Thursday, December 31, 2020

Goodbye 2020, Hello 2021

Here it is, New Year's Eve. Time to bid farewell to a year that really turned out to be underwhelming. COVID and a cancelled summer plus the loss of Sandy's Mom Jan, after she deteriorated due to lockdown, made this one we would probably rather forget.

On the plus side, though, we are in a new place where we do not need to worry about maintenance, mowing, snowblowing or any of those other responsibilities of ownership. We took possession two months ago and have not regretted it for a minute.

Soon after we got back from the last trip, the TV arrived. Kim and Mike helped us pick it up in their van and bring it home. While at Leon's, we also ordered two recliners that were delivered just a few days later. Then we ordered a king size platform bed headboard and frame, also from Leon's, and a foam mattress in a box from Douglas. The stacked washer and dryer that came with the unit died (seized dryer motor) so our landlords Vic and Mone bought a new one. It took a while to get it connected due to condo rules that any connections need to be done by a licenced plumber, but they are now working.

We still need a couch, chairs and tables for the living room, furnishings for the guest bedroom and dresser and bedside tables for the master bedroom, in addition to a few other things, but we are getting by just fine.

We found an optometrist and we have a family doctor lined up. The latter was arranged through Health Care Connect, a provincial government service. Unfortunately, Ontario Premier Doug Ford ordered a 28 day lockdown starting Boxing Day due to increasing COVID rates so we won't be able to schedule an appointment until after that ends. Still, there is light at then end of the tunnel.

After several years of looking at it, I am now doing most of my work on my HP Windows 10 convertible, although the W 7 Dell is still in service. I subscribed to Microsoft 365, which came with a TB of OneDrive cloud storage. Most of my files are mirrored there and can be shared with any of my devices. I have one more program to test in the W10 environment and I then will be able to switch over totally. Then I will start working on the photo scanning project. There are so many photos.

So the year was not a total loss. We are staying positive and staying safe. We look forward to seeing people in 2021 and, if the vaccine works out, maybe doing some traveling. So, on an upbeat note,


Friday, November 13, 2020

Waterloo Ontario to Sudbury Ontario Return - The House Is Sold

In the few days since we arrived in Waterloo, we found a Costco and bought a microwave oven. We also checked out Zehr's grocery store and found that they did not have the product lines we liked despite being part of the Loblaws family. Creatures of habit, we found a Real Canadian Superstore just like the one back hope, except it was about six times larger. While there, we registered with the pharmacy. We also stopped by Leon's furniture store and ordered a 65" Samsung Q80T television. This was a couple of sizer larger and a lot better picture quality than the one I broke (No, I swear I did not break it on purpose). We found out that the furniture pipeline was empty and orders could take a long time to fill. Fortunately, they expected this TV to arrive within the week.

Yesterday, we drove to Sudbury and checked into the Hampton Inn. Then we went out to supper at St. Louis Bar & Grill with Leo and Diane.

This morning, as it rained lightly, we went for breakfast at Perkins with Safe Ride Home Sudbury President Lesli Green. We would normally have been starting the 2020 campaign to provide rides home in their own vehicles for clients who thought they might be over the limit. Alas, with COVID, this season was not to be. While I would be stepping down as Volunteer Coordinator, I expected to remain on board in a consultative role as this program that I really believe in moves forward.

We stopped at the house and carefully loaded our pictures in the car. We saw that Lana had picked up the furniture from the garage, The few things remaining, outside the items specified in the sale agreement, did not bother me since we were turning the house over a month earlier than originally agreed to.

Then we drove downtown for our 11:00 AM meeting with our lawyer, Tracy, at Best Law Offices. Sandy and I had been two of Peter Best's first clients back in 1975 and now, with his daughter Amy spearheading the firm, they would fulfill our last legal needs as citizens of Northern Ontario. We signed a lot of papers and turned over our keys to the house we had lived in for 36 years. You would think there might have been a bit of sadness but, to tell the truth, I did not feel it.

It was drizzling as we headed south just after noon. We caught rain in Parry Sound but the sun was out as we took the back road through Hockley on the way home. We noted that the Rosebud parking lot had been closed off since out last trip. The last way in, we were slowed by big trucks taking the back roads late on a Friday afternoon and it started raining as we reached Waterloo. The Equinox was parked in the garage just before 5:00 PM.

Clouds north of Waterloo

We were now full-fledged residents of southern Ontario, something I have not been since before I was three years old. Time to settle in and enjoy our new home.

