I’m leaving, on a jet plane…

I went to pick up my passport after work yesterday.  I found parking right in front of the Service Canada building, that was sort of a surprise.  I paid for 40 minutes and thought that it likely wasn’t enough.  I went in and since I was picking up, it is a different line – there was only one person in front of me.

So, I waited less than 5 minutes in total and got my passport – no issues, no hassle.  The picture doesn’t look bad, as far as passport pictures go.  So, I am now free to roam for the next 10 years.

I leave in less than 24 hours for Ontario and will spend 5 nights in my former province.  I am taking the red eye to Toronto, it leaves Friday morning at 12:35 and arrives in Toronto shortly after 6am.  I have reserved a rental car at the airport, the only issue is that the credit card that I applied for at the beginning of the month has not yet arrived.  I called them and it was sent out on March 9.  Now, I know that Canada Post is slow, but this is a bit ridiculous.  The card hasn’t been activated or used, so that is good at least.  If it does not arrive then I guess I won’t be getting the rental, unless they will take a debit card but I don’t think most rental places will.  I will cross that bridge when I come to it.  If needed, I will take a bus to Niagara, it will work out – I don’t let issues like this stress me out, I can’t do anything about it, so, why worry about it?

I am staying with friends in Welland, it will be good to see them.  We are going out on Saturday night where I am meeting other friends.  I am also having breakfast Sunday with my sister and brother-in-law.  On Saturday, I will be going to the memorial for a good friend of mine.  He will be missed by many.

I head back to Toronto early on Monday morning.  I either drop the car off at the airport and take transit downtown, or I take a bus back.  I work in the National office for 3 days and have lunches and dinners with various co-workers – it will be good to catch up with everyone.  I am staying with my Aunt in Toronto and am looking forward to seeing both her and my cousin who’s coming to Toronto from Washington.

I will be hitting up the Mandarin twice on my visit – love Chinese food.  Monday for dinner is Red Lobster with my Aunt and co-worker.  Tuesday, my boss is trying to kill me with the Buffet Tri-Fecta, buffet breakfast at the Royal York Hotel, lunch at Mandarin (visit #2) and dinner at Copacabana, a Brazilan Steakhouse.  I might be a tad full.  On Wednesday, I am taking out the Senior Manager of my group at work and finally paying off a Super Bowl bet from a number of years ago.  This is our first opportunity for me to be in Toronto and be able to take him out.

My flight leaves on Wednesday evening, I need to be at the airport around 6:30pm.

I will be chronicling my trip on my blog, will try to make daily entries – follow along:


For today, one more day to work and then right after work, I will drop the dogs off at the pet resort.  I am going to miss them – that’s for sure.  Before I got Zeus, almost 11 years ago, I hadn’t ever really thought about having a dog of my own.  Now, with three of them, I can’t imagine never having a dog again.  I know they will have a great time and I am already looking forward to picking them up.

If you will, wish me safe travels.  Thanks.  🙂

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A busy Saturday

I have often wondered why weekends go by so dang quickly where some weekdays go by far too slowly.  The obvious answer is we prefer being off on our own as opposed to working.  Typically, we also only get two days off per week where most of us work 5.

Well, yesterday, Saturday, zoomed by.  As per usual, I was awake very early in the morning, or very late at night.  I was up around 2AM.  This is the time where a lot of people will be going to bed, or if they’ve been out, perhaps not even home yet.  I am not sure when my sleep patterns will return to something I can call normal.

Anyway, I was able to get most of the order for uniforms for Babe Ruth completed in the wee hours of the night.  It is pretty well set to go now which is good.  It is mid-March, we have 6 weeks until the season starts.

I had a morning nap yesterday, from shortly after 7am until nearly 11am – guess I caught up on the sleep I didn’t get in the night.  That wrecked part of the day, I had originally intended on heading out early.  I zipped over to the Chinook Centre to pickup a pair of sandals for my upcoming trip, a friend works in the store and was able to give me them for half price, a good deal indeed – thanks.  I got home and wanted to clean out the back seat of my car so I could install a new seat cover to protect against the dog hair and paw dirt.  Well, discovered that my shop vac had frozen water in the hose – it was in the garage.  Oh well, left it out in the sun for a bit and that problem went away.

