Category Archives: Travel

Is It Over?

To be honest, it didn’t start too bad at all. We travelled in late December of 2019 flying halfway across the Atlantic to enjoy post-Christmas and New Years 2020 in the Azores.

It was fantastic! Did you know you can fly direct to Sao Miguel from Toronto? Five short hours and you’re standing in pleasant weather waiting for your rental car. We spent a lovely week exploring the island, eating fantastic food, enjoying delicious wine and beer. We arrived back in Canada to cold and snow but that’s what you get when you live here right? January was almost over, things looked pretty good for the rest of the year.

In February my sweetheart surprised me with a weekend trip to Montreal to see Jim Gaffigan perform at the Orpheum Theatre. It was excellent fun. He is a funny guy indeed. It was super cold in Montreal but we managed to have a fun evening, enjoy some delicious food, drink some delicious wine, enjoy a comfortable train ride home.

March arrived. Cue: ominous music. Going to work in an office tower in downtown Ottawa was pretty normal for the first week and then things started going pear shaped and suddenly we were the only ones in the office, contractors and students, and the downtown core was beginning to empty. People started to get nervous and then our client, followed shortly by our company, sent everyone home. Shit got real. The Mrs. was on her way home too. The “youngster” was still at the college but by this time he was in a mostly deserted residence building. Working from home is old hat for me, I’ve been doing remote work since 2000. No big deal. For a lot of other people this was some odd stuff.

Food boxes became the norm. We’re now 140 and a few meals in (I’ve prepared probably 130 of them) thanks to Good Food, Hello Fresh, Red Apron, and a handful of other lovely people who provided provisions delivered to the door. Juniper Farms delivered special boxes of goodies. Cylie Chocolates prepared amazing chocolate boxes for pick up. The online order frenzy began. All the crap you don’t need and more. I have a mountain of books and a similar sized stack of plastic model kits. I have new rubber wheels on my 30 year old office chair. I ordered a 24 port switch from the office. I think I need some new music. I’ll get some thank you. Thankfully that has settled down a bit. We’ve done our best to order through local shops and not a—-n. Like I want to hand more money over to Bezos. Fuck that guy.

In May my company celebrated its 25th year in operation by doing something super cool. They provided meals, including wine and a celebratory cake, that we picked up from volunteers at agreed on pickup points. Back home to warm up the food and we all jumped on a Teams meeting and celebrated from the comfort of our own homes. Super smart, super safe.

Haircuts have been fun. I discovered I can cut my own hair, down to the bristle, without assistance although I do miss the nice people at the barber shop. I started an instagram account to entertain myself and provide some animal hijinks for the masses.

Summer was mostly the new routine although we did get new neighbours in the unit above us. Canadians from California coming home. They seem like nice people.

I waited to the last minute to finally sit and pass the Microsoft Azure Administrator Associate exam. It was retired a couple days after I passed it.

At the end of the summer we spent the long weekend in a cabin in Gatineau Park. Isolated and surrounded by nature, including a late night visit by a bear, we relaxed and enjoyed some campfire foods and read books and chatted. No tech.

We took another SPAO course with David Barbour starting in September. Socially distanced photography. We’ll start a couple more courses in January.

October and November were fairly new normal. Events we expected to be participating in were cancelled or postponed. Thanksgiving was a much reduced event involving our house and the one other person in our bubble. Christmas has been the same. None of the usual gathering which we all enjoy. We’ve all read a lot more and I’ve surpassed my usual movie viewing habit by quite a bit. I’ve just watched movie 185 of the #2020MovieMarathon.

In the end I think its pretty clear. We haven’t had to sacrifice much to get through this year. We’ve been able to modify our lives to allow us to continue to do much of what we did before but without the contact we usually have with people. Many people have given a lot to get Canada through this and we’re forever thankful for that. We’re very much looking forward to 2021 and vaccinations. Travel will be nice, seeing friends will be nice, going to restaurants will be nice. Stay safe everyone, see you all next year. First round is on me.

The Missing Toy from Iceland

So we get to Hertz.  We unload the car, gather up all our gear, unscrew the Action Cam from the mount attached to the rear view mirror….and leave the mount hanging on the rear view mirror.  D’oh!  I called Hertz right away but despite our pending departure they weren’t able to grab the forgotten clamp and run it over to the hotel before we left for Canada.  So anyway, I filled out the lost and found form with Hertz and sent a tweet to @Hertz who jumped right in and said they were on the case.  A couple of weeks pass and I get an email from someone at Hertz asking to confirm the details and then an email arrived from Inga at Hertz in Iceland asking me how much I wanted to spend to ship it.  The next day I get another email with this attached.  And then a week or so later the clamp has arrived in the mailbox.

Toys for Iceland – After Action Report

We’ve been back for a few weeks now and had time to think on the trip a bit and on the toys I took with me to “enhance” the experience.  Let me sum it up by saying that taking all of the toys with me wasn’t a burden because we had a car for most of the time we were there so carrying the extra weight didn’t matter.  Having said that I didn’t actually use all of the items I took.

