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

Friday, February 9, 2018

Winter Reprieve

Over the last 12 months, I've taken off in an airplane 50 times, from 16 different airports. From normal sounding names like Toronto and Halifax, to the more unique ones, like Kuujjuaq and Nuuk. It's been fun, if not a bit hectic at times. After today, I start a 5 week "stay-cation". It's winter around these parts, and I deliberately have no real plans. I'm a bit concerned, thinking of course of the "fail to plan, plan to fail" mantra, but I'm hoping to enjoy the agenda-less period...we'll see how that goes. Actually, I do have some plans, but they are more like a wish-list with emphasis on "no pressure.
Let's see how this unfolds...

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Operation "Johnny Paycheck"

As I plan on exiting my current employment situation somewhere around mid to late 2019, I have launched what I jokingly refer to as “Operation Johnny Paycheck”. Older folk like me will likely get the reference immediately. I say jokingly, and without malice, I wish to migrate from “Take this job and love it” to “Take this job and shove it”. This plan actually began last year, when I reached the astonishing age of 55. Phase one generally unfolds in 2018, wherein I will hopefully enjoy 10 weeks of holidays under Leave with Income Averaging provisions, along with a mandatory 5 additional weeks of annual leave. So, with 15 weeks off, I’m beginning to nudge towards “semi-retirement”. Before this finishes up, I should be into year 30 of my employment with the Canadian Hydrographic Service. Unless something exciting happens to alter my wishes, I will be leaving once I have accumulated a full 30 years. If God spares me, I’ll be 57 years old at that time; Not exactly Freedom 55 but not too bad. Let’s see how it unfolds…

Trailer Trash

With a 16 foot camper, space is always at a premium and it takes effort to "travel light" as it were. Sometimes, it's nice to ...

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