Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Winter "Retreat"

My first winter "retired" is going ok, but admittedly lacking a bit in sunshine and motivation. February looks to be a better month than January. I did get out to the yearly men's retreat at Bayside Camp, and that helped. Other than that, it's been a little bit melancholy. Here's a few pics from the retreat:

Monday, January 13, 2020

Belated Happy New Year

Well, hello, and welcome to 2020. I'm hoping for a good winter, one where I can be a bit more mobile and less sedentary, whatever that means. So far, it's been a mixed bag. On the plus side, I did squeeze in a couple of skates at the Oval:

Also, we has a nice cold snap and a respectable 30+cm of the white fluffy stuff. Enough to put my new plow through its first real was stellar:

Sadly, it was all short-lived as a rainy mild spell quickly destroyed all of the tranquil beauty and returned us to a "Blah" reality:

Other setbacks so far include a gross head-cold and a bad back. I'm working through it and still hoping for a better second half to January.

Also, this marks my almost 5 months since retiring. So far, things are going pretty good...

Saturday, December 28, 2019

2019 is almost gone...

Generally, my number of blog posts has been decreasing yearly. If not for this post, 2019 would have none. A sign of the times I suppose. The various social media platforms have proven to be more effective and more fun than a traditional old Blog. Many folk use these to direct people to their blog, but I haven't bothered. Nevertheless, an update here might be in order:

I did indeed retire as planned last summer. So far that has had mixed results. The first 4 months were a true bliss. It was summer so with the usual camping, travel, etc it was simply like an extended holiday. As winter approached though, things became a little challenging. After 30 years of routine, it hits home that it's over. Emotions run the entire gamut, and adjustments have to be made. Somehow, the new-found freedom must be combined with a measure of routine and even discipline, or else the risk of melancholy is real...working through that now, thankfully with more wins than losses.

Travel Team  :)
Into the fall and winter, the sheer volume of the outstanding chores was and still is overwhelming. I no longer had the "I have to go to work" scapegoat to fall back on, so it was time to produce. This has been a considerable failing but recovery and success await (he said positively). Before I knew it, Christmas was here, and along with it, it's close companion winter. It seems we've survived Christmas, and have the deck stacked in our favor for winter generally. Tools are in place for the major challenges; cold and snow among the largest.
Let's see how it goes...

an attempt at winter frolic

Monday, December 31, 2018

It's been a good year...

..."the tide abides for, tarrieth for no man, stays no man, tide nor time tarrieth no man". As my number of years increases, I'm ever more conscious of this truth. Time once went slowly for me (and most younger people), but now it just evaporates, whether I seize it or not. 
I say it's been a good year, but honestly, it's been sobering and reflective as well. More than ever, more of my friends are retiring, slowing down, seem unhappy, and even worse. I enter 2019 with a plan to retire from my present job of 30 years. Like many though, as the day approaches the uncertainty and second guessing rises as well. Recent financial advice suggested that one should work as long as one is able. To me, that is shocking advice that overly equates happiness with financial "freedom"...this is not in line with my thinking and consequently, sent me into a tailspin. My temporal philosophy suggests than none of us are getting out alive. Therefore, it makes sense to me to retire asap as long as you can make ends meet somehow. Therefore, contrary to popular wisdom, I plan on bailing in July 2019. No, all of the financial "ducks" won't be fully in order but in my experience, it's often better to regret the things you do rather than regret the things you didn't do.

Also in the good year department, Christmas was a win again this year. We were blessed with good food, good friends, laughter, and celebration...

  The other 2018 highlight is of course, the new to me camper. It has me longing unhealthily for winter to cease. :)

Happy New Year !!!

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Operation "Johnny Paycheck" Update

Back in January, I whimsically revealed Operation Johnny Paycheck, essentially predicting that I was heading for Retirement. Well, Phase 1 is pretty much done. I said I was taking 15 weeks off and I've taken about 13, with the other 2 planned out already. I am now about 3 months into my supposed final year, with 9 more to go. Happily, I don't seem to be wishing the time away, or hoping it goes quickly...probably the opposite actually. Winter was good, and the summer even better. One significant happening was the acquisition of a new-to-me camper van. I can't seem to get by without one, so when my old one revealed the sad extent of its rusting carcass, I jumped at the opportunity to "upgrade"...

This thing is a veritable Beast, and in its present form, addresses many of the gripes and complaints I hold against these things. First, the body is in good shape. Second, it's the 4WD version with plenty of clearance. Third, it's engine has been superseded by a 1.9 TDI Diesel that delivers north of 30 miles per gallon. Since I've owned my old one for 16 years, I'm somewhat aware of their intricacies and shortcomings. Nothing's perfect of course, and I do still have some gripes and complaints, but hey ! Hopefully in retirement, I'll be happy to tackle them.

Other than that, things are busy. October's almost gone, and Christmas is more photo before I sign off...

resting at Moccasin Lake, or Island Pond :)

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Vanagon "arse" end...

Vanagons (Westys) present some challenges with respect to packing, road-trips, access etc. Options are limited, and most people elect to attach things to the outside in order to maintain some living space inside the vehicle. Putting things on the roof is one option but it can create drag, and it can make it difficult to raise/pop the roof up. There is a nice luggage area on the section of the roof that does not raise up, but it is not very big. Another option is to attach things to the rear but that also has drawbacks; racks etc that attach to the rear lift gate make it difficult to raise the hatch for routine engine compartment inspection or maintenance. This is a bigger issue than it sounds because experience will teach that this access is crucial with a rear engine Vanagon that is 30+ years old. The best options for overcoming this are systems that swing open, away from the rear to allow access without removing gear and cargo. There are several options, and while not the strongest, the most economical and versatile (unless you fabricate your own) are the swing-away components available from GoWesty. They are not cheap, and the Canadian Dollar value for U.S. stuff does not help either. Nevertheless, I have added bits and pieces to the point where I now have 2 of these setups, one on each side. They present plenty of options, separate bits and pieces, and make it easy to add your own racks, boxes etc. Below is a shot of my setup. I have the basic swing-away with the universal ladder rack addition. The 2 black "cages" near the top are ATV gas can carriers from Princess Auto. Below that, are 2 5-litre rotopax knockoff gas cans. On the left, I mounted a cheap aluminum trunk, also from Princess Auto. On the right, I have the accessory shelf from GoWesty and a Plano storage box. There is also room to stack an identical second Plano box. The ladder rungs can accommodate various bike racks...options are almost limitless.
One issue is the taillights can be a little obscured. I have a plan to overcome that with some additional lights mounted somewhere on the racks. Another is your friendly mechanic can find it annoying to work on your van with these things fitted. While they swing open rather easily, they stick out then on both sides and can be a problem in a garage bay. Luckily, one bolt in the edge of the bumper is all that needs to be removed so I often remove mine before I take it to the shop.
Overall, I'm very pleased with this setup. I still have my old Paulchen rack that attaches directly to the hatch, but I find it annoying because raising the hatch is difficult, &/or you need to remove stuff in order to do so effectively. Pack-Rat that I am, I can't seem to part with it...
My earlier setup

Earlier setup with "brother" fabricated basket

Winter "Retreat"

My first winter "retired" is going ok, but admittedly lacking a bit in sunshine and motivation. February looks to be a better mont...

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