welcome

This is an attempt to monitor lake & ocean conditions, especially on those windy days, to be in touch,
and to maybe find sources that will assist with some on-water moves.

Responses to emails that may be of general interest, wandering about with or without intention, cool gear, neat accessories, innovative equipment, some photog tech talk, and any ongoing random thoughts rational, pertinent, irrelevant, and otherwise, may also be shared.
It's also about trying to capture a few more precious moments with my cameras and sharing them.
 return to windinsight's main page  email address & site information
 Maggie and Nolan's World Tour  Beth & Sean  JF's web site and blog  Cliff's blog  Marty's web site and blog  Sandro's YouTube channel  Brendan's Blog   Cape Hatteras current wind conditions   current wind forecast conditions   current wind conditions

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Jan.Feb
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2013
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2013
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2013
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2013
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2014
Apr.Jun Jul.Oct Nov.Dec Jan.Mar
2015
Apr.Jun
2015
Jul.Sep
2015
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2015

Entries are all works in progress that often change after a few hours (sometimes days)

Scroll down for older entries.


      June 30th     Back home to old familiar routines…

Lawn's cut, weeds are gone, flower beds looking pretty good, cars washed, jet lag diminished, and the van is packed van with gear waiting
for wind.   Yup, everything is near ship shape and running pretty much tickety boo.   Looking forward to whatever this summer brings.

Sometimes looking back isn't always that easy…



      June 26th     We passed over a valley on a most amazing suspension bridge coming back to London from Barcelona.

We crossed the Millau Viaduct (in good time), the world's largest cable stayed road bridge.   It took three years to construct after a decade or more of planning to get the details worked out.

     THE MILLAU VIADUCT RECORD FIGURES
Length: 2,460 m (8,071 ft)
Width: 32 m (105 ft)
Maximum height: 343 m (1,125 ft), or 19 m higher than the Eiffel Tower
Slope: 3.025 %, going up from north to south in the direction ClermontFerrand to Béziers
Curve: 20 km (12.4 miles)
Height of the tallest pier (P2): 245 m (804 ft)
Height of the pylons: 87 m (285 ft)
Number of piers: 7
Length of the spans: Two end spans of 204 m (669 ft) each and six central spans of 342 m (1,122 ft) each.
Number of stays: 154 (11 pairs per pylon laid out in one mono-axial layer)
Tension of the stays: from 900 t to 1,200 t for the longest
Weight of the steel deck: 36,000 t, or 5 times that of the Eiffel Tower
Volume of concrete: 85,000 m3, or 206,000 t
Cost of the construction: 400 Million Euros (585 m USD)
Contract duration: 78 years and 3 years for construction with 75 years of operations
Structural guarantee: 120 years

A much better guarantee than offered by my dentist for my recent rather unimpressive bridgework.







Our approach and exit views below…




      June 24th     Getting packed and readied for home.   Reality check settling in.

We'll hugely miss our boys, Beth and Sean, and beautiful London.   Words or pictures simply can't begin to help describe how good a time we had this trip.

Am a bit overweight from all of the fine dining in so many great restaurants, and a more than a bit out of shape from not working out.   Walking has helped, but not nearly enough to compensate for all the intake.

It's interesting to note that as we age our recreational activities can still continue to dominate our thinking.   It may take a few weeks to begin to get back into decent sailing condition but regular exercise and windsurfing go hand in hand.   Hopefully some good wind is in the forecast to help get the job done.

Hope the van starts.

Click to enlarge.   Hoping for some decent wind soon…






      June 23rd     Beaches everywhere…

Young Grant's class trip next week to West Wittering grabbed my attention.   Just one of many beaches in south England where waves and wind could likely work for me if I had some decent gear.

Next time here I plan to check them all out on a Rockin' Seniors' Bus Tour on my own, in my spare time, featuring 50s tunes with karaoke plus a large screen, if Nancie lets me go.   I'll likely only need a signed consent form with an indemnity release of some sort for the bus driver in case I fall with the mic in my hand while the bus is rolling somewhere along English Channel Blvd.   Rock on.


click to enlarge (some pics that I found)






      June 22nd     Found these on YouTube.

Grant still asks if he's still famous.

Team 88 and kids on Regent Street

Another short vid of Grant in the parade on Regent Street



      June 22nd     Our last few days with the boys.

They're not always this peaceful with one another as grandparents all know.   But all in all they're wonderful.

Two birthdays in the past month.   Blakey just turned three, and Grant six.   In ten years Grant will be asking for the keys!

click to enlarge










      June 21st     In Greenwich today.   Stood at 0o longitude with Nancie.

A walk to Knightsbridge Station, the underground to Canary Wharf, then the overground to Greenwich.   An easy but crowded 40 minute ride overall.   Enjoyed one of the best tourist gigs going.   For 11 pounds (seniors' rate) you get to tour the Cutty Sark and the Greenwich Observatory.   Brilliant

And it was a lovely two pub afternoon, especially the second one sitting outside in the warm summer sunshine, realaxing after the long trek up to the observatory.

The Cutty Sark, built in 1869, is an impressively huge British Clipper ship with an amazing history.   She carried tea from China and wool from Austalia, and for a while under Portugese ownership was known as the Ferreira.   She also held the speed record for about ten years and could make over 17 knots (about 19 mph) under favourable winds.

The Greenwich Observatory (since 1674) is a working observatory connected to the Greenwich University doing research studies about stars.   Drop out of school here and get a 0 degree. (A Prime Meridian joke I made up)

Canary Wharf, located conveniently near the busy City Airport, is the main banking centre of financial London.   HSBC, just one of more than a dozen banks, has over 8000 employees working here.   Needless to say, after work the many large pubs are spilling out with people waiting for the pressing crowds to dissipate.   Walking through Cabot Square changing trains in the late afternoon we were caught up in a mad crush of nearly 50,000 people.   Near claustrophobic everywhere.

click to enlarge




A short history of the Cutty Sark


      June 20th     Wandered through crowded Piccadilly Circus, Oxford Circus and Soho for most of the day.