So, the dogs and I went to Edworthy Park for a walk – most of the snow was gone and the park was mostly dry which was good.  They didn’t track too much dirt into the car, I will clean it today and THEN install the seat cover.  I would like to keep this car a little cleaner than my last one – the poor Nitro was a tad dirty.

Today we have a baseball meeting.  Shouldn’t take too long.  Most of the planning for the season is done by this point.  Indoor workouts have started, the season will be upon us shortly.  I am also planning on going out for another hike with the dogs.

The week will likely go by pretty quickly.  I am looking forward, in most ways, to my trip.  Enjoy your Sunday.

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Another weekend…

Blondie, Hera and Twix spent Wednesday night and Thursday at the Pet Resort in Cochrane.  I picked them up after work on Thursday, they were happy to see me and I them, and wow, were they ever tired.

We go to the dog park on a mostly daily basis and we are typically there for an hour or two.  At the pet resort, they play most of the day, very little down time.  Thursday evening was a quiet night.  Twix did not like it when I dropped her off, but it looks like she had a good time.  They posted some pictures shortly after they were dropped off and the dogs were happily playing away.

I also made a very rare appearance at the office.  I worked downtown for the first time in nearly 2 years.  I didn’t know most of the staff, as I expected.  I did see some people I knew, it was good catching up.  I am thinking I will go back to the one day a month visit schedule, just to try to stay “current” with the office.  I will do that starting in May.  That’s the plan anyway, we will see if it pans out.  🙂

Less than a week now until I leave for my trip.  I pick up my passport on Wednesday downtown after work.  Thursday after work I will drop the dogs off at the pet resort again, this time, it will be their home for a month.  I bought enough food for nearly two months.  Four bags was just over $320 and I got a 5th bag for free.  That will cover them until the end of April.  After I get home from dropping them off, I will need to finish my packing and try to catch an hour or two nap.  My friend is picking me up for an airport run and we will grab food on route.  The red eye leaves for Toronto at 12:35 and I get into Toronto shortly after 6am on Friday morning.  It will be a busy day and weekend visiting friends and family in Niagara.  I am working in the National office Monday through Wednesday the following week before flying out late Wednesday night.  I land in Mauritius on Friday morning and then don’t start working until Monday.

I guess I am looking forward to the trip, not the flights.  Getting there is 19 hours or so, from Toronto.  I typically don’t sleep while flying, I doubt I will be able to stay awake the whole time, we will see. I should have some stuff to keep me occupied while flying anyway and I think international flights have internet access, I hope they do anyway.

Nothing really going on this weekend.  I do have to finalize my baseball unform orders and we have a baseball meeting on Sunday.  It is supposed to be quite warm today, pushing nearly 20C.  I am sure a hike with the dogs will occur as well. Enjoy your weekend – they go by way too quickly.

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Pet resort, travel, work and fuel

After work this afternoon, I am bringing the dogs to Treetops Pet Resort for a night.  This is Twix’s first visit to the resort.  I wanted to have her there for a night before I drop her (and Blondie, Hera) for a month.  I am sure that she will be fine, this is more for my piece of mind.  If I drop them off today, they have fun tonight and tomorrow and then I pick them up, hopefully she will associate with that when I drop them off next week and don’t return for over a month.  Again, more for me, I am sure but piece of mind if a good thing to have.  That’s the only major issue I really have with this upcoming trip, leaving the dogs for so long.  I know they will be well cared for and will have a great time, but I am sure they will miss me and I know I will miss them, at the same time as enjoy a bit of a break.  Well, 3 or 4 days is a good break, a month is a bit much.

I am sure I will not have to return to Mauritius in the future or go on any extended work trips either.  A day here, a day there, perhaps a week when we have a conference in Ontario.  I am sure I am over-thinking it, but hey, they see me nearly all day every day.

My passport will be available for pickup next week.  My guarantor got a call from Service Canada about my passport application.  Good that they follow-up on such things I guess, wouldn’t want just anyone who shouldn’t have a passport getting one.  Everything else is in place.  I am looking forward to a few busy days in Ontario for sure.  It will be good to see friends and family.  Meals are planned at various restaurants that I like, will be a good time.  It will be interesting to work at the National office for a few days as well – commuting via subway for 3 days as well – just like a commoner.  🙂

I was pleasantly surprised when I filled my car with gas yesterday.  The tank was nearly empty and I was able to fill it for $40.  I have not been able to do that in years.  Years and years, actually, likely since the late 90’s, I’d guess.  It is obviously a smaller tank than the Nitro, but I got about the same mileage.  If I did all highway driving, it would be interesting to see what mileage I would get.  It is going to save me a bunch of money, about $80 per month anyway, just in gas.  That will be nice.