Monday, November 09, 2020

Sudbury Ontario to Waterloo Ontario - Moving Trip #4 (Last)

Back from Waterloo on Thursday, it was time to get the last things out of the house. I put out a call to the Freedom Riders and had some of our brothers and sisters of the wind come out Sunday and lend a hand. Not only did we get the furniture we were taking to Waterloo loaded in the trailer, we also got the large couch, love seat and other things we were giving to Lana moved to the garage. It would be easier for her to pick them up from there before the 15th. The weather was absolutely spectacular for the move.

Our TV was on the floor and we ended up sitting in camp chairs for the night. That was after we went out for supper with Leo and Diane at St. Louis Bar & Grill.

This morning, we loaded the TV and chairs in the Equinox. The only things remaining were our paintings and prints, which we would pick up next week when we came up to close the deal on the house.

It was spitting a bit as we left town at 8:30 AM. We stopped at the truck pullout at Burwash to dump the garbage and, with the air a balmy 57 F, the morning did not feel like Northern Ontario in November.

I am going to miss Highway 69

Port Severn - Cottages on islands can be a problem here

Not sure what the Mountie Moose was guarding

It was 70 F when we saw a northbound group of sport bikes at Waubaushene. I would bet they were heading into Muskoka for a bonus last day of riding the curves.

Arriving at the condo by mid-afternoon, we geared up for a wait. That was not to be because the afternoon booking did not show up and Alice let us go ahead early. With Mike and Tom not there yet, I started moving everything that I could alone. That turned out to be a lot of things. Mike arrived early and we got the rest of it while Tom, who had to travel from Tillsonburg after work, arriving in time for the clean-up. He also brought some of the boxes I had stored in his garage on the way down.

The son-in-laws went over with me to park the trailer in its new home. Then we came back and I hooked up the new modem/router. It was as easy as Rogers had suggested and we had the WiFi and cable working in no time. The older big TV in the bedroom was OK but we discovered that the cracking noise when I squeezed the screen while picking up the 49" Samsung smart TV was fatal. We knew something would not survive the trip.

At the end of the day, we were finally in residence. We had my roll top desk (circa 1977), our kitchen table and chairs (circa 1975), camp cots and folding camp chairs plus a ginormous number of boxes. Time to start unpacking. Tomorrow.

Today's Route (288 Equinox/trailer miles):

Interactive map

Thursday, November 05, 2020

Sudbury Ontario to Waterloo Ontario and Back - Moving Trip #3

When we got back from our trip to Waterloo where we picked up the condo keys, we has less than two weeks to get the move done. You can't just pull up to a high rise building any time you want and start unloading a large amount of stuff, so we had booked the freight elevator for three hours Thursday (today) starting at noon. This gave us a target for our penultimate load.

The bulk of our things were going into either bankers boxes or slight larger boxes that had originated at the hospital and came to us via Lana, a schoolmate of Kim and Heather, who had just moved into her first house in Garson. We also arranged to give her some of the furniture we were not taking with us.

Wednesday, I started loading boxes. The symmetry of only having two sizes of box allowed for very orderly arrangement of them in the 5 x 10 trailer. When I had three layers of loaded, we started placing odd shaped and bulky things on top. We also loaded the Equinox and the Kia Rondo, the latter of which would be making a one way trip.

Once again, Leo became an essential member of the moving team. I'm sorry we did not get any photos today because I would have liked to have some visual memories of how this went.

We picked Leo up and brought him over to the house before 6:00 AM this morning. It was warmer as we set out, Sandy and I in the Equinox with Leo following in the Kia Rondo. For our American friends, the Rondo was discontinued in the USA after 2010. This was a 2012 Canadian model Sandy's dad bought new and bequeathed to her in his will. It didn't get used much and had less than 15,000 kms on the odometer. 

It was unseasonably warm (49 F at 7:00 AM) and we saw a northbound Indian motorcycle north of Waubaushene, where we stopped at the new Tim's. Continuing on, we approached Waterloo via Highway 9, Orangeville and Fergus. I found the most efficient way to get to the condo from this side was via Winterbourne and Bridge Street, something I had not considered before.

We arrived at the service doors of 6 Willow Street a couple of minutes before the appointed noon hour. I went in to the management office to look for Alice, the building superintendent, not knowing that she had been watching for me. She tracked me down and watched as we got the vehicles backed up to the service door. Then she showed us how the freight elevator worked and left us to our own devices.