Enjoyed watching the people, the hustle, and the bustle going on in one of the busier sections of London.   And better still, it was a two pub afternoon.

Vibrant, historical, alive, posh, entertaining, fresh, diverse, hip, trendy, noisy, suits, stylish, exclusive, pubsy, wealthy, exotic, artsy, and fun, all come to mind.

And clean.   The city is generally clean thanks to the many street sweepers** employed to push carts and removing any litter, debris, and dead animals laying about.   Street sweepers have been a London tradition since the mid 19th century.   Today, some even drive large machines with rotating brushes, spray water, and vacuums.   The Times They Are a-Changin'!

Aside: Crossing sweepers also found their way into 19th century fiction and artwork, including a novel by Charles Dickens and a popular painting by William Powell Frith.   A crossing sweeper (of any age) could earn a tip or gratuity by sweeping away manure or debris in the street so the wealthy with shined shoes and long gowns would not be soiled by the filth.   Best, it was considered to be an acceptable trade and not looked down on as begging.

smile






**



      June 19th     Afterglow…

We're all settling back into familiar routines now that mom and dad are home.   Only a week left and Nancie and I will be back home in Niagara.

Haven't made any serious plans to travel far and will likely finish our time here wandering about the area and being with family.   The kids are moving to a new place a few blocks away at the end of the month and we can help them pack and prepare for their new home.


Here's all of Shmee's videos of The Event.

A collection of 2014 Gumball Videos

some fan shots of the 458 on route




click to enlarge


      June 18th     Calais, the Eurotunnel, our final congestion challenge getting back to the UK.

Signage for the Eurotunnel began many miles before Calais.   Keeping in the correct lanes was an easy task except for the bottlenecking and entitled drivers pushing to get faster boarding.   The closer we came to the sign in and immigration checkpoint, the worse it became.

We had to clear French and UK Immigration before boarding the train.   Two Canadians in #88 Gumball with UK plates, one a London resident and the other a visiting senior, brought smiling but serious scrutiny from the official at the border checkpoint.   We ultimately cleared and were welcomed back, and then proceeded to long queues and another contingent of waving enthusiasts with cell phone cameras once again.

Fortunately Beth had called Sean to (somehow) make a reservation on-line.   This saved about a half hour wait time for us.

Cars, trucks, SUVs, vans, RVs, etc. were all hearded into different lines and directed to single or multi-level trains.

We slowly moved into a line that took us to a platform attached to the train between a long line of cars open at one end.

We drove through twenty well-lit freight cars and finally stopped between a van and a large black station wagon.   We would exit the train as the second vehicle.   Nice.   And the toilet was in the every next train car.   Very nice and very welcome.

Signs about not stepping between the vehicles were posted everywhere.   More important were the directions to the Service (safety & escape) tunnel running adjacent to the tunnel through which we were travelling in case the train encountered a distress situation of any kind.   Very reassuring.   We were informed to take extra warm clothing in the unlikelihood of a train failure and to leave the windows of the car open.   Hmmmmm.   So it wouldn't float up and damage the roof?

There's a guide to the tunnel infrastructure below.

The ride took about half an hour.   We became fast friends with several admirers and will likely exchange Christmas Cards with one in particular.

After coming to a complete stop on British soil in Kent we carefully departed the train and headed to London.

Am actually beginning to miss the inconspicuous anonymity of being in a 5 year old grey Dodge Caravan.   Seriously, not making this up.

A complete guide to the Eurotunnel infrastructure

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      June 17th     An amazing road trip back home to London.

Landed in Barcelona at 12:05 UTC/GMT/DST (ok, just reset your watch back an hour).

Connected with daughter Beth at the El Prat airport, left the parking lot with GPS, WAZE, and SNOOPER all engaged for route direction, radar detection, and photo camera speed locations…

Wherever the car was parked or in traffic cameras pointed, waves, and friendly conversation (where possible) ensued.   Their wrapped super car is definitely a huge hit.

It took about an hour to begin to feel comfortable behind the wheel at speed what with the steering wheel on the right, a high revving engine, and best of all a howling, perfectly sweet, sometimes throaty, sometimes droning exhaust note.   Looking to the left (opposite to what we Canadians are used to) into two perfectly placed rearview mirrors to check for traffic on the left finally became easy.   Plus, keeping a smile and a wave for the always present fan club checking out, videoing with cell phones, or taking pics of the car hoping for any positive feedback from the launch cockpit of mission control was all in order under the circumstances.

Amazing landscapes, winding highways, and quaint villages whizzed by.   A driving rhythm was finally achieved and comfort with higher traffic speed became routine.   The car wants to be driven and responds smoothly to whatever's wanted or asked for.   Sweet.

Our destination for the first day was Versailles.   With an ETA of 11:00 pm we had to keep moving and make time wherever possible.   The last leg on Monday to London would be much easier except for traffic congestion at the Chunnel (Eurotunnel).   There we had to clear immigration, wait in lines, then drive aboard a freight car and be transported by rail under the English channel from Calais to near Folkestone in the UK.

To try to stop in or drive through Paris would be a nightmare of traffic and time.   We wanted to be back in Kightsgridge in time to pick up Grant from school.

The journey/adventure went off with a few off course corrections and no tickets for speed violations.   Knowing where surveillance detection was located certainly helped.

Speeding violations in Spain are a bit over the top.   It appears that the country is so in need of cash that any infraction (you name it) is simply a euro cost fine that continues to add up and add up as necessary.   Jail time is too expensive.   In France the police are solving crimes elsewhere not looking for speeders.   They have photo radar and cameras to catch any moving traffic violations.   All that sad the traffic moves seems to move easily between 125 to 150 kph.   The best highlight is no one dawdles in the passing lanes.   Pass and move over.   It's unlawful (a serious violation) to pass on the right in Spain and France.   The same in the UK, (but on the other side of course).   Nice.

