John & Teri's Canadian Adventure - Bridges, Puppies and Ferries
So this past weekend, Teri and I headed up to Canada. We had some goals to accomplish while we were there. First and foremost, Teri wanted to face her fear of heights by walking across the Capilano Suspension bridge. Next we wanted to meet the breeder of our puppy and above all, meet our puppy! So Friday after Teri got home from work, we headed out. If I learned anything this weekend, it was to NOT be in the left lane crossing the border in either direction! The middle lane is where it's at. As you approach the border crossing, the middle lane splits into two or more lanes, so it moves twice or more as fast as the left lane.
When we got to the border, the agent asked us the standard questions, where are you going, how long are you staying, and why are you coming into Canada. For the last question I proudly exclaimed "Puppies!" He looked a bit baffled and finally managed a "Are you going to buy one?" and I said "Yes, we're meeting the breeder and putting down a deposit." Apparently that was good enough for passage into Canada and we were off!
After arriving in Vancouver, we searched and searched for a place to stay near Robson street with ZERO luck. The 6 or 7 B&B's we called were booked as were the few hotels we called. So we headed north through Stanley Park and into North Vancouver. We ended up at a Best Western and happened to get the last non-smoking room of the evening. The bed was surprisingly comfortable and we both got a good night's sleep.
The next morning we grabbed a quick breakfast at Denny's and headed up to the Capilano Suspension Bridge. Now I have visited the bridge in the past, probably 15 or so years ago. It's pretty cool. It's suspended 200 and some feet above the Capilano river and it's fun to walk across. Being a suspension bridge, it's held aloft by two very thick steel cables and as you walk, the bridge twists quite a bit. (Somehow I failed to mention that to Teri on our way up) I was encouraging Teri the whole day saying "Don't worry, it's easy! Just like walking on a sidewalk!" OK, a wiggly sidewalk, but a sidewalk none the less.
I'm proud to say that Teri made it across without much issue. She just kept on marching, not letting anything get in her way . . . well I think this series of photographs will tell the tale. :-) I'm very proud of my wife for facing this fear. We've still got a bit of work to do, but I think she's well on her way and I give her kudos for being a trooper. On the way back across, I managed to get her to stop in the middle for a photo or two, but just for a second. Nice work hon!
Outta My Way Old Man! I'm comin' Through!
After Teri had a beer and calmed down a bit, we headed off for Maple Ridge to meet the puppies! The GPS in the car said 38 miles and over an hour to get there! Wow, I couldn't believe that it would take that long, especially since the first portion of our trip was on Trans Canada Highway 1 . . . their equivalent of I-90. But it did . . . it took us just over an hour to get to Maple Ridge.
Pulling into the neighborhood where the puppies lived, there were some impressive homes on some good sized tracts of land (she had HUGE tracts of LAND! Sorry, bit of a Monty Python sidetrack there). Pulling up to the Tristar Labrador's home, we could tell this was no puppy mill. Scarlett, the puppies mom came up the driveway to greet us with a bark. Once I got down on one knee and called Scarlett over, we were instant friends. She is a lab after all! Shelley, the breeder, had the puppies out in a play pen on the lawn and they had just eaten lunch. Another couple was there with their kids checking out the puppies too. They were just leaving. We introduced ourselves to Shelley and commenced with the puppy playin'! All in all, we were at Shelley's home playing with puppies and asking questions for about TWO HOURS! How time flies when you're playing with puppies! We gave her our deposit and headed out. If you click on the picture below, you'll be transported to all the pictures of the puppies I took. Yeah, I went a bit photo happy, but who wouldn't when confronted with NINE cute little puppies!?
Now isn't that about the cutest thing you've ever seen?
After playing with the puppies, we were hungry. A quick check of the Acura's navigation system found the Black Sheep Pub & Grill in Maple Ridge. As it was about a mile off the main drag through town in a mostly residential area, I doubt we would have found it otherwise. I'm glad we did! It turned out to be a very cool sports bar. Something just like I'd like to own someday. Teri had a gardenburger and I had a real burger. Both were very tasty, and their Onion Rings were fantastic! Teri had a Guiness and I had a coke. We decided to head back that afternoon and not stay another evening in Canada. I could tell Teri was upset, but I couldn't see spending another hundred bucks on a room when we had nothing to do. (By the way, has anyone noticed the exchange rate lately? A Canadian Dollar is worth about 93 cents USD! I guess gone are the days of 1 CAD to .65 USD so the trip ended up being a LOT more expensive than I had planned)
We plugged "Home" into the GPS and started our journey back. One portion of the trip had us going over water, so I assumed a bridge would be involved. Nope. Ferry time. So we got in line for the ferry, were told it would be about 40 minutes. We both grabbed a nap while we were waiting (the puppies must have worn us out) and sure enough, about 45 minutes later we were on the ferry and crossing over. Brandon and I ran into this on our motorcycle trip a few years ago. The Canadians are really into their ferries. Anytime you have a short crossing like this, they have a ferry. The ferries are free. I don't know much about economics, but I can't honestly see how a free ferry is cheaper than a bridge. You've got the ferry itself, the dock, the people running the whole operation, and all the maintenance involved with the whole thing. At SOME point, it's got to make sense to build the bridge wouldn't you think? Maybe not.