Sandy did not want us wearing shoes inside the unit due to the off-white carpeting. The foyer was tile so that was OK. The system we set up was that Leo would bring the boxes from the trailer and vehicles and stack them by the elevator door. I would load the elevator and ride it up to the 15th floor and carry them into the unit, stacking them in the foyer. Then Sandy would move them into the living room and re-stack them there. The job got finished quickly and we were able to turn the elevator back over to Alice sooner than we expected. Then I booked it again for 6:00 PM to 9:00 on the 9th (so Mike and Tome could help with the furniture move in).

The last task was to take the Kia and park it in one of our spaces in the underground lot.

We were on the road back before 3:00 PM. There were a lot of motorcycles enjoying the unusually warm weather on our way back. Arriving in Sudbury about 8:30 PM, I unhooked the trailer and gave Leo a ride home.

Today's Route (566 Equinox/trailer miles):

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Monday, November 02, 2020

Waterloo Ontario to Sudbury Ontario - Moving Trip #2 (Day 3)

Today was our first morning waking up bright and early in our new home. One thing this place does have is hot water. Lots of it (according to the Welcome to Waterpark Place book, they pressurize the pipes to 150 PSI) and it was instantaneous.

The first stop this morning was at the condo management offices where we met building manager Tracy. We filled out some tenant forms and booked the freight elevator for the afternoon of Thursday November 5th. That would be the first of two trips down to move all of our possessions. On the way, we checked out the exercise room, swimming pool, party room library and billiard room. The pool and exercise room were open, although under COVID restrictions regarding number of people.

I had arranged for cable TV and Internet with Rogers. They had a relatively new system called Ignite where the DVR is actually in the cloud. You get a modem/router and a wireless box for each TV. No cables other than one to connect the modem to the cable outlet. And it was a do-it-yourself install. I got a text from the delivery person and was able to track his progress online, which allowed me to meet him in the parking lot and get my bag of goodies. I just left everything in the unit since we had to head back to Sudbury.

Our new landlords stopped by this morning. Vic and Mone are retired from the University of Waterloo and live in London. They bought this place to be their retirement home but settled in London due to family circumstances and have been leasing this unit out for almost thirty years.. They are very nice folks and were fixing up a few things in the unit.

One last task on the way out was to find the Access Storage office and take care of the paperwork for the storage spot I was renting for our trailer. Then we were heading north just before 1:00 PM.

We followed the secondary roads through Fergus, where we picked up lunch at Mickey D's, and then Orangeville where we followed Highway 9 to Highway 400. Snow flurries started in Barrie and then started to intensify around Mount. St;\. Louis.

Snow in Barrie

After a coffee stop at the new Tim's at Waubaushene, the snow turned to rain near Parry Sound. It was 4:00 PM and starting to get dark. On Highway 69, there was no snow but there were a lot of plows out. What did it matter, it was only taxpayers' money. There was snow on the ground and it was dark when we pulled into the driveway just before 6:00 PM.

Today's Route (285 Equinox miles):

Interactive Map

Sunday, November 01, 2020

Woodstock Ontario to Waterloo Ontario - Moving Trip #2 (Day 2) - We Get The Keys

We had agreed to meet our real estate agent Alex Bunker at the condo at 11:00 AM. It was wet this morning so everyone was lucky they had gotten Halloween done before this system rolled in.

Checking out about 10:00 AM, we drove the 40 miles to Waterloo and parked in the Visitor lot near the front door. Alex arrived shortly after and gave us each a ring of three keys including an RFID fob and a remote control. Alex showed us how the fob opened the front doors, the doors to the amenities like the pool, exercise room, etc. and the entry from the underground garage. A nice couple in the lobby explained that button #1 on the remote opened the garage door to Parking Level 1 where our two spots were located. One key opened the door to the storage lockers on P 1, one opened our mailbox and the last opened the front door to our unit. Then we went up and did a walkthrough of unit 1504, which was just as it had been represented to us. Alex also gave us a welcoming gift basket and then bid us goodbye.

I went down and moved the Equinox into one of our parking spaces. Then I used a cart by the elevators to move our possessions in the car either into the locker or up to our unit. We had brought our camp cots along with the memory foam mattresses and bedding Sandy had made for them and set them up in the master bedroom. We had a couple of camp chairs to sit on but we had no TV yet, so we turned in very early.

Today's Route (40 Equinox miles):

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Saturday, October 31, 2020

Sudbury Ontario to Woodstock Ontario - Moving Trip #2 (Day 1) - Halloween

Since the run to Woodstock last week, we had made great strides in reducing our worldly goods. Darren contacted us a few days ago to see if we were interested in moving the closing date on the house up again. I told him that we could do November 15th if we could leave a few things in the house rather than cleaning everything out. The buyer agreed.