The boys missed their mom and dad and were so happy to have them home.   And, we were thankful for being able to be with our grandchildren for those two short, precious weeks.   But, we did sleep in a bit for a pleasant change this morning.

will upload some pics from the journey later today and
  save the amazing Eurotrain connection for tomorrow
























      June 14th     Getting about on the London Underground and Overground.

Getting a taxi is best for getting about when you first arrive but cabs are expensive.   Have been able to ride the underground and buses more easily and confidently this trip.   Am able to move about London quickly and efficiently when not part of the grandchildrens' school and busy schedule.

The London Tubes are an amazing network going on below the city.   Get on, go anywhere easily and fast after a few weeks of practise using a tube map ap, a city map ap and the necessary determination to get somewhere.   A reusable Oyster card gives a large discounts and saves time going through the turnstiles by not having to purchase a ticket each time.

From Heathrow to Gatwick everything is connected and working.   If in serious doubt or completely lost just wave or Hailo a taxi (another iPhone ap).   What did we do before smart phones?

Early tomorrow morning I plan to walk to Sloane Square (8 minutes), and get on the eastbound Jubilee Line to Victoria Station, (5 minutes).   Then with an express ticket move non stop north to Gatwick Airport (35 minutes).   Catch a plane to Barcelona. (3 hours)   All easily accomplished from central London where I'm currently sitting and writing this.

We live in a most interesting and convenient time.   Maybe life today is just a bit too easy.

That said we all walked to Saturday morning football with the boys.   There was was a cool fly over for the Queen's birthday!   Then a pizza!

Site should report again by Tuesday on the road trip back to London from Barcelona.

please click on the thumbnails to enlarge the pics (iPhone)






      June 12th     It ain't over till the deadmau5 sings.

And he did, or whatever he does.   Electronic orchestration.   I Googled his playlists including YouTube and found he has more than 100 million views/plays, likely double++ that with everything else available on line.   He's makin' it big…

The Gumball was officially declared over today in Ibiza.   Celebrations are at the Destino Resort.

It's been fun with the grandchildren and we're looking forward to having mom and dad back home and back in charge.   The boys will likely need some serious adjustments, what with huge doses of outdated grandparenting, but that's to be expected.   Good news, found a pic of Blakey below, to go with the one of Grant from this past Sunday.

Helping bring the car back to London will be another adventure.

Crazy Crowds in Edinburgh, Manchester, and London - Gumball 2014 Day 4 (16:41)




please click on the thumbnails to enlarge the pics




      June 12th     The times, they are a changin' (Bob Dylan wrote that)

(On June 9th) I suggested that France may have lenient very high speed limits.   That fact was totally disproved yesterday when it was reported that (Chippawa's own superstar) Deadmau5 (aka deadmouse, aka Joel Zimmerman) handed his licence over to the police and could no longer drive on French soil.   His co-driver Tory Bellici had to take over and complete the leg to Barcelona.   Check out the (somewhat juicy) link below.

Aside:  I wonder what will happen if he's stopped in Quebec?

Not sure exactly what he did or how fast he was driving but I'm sure that he was way out of line.   Maybe an entitlement disorder in bloom.

With great power comes great responsibility.   (Voltaire and Spiderman both said that)

A link to more of the story, (deadmau5's #TeamPurrarihttp://t.co/QJHDyXneew” Twitter link is live and still active…)





      June 11th     More than just babysitters.   More than just tourists.   Sometime more is almost more!

Of course we're following the Gumball.     Yes, we're the primary caregivers for the boys!   But we also have an early happy hour and wander about enjoying the local sights when the boys are in school and being supervised elsewhere.   Lovely!   We're enjoying life here!

The crowds in Spain have been huge.   All along the roads and through villages people greeted the Gumballers waving and yelling.   The kids are awestruck with the response.   Uploads of the event are becoming scarce as the Rally nears the end.   Everyone and the cars must be exhausted.   (No pun intended)

Happy Hour at The Nags Head in Kightsbridge with Nancie, after an enjoyable wander through St.Paul's Knightsbridge (note the bombing during WW2), and a walk by Harrods to listen to some talented buskers.   Love the atmosphere and friendliness of the locals.

check out schmee150's FB link for some recent GBall activity…

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      June 10th (2nd entry)     500,000 fans lined Regent St. to see the Gumball Parade on Sunday

The crowds were huge but London can absorb huge numbers.   David Hasselhoff was another celebrity involved in the event.   His car Kitt is now a super power Nissan GTR.   The London Daily Mail did a feature spread about him in the parade which is linked below.

500,000 fans lined up for Gumball Parade in London on Sunday.
Included in the article is David Hasselhoff in Gumball Kitt (GTR) arrested for speeding…



please click on the thumbnails to enlarge the pics



      June 10th (1st Entry)     Checkpoint Monday ~ Top Gear Track - Dunsfold Aerodrome in Surrey,

What a cool checkpoint.   Everyone had a chance to drive the track.   The kids recognized the track from the BBC show TOP GEAR but found it difficult to judge when to anticipate braking for the sharp turns.

Sean said they easily reached 170MPH but felt it prudent to slow down as driving the unfamiliar track at speed would take some getting used to.

(Should have a few more videos of someone at speed on this track very shortly)


170MPH in the 458 with Sean at the wheel…

Gumball Cars Unloaded at Prestwick Airport in Scotland (yesterday morning)




please click on the thumbnails to enlarge the pics


      June 9th     Everyone had a sleep in and the kids are back in school,

And Beth and Sean just hit the road heading toward Paris, Barcelona, and Ibiza.   I missed them driving by Harrods this morning but did get a few of the cars and sent along a hello.