Anyway, about 3 hours later, we were back home. We're heading up this weekend and next for some more puppy playin'. Then sometime between the 22nd and 25th of August, we'll bring our new family member home . . . woo hoo!
Have you ever felt like you don't matter? Have you ever wanted to change that? I've been struggling for the past oh . . . nearly 37 years of my life trying to figure out where I'm headed in this world. What I'm supposed to do and where I'm supposed to end up. Up until October of 2002, I was fairly content to just go where life took me. I had a good job, a great girl and things were just hunky dory. But then I got laid off. I had to wonder for the first time in my life where my next meals were going to come from. What was I going to do to make the mortgage payment. OK, I had a pretty kick-ass severence package from my former company and I really didn't have to wonder about those things for about a year. I created a good business for myself in Real Estate and for the past 4+ years, I've settled into life and again, letting it lead me wherever I ended up. But this whole time I've had that Douglas Adams question nagging me in the back of my noggin' "What is the answer to life, the universe, and everything?" And while I suppose 42 is as good an answer as any (sorry to spoil the ending for those of you that have not yet read the books) it just hasn't worked for me thus far.
I've been reading a LOT lately. Reading a LOT lately on business topics and self improvement. I've come to the conclusion that there is more to life than waking up, going to work, earning a living, coming home, going to sleep only to do it all over again the next day. So I've been thinking what is it that I can contribute? How can I make MY mark? How do I want to be remembered? I know that at just shy of 37 (August 24th for those that want to send gifts) these are pretty lofty questions to be asking. So I've been thinking of businesses I can start. Do I want to do a sports bar somewhere? How about a franchise in a mall somewhere? What about opening my own brokerage? Seriously, what ELSE can I be doing?
And through it all, I've been blogging. I love to travel. I love to blog. How could I combine those two pursuits and do something meaningful with my life? I've been seriously thinking for the last few months of trying to downsize my life. I think it's rediculous that I feel like to live a comfortable happy life that I need to earn a six figure salary. I think it's silly that my wife and I, and our 3 cats and soon to be one dog need nearly 2,800 square feet of living space. Maybe this is my Jerry MacGuire moment? Maybe my mid-life crisis is coming a bit sooner than expected? And maybe, just maybe it doesn't involve an Acura NSX like I had always planned on.
So a few weeks ago, this idea hit me. I know it won't be popular with Teri, so I don't mention it. But today we were out looking at motorhomes and I just had to mention it. Just to gauge her reaction. As suspected, it wasn't popular. But I'll work on it. And who knows, maybe in a couple years, she'll be ready for it. I think it would be a blast! You probably want to know what the idea is don't you? OK, here it is: "Blog across the USA, 48 public service works in 52 weeks". The basic idea is this; leave your job for a year. Have a swanky motorcoach to drive to the 48 contiguous states (throw in Alaska and Hawaii if you're feeling sporty). Pick an organization or cause to volunteer for in each of the states for 3 - 5 days. Then pack up and on to the next state. I'm just thinking that A) What a cool way to see the states and B) just think of how many people you could help in a year. Brilliant! And the whole time we're driving and assisting, we're blogging about our adventures. This is the kind of a "once in a lifetime" adventure that you dream of telling your kids about. Except we don't have kids, but we can tell our FRIEND's kids about.
So I see this happening as follows:
1. Convincing Teri that this is a worthy endeavor
2. Figuring out how to acquire said swanky motorcoach.
3. Figuring out how to live for a year without a job or any substantial income coming in
4. Figuring out how to convince Teri and myself that living in a motorcoach (no matter how swanky) for a year with three cats and a dog and very few worldly posessions is a sane idea.
I think I could convince a swanky motorcoach (SMC) maker that this was a worthy cause and get them to donate the aforementioned SMC for a year with the promise of advertising the heck outta their product. We would need to have about $50,000 in expenses in savings if we wanted to have our home to come home to. Beyond that, I think we could get by on another $40 - $50,000 in living expenses for the year. Probably less, but to be safe, and with the rising cost of gas, etc. that should cover it. So really, the donation of an SMC and about $100K and we're off.
