Florida in 3 Days

For those who’ve been wondering what happened to me…

I headed out for a “road trip” to include some postings “in transit”… and discovered I’d not packed the Wi-Fi adapter…

So it’s 3 days later, I’ve made it to Florida, and I now have internet access again.

I’ll be posting some things from during the trip, in the next couple of days. But for now, having done coast to coast in 68 hours solo, I’m in need of some serious sleep time.

Equipment? I made the drive in a 1979 Mercedes 230T with just shy of 1/4 million miles on it. (244,000). Didn’t need to add any oil at all on the 2880 mile trip. Yeah, it’s that good.

The 230 is a 4 cylinder gasoline engine. That year had a side-draft carburetor that was also used on some British sports cars and some motorcycles. Stromberg carburetor. The “T” means “Touring”. A station wagon. The gas wagon was not imported to the USA. This is a “Grey Market” car. Has a manual transmission 4 speed too. Yeah, Mercedes gas wagon with a 4 speed manual. It’s fun to watch folks at the dealership say “they didn’t make one of those” when they mean to say “they didn’t import them to the USA”…

And it has “points” in the distributor too ;-)

Well, with that, I’m going to hit the hay and see what tomorrow brings. (It was going to be “prepare for the launch” but the shuttle launch has been pushed back to Wednesday, so it looks like I can actually catch my breath as we plan where to go for the best view ;-)


About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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17 Responses to Florida in 3 Days

  1. LarryOldtimer says:

    Nice car, EM. I had, once upon a time, a 1979 Mercedes 300SD. I gave it to charity in 2004, about 300,000 miles on it (odometer didn’t work for a couple of years). That was excellent time you made getting there, and solo to boot. Have a good time there.

  2. Malaga View says:

    Lucky man… sleep well… my most memorable holidays have always been road trips… San Diego-Edmonton-Portland was amazing… and Charlotte-New Orleans-Orlando was an unplanned adventure as I landed the day after Hurricane Hugo.

    However my enthusiasm for travelling to the States was significantly diminished on my last trip to Houston thanks to the warm southern welcome I received at Immigration and the special security search I was given at Departures… guess that will teach me not to fly in via Mexico City :-)

    Arlo Guthrie – Coming Into Los Angeles – Woodstock 1969

  3. j ferguson says:

    Stromberg Carlson? Does it play 33 1/3’s too? Much Mahogany?

    We’re on a mooring in Stuart.

    You’ve chosen a wonderful time to come to Florida – weather has been delightful since we got down here a week ago.

  4. oMan says:

    E.M. Have fun. Your description of the car brings back good memories of fiddling with distributor caps and cleaning the rotor, checking the coil lead. Even –daringly– taking the carb apart to clean it. In my case, a Mini Cooper. Desperately searching for just a few more horsepower!

  5. j ferguson says:

    Re: best view. There’s a national park on the barrier island which is reachable by driving south from New Smyrna Beach. I suspect it is very popular for launch viewing (closest to launch pad) but has a limitation on parking – ONLY in the parking lots. If you park on the side of the very long road which is the north south spine of the park, you will get a ticket which I think costs $60. So clearly, if this place is popular for this launch and you don’t get there early enough, you’ll be out of luck.

    On the other hand there are some larger parking lots on the west side near the old settlement of Eldora which may not fill up early because of their distance and you could park there and hike to a better location.

    While you are in the area, it might be interesting to drive around in Titusville and then share your observations regarding its apparent economic plight and the relationship of that plight to what you see at home and maybe have seen on your trip.

    On the Benz with television sets for carbs, have you found that the “stiff” ride that newcomers to the marque always comment on is far more comfortable and fatigue reducing on long legs? I used to think that a 12 hour stint behind the wheel of my Benz took less out of me than 4 hours in my dad’s 1979 Brougham.

    Arcadian is going to be in yard in Stuart for 3 weeks while I contend with things not fixable in the water. If you have thoughts of coming down this far, let me know via email.

    best, John

  6. David says:

    I posted this in another thread, but thought it may get more attention here as I am really curious about this and find the posters here to be the most honestly intelligent posters on any blog I visit as well as having with very few hidden agendas, which I consider to be a reflection of our host.

    Hi E.M. I hope your trip goes well. I have a homework request for you and your posters here. This is the nearest thread I could find as it is about South America and economics.