What an absolute adventure and highlight for all of us, but mostly the boys

The Gumball is received so differently in North America than it is here in the UK (where the Gumball was actually born).   In Europe cars drive fast.   In Spain I've been told that the speed limit can be anything under 200MPH on a few major highways (will have to verify this).   In France 120 MPH is tolerated on some highways as it is on the M3 in England at certain times.  If you want to drive slowly then stay in the slow lane.   Get out of the way otherwise.   This is arguably a bit more civilized.   The 100 kph drivers dawdling along in the HOV lane wouldn't last long around here.   (If you're being passed on the right in Canada move the Fk over as you may be suffering from an entitlement disorder)

All of this is simply a part of a different attitude.   The police actually encouraged a bit of exhaust noise etc. in Scotland and London.   The scots gave them a go as fast as you want lap at the airport on an international runway.   That quite simply wouldn't happen at Pearson, or in Georgia, or even Texas (but anywhere in the Lone Star State you can keep a legally loaded handgun in your dash just in case and be prepared to stand your ground!)

Who's right?   Who's wrong?   Who cares?   Enjoy the moment.   You only live once.

And, I honestly didn't think that the Gumball would be as much fun as it's been for everyone involved!


The flight to Scotland and the 2.8 mile airport runway go fast run…


please click on the thumbnails to enlarge the pics







      June 8th     The best laid plans of mice and men are aft gang a-glay.   But not this time

Crowds, rain, and traffic slowed the kids down and they didn't arrive here at home until close to 9.

Blakey was almost asleep but Grant was wide awake an determined to stay awake and be ready to go when mom and dad showed up.

Both boys heard mom and dad pull up and were up, out, and in the car ready to go.

We taxied behind them to Regent Street, watched the cars drive by, some revving high into the 9s, and wandered about the compound at Golden Square where all of the cars were secured.

Grant and Blakey were the biggest hits riding with mom and dad through the mobs of people waving and smiling.   They were featured on national TV here that was also streamed live and actually seen in Chippawa.   Nice!








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      June 8th     Car and kids in Edinburgh, Scotland.

When they awoke this morning their car awaited them on the runway.

They were given permission to use one of the international runways at the airport to do a fast as you can go lap.   Unreal.   Sean said they were somewhere around 165mph when they felt inclined to back off…   Wow!

Huge crowds welcomed them in Edinburgh, estimated at more than 100,000++ enthusiastic people throughout the city, roadways, and overpasses.   It took several long hours to get through the welcoming numbers who wanted picture ops, smiles, and waves.   London is expected to have the same kind of reception this evening.   The boys will be with them dressed in their Chelsea and Liverpool kits, and with a Chelsea flag!   Tooooo much!   And it's a school day tomorrow!   Show and Tell, here we come!

Last evening a school girl's dream came true.   Superstar deadmau5 (international superstar who grew up in Chippawa), offered Beth (and Sean) a ride to JFK in his hired helicopter.   Sigh!   Chippawa, if you've never heard of it is a smart, cozy suburb of Niagara Falls where Bethy grew up and is also the home of film maker James Cameron. (another sigh and light applause)

And, I just might get an autograph out of all this.   So very cool.   BTW, not a fan just yet!





Singer EVE drives the incredible (Gumball) McLaren P1…

Some footage from the first leg from Miami to Atlanta with some police intervention…

      June 7th     Made it to New York!

Apparently 3 of the teams were stopped in Georgia for speeding and not only spent the night in jail for their lack of restraint but missed checkpoints and lost precious time.   Team Shapcott had good speed but wasn't eager or excessive in testing the police surveillance along the route.   Nice going mom and dad!

People loved the cars along the way and all of the Gumballers were treated reverently by everyone and most of the police!   That said, the law is the law, so don't push it!

It was a 14 hour drive for them yesterday.   So, the reception, buffet and hotel, in New York City were all a welcome stop to share stories, enjoy a meal together, and have a well-deserved rest before starting all over again in Edinburgh.

Team Shapcott will be in London later tomorrow (Sunday afternoon) and we'll get a chance to connect with them.   The boys miss mom and dad hugely.   It'll only be a short welcome and we'll see you in a few days, but a happy moment for all of us.

Official briefing from host organizer Maximillion Cooper and a word from the Miami Police…

The official Miami start of the Gumball…

(1:01)   A lap around the Daytona Speedway…

the end of the first half…



please click on the thumbnails above to enlarge Beth and Sean's pics


      June 6th     Two Gumballers came from Chippawa!

Beth Grant Shapcott came from Chippawa.   Joel Thomas Zimmerman, better known by his stage name deadmau5 (pronounced deadmouse), producer of electronic dance music, also came from Chippawa.   Unbelievable!   And, they lived just a few blocks apart but in different times.   (BTW Not a fan)

Anyway, they should all be in New York around midnight and ready to fly to Edinburgh for the last half of the rally.

Just have one pic of the duo on the road today.   That's Deadmau5 on the far right.   Could be the smoke from the Norton, who knows?

OK, am I the only one to notice?   They both use a 5 for an S (PA55 MME and Deadmau5) and both have a 458 Italia.   Quite a coincidence!


The lineup for the start of the Gumball 3000 in Miami

oooh and awwww


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      June 6th     They made it to Atlanta yesterday with a stop at Daytona.

The Gumball itinerary included a lap on the Daytona International Speedway track for everyone.

At some point they drifted a bit on a corner (and did something they shouldn't have) causing the car to shut down.   Another Gumball driver was able to reset their computer and the car fired up immediately saving them a tow (and precious time) to a dealership.

A long drive to New York City awaits them today with all of the checkpoints.   They estimate 14 hours to the airport.
(pics from the Gumball are from Beth and Sean)



please click on the thumbnails to enlarge their pics



      June 5th     My personal 2014 Dustball 3000   Pollen, dust, animal dander, and mould ~ a few of my necessary pitstops.

While waiting for word or pics from the kids about their Miami to Ibiza rally, I digress for a brief moment in the midst of this epic Event to commiserate about my pain and suffering.