It was now the end of October. Both Halloween and taking possession of the condo were upon us. We decided to go to Woodstock today for Halloween with grandkids (suitably distanced) and then meet Alex at the condo tomorrow morning to pick up the keys.

Marie and Ron came by with their trailer to pick up the master bedroom set Sandy had sold to a friend of theirs. We also loaded them up with any other goods they were willing to take and struck a deal on our snowblower. Then we stuffed as many boxes and essential goods as would fit into the Equinox.

Just after noon, we set out for the south. Imagine our surprise when we reached the end of the four-lane just before the French River and were unexpectedly directed onto the new highway. Rather, we were on half of it, as one side of the new four-lane road was opened for two way traffic. The were on new pavement most of the way to the Grundy turnoff including crossing the French and Pickerel Rivers on new bridges.

The end of the four lane approaching the French River

The French River Trading Post from the new highway

Looking at the old Pickerel River Bridge from the new one

Last week we were on that other highway

We stopped in Parry Sound at McDonald's for coffee and a bathroom break. It was really a chance for me to wake up again. The rest of the way to Highway 401 in Toronto was uneventful except for one stretch at the Aurora exit on 400 where I suddenly noticed the 80 KPH reduced speed sign. Looking down, I saw that we were doing 132 which could trigger a seven day licence suspension and vehicle impoundment (50 KPH over is where this draconian roadside justice comes into play). I slowed down.

We chose the Toronto/401 route because it was Saturday afternoon and we expected traffic to be reasonable. It was, although we saw eastbound traffic in Mississauga held up by police, ambulance and fire vehicles. There was no evidence of a wreck, just a few unmarked pickup trucks. RIDE check? COVID checkpoint? We never did find out.

Eastbound traffic being held up on 401 for an unknown reason

The stopped line up eastbound went on for a long time

We took a detour through Waterloo so I could show Sandy our new home.

Our unit is 14 floors up (15th floor with no 13)

We arrived at the Best Western Plus in Woodstock just before 6:00 PM. After checking in, we headed over to Heather and Tom's where a modified Halloween was underway. Heather, Sandy and I walked the neighborhood with Jasper and Fiona as they visited homes which creatively dealt with the Trick or Treating under COVID conditions.

Heather and Tom's distancing solution - take one

Somebody inventing obits for still-living neighbors

Getting treats while keeping distanced

This household went all out

After we finished the walk through the neighborhood, where a surprising number of houses were still offering the kids candy, we went back to the house and spent some time with the Jasper and Fiona. Then we returned to the hotel after making a stop at a Subway to pick up something for supper.

Today's Route (315 Equinox miles):

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Sudbury to Woodstock Return - Moving Trip #1

Now that we would have the condo on November 1st and had to be out of the house by December 1st, things started to get serious. We had decided that we would not take much of our furniture with us, so it became a race to sell, give away, donate or throw out much of what we had. We also had a massive job going through all the boxes and drawers of "stuff" to decide what would go with us.

We ended up using bankers boxes for a lot of things we decided to take. Sandy did a lot of the work packing them up, a little more every day. We also made a few runs to the Greater Sudbury landfill with junk and to Restore, Value Village and the Pet Thrift Shop with things that still had some miles in them.

Although we did not have the condo yet, Sandy and I decided I should make an advance run to Woodstock. Heather and Tom had kindly agreed to let us store the bike in their garage for the winter so we would take that and as much as we could carry. Anything not bike related could be brought over to the condo after the end of the month.

I hooked up the trailer and loaded the bike for the first time this season. Then we packed all the related bike gear and as many other boxes as we could. Without folding the rear seats down, the back of an Equinox will hold ten banker's boxes plus some flat things and some soft stuff.

Leo (who helped us so much during the move) and I set out early in the morning. We took Highways 69 and the 400 all the way to Highway 401 in Toronto and then followed that west to Woodstock where we arrived just before noon. It did not take long to unload everything and start heading back. On the way, we drove through Waterloo and checked out Waterpark Place. It looked impressive. Unfortunately, I did not take any pictures.

In an attempt to avoid traffic, we headed north on the back roads through Fergus, Orangeville and Stayner. We were back in Sudbury in good time, having covered 633 miles since we had woke up this morning.

Phase One of the move was done. Thank you Leo.