    This http://meritariskmanagement.com/archives/category/exim
    Independent ( not sure what that means ) Federal agency has made a 2 billion dollar loan to Brazil to aid in their offshore oil development in exchange for agreement to use some US companies to assist in supply and transport of materials.

    They have also loaned a billion or so to Mexico and almost one billion to India to develope a coal refinery.

    Is it possible to determine if this is a misallocation of resources, let alone the obvious contradiction of the administrations refusal to develope our own fossile fuel resources, which I would think produce more bang for the buck in terms of Jobs and long term economic prosperity?

    Please note I know you are a busy man and this is only a request which I extend to your most excellent posters as well.

  7. E.M.Smith says:

    @J. Ferguson: OK, so I’d been “napping” for 4 days (started the drive at midnight…) with the longest nap being about 4 hours and was deeply sleep deprived on arrival. So I got Stromberg typed and the fingers added Carxxxxxx (Carbur-Carls- close enough for midnight on arrival day … things the subconscious does as it dreams of dreams… just get something typed and we can hit the bed…. )

    Don’t know if we’ll make it down to Stuart. I’ll talk it over with my host here. Thanks for the pointer on viewing areas.

    Per Titusville: Yeah, I’ll most likely be able to take a look.

    FWIW I saw a sign on the way in:

    “You Can’t Fix Stupid. But you can vote it out. Vote!”

    I think killing the manned space program is going to “have issues” for the Dimocrats…

    I’ve done the Desert Southwest in a Honda. I’ve done Chevy to Iowa and back. I’ve done Ford to Canada and back. Etc.

    Far and away I can go longer in the Benz than any other car make. Don’t know why ( I think it is the lower level of vibration. Vibration and noise can be very wearing…) But where 9 hours in other cars is just hitting the wall, I’ve done 12 in the Benz and was ready for more… Did “Phoenix and back in 2 days” once. About 12.5 hours each way. In the SL, but still…

    @oMan: The Stromberg is an interesting side draft job. Has a large diaphragm that moves a pin in the jet to meter the fuel. In some ways rather like an air pressure adjusted throttle body. I’ve had it apart. It’s a ‘challenge’ to get exactly the right ‘kit’ for it, as there are a few dozen variations that need different seals, etc. But in a 2 ton car at 80 MPH+ it gets 20-22 MPG. Slow down to 70+ and it’s about 24 MPG. In a square wagon shaped brick… (Don’t know what it gets at 55 mph, as that is only a transitional speed ;-)

    @LarryOldtimer: I could have done it in 8 hours less if I’d started upon awakening rather than ‘at the end of a long day’ as I could have left out that much ‘sleep time in transit’… It’s 2800 miles, so about 40 hours of “butts in seats” time. Put in 2 x 10 hour (sleep , food, gas, whatever) intervals in 3 travel days and it’s down to 60 hours. Fastest I’ve ever done was 56 hours “door to door”. But we had multiple drivers then…

    @Malaga View: Frankly, part of why I’m more interested in driving these days is just to avoid the “crap” at the airports.

    At one time, about 1980?, I arrived at SJC with 15 minutes on the clock. Parked in the lot that was DIRECTLY across the road from the ticket counter, walked all of 100 feet? to the counter, showed my ticket, got the pass, walked another 30 feet? through the waiting area (directly behind the counters…) and onto the airplane via the ‘roll up ramps”… Had 5 minutes to spare….

    Now at the same airport you can’t get the trolly from the parking area to pick you up in under 15 minutes… It’s about 2 hours from drive on to property to ‘wheels up’. Last flight I arrived with “only” 45 minutes… and was dropped off at the terminal. Still ‘missed the flight’ (that was still on the ground with the door open…) as the security guys didn’t like my laptop and wanted it run through the machine in it’s own special basket. Then my shoes again. Then… Eventually at the counter the “clerk” wanted to argue about my carryon bag (that I got to manually insert in the ‘measure box’ after they ‘can not make it fit’… I’ve flown with it for a decade plus…) and eventually they agreed it did not need to be checked… Then called the plane (still on the ground and door open seen out the window) and decided I would need to take the next flight (at a $50 ‘ticket change’ fee…) and proceeded to close the door.