The Seat Pak was super useful.  All of the goodies we needed close at hand, Elke has one too, we loaded up into our Seat Paks and it made finding what we needed when we needed them super easy.  I continue to have poor experiences when it comes to pens I take when traveling, not the Seat Pak’s fault.  I took a Sharpie fine point which leaked into one of the pockets.  Dammit!  On the positive side, the lining inside the Seat Pak kept the permanent black ink from going anywhere but into the bottom of the pocket it was in.  The Seat Pak itself seems to magically expand to hold all of the normal stuff one might take on a journey and then some.  I can comfortably recommend this for anyone who travels occasionally or frequently.

Next up is the Sony Action Monopod.  It is not a selfie stick.  Really, it’s not.  This was handy at some stops but mostly stayed in the pack.  We unpacked it and had some fun towards the end of the trip.  It’s light, takes up almost no space, and is easy to use so taking it along was ok.  I would take it on the next trip.  This is really one of those “use some common sense” items.  Think about where you are and those around you before you pull this out.

Second of the three Sony Action Cam accessories I took along was the Sony Action Cam Extended Clamp Mount.  This we used almost every day while we were in the car.  We originally clamped this bad boy to one of the door handles.  After checking the view of the camera we discovered we weren’t getting the best shot from that location.  I moved it to clamp to the post where the rear view mirror connects to the windshield.  That did the trick.  We connected the camera and from this spot we could each easily reach up and start the camera if we came upon something interesting and wanted to record.  Very handy.  I’m not sure why but when we returned the car I unscrewed the camera but completely forgot about the clamp and left it clinging helplessly to the rear view mirror.  I contacted Hertz and we’ll see if it makes its way home to Ottawa in the post.

Lastly we have the suction cup.  It never got used.  There were a couple of places where it would have come in handy but the things/sites we would have filmed were on us and gone before we could prepare to actually use the suction cup mount.  I’m going to play with it a bit now that we’re home in the hope that on the next trip we’ll use it more.  Perhaps I’ll buy another cam and stick one outside the car and one inside for easy access.

On a side note, but still related to travel gear, I took my travel tripod with me as well.  I have a most excellent Manfrotto BeFree tripod.  This thing is one of the nicest pieces of photo kit I own.  My company bought it for me as a reward for passing some exams a while back.  I packed this so we could use it to capture some night photos of Aurora Borealis.  Iceland is one of those places you go to for light free photos of the Norther Lights.  Most of our trip the conditions weren’t really good for night photos.  Not the best hotel location, rain, clouds, etc.  When we arrived at Fosshotel Nupar on the day before we arrived back in Reykjavik on check-in the young man at the front desk asked if we wanted to be woken in the night if the night staff spied Norther Lights.  Of course!!  I pulled out the tripod and got everything setup and ready to go so when the knock on the door came I would be able to step out the door and the camera could be deployed without delay.  No such luck.  The clouds rolled in about Midnight and the rain started shortly after that.  Just one more reason to go back to Iceland I guess.

Toys for Iceland

I bought a Sony Action Cam a couple of years ago to use on my bicycle.  It’s a pretty good camera but a bit underused these days.  With our upcoming Ring Road adventure in Iceland and having seen some really good video compilations done by others I decided to spend a few bucks and buy some Action Cam accessories so I can feel like a proper Spielberg during the trip.

To add to the assorted accessories I already own I bought three new items.  The first item is the must-have Sony Action Cam Monopod.  Not to be confused with a selfie-stick this is clearly a monopod for action.  It’s got a couple of segments that will let me extend it about three and a half feet and it has a spongy hand grip as well as a strap to wrap around my wrist so I don’t drop it into a volcano or geyser.


Item number two is the versatile extended clamp for clamping to such things as internal car fixtures and assorted clamp-able items in nature.  It’s pretty sturdy gear and should be up to the task of providing stable clamp-age.


Item number three should be super fun.  To round off the accessories I bought myself an Action Cam suction cup mount.  This thing is designed to grab securely to flat surfaces like car hoods and fenders.  It’ll either generate some fun footage or we’ll make a stop along the way and wonder where we lost it. : )  Stand by for the action!!


Seat Pak by Flight 001

In my never ending quest for interesting gadgets and cool doodads and stuff I recently came across one of those cool “you’ve never heard of these guys before” companies that sells travel items that are just super cool and useful.  The company is called Flight 001 and has locations in all the groovy cities around the world as well as the usual online location.


The item itself is called the F1 Seat Pak and comes in two types, Pro and standard, with eight colour options.  It’s essentially a super handy organizer with assorted pockets to carry all of the critical items the traveler needs close at hand when taking a journey by plane.  Mind you, I can see this being handy for use on the train as well.

What you get is a well made, expandable fabric pouch divided into compartments for typical travel items.  On the back is a larger zippered pocket labelled Jet Comfort where you might store your inflatable neck rest, an eye mask, ear plugs, etc.

Jet Comfort

On the front are three zippered pockets.  The first is labelled Digital for your music player, cell phone, a small camera, etc.  The second is labelled Travel ID for your passport, wallet, customs documents, etc.  The third is labelled Aerostuff and could be used for gum, more earplugs, hand cream/hand sanitizer, etc.

On the end of the bag is a small loop perfect for hooking the bag onto the tray table latch on the seat in front of you while in flight (or on the train) thus providing easy access to all your necessaries without having to dig through a bag in the overhead compartment or strain to reach something from the bag under the seat.


I haven’t had the opportunity to use this yet, I purchased a pair for our upcoming trip to Iceland, but its clear that this is going to be very useful.  I’ll add an update once we get back.