A long term genetic defect is my recurring sinus disorder (RSD), aka sinusitis.   Have had it for all my life.   As a youngster it was often disguised as coughs, sore throats, asthma, colds, bronchitis, and croup to name a few of the many ways in which it manifested itself.

It hides away sometimes for as much as a year and then erupts like Old Faithful.   Usually when I'm in a new environment, after a bad cold, an old motel, hanging around furry animals that shed, or during a change of seasons.

Unlike a cold or the flu it's not contagious.

On the road if I seek antibiotics from a doctor in a foreign country I get one huge runaround.   It still surprises me that some doctors know so little about all of the symptoms involving sinusitis related issues.   They occasionally respond with something like, “I didn't know that being tired with heavy eyes was related to a sinus conditions.   Or…   Oh, and where did you do your internship Dr. Grant?” was actually directed at me in France when I try to explain that it's met likely sinusitis that I have, not bronchitis, not asthma, and that it's also traditionally been a bacterial infection.

After six days with no improvement after taking his prescriptions that same doctor sent me to a specialist who correctly diagnosed my condition as sinusitis and prescribed antibiotics.

At this point in my life I can often get over it without a medical intervention.   It takes up to two weeks or so using saline rinses and salt gargles along with nose sprays, ibuprofen, and a cough suppressant.   If all else fails I usually carry a course of strong antibiotics.   But, this time, you guessed it, they were accidentally left at home in my smaller shave kit.   Doh!

Going to a doctor outside of Canada (with a pre existing condition) is not only expensive but also frustrating.   I now carry a long list of all my symptoms and treatments naming doctors, where they practise, their interventions, and results.   It still can be like taking a grocery list written in English to a supermarket in northern Russia hoping to get what I need.   You get the idea.

The past few days have been bad.   It's no fun feeling out of it while being with grandkids in London, not to mention all of the recent html errors in the website.   Hopefully this latest bout will soon pass.   So much pollen, so little time.

I sometimes wonder if there are any support groups out there for people like me.   Hi, my name is John, and I have long term recurring, chronic sinusitis.

Hmmmm, enough.     Back to the Gumball!   Here's pics just received from the starting lineup…   We'll watch the actual start using FaceTime (from mom and dad) taken inside their car on our computer with the grandchildren.





      June 4th     Their car should be in Miami later this evening!

Along with 15 other British Gumball cars, PA55 MME was stranded onboard an ocean cargo ship suffering from blown engine for about a week.   What a nightmare.

Gumball will start tomorrow morning on schedule.   All of the cars are definitely scheduled to arrive on time.

The long mindful drives each day will no doubt prove challenging to everyone involved.   Hope the kids are up for it all.   They'll be back in London later on Sunday for a night and hopefully we'll get a chance to check out all of the cars downtown.

Who said youth is wasted on the young?   Maybe David Hasselhoff or Tony Hawk (two of the Gumballers).   Not me.


Just received the first pics of their car (Number 88) and all of their sponsor stickers.   It arrived today and is ready for tomorrow.   Just 7 weeks old with a few hundred miles on the clock and already in some serious action.   (It looked way better with just the flag on the roof over the blue wrap IMO.)


2014 Gumball ~ FaceBook link

2014 Gumball ~ Schmee150 YouTube link


car finally just arrived in time today




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      June 3rd     19th Century architecture and driving around.

Walking about residential Chelsea, Knightsbridge, Earls Court, and Kensington tall gabled facades can be seen most everywhere.   Uniquely coloured brickwork and mullioned windows all in asymmetrically designed buildings are an absolute wonder to see.   Below are a few examples of mid 19th century architecture that has been and will be preserved far into the foreseeable future.

One of the dangers in gawking at these extravagant and beautiful homes is all traffic moving opposite to what we Canadians know and understand.   Pedestrians don't have the same rights as we do back home.   Drivers pretty much have the right of way except at stoplights and at designated pedestrian crossings (right hand pic below).

I tried to back seat drive and pretend I was at the steering wheel, which by the way, is on the right hand side of the car!   Whenever an emergency or quick thinking was necessary my instinctive driving reactions proved fatal most of the time, especially turning left for some reason.   Not a comfortable experience for this old guy.

Taxis, subways, and busses will be my choice, at least for now, if the distance is more than an easy walk.

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      May 31st     Wandering about London provides a new and unique view every day.

Morning walks around Buckingham Palace or hikes with the grandkids to nearby parks through historic residential London absolutely delight the senses.   From the pageantry of the Queen's Cavalry to the soft pastel colours on the Albert Bridge there's always a unique surprise waiting around the next corner.

As it is with most tourists here, the city constantly amazes me.   The boys are only interested in the zip line, climbers, and slides in play areas like Battersea Park and that's ok.   The sign that troops have to break step crossing the Albert Bridge goes unnoticed as they scoot over the Thames with so many other wonderful adventures in mind.   Somewhat like windsurfers speeding past historic Williamsburg on their way to The Outer Banks of North Carolina to spend time in the wind.

One day I'm confident that they'll have a sense of how fortunate they are to be living here.   But today, we'll just be thankful to all be together having fun and some ice-cream before heading home.

a few more pics will be posted here over the next week








      May 29th     Followup from the May 4th entry.   Tracking the 2014 Gumball 3000   (June 4th - 11th)

Here's some general information, plus a few links that may be helpful.

The 2014 Gumball 3000 rally is known as an Event.   It's not a race or a competition.   The Gumball 3000 Foundation benefits underprivileged youth through education, infrastructure, and environmental projects.

I believe that the event generally works like a Rally in that the distance covered each day and the speed limits are taken into account to determine the time it should take to complete that daily leg of the journey as well as the overall distance covered.   Checkpoints are not advertised.