    And they wonder why folks are less interested in flying…

    So by the time I’m one hour of prep and drive to the airport and 2 hours AT the airport, that’s 210 miles down the road. Basically, anything under 400 miles, I’m probably able to match the flight + local travel times. AND I can take things like a tool kit and “liquids” with me…

    And I’d not even think of flying in from Mexico (or other select destinations). I was once on a flight from Jamaica to Miami. The “entry” was interesting…. And that was before all the “war on drugs” and “war on terrorism” and “war on liberty”… et.al. began.

    A few years back we were installing a Net App filer in an IBM Colocation facility in Denver. I chose to drive in rather than fly. (I could bring a full tool kit, among other benefits). When we were done, I just pointed the car toward home. 24 hours or so later I was home. (There was snow in the Rockies so I went south through New Mexico…) Given the semi-random end time of the project, I’d have been waiting longer than that for the flight we were going to book to have rolled around.

    It was that moment that I decided anything in the same half of the country, I’d just drive. Zero hassles. Exact departure time of my choosing. DEFINITIVE departure. Exactly the foods I want, when I want them. Beverages of my choice as desired (and at much better rates). NO luggage fees, and large luggage capacity. ZERO limits on what can go in the luggage. Oh, and no question that the luggage will arrive, nor that it will be handled gently. Exactly my entertainment package as I like it.

    Since then, airlines have only gotten worse.

    I’ll take 24 hours in a Mercedes over 4 in an airline seat.

    At the 50-75 hour range I’m still up to ‘negotiations’… unless I want to take some stuff with me OR have a need for a ‘flexible’ schedule (like with the launch date), then the car wins. Period.

    So I got to have a very nice Southern BBQ dinner at some random “real pit BBQ” in the Panhandle. I got a ‘bath’ in the gulf at a nice little beach. Etc. Nope, not nearly as fast, nor nearly as PITA, as the flight…

    And at this end, I don’t need a ‘rental car’ either… So the flight cost + car rental is way higher than the cost of fuel to get here. (The car, needless to say, was ‘amortized’ a long time ago. The ‘oil’ is zero consumption, and the tires I’ve been trying to wear out or years and they just won’t… Damn Michelin ;-)

    (Oddly, I’d bought a Michelin 195/75 for that car last time I was out here, about 5 or 6 years ago? I’d picked up a nail in the ones that were on the car and needed to ‘match them’. The older part of the set is approaching the ‘age out’ age… I’ve been waiting forever to change over to 195/70 tires like on my other non-SL cars..)

    So it’s pretty much just ‘cost of gas’ for the cost of travel.

    At any rate, I’m enjoying a wonderful sunny and warm “fall day” in Orlando…

    Sidebar on Cameras: I did not pack my full Nikon kit (as I didn’t want to deal with the “2 bags” issue at the airport… I’m probably flying home in 2 weeks and leaving the car here for a while… some scheduling issues and the friend here can use the car while I’m gone) and had planned to buy a small pocket camera on the way (in a lower sales tax state). But didn’t get around to it.

    At COSTCO, they have a Panasonic with wide zoom range ( 8x?) and 12 MPixels IIRC that I’d planned to get. Got one for my daughter a few years back and she loves it (though I think it was only 8 or 10 Mpix then…) BUT: On a stop at “BJ’s” (a Costco like store) they had a Sony 14 MP with 10x zoom image stabilzation and more for $200 (the Panasonic is about $145).

    So now I’m conflicted as to which one to get…. Anyone have experience with the Sony? Is it decent? I’ve got a load of Sony video gear. My one complaint it is seems to suffer ‘failures’ more than the Panasonic. More features, but less ‘bullet proof’. Just wondering if that carries over to the cameras too…

    The Sony is a DSC-H55 “Cyber-shot”. Does 720p MP4 HD movies too…

  8. j ferguson says:

    sorry about Carlson – I should have realized that you didn’t need any tormenting just now. have a good time. Theres a great beachside pub on the north end of New Smyrna Beach, Can’t remember the name but the locals will recognize this description.

    wood interior, guiiness, great cheesburgers, other guests could be more youthful, but then what do we contribute?