Today's Route (633 Equinox/trailer miles):

Friday, October 16, 2020

The House Is Sold

 We got word from Darren tonight that, subject to a minor adjustment due to a cracked living room window that we had never noticed, the conditions had been lifted on the agreement to sell the house. The original closing date had been December 15th but, since the condo deal was finalized, we moved it up to December 1st. That would still allow us one month to get things moved.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Freedom Riders Colour Ride to Mattawa

The weather man, notorious liar that he is, forecast an unusually nice Saturday for mid-October. This gave the Freedom Riders the opportunity for one final ride together. For me, it would be my last ride as a local member of the club, although Sandy and I will remain members no matter where we live.

It was warmer than it looked

A good sized group gathered at Tim's on Levesque Street and, once President Rob arrived to lead us, we headed east on Highway 17. The plan was to ride to North Bay and then ride up Highway 64 to Highway 533, which we would then take southeast into Mattawa. This was the reverse of the route we had ridden earlier in the season.

I took up the last spot to keep an eye on the group. As we passed through Hagar, Fabien and Laura joined us, she riding her new Spyder. Then we stopped at the Tim Horton's in Sturgeon Falls where we were joined by Greg, someone I had met on the Facebook group Let's Ride Sudbury.

The ride to 533 was uneventful. Once we turned onto that road, which is more interesting than most in the area, the group spaced itself out as each rider set their own pace. It took a while for me to work my way forward from my spot at the back but eventually I got clear and followed Rob to Mattawa.

We fueled in Mattawa and then stopped at Myrt's, a local landmark for as long as I have been coming through here, for lunch.

Myrt's in Mattawa Ontario

Freedom Riders in Mattawa

Masking up to go inside

The ride back was pleasant and a little melancholy because this was probably going to be my last time on the bike this season. We stopped at the other Tim's in Sturgeon Falls (yes, the little town has two) and said goodbyes to the folks who would be leaving us before we got back to Sudbury.

Tim Horton's - Sturgeon Falls

We got back to Sudbury in good time and I stopped to fuel the bike again before taking it home and parking it in the garage.

I will miss the Northern Ontario terrain but I expect that I will have a lot more riding options in the south next year.

Today's Route (243 motorcycle miles):

Tuesday, October 06, 2020

A Very Busy (And Life Changing) Week

 A lot has happened in the last week, so buckle your seatbelts and hang on.

For some time now, Sandy and I have been talking about selling the house and moving to an apartment where we would not have to worry about mowing, snowblowing, maintenance and all those other chores that property ownership entails. In an apartment, we would also be able to just lock the door and go out on the road whenever we wanted.

We had also considered moving south to be closer to family and were only staying in Sudbury because her mother Jan was in a nursing home here.

On Saturday September 26th, after releasing Jan's ashes, and notwithstanding Sandy's cousins as well as decades of very good friends here, we were free to explore both ideas about new living circumstances. We were thinking maybe sometime in the spring because nobody wants to move in the winter. I had a conversation with son-in-law Mike about this and he said his real estate guy in the Kitchener/Waterloo area also dealt with rentals. On Monday the 28th, he sent me the contact info for TrilliumWest Real Estate Brokerage so I sent them an Email and arranged to talk to Alex (Alexandra) Bunker the next morning. Now hang on because it is going to get hectic.

Tuesday September 29, 2020

We spoke to Alex at 9:00 AM and told her what we were looking for. Something in an upscale apartment or leased condo with reasonable space, two bedrooms, an exercise room and preferably underground parking. She said she would look around and get back to us. She sent a list of five possibilities a little later in the day and we agreed to come down to look at them Friday morning.

Seeing that there seemed to be a lot of interesting places, I also called Darren Leblanc of Kat & Darren - The Leblanc Group. He was the agent who sold Jan's house a couple of years ago. He was also a former STOP Officer and I had worked with his father Marcel for over twenty-five years. We had asked him over a while back to see what we should do to make the house saleable and he said that we should pretty much leave it the way it was.

Now, faced with the question of a possible sale, Darren asked if we wanted to be done before the snow flew. If we listed, we could probably get more if there were competing offers but it could also take longer. Plus there was the issue I was concerned about with our unorthodox sump system. He said he had a potential buyer if we were happy to get the asking price rather than taking our chance on an auction. It would also reduce the realtor commission. I told him to consider it.

Wednesday September 30, 2020

Nothing special happened today. We planned our trip to Kitchener/Waterloo. Traveling overnight in a pandemic was new to us.

Thursday October 1, 2020

We drove down to Waterloo leaving about 11:30. We stopped on the Hockley Road to take a picture of the building used as the Rosebud Motel in TV comedy series Schitt's Creek.

Rosebud Motel

We checked into the Best Western Waterloo, formerly known as the Destination Inn, about 5:30. Then we went out and drove around looking at some things before picking up Subway sandwiches and returning to our room.

