From Eggs to Boats: My Vehicle History

I have had my fair share of vehicles over the years.

85 Honda Civic HatchbackMy very first car was a 1986 Honda Civic hatchback. It was a car that didn’t cost my dad very much and was considered a “safe” first vehicle. I remember this vehicle had a couple of “firsts”: my first speeding ticket and my first accident. I was driving along a back road at night when a deer sprinted out in front of me from the left-hand side. I did everything right…I slammed on the brakes and veered to the right to avoid any oncoming vehicles. The deer hit the car, slid across the roof, and rolled into the ditch. My car ended up getting totaled, but the deer jumped up and ran away into the night.

1989 Pontiac SunfireMy second car was “the taxi”, a 1989 Pontiac Sunbird. I was so proud of that vehicle that I wanted EVERYBODY to ride in it. And because I was a bit on the awkward side, it was my way of making friends. That thing had a kick-ass cassette stereo (for the time, anyway) and in about two years (my graduating year from high school and my first year of university) I ended up driving the clutch right out of it because (a) I put a TON of kilometres on it and (b) I really rode the clutch way too much.

1990 Pontiac Le MansIf I remember correctly, my next car was a Pontiac LeMans. I don’t remember the year (1991?), but I do remember it looking like a little white egg on wheels. At the time, though, I didn’t even care because, for some reason, this round car had incredible acoustics inside…making a very average-sounding stereo sound a LOT better than it really was (or at least that’s how I remember it). I really loved that car, but jumped at the opportunity to drive “in luxury” a few years later.

Delta 88It was used, it was old, but it rode like a dream. I drove an Oldsmobile Delta 88 that had a ton of “kick” to it, had power everything (a big deal for me back then), and made me feel like a big deal. It only took a year or two before realizing that I was a small-to-mid-sized car kind of guy. I didn’t like parking it and I didn’t like the gas it guzzled. Still…I drove that “boat” to the States with some friends to take in a NASCAR race in New Hampshire and it was one of the best driving experiences of my life.

The next two cars would be purchased more for their looks than for their practicality.

Ford escortI had a Ford Escort Sport model, which meant it had a kick-ass stereo (of course) to go along with a sun-roof and a spoiler on the back.This thing was all kinds of awesome and resulted in at least one speeding ticket. I don’t have a lot of memories of this one, though…but I do remember how much I loved driving it.

Pontiac SunfireI loved my next car, a forest-green Pontiac Sunfire (sport model or something or other). This car was the last one on the lot of that particular model because nobody wanted that colour. It was totally loaded (sun-roof, SUPER DUPER stereo, power everything) and on sale for a great price, so I snatched that bad boy up. This car was purchased near the end of my DJ-ing years, so I really thought I was “King Sh*t” of this small town. I didn’t realize how much of a douche I was acting like. I guess in a bit of poetic justice, where it was only my second manual vehicle I ended up driving the clutch out of it yet again. It was at this point that I realized that I simply wasn’t meant for manual…I’m just an automatic kind of guy.

At this stage in my life, I began to grow up a little bit and went for practicality over anything else.

2007 Hyundai ElantraThe next two vehicles were great. They lasted a few years each and were great on gas. They were 4-door family vehicles, which was good because I was now a father and wanted to ensure I had room in the back for a child seat. I had a Chevrolet Cavalier and a Hyundai Elantra.  Both had their pros and cons, but at the end of the day they were simply good, quality vehicles that did their job.

September new carI write this post because I just picked up a new car this past September (and yes, that’s my car on the right). It’s the third Kia Forte in a row that I’ve owned. With the exception of having NO BACK SPEAKERS (this kills me because, even as a man in my 40’s, I love cranking up a good song every once in awhile), it’s consistently been one of the best cars I’ve ever had. It’s good on gas, has all of the features I need (A/C, Bluetooth, iPod jacks, and heated seats), and it’s economical. Knowing friends who consistently have bad experiences with vehicles, it makes me happy to know that I’ve got something that not only makes me happy but keeps me safe.

If I had the choice to start all over again from scratch, I may have gone in another route to purchase a new car instead of having my dad pick out the vehicles for me. My taste in vehicles ended up being HIS taste in vehicles. And really, there weren’t nearly as many resources available for picking and choosing what you REALLY want like there are today.

What about you? Do you remember YOU first car? What about your favourite?

It’s Funny How Life Turns Out

Life is funnyAs many of you know, I started a new job back in December. Over a month into things and I honestly have never been as challenged or as happy in a job as I am right now. It’s funny how life turns out…I look back at all of my previous jobs and life directions on where I could have gone.

– Radio DJ. I’ve blogged about this one before, actually. At one time in my life, I was a club DJ and played the hits of the 90’s to a packed Saturday night dance floor. I absolutely loved what I did because I was good at it. The rush from mixing two songs together and having the dance floor stay full was one I likened to the rush from drugs…only it was a natural high that I can’t fully explain. I stopped doing it because, honestly, I was getting older and needed to find a “real” job. I could have easily moved into wedding DJ-ing, but playing songs like Old Time Rock & Roll and I Knew The Bride every bloody weekend would make me want to gouge my ears out.

– Bank manager. This is a job my dad held for years and, quite frankly, he always wanted me to follow him into that area. He was an RBC bank manager back in the 70’s and 80’s as I was growing up. We moved from town to town as he was transferred from one branch to another. To me, that calling would have been the “safe” one…a job that I could easily do; a job I could be hired for due to my educational background; a job that I could call a career. But quite frankly, I believe that I would be unfulfilled and my job satisfaction would wane…thus I decided to not pursue this avenue.