  9. E.M.Smith says:

    The Panasonic is this one, I think:

    specs for ZR1k from costco.com:

    12.1 megapixels (effective)
    8x Optical Zoom (25mm – 200mm in 35mm equivalent)
    4x Digital Zoom (32x Total Zoom)
    Wide-angle LEICA DC VARIO-ELMAR lens
    VGA 640 x 480 pixel at 30fps (motion JPEG)
    2.7″ TFT LCD Display (230K dots)
    Power O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilizer)
    Intelligent ISO control (Still and Movie modes)
    ISO: Auto/80/100/200/400/800/1600 (High Sensitivity ISO 1600-6400)
    26 Scene Modes include Portrait, Fireworks, Starry Sky, Beach & more
    Storage Format: SD/SDHC card
    Dimensions (WxHxD): 2.14″ x 3.85″ x 1.02″
    Weight (approximate): 4.8oz.

  10. E.M.Smith says:

    @David: Not very busy now… just watching football and waiting for the BBQ / Beer to be ready ;-)

    Yeah, our “Government” offering $Billions to other governments, often those with a socialist leaning and / or beating us economically, to develop THEIR energy independence… while we get shafted.

    I’d say more, but then I’d have to “snip” myself ;-)

    When I can do so without blood pressure issues, I’m contemplating a longer treatment…

  11. Verity Jones says:

    Wow. I’m so envious. Hope you manage to get a good spot and snare some great pix to share here.

    Enjoy sunny Florida and think of us in the cold dark UK where the clocks have gone back and it feels like Winter.

  12. j ferguson says:

    Another place that may be closer than the park could be Haulover Canal. There a road going in there – we go through there twice a year on the wet part, but landside there appears to be a lot of parking. I think you would get to it from the mainland, your host might have a good idea on how.

    Obviously there may be some way to watch from within the space center itself, but having never tried I don’t know.

    BTW, these things are really loud.

  13. Claw in Ga says:

    I was stationed in Orlando for 11 months and got to watch 2 (maybe 3) launches. You could see it from Orlando. We rented a small camper from the Rec center and camped out close by to watch an early morning launch. Also while hanging out on Cocoa Beach, we watch the shuttle come back on the 747. I was amazed that combo could fly.

  14. oMan says:

    E.M. Thanks for the talkback, you are such a seriously intelligent player. Way more info on the Stromberg than I deserved, it’s all good. Ever notice how people can develop seriously good vibes through technical discussion? What’s with that?

    Your line: “I’ll take 24 hours in a Mercedes over 4 in an airline seat.” True that. The airlines are caught in an unholy marriage with the Security Apparat; it’s all about turning us into passenger-mile-revenue-security risk units. And guess what, we notice that. And we don’t like it. Me, I drive everything under 1000 miles. Over that, increasingly I am thinking the drive would be better for just the reasons you state. Too bad about the carbon footprint.

    Although that’s a whole ‘nother story. I am just finishing A. W. Montford’s “The Hockey Stick Illusion” and I recommend it highly. No, correction: very highly.

  15. oMan says:

    E.M. On the camera thing, I hear good stuff about Panasonic and a Leica lens sounds sweet. I don’t have a Sony still camera but I do have a Sony HD videocamera (which also takes excellent stills) which absolutely blew me away: 25x optical zoom, 2 hour battery life, fabulous color/resolution/sound, for not much more than your quotes. My point? Sony seems like a solid brand, and frankly the competition keeps them all honest and offering just an insane technology package for a very reasonable sum. I’d say either one does the job. We live in an age of miracles and wonders. Enjoy.

  16. Larry Geiger says:

    Probably best shuttle launch viewing is in Titusville along the river or along the Bennett Causeway (528/BeeLine) between Merritt Island and Cape Canaveral. You can get incrementally closer in Titusville, but a launch from Pad A is going away from you.

    I always preferred to watch from the side on the causeway. You can go out to the beach, but that’s a zoo going and coming. Weather was VERY nice this morning on the ride into KSC.

    See some real Florida while you are here. Go swim in Wekiva Springs or Rock Springs or Alexander Springs. Take an early morning canoe ride down Rock Springs Run or Juniper Springs Run. Get some pancakes at DeLeon Springs or rent a pontoon boat on the St. Johns. Have fun!

  17. E.M.Smith says:

    @All: Well, up again and out for the day. Planning the where and when. Thanks for all the suggestions!

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