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Topics - RonLeavitt

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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.

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 / 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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