Thursday 5th June     Miami to Atlanta
Friday 6th June     Atlanta to New York
Saturday 7th June   Cars and People fly to Scotland
Sunday 8th June     Edinburgh to London
Monday 9th June     London to Paris
Tuesday 10th June     Paris to Barcelona
Wednesday 11th June     Barcelona to Ibiza
And then anywhere from Thursday, June 12th through Sunday, June 15th everyone heads off on their way home.   WTF wants to leave Ibiza…

I plan to follow event coverages from Schmee150 (recommend subscribing to his YouTube channel).   FaceBook, and YouTube will likely have some great pics and vids of the event.

http://www.facebook.com/gumball3000
http://www.twitter.com/gumball3000
http://www.gumball3000.com

There are several links below that will help watching as the event unfold.   As new worthwhile and links are found they will be posted below.

(please click on the thumbnail below to enlarge the map)


2014 Gumball ~ FaceBook link

Schmee150 YouTube

Schmee150 FaceBook


Spirit of the Gumball 2013   Official Trailer

2013 Gumball Movie   NISMO TV

another 2013 Gumball Movie   from Schmee150



      May 25th     More civilized liquor laws.

At pubs you can take your drinks outside onto the sidewalk.   In Hyde Park you can purchase wine and beer.   Then, sit in lawn chairs provided by the city and enjoy the day.   (bottom right pic)

Nice!







      May 24th     Back in London.

Getting over a bit of time change lag and adjusting to a new routine.   Fun.

The city has a fast pulse of its own.   Our boys are busy and involved in school, sports, and play.   Spending family time here in London as well as being able to wander about is pretty much a dream come true.











      May 18th     Field trip with Denny.   The whirlpool at the entrance of the buried gorge.   Local Late Pleistocene Geology 202…

The Pleistocene Epoque (Ice Age) has been dated from about 2.588 million to 11,700 years ago.   The end of the Pleistocene   (the au revoir of our last ice age)   20,000 - 12,000 years ago played a large part in the formation of the whirlpool, the buried gorge, and the Niagara area in general.   There were 5 ice ages all in all.   It was originally a difficult calculation because each successive ice age age wiped out most of the evidence of all the previous ones.

The (last) glacier more than a mile thick stood here after filling in the old Niagara River bed with soil, sand, gravel, local rock, and erratic rubble (like granite that was carried and dropped here from distances away).   The huge glacier then diverted the water moving north from Lake Erie (now referred to as Lake Warren) to its new course to Queenston and into Lake Ontario (referred to as Lake Iroquois today).   Moraines, eskers, drumlins, and a magnificent kame at Fonthill are local glacial features found nearby in the greater Niagara and southern Ontario area.   Easy to Google all of these terms for extra course credit.

Niagara Falls had to recut its way back to its present location over the past 12,000 or so years.   Amazing.

The earth's history holds an amazing story.   Walter M. Tovell's diagrams just below do a splendid job depicting a small part of this.

There may be a pop quiz tomorrow on all this so come prepared!



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Googled some internet images from the Pleistocene…



      May 14th     Orioles, goldfinches, and hummingbirds…

Birds, as well as flowers and butterflies have been described as nature's punctuation marks.

The oriole, in particular, is an amazing display of colour, especially when it flies.

Shades of orange, black, and white, especially in sunlight, are all brightly highlighted.

They are a shy bird and do not tolerate close encounters.   That said, along with the feeder and a 70 - 200 mm lens, maybe they can brought into a much closer view.   Will make it a quest for the next week to try to capture a few more shots to share.


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      May 9th     The final leg of the journey.

Looking forward to a trip through the locks to Port Colborne tomorrow on the new boat.   Just got word that it's a go and ice free conditions await us.

Will be posting a few pics of the trip.   The weather forecast for Saturday doesn't appear to be blue sky and sunshine at this time.   A 12 - 15 knot SW wind, clouds with a hope of some sun, and a 40% chance possibility of rain, awaits the crew who will no doubt be happily making our way through the Welland Canal regardless of the elements.


The trip up the canal was an awesome and fun time.   Thankfully, it didn't rain     The wind was cold but the friendship and memories are warm!










      May 6th     Old windsurfers never die, their waves just become less frequent and smaller.

After talking to a few aging windsurfers the following helps to partially explain a working relationship with windsurfing and advancing old age.

Many seniors surfers suffer from chronic ailments including arthritis, mild dementia, vision, incontinence, and hearing.   There are medications and mantras to help ease most of these ailments and keep us going, and I desperately hope and want to believe that some of them actually help.   On a lighter note, hip or joint replacements seem to have little affect on stopping aging board-heads from rigging up and getting wet.   Physiotherapy, concept therapy, and mind control have come a long way in the past two decades.

On a more niggly note it seems that one year it's a hip or a knee discomfort.   The next it's a sprained wrist or ankle, or a tendinitis inflammation somewhere that lingers.   Usually these irritations just go away but unfortunately reoccur somewhere else a month or two later.   Living with these fleshy aggravations simply becomes a lifestyle.

Muscles need to be worked on a regular basis for everyone.   As we advance into our senior years it become more important to maintain workout times, regular exercise, and a healthy diet.   We need to carry a good disinfectant soap as well to help ward off all of the nursing home aromas we carry about after a bout on the water as well as being in a wetsuit for extended periods of time.   Thankfully there are showers and change rooms in most of the provincial parks along the lake.   Blaming poor personal hygiene on algae blooms or dead fish laying about simply doesn't cut it for the most part.

Maintaining a positive attitude is critical.   We know that where the eyes look the body follows.   Equally significant, what the mind conceives and believes the body also mostly follows along.   And the rewards of blasting into amazing early morning sunlight on water or amidst splendid sunsets in a windy late evening session are well worth whatever effort it takes to get out there and sail.

Sadly windsurfing is one of those activities that simply diminishes with age.   Our mid eighties seems to be the time when more extreme conditions of light and heavy wind are avoided.   We begin to pick and choose our days.   By our mid nineties a 5.0 - 6.0 on a 116 litre board is about all we can hope for on some days.