Friday October 2, 2020

We were given bags of breakfast to go from the hotel and stopped at a Tim's for a bit more on our way to meet Alex at 9:00 AM.

New Miata, anyone?

The first complex was Blackstone, a brand new complex on Northfield Road. Excellent location but only one of four buildings was complete, the three available units were small (under 900 sq. ft.) and the underground parking wasn't ready yet. Then we went downtown to the Caroline Residences. Upscale building (24 hour concierge, brand new) with two underground parking spaces and a spectacular view from the 11th floor. But it was also small and the second bedroom was laid out oddly so it would be almost impossible to get a bed into. I think it was really a study. The third building was the Bauer Lofts, a larger 2nd floor unit overlooking the famous Vincenzo's Market. But it was a little rough and we didn't really feel comfortable.

Caroline Residences - the taller left building

The Residences on Caroline St

Caroline underground parking

Balcony View from Bauer Lofts

Living room/kitchen at Bauer Lofts

A little sadly, we realized we hadn't found our perfect new home yet. I loosened up our terms a little bit and Alex said she would look for some other listings. After meeting Heather for lunch at the Daily Grill on Northfield and giving her some special Sudbury beer we had brought down at Tom's request, we headed home via the back roads to avoid the Friday Toronto rush.

It was a beautiful fall day to travel. We hit a bit of a traffic bottleneck near Barrie but once we got past that, it was clear sailing. As we headed home, Darren called with a couple of questions because he was showing the house to the prospective buyer.

Seen near Orangeville

Lovely fall day in Northern Ontario

We pulled into our driveway a little after 6:00 PM, not sure just where we stood.

Saturday October 3, 2020

Darren let us know that his buyer was submitting an offer for our asking price plus a little extra if we left certain furniture. That was fine with us since we didn't plan on taking much with us.

Then Alex sent us a list of 54 places that she had found. It was late in the afternoon so I set it aside to review in the morning.

Sunday October 4, 2020

I prepared a spreadsheet with columns for each of the key factors in the prospective rental units. Then I went through the list and excluded any unit under 1,000 sq. ft. That left six for which I proceeded to list all the details I had columns for. Square footage, bedrooms, in suite laundry, exercise room, utilities included, parking, etc. 

There were a few nice ones but one unit stood out. It was a condo lease in Waterpark Place in Waterloo, It was a 15th floor two bedroom unit with 1,441 square feet, two bedroom, two baths, a large walk-in closet, a dining room, living room, breakfast room and Florida balcony. The complex had an exercise room, party room, library, craft room and a pool. Plus there were two underground parking spots. It was a little more than the smaller places but looked like it was worth it. It had only been listed a couple of days so called Alex and told her we were interested and did not want someone else to scoop it up on us. 

The condo floor plan - 1504-6 Willow Street Waterloo

Alex checked and said it was still available. The current tenant was leaving at the end of the month to move to Vancouver to be closer to family. They were not showing the unit but Alex said she would be allowed in the next day to allow us a Skype tour.

Monday October 5, 2020

We accepted the offer on the house conditional upon the home inspection and financing. The closing date was December 15. Then we saw the Skype tour of the condo and submitted a lease application.

An interesting side note on the lease application. I have never needed to know my credit score before but it was requested for the application. As I pondered how I should do this, I picked up an envelope in the mailbox from Desjardins Financial. I had a Desjardins credit card because, a few years ago, I had bought furniture from Leon's on a zero interest deal and they handled the payments. Earlier this year, Desjardins suffered a data breach and offered all their clients five years of premium Equifax membership worth somewhere more than $20 per month. Last month, I had found the letter, good until the end of the year, and sent away for the code I needed to enroll in the Equifax plan. And now, the very day I needed to know my credit rating, the means to find it out appeared right out of the blue in my mailbox. Sometimes the universe just reaches out to you.

Oh yes, my credit rating was fine.

Tuesday October 6, 2020

Alex called in the morning and told us we were successful with the lease. We would take over tenancy of the condo on November 1st.

So there you have it. In almost exactly one week, we sold a house and leased a condo. I can often procrastinate but when I do decide to move, things can go very quickly. Now all we have to do is wait for the conditions on the house sale to be lifted and figure what to do with 36 years worth of "stuff" in the house.

Let the fun begin!!!!

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Janet's Memorial

We gathered at a small picnic area on Highway 64 on the shore of the West Arm of Lake Nipissing to say goodbye to Sandy's mother, Janet L Jacobs. This was the spot where her father Harry and brother Malcolm had their ashes released and we set Jan free to join them. It was a significant location because Jan and Harry had spent many happy weekends on a houseboat they moored near there.