Some initial ideas for volunteer works would be: Habitat for Humanity, helping out local pet shelters, soup kitchens, meals on wheels, etc. Hell, maybe I'll pitch this idea to the Discovery Channel and see what kind of response I get. Maybe I'll be a TV star? I've already registered the domain for 5 years. It's not up and running yet, but I've got: http://blogacrosstheusa.com/ waiting in the wings for this grand adventure. I'd love to hear some suggestions on how to get this thing up and running.
So many months back I made a list of the top 10 things I wanted to accomplish in life. Two of those things were "Write a novel" and "Have said Novel Published". This is a HUGE goal for me. I've always looked at authors as ivy league educated PhD's, etc. Yes, I know that's not at all true. I know there are some authors who just happened to write a book and get it published, etc. But one of my little niggling self doubts has to do with not having a college degree. Don't get me wrong, I've had a TON of education. Throughout my days at Boeing, all my MCSE classes gave me basically the equivalent of a B.S. in Information Technology. (Well at least when I was actually studying for a B.S. in IT, I knew more than the instructors) Obtaining my ABR, GRI and now my broker's license (will take the test this summer, I promise!) has given me an all together different kind of education. All of that mingled in with enough credits spread around between 3 different colleges to make me a Junior somewhere, and I've HAD an education. I just don't have the piece of paper to hang on the wall.
So anyway, yesterday a friend pointed me to a blog of someone who is an author. This person just published a book. AND has a contract for THREE MORE through her publisher. She is MAKING A LIVING as an AUTHOR. And this is what I read in her blog:
"They would invite there friends over and all the kids would play and the parents would drink and play cards."
There - Over there, relating to location
Their - Shows posession (should have been used in this instance)
They're - Contraction of 'they are'
I won't even get into run on sentences because that's one of my biggest faults. We all make mistakes, but really this little sentence gave me a wee bit of hope that I too could be an author. It made me realize author's have editors. They don't need to have an english degree from Harvard to be successful. It goes back to the old saying: "Don't sweat the small stuff, and remember it's all small stuff". I tend to focus on details. I want to make sure EVERYTHING is perfect before I jump into something. It made me realize that the most important part of writing a book was actually the writing. It's not the grammar or spelling, it's simply the act of writing.
"You don't have to be great to start, but you do have to start to be great" - I think Zig Ziglar said that.
This is a concept that has been smacking me in the face lately. I've been too focused on getting everything JUST right that I don't start tasks at all. So it's time to just start.
So last week I conned my wife Teri into re-joining the YMCA with me. When we first started dating, we used to work out together 3 or 4 times a week. Somehow over the last 9.5 years, we've gotten away from it and I miss it. So last week we stopped by the Mel Korum Y in Puyallup and added her onto my account. Since we're both training for the Dam2Dam ride in September, we decided we'd start doing the Group Cycling 101 class on Monday and Wednesday evenings at 6PM.
Tonight was our first night. We got our water bottles together (required for class) and headed off to the Y. We got to class about 20 minutes early and introduced ourselves to the instructor. She got us set up on the "bikes". One nice thing that I noticed is that they have a variety of pedals. The RED colored pedals have Shimano SPD clips on one side and Look style clips on the other (Steve, hint hint). So for our next class I plan to bring my Shimano shoes with SPD cleats. The bikes themselves are the LeMond Fitness Revmaster (Steve, you convinced yet?) fitted with the optional Pilot cycle computer. The Pilot keeps track of time, cadence, distance and heart rate (if you have a compatible chest strap). So next time I'm bringing my chest strap, my gloves and my shoes.
OK, so as more and more people started showing up, I started pedaling pretty casually to warm up. Teri was sitting next to me, but she waited until the class actually started. Probably a good move. The instructor turned off 90% of the lights and the class is held in mostly dark. The pilots have a button you can hit to light them up to check your progress. The instructor cranks the music, which tonight was a mix of techno, pop and rock. She also has a microphone which she uses to bark out commands. She led us through a gentle warm up, keeping our cadence at around 60 RPM. She then takes you through a series of "climbs" by having you increase the tension on the LeMond bikes and having you stand, sit, etc. The workout kicked my butt. The whole thing lasted about 55 minutes and at the end, looking at the Pilot, I had covered 15.3 miles and my shirt was SOAKED in sweat. It was a great workout. Definitely something we'll return to do. Teri did awesome! There were a number of times during the "climbs" that I had to sit down and slow down a bit. Everytime I looked over, she was cranking up the resistance and standing up. I was impressed.