So, tomorrow, since I am dog free during the day, I plan on going into the office for the first time in 2.5 years to work for the day.  I don’t need to, I just figured why not.  I will know some of the staff and managers, most of the senior managers and partners and, best of all perhaps, the coffee is free.  When I finish work, I will go and get the dogs who I am sure will be happy to see me.

I have a few things to wrap up before I leave for my trip – mostly baseball related.  Gotta finish the orders for uniforms.  It is going well so I expect no issues.

Well, the day starts soon, hope you have a good one.

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Getting my passport…

When I lived in Niagara, I had a passport since I was so close to the US border, I would cross over fairly often and it was needed.  I also coached baseball in the US so a passport was a necessity.  After I moved to Alberta, I allowed the passport to expire since I am about 4 hours to the border of Montana and then it is another hour or so before you get to the next town.  I have not traveled to the US via air in ages (1993 was the last time, I think) and I have never traveled outside of North America, so, I decided why should I spend the money on a renewal.

So, now my work is sending me overseas to Mauritius to do training and obviously, a passport is required.  I am leaving for Toronto on March 24, 2 weeks today actually.  I applied for my passport on Wednesday.  Nothing like waiting until the last second eh?

Well, I had a friend be my guarantor.  He dropped by a couple of weeks ago and signed the application, he also met my new dog Twix, Blondie and Hera already love him, so now, hopefully, a third dog does too.  Anyway, I hadn’t gotten my picture taken as yet, so I couldn’t get him to sign the pictures.  Well, finally, on Monday, I got my pictures done.  The holdup was that I hadn’t gotten a haircut.  The holdup on that was that I have a Doctorate in Procrastination.

Wednesday, I spent some time to go and apply for the passport.  I went to one of the offices fairly near my house.  Both the navigation system in my car AND Google maps took me to a building that is under construction.  I was finally able to find the correct building – for some reason, Service Canada does not have outside signage – very helpful.  I go up to the third floor and as I am waiting in line, I see a sign that says something along the lines of “If you are traveling before April 11, we can’t help you”…  Wow, great.  I am next in line so I ask where I need to go.  Downtown, to the main Service Canada office, of course.

So, I punch in the address and head downtown – 30 minute drive.  OK, fine.  I arrive and the address is a hotel.  I entered the address as South-West, instead of South-East.  I have already paid for parking, so I walk 4 blocks to the correct address – at least it was only 220 and not 880 – otherwise, I would have had to drive.

I do find the correct building and hey, a giant sign – helpful for sure.  Too bad I missed it as I drove past the first time.

I stand in the first line, this is to get a number.  I am A130, it is currently at A95.  I ask how long the wait will be, I am told about an hour.  OK, not too bad I guess – there are a ton of people waiting.  Fifty-five minutes later, my number comes up – awesome, not as bad as I thought it would be.  I had to get one more piece of information for the application, not a problem and paid the fee ($180 for 10 years, $160 for the passport and $20 for delivery).

The “delivery” fee allows me to come back downtown on March 22 and pick up my passport.  If I wanted it delivered to my home, it would have been $50, and they couldn’t guarantee it would be delivered in time.  That would have cost me $100.  So, anyway, yes, I can come back downtown on the 22nd and pick up my passport, no problem.

Anyway, long story short, my passport application is in, I will go and pick it up in a couple of weeks and then I will be off.  What fun.  At least this time, when I go back downtown, I will know where I am going and not park in front of a hotel and walk 4 blocks in -20 weather.  Yeah, fun.

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A new vehicle…

I have been thinking of replacing my vehicle for a bit.  It is running fine, but it is getting older, it is a 2008 and it has 125k km.  Not a lot, not for a 9 year old vehicle, but it is getting to the point where I will have to start putting some money into it and I would prefer not to have to do that.

For instance, I know that the tires will need replacing this spring.  They lasted through the winter which is awesome.  Breaks still are good, they were replaced when I got it at 85k km.

So, I was thinking of getting back into a Jeep Wrangler, a 2 door like the one I had in 2007/08.  I loved that Jeep, it was an awesome vehicle.