Attendance was limited by the new COVID rules so the gathering was just cousins and a few friends. Son-in-law Tom held my phone as we live streamed the gathering on Facebook for friends and family around the world.

Kim, Mike and the girls could not make it because they found just as they were ready to leave Cambridge that they had been in close contact with someone who was showing possible COVID signs. They were self isolating until the test results came back. (It was later found to be a false alarm.)

It was poignant as various people shared memories of Jan and then we played Dancing in the Sky by Dani and Lizzy as I released the ashes into the channel. COVID meant we could not have the family dinner we usually hold at times like these so everyone went their own ways after we were finished. Luckily, the weather held out until after we were finished.

On the way back, Heather, Tom, Sandy and I stopped at Kate's Place near Warren for a bite to eat. Leo and I had stopped here September 4th and then found out there was a COVID alert for the time we were there. I got the scoop today. Someone who at tested positive thought he had stopped at Kate's but wasn't sure when, so they out out a blanket warning. It turned out to be nothing.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Highway 522 Loop

Terry, Leo and I have been riding together for almost 40 years, having met as members of the Nickel Riders Motorcycle Club. Short rides, long trips and everything in between. Terry had every second Wednesday off and called to see if we would like to ride the Highway 522 loop today. The forecast was good and the leaves were changing so it sounded like a great idea. After we opened the invitation up, Kevin joined in.

We met at Tim's on Levesque and then rode fifty miles south on Highway 69 to Highway 522. This is a secondary highway that joins Highways 69 and 11, passing through some unpopulated areas.

The first stop was in Port Loring at the famous Jake's Place. Unfortunately, Jake's takes Wednesday off so we backtracked to Roxie's.

Jake's Place - Port Loring Ontario

Yes, it was Wednesday

Roxie's was open

Kevin ordering

The burgers were creative

The dining room was huge

After lunch, we motored on following 522 east to Highway 11. The 500 series highways in Ontario can be interesting and this one has enough curves to be fun. Terry was always a fast rider and today was no different. It was like a blast from the past. There were a few spots I wished I had my co-rider and her camera to capture some of the spectacularly coloured trees.

When we got to the end, we headed north on Highway 11 fighting a hellacious crosswind to North Bay. There, it became a headwind as we turned west. We did stop at Tim Horton's in Sturgeon Falls to say goodbye to Terry. He lived about 40 miles east of Sudbury and would leave us as we passed by.

The Three Musketeers

The rest of the trip was uneventful but the great day and old friends had given us another round of excellent memories.

Today's Route (238 motorcycle miles):

Wednesday, September 02, 2020

Sudbury Ontario to Calabogie Ontario and Return - Visit Koolens

After six months without a road trip, we had planned to make a day trip down to visit Kim, Mike and the girls at a cottage they were renting near Calabogie in eastern Ontario. Despite Jan's passing a couple of days ago, we had already made all the necessary arrangements and needed a break. It was 57 F and raining steadily as we hit the road at 5:00 AM. The GPS predicted an arrival time of 9:48 AM but I figured 10:30 would be more realistic.

We drove along in the dark listening to The World According To Tom Hanks, an audiobook borrowed from the library. The rain eased of about thirty miles east of Sudbury and then we stopped at McDonald's in Sturgeon Falls for some sustenance to go. The rain stopped as we continued east towards the rising sun.

As I cruised along, I wondered how many lives had been saved by the simple act of carving rumble strips into the centre and fog lines of the highways. I am sure I ponder this every time I travel a two-lane highway.

Light but overcast on Highway 17 east of North Bay

After encountering the particularly pungent scent of a skunk near Pembroke, we took the usual shortcut on B-Line Road towards Eganville. The was a stretch that was hard packed dirt (greasy when wet) that I would not have liked to ride the bike on.

B-Lime Road

We stopped for gas in Eganville and I saw a sign for "Fat Tarts", a local type of butter tart. Unfortunately, they had not yet received their tarts for the day so we could not bring a surprise gift with us. A tree in the next door St. James Cemetery showed early tinges of colour, a message that summer was on its way out.

No tarts today....

Fall is coming

We encountered some construction on Highway 41 south of Eganville but it only held us up for a few moments.

Pretty flag persons keep us from getting too upset

The whole crew watching one person in the hole

We were heading to a place that my Garmin never heard of, while Google maps on the phone thought it might have an idea. While navigating the back roads, I made an error and ended up on something called Keneally Mountain Road. It was dirt and, according to the phone, would not take us where we needed to go. The GPS was totally confused so we backtracked until the proper road appeared.