After the workout, we walked around the track and talked a bit about what we had just done. I think we both enjoyed it. Of course we promptly went to Popeye Chicken for dinner, but hey . . . you burn more calories after a workout than if you hadn't worked out at all. So I don't feel horrible about it. We would have probably gone out somewhere anyway. So I guess it's better that we worked out first. That's my story and I'm sticking to it!
You know, I'm not usually one to complain when I've been discriminated against. For one, I think the word "discrimination" is a pretty harsh term and should be used very lightly. I think that too many people have jumped on the band wagon when it comes to discussing this subject. There have been a lot of people that pulled the D card when they've been passed over for a job, etc. when all it really boiled down to was that they couldn't do the job to begin with.
So with that being said, I'm tired of big guy discrimination (BGD for short). I've seen Oprah and various other talk shows where the host or whatever puts on a fat suit and goes about their daily chores only to find out that they don't get the same service they're used to when they are their normal skinny selves. Usually I just poo poo it and let it slide off my back. But recently having gotten back into cycling, I have gotten a very big case of BGD.
When I first was considering buying a bike, I turned to Google Groups to ask a question of cyclists on rec.bicycles.misc to determine what type of bike might be right for me. At the time I was considering a cyclocross bike. Most of the answers I got on that posting were helpful and positive . . . but one . . . really peeved me. Here is that person's response:
"Jesus! You need to lose some serious weight before you even THINK about cycling! It takes real determination to be so inactive, and to eat so much, that you weigh 330! What were you thinking while you let yourself gain so much weight? You need to go on a diet and lose about 100 lbs. before you start cycling. Start by walking."
I later called that person a piece of sh** in a post replying . . . but I digress. Like I said, most responses were positive and congratulatory.
Ok, so fast forward 10 months and now that I'm actually INTO cycling, I visit bike shops quite often. And every single f-ing time, I don't get any service. I mean a sales person will walk right by me, give me the obligatory "hey" nod and walk up to the guy that came in behind me and say "Can I help you with something?" The only time this didn't happen was when I went to Bicycles west to actually purchase a bike. Carl there was very helpful and didn't look at me like I had a third eye or a tail. So the only thing I can think of is that they are looking at me as a 300 and some pound guy that could not possibly ride a bike, so why would they want to help me? This has happened to me at Performance Bike, Bicycles West (on subsequent visits), Center Cycle, Bonney Lake Bicycles (at Sumner), Old Town bicycles in Tacoma, and even REI.
I know the solution to this problem . . . lose the weight. Or beat the ever living crap out of the sales people as the exit the building in the evening. But that's another post. You know, I've put over 300 miles now on my new bike. I've spent well over $3,000 on cycling in the past 10 months. I'm a good customer. But I guess they cannot see that through the fat suit I'm wearing. I wonder how much weight I'd have to lose before they noticed me? Funny question isn't it?
Title: The 4 Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live anywhere and Join the New Rich Author: Timothy Ferriss Format: Hardcover 320pages ISBN: 0307353133 Link to Barnes & Noble Verdict: Highly Recommend
I picked this book up as a recommendation by Steve . . . then Jay Leno and finally Scott. Something in the universe wanted me to have this book, so I got it. I have to say it was a REALLY fun read. The basic concept is how to outsource your life to be able to do the things you really WANT to do. The idea is that throughout your life you'll want to take mini-retirements rather than working your WHOLE life to be retired permanently. The idea makes sense to me. However, the author was "lucky" enough to have a product to sell. He invented a nutritional supplement that ended up bringing in 10's of thousands of dollars each month. The book focused mainly on how he was able to offload many of the day to day tasks (order taking, order filling, shipping, customer service, manufacturing, packaging, etc.) to out sourcers to free up his time to do the things he enjoyed.
The book goes on to explain how a lot of professionally employed people can and have taken the same approach to their 9-5 job. I remember Steve sending out an article a couple years ago about a guy who was a programmer and worked from home. This guy had actually outsourced himself to India. He hired a programmer in India to do his weekly tasks, then he would simply show up for the weekly progress meeting and report on "his" progress. He was able to pay the person in India about 25% of what he made for the project and got back about 90% of his time. This book basically gives you the resources to do the same, should you choose. It walks you through the steps of first working out an arrangement to be able to work from home. Once you're constantly working from home, it points you towards resources to be able to make your job mobile. Interesting concept to say the least.
I thought about my job in particular, real estate sales person. Now, it's not likely that I'll ever be able to out source the main priorities in my job, showing homes, writing contracts, taking listings, etc. HOWEVER, I did find a number of tasks that were previously the job of my assistant, that I could easily off load to a virtual assistant. Someone that I wouldn't have to pay full time, but on an as needed basis. Very cool.