I did look at one, it was a 2013, Sport model so not loaded, at all.  It has roll up windows, and that’s fine, it’s a Jeep after all.  No power locks.  It did have cruise at least, nice for driving on the highway.  It had a hard top, BUT, no soft top.  If I wanted one of those, that’s a $1500 add-on.  I took it for a test drive, drove much nicer, smoother than my 07 Jeep, from what I remember – or was it an 05 Jeep…  Hmmm…  The shift to 4×4 was smooth and the shifting was smooth as well – it was a 6-speed standard.  I wasn’t entirely sure that I wanted to get back into a standard, I’ve been spoiled driving an automatic these past few years.

I also test drove a Mitsubishi Outlander.  It was a 2015 with about 50k km on it.Nice thing with Mitsubishi’s is that they have a 10 year bumper to bumper warranty.  It had some of the cool “toys” that I sort of wanted, it had Blue Tooth to connect my phone, it had heated seats, it had enough room for myself and 3 dogs.  I didn’t like that it was white and the body lines of it were a bit boring.

I also test drove a Ford Escape.  It was also a 2015 model, 4WD and loaded.  All of the bells and whistles and toys that you could want.  It has built-in navigation and Microsoft Sync which connects your mobile phone, downloads your address book, it will read your text messages to you.  It is also a crossover, as opposed to a full-fledged SUV.  I took it on an extensive test drive last night, for about 45 minutes or so and sort of loved it.

So, here it is:

2015 Ford Escape

That is a promo shot of course, not my vehicle, or at least likely NOT my vehicle.  I haven’t taken any of mine.  Same colour though.  I have not owned a Ford before and I have also not owned a blue vehicle before.  I think the dogs will like it, Hera isn’t much of a jumper, she can easily step into this.  I think I will like it too, that’s probably important.

It also has something I’ve always wanted – climate control.  Set the temp at 22C and it holds it.  You don’t have to have a fan blowing you all over the interior and then roast, then you turn it off and you freeze.  It has heated seats, of course – that is almost a necessity in Calgary.

So, my new toy.  I have not as yet looked through the manual, I am sure there are many features I have not discovered yet.  Lots of time to read through that.  Congrats to me, anyway.  🙂

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A rare night out…

Last night was the Calgary offices mid-season event.  It was well attended, we took in the Calgary Roughnecks game at the Saddledome.  There were two guys from other offices in Calgary for a few days and I was able to get tickets for them as well.  One of them got caught up with some IT issues so he wasn’t able to attend, the other, from our National office appeared to have a good time.

The Roughnecks have had a rough season but ran away early with this game – It was 6-0 early in the first quarter.  They ended up winning by about 7 goals, it was a pretty exciting game.  It was good seeing co-workers who I have not seen in some time since I have been working from home for nearly 3 years.  I guess that I could make the occasional visit into the office, but thus far, I haven’t gone in too often.  The last time was a half day back in August of 2015, so perhaps I am due.  I sat with a bunch of people from our Solutions group, it was good catching up with them.  I ate typical stadium food, chicken fingers, fries, nachos and ice cream – such a healthy evening.

I got home later than I have been out recently, it was just about 11.  Not late, but for me. later than normal, that’s for sure.  The dogs were happy to see me.  Always nice coming home to dogs who are happy and a house that hasn’t been destroyed.

Today was a cold and snowy day.  I am certainly looking forward to the end of winter this year.  It has been a long, cold and snowy one – a real winter, I guess.  We didn’t do too much today, we napped, watched the end of the Jays game (they lose) and the Flames game (well, we napped for a second time during the second period) and the Flames won on 4 unanswered goals in the first period, beating the visiting Islanders 5-1.  I had a HUGE bet of 5 cents on with a friend from Ontario and look forward to collecting my winnings when I visit.

So, the weekend is nearly over – another one has zipped on by.  Hope yours was good.

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Baseball and lacrosse

The Babe Ruth league and team meetings are this morning.  This is the first time I will attend and not be the club manager for the Rockies.  I was wondering how I would feel about my decision from last August and I am happy to report that I am 100% confident that I made the correct decision in stepping down.  The team has a good coaching staff and I wish both the AA’s and AAA’s all the best this year, and in future years of course.  I am looking forward to seeing the players from the other “side” of the field this year, both as an umpire and on occasion, as a spectator.  I made a lot of friends in my three years as the club manager and I am sure those will remain for years to come.