Eventually, we arrived at Calabogie Road 508, a real road with an actual centre line. This took us to a bridge across the Madawaska River below the Barrett Chute Dam, built in 1943 to create the Norcan Lake Reservoir and generate hydro-electric power.

Barrett Chute Dam on the Madawaska River

Just across the river, we managed to find the Calabogie Stone Cottage on Norcan Lake. Pulling in at 10:27, almost exactly as predicted, we were greeted by the family. After paying some games and telling some stories, we had a fine lunch before starting for home at 2:00 PM.

Mike, Kim, Sandy, Jolene and Robyn

It was a long drive for a short stay but well worth the effort. On the way back, we took the better road to Calabogie and Renfrew before heading west on Highway 17 aka the Trans-Canada Highway.

Nice two-lane roads in eastern Ontario

An upgraded log house south of Renfrew

The road home brought back a series on motorcycle memories. At the intersection if Castleford Road, the western entrance to Renfrew, I was reminded of the dark night around 1978 when Sandy and I, accompanied by Ed Denis, were hurtling east on a weekend run to the Laconia Classic. About midnight, as we passed through the intersection, someone in a westbound car threw a beer bottle that caught Ed in the headlight. The light smashed and the silver plastic ring that held it in place departed for parts unknown.

Not being quitters, Ed followed me into Arnprior where we found a service station that was still open. We bought a sealed beam that was the same size as the broken shell and taped it in place with red duct tape. Voila, we continued on for a great weekend of racing, meeting new people (including the infamous Dick Hazelwood from Ames, Iowa and his buddy Porky) and dipping our toes into the Atlantic Ocean.

The icing on the cake was that we stopped at the scene of the crime on the way back and found the silver ring that had held the headlight in place. It was lying in the ditch by the side of the road.

Scene of the Laconia Beer Bottle Episode

I have spoken before about the Champlain Astrolabe marker near Cobden, Ontario. We stopped again today for another photo. There was no ark there nor were there any pairs of animals when we stopped here for a photo on our first long motorcycle trip in 1976.

Champlain Astrolabe Monument

Logosland entrance

What's a cubit?

In 1981, Terry, Richard (Batman) and I decided to check out the first Ottawa Valley Touring Club Rally In The Valley. It was a memorable weekend that included some pretty heavy partying. It was also the birthplace of Team Gypsy but that is another story.

Sunday morning, the three of us started for home. We had a reputation for covering a lot of ground in a short space of time but we were hurting puppies this day. As we approached Stonecliff, Terry got on the CB and said that we should stop[ for some gas. My reply, and he still reminds me of it, was "F**k the gas, I need a coffee".

Gas station in Stonecliff

One other weekend in the early 80's, Leo and I got the bright idea to ride to Peterborough for the spring sap run and come back the same day. It was below freezing on the April morning as I scraped the frost off the seat of my bike and we set out in the dark. We finished the 240 miles and were sitting in the Mickey D's on Lansdowne when the Peterborough Tour Riders showed up about 9:00 AM, surprised that we had beaten them. The group rode to a maple syrup shack in Bancroft and then Leo and I headed north, connecting with Highway 17 for a straight shot home.

Leo was riding a GS-850 Suzuki with a Windjammer fairing. This fairing was equipped with a Cycle Sound, an aftermarket plastic housing that held an automotive radio/tape player. One of the mounting screws fell out and, since there were only two to start with, the unit started flopping around. This was not a good thing at a sustained 80+ MPH, so we stopped. My GL-1000 had a large one piece trunk assembly called a Trip Trunk, the brainchild of Ray Bish of Brockway, Pennsylvania. There weren't many around, the most famous being the Jesus Bike Moto Guzzi if the 1980's national rally circuit. In any case, it would hold five cases of beer (real 2 4 cases), so the Cycle Sound was nothing. We stowed the unit and rolled on. I'm not sure why but I always think of that when I pass this spot.

Where we stowed the Cycle Sound

These memories don't mean anything to anyone but me, but they (and many more) remind me of the many miles that have passed under my tires and all the places I have been. Especially, I am reminded of all the great people I have shared the journey with.

We stopped in Deep River for gas and then at Tim's for some cookies. I know, I am not supposed to have cookies but they were calling my name. The rest of the trip was uneventful as we passed from sunshine to rain and back. We pulled into the driveway just before 7:00 PM. It was a long day but, as I said before, it was worth it.

Today's Route (537 Equinox miles):