The other portion of the book that I particularly enjoyed was the description of taking a product from conception to reality and all the steps involved in marketing the product on-line and automating the whole process. The book cited two examples of products and how each person test marketed them and automated the process. Now, the hard part is coming up with a product to sell.
As I high level overview of what it takes to move out of a 9-5 lifestyle, I think this is a GREAT book. If you're looking to it to give you a step by step solution for what to do in your particular situation, you may want to look somewhere else. This book will definitely spark some ideas and potentially put you on the right path, but you'll definitely want to do more research on the topics covered before you decide to quit your job. I'd highly recommend this book.
So today Steve, Brandon and Scott (Part of Steve's STP group) headed out on an unofficial riding of the Tour De Pierce. The Tour De Pierce is put on by Pierce County parks and recreation each year and consists of 12, 30 and 50 mile rides. The TDP was last weekend officially. We all were doing other things and couldn't make it, so we decided to ride it THIS weekend. I mapped out a course based on the official TDP route and came up with 43 miles.
We met at the Puyallup fairgrounds Gold parking lot at just before 7AM and headed out. Now up until this point, the furthest I had gone (in the last 18 years anyway) was 30 miles on the Orting trail. So setting out on a ride nearly 50% longer had me somewhat worried. We headed down Pioneer, crossed the Puyallup river into Fife, Fife up into Fife heights. We were following the "official" TDP markers on the road and I had not anticipated the hill up into Fife heights. Steve and Scott are used to rides of 70+ miles, and Brandon is just in naturally good shape. Not to mention they are all 60 - 110 pounds lighter than me. So this fairly steep hill caught me off guard, and about 1/3 of the way up, I unclipped and walked for a bit. At a relatively flat section, I hopped back on the bike and rode the rest of the way up. Fife heights, back down into Fife and across the valley into Sumner. At 20 miles, we stopped at the espresso stand near The Old Cannery furniture store and re-hydrated and ate a bit.
After our rest stop, it was on north on West Valley Highway into Auburn, then under 167 and back into Sumner. We followed the edge of the hill that is Bonney Lake and at about 35 miles hit the second "big" hill of the day. Well even though I was prepared for this one, I was not even close to being in shape for it. So I unclipped again and walked it. I have no excuse, I have never been good at hills. At the top of this hill, we rested for a couple minutes and drank quite a bit. The fun was coming down the back side of this hill. This is where out weighing your mates is an advantage. I got into a full tuck and showed Brandon what the power of inertia was all about! I think my GPS registered a max speed of 38.9 MPH . . . there is nothing quite like going that fast on barely an inch of tread. It certainly makes you consider things like "Did I remember my insurance card?"
Well, I forgot about the couple of little hills after this "big" hill and was just about spent when we hit them. So there go Steve, Brandon and Scott . . . and I putt along McCutcheon road to the Orting Highway (162). The three guys were far enough ahead of me that they got through the light and across the highway onto the Orting trail and headed back north. Rather than wait for the light and traffic, I turned onto the Orting Highway and ran parallel to them until traffic had passed and I could use a driveway to get over to the Orting trail. I don't know why there is always a frickin' headwind as we ride north on the Orting Trail, but there is.
I came into the Meeker trail head about a minute or so behind the guys . . . they were dis mounting to attend to business. We were at just about 40 miles at that point and my legs were JUST to the point of cramping if I straightened them out. I told them I couldn't stop for fear of cramping too much. So I kept going, and Brandon hopped back on to follow me. We ended up back at the Gold parking lot just before 11 AM. According to the GPS, our moving time was just over 3 hours. So not too shabby me thinks. I drank the rest of my Clif Electrolyte to get re-hydrated and my legs started feeling better. I was proud that I made it the full 43, even if I did walk a couple hundred yards of it. It does give me hope that I'll be ready for the 50 miles on the Dam2Dam in September. I just know I've got to get 20 or 30 pounds off my frame by then. Between me and my bike, my little legs are pushing 350 pounds around and that just is not acceptable. Time to get serious!
One shout out to my wife Teri. I really appreciate her words of encouragement and support when I go on one of these adventures. It's nice to know she'll allow me to head off with the boyz for a few hours on a Sunday morning to get my ride on. I don't take a whole lot of days off and we get precious little time together alone, so I appreciate it.
Anyway, here is the summary . . . click the map to be taken to Motionbased to view all the stats:
Location: Puyallup, Pierce, Washington, United States
Activity: Road Biking
Distance: 43.07 (mi )
Comments: Un-Official Tour De Pierce with Brandon, Steve and Scott.