Hopefully on my 100th birthday someone will be willing to drag me behind their SUP on some kind of recreational flotation device (unlikely that inner tubes will still exist).   Maybe a large inflatable swan with silver ribbon reins would be nice.   I could do a Queen Mum kind of wave passing by with a warm can of very low alcohol beer in my other hand.   Get a hose ready or a pail of tepid water to wash me off before the car ride back to the home.

Cheers!






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      May 5th     Crossed Lake Ontario with Captain James and his new sailboat.

An amazing trip in a spectacular boat.   The extra length and beam make a huge difference in creature comfort, handling, and speed.   The trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake took about four and a half hours in cold, high wind, rain, and frequent toasting to our good fortune.

It took longer than anticipated to get the boat rigged, wired, and instrument ready after being long-wintered in a lonely cradle.   Our crew was focussed and attentive as the boat slowly became ready and able.   No one checked the hot water tank that had been winterized with it's drain tap left open.   For a few long and fearful minutes we thought that the boat was taking on water (an hour out of port) and it was over for all of us.   But Captain James, CEO of Hot Water Technologies, a Division of Sherk Plumbing & Heating, figured it out correctly within minutes of another near Titanic misadventure.   A good excuse for another toasting.

A dark front came on us midway, but the bimini and dodger proved to be both warm and protective in the cold wind and rain.   So nice!

Looking forward to another year of club racing and some jaunts across Lake Erie.













      May 4th     Perhaps the best part of life is sharing dreams with a friend.

Henry David Thoreau said a number of memorable things worth quoting.   "Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.   Live the life you have imagined." is likely one of his best.

Easy to say, think about, and discuss, but not always easy to do.   Failing your way to any level of success takes true grit and and an unbending determination as we windsurfers know so well.   Sharing and working toward a goal with a loved one or a good friend who shares a common interest makes time spent together much more meaningful and memorable.   It's also pretty much what makes life worth living.

Watching children sort out their lives and get on with living is an amazing process to witness from any parent's perspective   And, it isn't ever just in a moment as we tend to look at it, it takes a lifetime.

We're getting ready to go to London and help babysit the boys while mom and dad do the 2014 Gumball 3000 Rally in June.   A dream of theirs coming true.   Miami to Ibiza.   (That's why the Miami Vice appearance theme on the car for this year)   Another super adventure for them and for us as well.

I love the Union Jack on the roof of their car and their choice of a licence plate that's a bit tricky to pull off in the UK.   Not sure how Italians would take to the British flag on the roof and rear deck of their country's iconic stallion.   Thankfully they won't be anywhere near the Italian border with the new protective, temporary wrap!


Here's a featured 3600 degree walk around their finally completely wrapped car for the Gumball 3000, from Shmee150…









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      May 2nd     Cape Hatteras.   I miss you already!   We sailed 13 out of 14 days.   Or was it 14 out of 15?

I missed one day when the temperature was 470 F and the windspeed was 47 mph.   Extreme conditions just a bit too unreal for this aging senior.   Other than that and for the rest of the trip, all of the planets in our Solar System were aligned except for Pluto (technically not a planet).   Plus, the weather channel, with the animated, overbotoxed girl in the emerald green dress and matching red slippers, was playing This Is The Dawning Of The Age Of Aquarius.   You get the picture.

In all of my 74 years on the planet the only one singular thing more wonderfully traumatic was when I ran a 10 km race with a left foot recently broken baby toe on 800 mg of Ibuprofen in 49 minutes, 23 seconds in 1981.   Not making this up.

No one could have asked for anything more.

The company for the past two weeks was amazing and our sincere gratitude goes out to the Oleskiws for their amazing planning and hospitality.   Their efforts are hugely appreciated.

Everything is finally unpacked, hosed off, and reorganized from the clutter and challenges of the trip.   Three nights of sleep have helped repair the sore, stiff, overused body parts.   So it's off to the gym to maintain the muscles worked on each day plus a sincere effort to maintain but not increase body mass (index).   This will all be accomplished through mindful, cautious Happy Hour celebrations and only one very small second helping of no matter what haut cuisine Nancie prepares for dinner.

The past few days have also been filled with Maggie's return from Victoria, our beautiful grandson Gus, and one afternoon helping Nolan unpack half the truck and move back into their Toronto home.   A new beginning for them to sort through and figure out.   Life goes on.














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      April 20th     No shortage of wind around Rodanthe this trip

We've been able to sail everyday since we arrived in Rodanthe.   The weather has generally been cooler, with some rain most days, and best of all lots of higher winds in the 3.7 m2 - 4.7 m2 range.   There's also been some warmth and sunshine to help make for summer-like sailing and better camera exposures.

Both our shorties and full wetsuits/drysuits have been pressed into service as the winds shift from pleasant south-west to colder north-easterlies.   No one is really complaining much about the falling temperatures but each day we get on the water a little later than the day before and head for the hot tub a bit sooner.

Nice that the more mature of us suffering physical discomfort can commiserate quietly among ourselves to help analyse and treat the aches and pains we discover and endure on a daily basis.   Thank goodness for the hot tub, topical analgesics, ibuprofen, and Sailor Jerry that help us ease into Happy Hour.

A 70 - 75 L board would certainly help with the 30 - 40+ knots of wind we've had to endure more than occasionally this past week.   Not entirely sure that one would actually amortize well in my life at this time but it would help to ease navigating through the huge, irregular chop that we have to brave heading out into the Sound on our starboard tacks.

The next few days show more of the same.   We will persist and endure.   We're a hardy, hugely positive collection of cheerful cronies.   So nice.






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      April 15th     The windsurfing odyssey from Heck.

Our van was hit in the rear at an intersection just past Fredericksburg.   The rear wheel rotated but was hugely out of shape, and tilted on a weird angle.   The police said the car had to be towed and everything was our fault.   To make matters worse it was 5:15 on a Friday and everything was closed till Monday morning.   The Forecast said good wind on Monday.   Shit.

The nightmare began.

