoned RV'ers comments and contributions to the discussion to follow.

I've visited a number of websites selling RVs and found that a single RV may be listed on a number of sites.  I've also found that there's a class B+ model that interests me.  I'll post more about my leanings in the next few days. 


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