I am handling uniforms this year and thus far, I have enjoyed it.  I have placed our first order for ball pants and they are expected to arrive prior to me heading on my trip.  Today is the last day for players to do sizing for their uniforms and buy extra stuff that is being sold – jackets, hats, etc.

I don’t think I need to speak at the meeting, if I do, it will be quick.  Essentially, it will be something like “if you need something, please email me”…  That speech took a while to write.

Today is also the BDO Calgary mid-season event.  We are going to the Calgary Roughnecks lacrosse game at the Saddledome tonight.  I enjoy lacrosse although the Roughnecks have had a tough season to date.  They got hammered last night losing big time.  Hopefully they pull out a win tonight.  There are a couple of IT guys in the city for some office moves and they are going as well – should be a good evening.

Three weeks and counting until I being my trip.  All is pretty well set – waiting for my passport to arrive, that will be the last step.  Not necessarily looking forward to the flights, that is for sure but looking forward to the experience.

Enjoy your weekend.

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Flights booked…

I’ve booked my flights for my upcoming trip.  I leave Calgary on March 24 on the red eye, getting into Toronto around 6am.  I have arranged to rent a vehicle for the weekend, picking it up at the airport.  I searched in Google for “rental cars Toronto airport” and followed the first link that I was provided.  I was shocked at what a good rate I got.  For a 5 seater, mid-sized car, they suggested a Honda Civic, that type, it was $9 per day plus taxes and “fees” – anyway, 3 days, inclusive was $70 some odd dollars.  A fantastic rate for sure.

So, I plan on going into the office for a few hours and then having lunch before heading to Niagara for the weekend.  I am sure it will end up being a very busy weekend.  I will head back to the airport early Monday morning to drop the car off.  I saved a boatload of money by returning it to the airport as opposed to returning it downtown.  I will catch a bus to the first subway station in the west end and then subway it downtown to head to the National office.  I am working 3 days in Toronto and heading out late Wednesday evening.

My first leg is Toronto to Frankfurt, Germany – 7.5 hour flight.  I then have a layover in Germany for 4 hours or so.  The next leg will not be much fun – 11.5 hours from Germany to Mauritius.  I get into Mauritius at 6am local time on the Friday and then have the weekend to get settled in before starting work on Monday.  I will spend three weeks in Mauritius before heading back – this time via Paris and Montreal to Calgary.  I am sure by that time I get back, I will NEED to be home.

The dogs will be in the pet resort for a month.  I am hoping they forgive me quickly, I am sure they will.  They will also likely be exhausted – all they do there is play all day, every day.  They’ll likely have the time of their lives.

All in all, I think it will be a good trip, a once in a lifetime thing.  Guess we will see.

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My trip to Mauritius has finally been approved – well, it was mostly approved before, it was highly unlikely that it wasn’t going to happen, it has now been scheduled.

I was able to get a really good rate to have my dogs in boarding at Tree Top Pet Resort so I am extending my away time from Calgary and am going to spend an extra few days in Toronto and a couple of days in Niagara as well.

So, the plan is for me to take the red eye to Toronto on March 24.  I will get into the city at 6:30am or so and plan on heading downtown to the National office for the day.  I am hoping to get a car rental to head to Niagara on Friday evening, I might take a bus, but it will be a lot easier with a car.  I will have dinner with my cousin and Aunt on Friday night and then will head to Niagara for the weekend.  Friends in Welland have offered to let me stay with them for the weekend so that will be great.  A bunch of people are heading to Duff’s in St. Catharines on Saturday night – it has some of the best pizza and wings in Niagara.   The rest of the weekend is wide open, more or less.  There are a couple of spots I like so I am sure to return.

I will head back to Toronto on Sunday evening or Monday morning.  I will be working out of the National office from the Monday through Wednesday or Thursday and staying with my Aunt.  I’m heading to Mauritius on Thursday, perhaps as late as Friday to get there for Saturday.  That will give me a day to get settled in before starting work on the Monday.  I will have three weeks over there.  We are doing training with our IT staff there and are going live 24/7 for support as well.  It will be an interesting trip, I am sure.

I’ve never left North America before, Mauritius is the most remote place to visit from North America, unless you go to Antarctica…  It will be the beginning of fall when I get there and the stormy season will have ended.  I am looking forward to my visit to Ontario, will be nice to see friends and family.  I am not really looking forward to visiting Mauritius, but I am sure I will enjoy the experience.

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