Four boards on top.   All our gear, suitcases, guitar, you name it packed to the roof inside.   Two lonely and frightened Canadians stranded along the eastern seaboard of the United States of America with one cellphone, no American Cell Phone Plan, and only a great sense of humour plus a hugely optimistic outlook to keep us afloat.   Buggered.

We walked to a nearby repair shop where there was a towing company and arranged for a tow to get the car off the road.   The first of many calls to the Insurance Company began, each time with a new operator to whom the story had to be retold again and again and again.

The tow truck operator, Austin, was a Godsend.   He found an airport car rental in Richmond open till 8:00 pm.   The first car we were offered was another Dodge Caravan for only $258 a day.   Goudged?   Yup.   But Austin volunteered to taxi Denny there in his tow truck at any speed it took to make it.

On arriving, there was no Dodge Caravan   In fact, nothing available other than a short-bed 4 X 4 pickup truck and two subcompact two door sedans with automatic, rear view mirrors, power windows, and no roof rack.   Nice!

The evening turned into night.   A somewhat shaken Denny and the 4 X 4 short-bed pickup finally arrived at the compound.   He found me wandering aimlessly about with both hands in pockets, hungry, but still smiling and thankful knowing there was a hidden blessing somewhere in all of this that would be likely revealed and made clear to both of us, hopefully sooner than later.

To make a longer story short, we finally found a motel with a vacancy two exits up US I-95N by 11:00 pm.   It was only two hours from the Richmond Airport where the rental agency was located.   We broke out the Sailor Jerry, found some ice, and watched a Sci Fi horror flick about a deceitful sheriff who lied about a shark being let loose in a small mid western lake near a quaint, sleepy, little, all American town, kinda like on the Andy Griffith's Show from the 60's.   Not that helpful when trying to get a much needed good night's sleep.

The last thing we remember discussing, just before the seventh of the town's unfortunate residents was being chomped into a red pool of blood, was we'd be at the towing compound at 8:00 am the next morning when it opened to repack all of our beloved equipment somehow into the 4 X 4 and be happily on our way to The Outer Banks.

(To be continued…   It's currently blowing 4.0 m2 and quickly building.   Yes, we ultimately did make to it to our destination of amazing Cape Hatteras but with many challenges and intriguing detours.   All of this has made us way stronger and better prepared than the average Canadian traveller to face any future Armageddon coming our way.)



Rain, gusts to 40 knots, and huge choppy waves dominated the day today.   We sailed 3.3m2 - 4.2m2 today.   Nice.

Denny spent the early part of today and most of yesterday arranging for the van to be transported to a Collision shop in, you guessed it, Mechanicsville, a suburb of Richmond Va.   There's also a car rental agency nearby where we can drop off whatever car we get.   We'll be able to pick up the van next week (on a light wind day) and get it back here to Rodanthe in time to get everything repacked for the final trip home.

We'll be forever scarred with the memories of the rental challenges, being charged and not easily able to defend our take on the accident which was one of those ~ there's more to all of this than meets the eye.   The fact that we were the among the first cars to arrive here is a tribute to our mature, capable chutzpah, and collective singular mindful focus.   Old guys truly rule!

Eric is currently doin' a harmonica blues song commemorating our ill-fated pilgrimage aptly named Dark Skies Intersection Rear Ender To Undefiled Innocents Who Will Ride The Wind Again soon to be released as a 45rpm vinyl disc on Virgin Records and on sale at your local Stereo HiFi shop.

And, best of all, Denny received a cool present from his new insurance company shown in the pics above.








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      April 8th     Windsurfing 101 and the human geonome…

This isn't about big jumps and landing a forward.   It's about the big picture of how work, play, and good living are all connected in our genetic coding and helping kids to land securely on their feet.

Sometime in early to mid High School this all has to be integrated into the curriculum.   Students have to be given the opportunity to realize the long range focus of how we're programmed.

It's genetic and by enlarge humanity is both flawed and blessed with a play gene.   It's definitely stuck in there somewhere.   And when the hormones kick in, maybe a beer or whatever, and at a dance where Stairway To Heaven is resounding loud, dreams can be blurred and lives can be broken forever if an alternative backup concept isn't at least introduced.

I'm talking about the need to nurture the work ethic and cash-flow gene around the same time, so early on years of partying away brain cells and spending more cash than earned can hopefully be avoided.

It's about the huge exhilaration windsurfers get from session to session.   The exhilaration is really the big problem here.   Simple cause and effect.   To get more fun time on the water means getting more gear.   Getting more gear means being able to spend more time on the water with larger and smaller boards and rigs, warmer wetsuits, a large vehicle to tote all this about and being able to travel anywhere when the lakes freeze and rent everything if you have to.   It's not free.

The play gene gets excited when stimulated by fun but needs a work gene connection to be able to afford the stimulation.   There's a mutual relationship here that has to addressed formally through education and reinforced with homework, seminars, projects, essays, testing and tough love, so wiser choices can be made as children grow, sometimes painfully, toward becoming adults.   The alternate fail your way to success works but isn't that easy.

Any sport or recreational activity can be substituted for windsurfing.   Golf, tennis, boardsports, whatever the play, requires careful planning very early on to help recognize a need, work toward a realistic balance, and ultimately give our lives and families more meaning.

I should write a book.





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      April 3rd     What is it about sunsets?

We usually celebrate a sunset whenever we can.   Those last visible moments in our day reveal beauty, serenity, and maybe a promise that life holds for each of us, knowing that there's also a predictable sunrise coming as well.

Thankfully these moments can be captured, saved, savoured, and remembered.   From Venice Beach to our backyard deck… Cheers!





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      April 1st, 2014     Leaving for Hatteras in about two weeks.   Looking back to the time when Hurricane/Tropical Storm Noel crossed The Outer Banks in November 2007 with a few pics above and below…

Noel brought huge, high wind conditions to Cape Hatteras.   Hopefully we'll get some good wind this trip.

Found a few more new pics from those amazing days below, pretty sure most haven't been previously uploaded.




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