On My Own

Guarding the fort for a few days as Lorraine travels across southern Ontario tackling a few tasks that we need to clear off before we head south.

One of them we should have looked after while our youngest son was still at home.

I posted about our experience updating our Nexus records online here. Nexus is a trusted traveller program that we highly value and we wanted to make sure that my change of employment status to retired was registered with them. Lorraine and I went in, updated all of the relevant information required by the two governments, interviewed again with the border officials from both countries and all is well with our Nexus membership.

Our youngest son has to go through the same process only this time at Pearson Airport. Could take the better part of a day I suspect. Pearson is a very, very busy place.

Lorraine will make the three-hour drive out to Toronto, stay overnight with family, and then take Matthew out to get his Nexus records updated tomorrow. Matthew will be joining us in Florida over Christmas and the Nexus card will make his travel a bit easier.

Yours truly gets to safeguard the coach along with our trusty golden retriever.

I have yet to find a better guard dog.

Thanksgiving

Death Valley. In California.

It was the end of February when I took this image. Not quite as hot then. But still a uniquely inhospitable place. No vegetation really. Dry, dusty although water does occasionally find its way into this area.

Being stranded in a place like this would be very challenging especially during the summer months where the temperatures can reach 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

Being stranded in our coach at a dealership near a major town is not very challenging.

Inconvenient? Yes.

Frustrating? Certainly.

We had much different plans for the Thanksgiving weekend when we first got underway a few weeks back. Those plans obviously changed.

We have family in nearby Toronto and they extended an invitation to Lorraine and myself, along with our son, to a Thanksgiving dinner at their home last night.

These are amazing people and they have played such a big role in our lives over the years and they continue to do so with our children. It was an absolute delight to get together with them and to enjoy a wonderful turkey dinner. It was wonderful to get together with our youngest son.

Important to start each day being thankful.

Thankful for faith, family and good health.

Passing The Time Away

We won’t be leaving the dealer any time soon. We are going to be spending Canadian Thanksgiving at The Hitch House.

We have been here for two weeks and it looks very much like it will be at least three weeks before we are back on our way.

Everything is fine though. We are pretty much living as we expected in retirement. We love our coach. It really is a beautiful space for the two of us and for Tabby. We have a nice site at the dealer. It is quiet and private. The only inconvenience is that we need to dump tanks every five to six days. That requires us to pack up the coach, drive about 20 kms, empty our tanks and then return and set up the coach again.

And there is a lot going on in our lives so no shortage of things to do.

This past weekend I did sound for a live event in Guelph, Ontario. I also recorded the event. The picture above was a shot of Lorraine helping me at the sound console. Lorraine was prompting me through the cue sheet. At that moment in time, I was asking her what was going to happen next in the program. We had four bands, an MC, a guest speaker and multimedia running throughout the evening. Lots of inputs to manage. At times there were over 20 people on stage and upwards of 32 active inputs.

Kept me on my toes.

It all went so well. Late night though. We left the dealer at 9am. Arrived at the sound rental site at 11am. Packed vehicles with lots of gear and did our load-in and setup. Surprisingly, I was able to get ready for sound checks by 2:30pm. Worked through the various bands — I was handling front of house, monitors and event recording — until 6pm. Event started at 7pm. Finished at 10pm. Tear down took a couple of hours.

We did not get back to the hotel until close to 1 am. I then did an audio engineering seminar the following afternoon for 3 hours, teaching a team of 6 audio engineers about mixing for live streaming and how to operate a specific model of digital console. Then straight back to the dealer.

Pretty full week-end.

I’m now spending my days and evenings working up the tracks from Saturday’s event in my mobile Pro Tools rig. I suspect that you would not see too many of these setups in a motorcoach.

So much capability in a rig of this size. Fully featured console, accurate monitoring through the Genelecs and some high-end headphones and, of course, the Pro Tools platform.

Roughly two and a half hours of recording to edit and mix. Might take me a couple of weeks all in to get a release candidate out to the artists for sign-off.

The event was shot on video and the video production company will need the two track mix to finish their post production work. I gave them a guide track of the house mix during the event. Once they have the completed mix, they can align the finished mix with the guide track.

It is fine with me that we will be here for another week or two. I have lots to keep me busy.

As long as we are good to go across the border on November 1st.

It is starting to get cold now.

My primary objective in retirement is never to be cold again.

Retirement Memories

This was basically it. Two days before my last day in the office. This was the day of my corporate retirement reception. Lorraine and Tabby walked me to the office and, to my surprise, someone with a camera took photos of the day.

I received a beautiful photo book today. I’ll share a few of the images here.

The event started with speeches. Really, really nice speeches.

What was I thinking about right at this moment? I’m at the wrong event. They must be talking about someone else!

I gave a speech as well. It was a tough one to write. I posted the speech over here.

It was also tough to deliver. So many emotions during this event. I managed to hold it together.

But there was a reward at the end of all the speeches.

Cake.

And more cake.

You might notice a picture of our coach on the second cake. Somebody found it over here. The inscription reads:

Retirement is not the end of the road… it is the beginning of the open highway.

So true.

A final goodbye to my office.

Many, many fond memories from my years with the team at this company.

Since that event back in July, I’ve had a number of colleagues ask me what retirement is like.

I’ve told them that retirement feels a lot like summer vacation did when I was a kid.

So much freedom.

In less than two weeks, Lorraine and I will finally be out on the road in our coach.

So looking forward to this next chapter of our lives.

Florida to California

The result of almost 8 hours of planning. Getting things organized for our travel does take time and effort.

Our travels in our coach will take us south to Florida for three months and then over to California for two months. I’ve received feedback that in retirement, we should slow down and take our time. And that would be fine if we lived in the United States. We don’t and that limits how much time we have and where we choose to spend that time. Canadian snowbirds migrate south pretty quickly to escape the cold northern temperatures that hit in November and to maximize their time in the warmer climate areas.

We are going to take 11 days to cross from the Everglades Isle Motorcoach Resort in Florida to Desert Shores Resort in California. We will take in some beautiful resorts along the way including:

Bay Lake RV Resort

Carrabelle Beach RV Resort

Heritage Motorcoach Resort

Rayford Crossing RV Resort

Alsatian RV Resort

Maverick Ranch RV Park

Hacienda RV Resort

The Motorcoach Resort

Two of them are not confirmed yet: Bay Lake and Maverick. Depending on what we hear back from them, we may have to find alternate spots. We had some other choices on our list but they were already sold out for our dates. We are doing most of our planning 6-9 months out.

This will be our longest drive to date in the coach. The drive to Florida, by comparison, is a relatively quick 6-day trip. And we have two layovers where we are staying two nights. Basically, 4 hours of driving a day to get down to Florida.

Going across to California proved challenging in terms of logistics. Admittedly, we were a bit selective in terms of the layover spots. We aren’t planning to use Walmarts.

For ideas, we used a new thread on the IRV2 Newmar forum on Class A parks, Big Rigs Best Bets, and RV Park Reviews.

Booking is quite the process. Some parks have good online booking arrangements but they don’t provide discounts for FMCA or Good Sam unless you call them. Others will only take bookings through the phone. We found that we were often leaving messages for callbacks. Some of the resorts were only interested in longer term stays and not overnight bookings. Some of the resort websites were really well done, others, awful.

All in all, it took way longer than expected to plan out this leg of our trip.

Kingston to Florida. Check.

Florida to California. Check.

California to Kingston. Well, not yet. Another full day to plan that trip.