“You have choices you can make.”

Those six words, from September 24, 2017, had a profound impact on my life. Funny, isn’t it? I mean, despite what anyone might say, we tend to live our lives almost as if we are asleep, going through the same daily routines that give structure, and perhaps some form of meaning, to our existence.

I shared those six words at a seminar I gave last week.

I used this photo that I had taken of a site at Hearthside Grove Motorcoach Resort in Petoskey, Michigan as a backdrop to a story.

We absolutely loved being at Hearthside. One of the best spots we have visited with our motorcoach. And we absolutely loved being in our coach and enjoying the freedom that this two-week vacation allowed.

All too soon, that enjoyment and that freedom had passed. We had to pull up our jacks and return to the life we were living at the time.

As we were leaving Hearthside, we bumped into a wonderful couple. Here is a video snippet of our departure from Hearthside and the conversation that I had with Gary.

“We are so sad to be going, I have to tell you.”
“Then don’t go.”

“I’d love to stay longer.”
“You have choices you can make.”

He was absolutely right. I had been immobilized with fear. Safer to keep working, and doing what I had been doing for the past forty years or so. The future, unknown, uncertain, was out there and I had kept putting it off.

Following your dream takes courage.

We made the decision to retire as we drove home from Hearthside. “You have choices you can make.” Those six words made all the difference to me.

There is a metaphor about life. The waterfall. As we get older, we hear it. The sound of the waterfall. It becomes louder and louder. The river of life ends at the waterfall. It is coming, sooner now, but we don’t know when we will reach it. The waterfall reminds us that the life we live is short.

Follow your dreams before your life runs out.

I received an email from one of the participants at the seminar and he made the following comment:

Dreams and means fight, reality and routine settles in! BUT listening to you is putting another log in the fire.

To which I can only say, you have choices you can make.


How cold is it?

The news in Canada is simply chilling.

I remember the cold. And the snow.

Before retirement, we spent our winters huddled inside our igloo, fervently praying for spring to arrive. Spring inevitably would arrive, sometime around August. By then the ice on our lakes and rivers would melt for a few days before winter started again in September.

But I digress.

Many Canadians flee the harsh winter temperatures during their retirement years and head south. Even with a currency that the Government of Canada loves to devalue. The loonie is currently trading around 75 cents to the US dollar.

Lorraine is spending the day today at the Snowbirds Extravaganza show in Lakeland, Florida.

This is the largest mature lifestyle show in North America. A two-day event, the show can bring out 30,000 or more attendees to the RP Funding Center.

The demographic for this event swings a bit on the older side for me. I was not particularly interested in attending and so I agreed to stay back with our golden retriever.

Lorraine will provide me with an update later this evening.

Canadian snowbirds are an important economic contributor to the state of Florida. Consider the following impact of Canadians coming to Florida:

  • Canada is Florida’s number one source of international tourism.
  • 3.5 million Canadian’s visited Florida in 2017, spending over US$6.5 billion.
  • Tourism generated more than half a billion dollars in tax revenue, more than enough to fund the public safety, transportation and library systems of Florida’s major counties.
  • In 2017, Canadian’s purchased more than US$7.0 billion worth of real estate in Florida, contributing to a Canadian real estate portfolio in Florida of roughly US$53 billion.
  • Real estate purchases in 2017 contributed an estimated additional US$67 million to county tax bases, with existing properties owned by Canadians generating an estimated US$508 million for counties in Florida.

Overall, trade and investment between Canada and Florida creates over 600,200 jobs in the state.

Snowmaggedon in Canada is a good thing for Florida.

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.


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.