– Call center “person”. I have had the pleasure (and DISpleasure) of working in various call centers over the course of my life. I’ve worked in fun centers like AOL Canada and in business centers like ExxonMobil. I’ve worked for less reputable call centers and haven’t had nearly as much fun or job security. I know friends who have made their career out of going from call center to call center (there are a number of them in my neck of the woods). I, for one, couldn’t wait to get off the phone. I wanted an office and a computer and a reason to use my nerdy skills. That’s what I have now, so this career choice certainly wouldn’t have turned out positively for me.

– Lawyer. Isn’t that the dream of pretty much every parent out there? One day my child will grow up to be a lawyer! There were moments when I thought about becoming a student of law, but I never pursued it because I didn’t think I was smart enough even though I was thoroughly fascinated by law. One of my best friends is a lawyer based out of Chicago, and I envy their life regularly. They work hard, obviously, but they are rewarded for their hard work. I always look back and wonder what my life would have turned out like should I have pursued this great profession.

– Restaurant manager. I honestly thought that I was being raised for this position. My dad ran a pizza restaurant for 20 years and I was basically raised in. I started my work career folding pizza boxes for two cents a box when I was 12. I moved up into being a dishwasher before working the cash register at 15. My dad got permission from the local liquor inspector to let me become a waiter at 16 (i.e. I was allowed to sell liquor to customers) and I waited tables throughout my high school and university years. I ended up managing my dad’s restaurant back in 2000…but the conflict between him and I led to a falling out of sorts. It also turned me off of the role as a career choice. It’s a shame, because at one point I honestly thought this was my future.

– Realtor. My dad’s final career before retiring was as a realtor. He was good at it, too. The benefits he had were his “no fear” attitude and ability to talk to anybody straight-up with no bull…and in a small town where everybody knew who he was, that worked in his favour. I was always intrigued by real estate, but I quickly learned (especially over the last year or two) that unless I stayed in a small town that there were HUNDREDS of realtors in any given city, many of which were barely able to get by because of (a) the bad real estate market and (b) the intense competition. Only a select few get to thrive and succeed, but the rest constantly struggle. I was never one who could knock on a stranger’s door, so this job certainly wasn’t the career choice for me.

At the end of the day, it’s interesting to look back at all of my previous jobs and see where I have ended up. It’s also interesting to see the many paths my life could have taken.

As it stands, I’m right where I want to be. Quite frankly, I’m right where I should be. Everything happens for a reason.

Killing travel time

THIS IS A COLLABORATION POST
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Image by Robert S. Donovan

If you’re on a round the world trip, or just traveling extensively, you’ll already know that boredom can be a real killer – particularly when on long journeys.

The truth about travel is that half the value is in looking forward to what you’re going to do and the places you’re going to go – and vice-versa; remembering the fun you had when you were on your trip.

But when you’re in the moment itself, the truth is that there’s a lot of time waiting around in airports, ports, train stations and hotel rooms – with little or nothing to do.

There are only so many books you can read, films you can watch, photos you can take and games you can play. And if you’re spending most of your traveling time with one or two companions, then you’ll soon find out that conversation can begin to pale a little after a while.

So what do you do to kill a little travel time?

Well the truth is that you do all the things we’ve talked about here already. But mobiles, in particular, offer a great way of eating up hours in having fun playing games. If you have the right deal with the right network provider from your home country you should be able to organize a deal that doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg to use to access the web whilst you’re traveling. And this then opens up a world of entertainment opportunities. One great way of entertaining yourself is through online casino games. With the best providers, you can play the games for free in demo mode, or for just tiny stakes to keep you entertained. Better still; some providers like 32Red have really generous introductory bonuses. Here, you can more than double your own money from the get-go, receiving a free $32 for each $20 deposited if you haven’t previously registered with the site.

The best thing about the 32Red games is that they’re fun to play whether or not you’re playing for real cash – and this really eats up the time in a good way when you want it to.

And this can be crucial in making journeys less boring. This is probably the biggest single challenge of travel, but isn’t what always what you plan for before you leave. Even some of the world’s most exotic locations can begin to get a little “samey” if you haven’t planned ahead for hat you’re actually going to do when you get there. If you’re sitting in a busy office, working like mad on things you find boring, you often long for a little peace, quiet and general tranquility. But do bear in mind that there’s only so much of this that most of us can take; it’s all about striking the right balance.

About the author (Aiden): I left the business world to become a full-time stay at home dad of two adventurous little boys under 6 and have never looked back. I am an avid traveller and try to take my family to new places at least once a year. I blog about anything and everything that interests me, from travel – finance – fatherhood.

To Travel Or Not: Chicago’s Architecture Boat Tour

Any other day in November and it would have really been too cold to enjoy a 90-minute boat ride in and around Chicago. However, on this particular day, the stars aligned and it was absolutely beautiful.

From the travel blog…

Chicago’s Architecture Boat Tour

One of my favourite shots of Chicago from my architecture boat tour on Lake Michigan.

Happy 5-Year Bloggiversary

i am 5I got a notification yesterday that I was celebrating five years of blogging on WordPress. I thought that was a pretty great accomplishment, considering all of the blogs that I’ve followed over the past 5+ years that have fallen to the wayside over time. Some bloggers have gotten married and had to change their “single” persona, some bloggers found happiness in their life and didn’t know how to translate that to words (most bloggers start writing out of unhappiness or loneliness), some bloggers simply didn’t have anything else to say, and some bloggers, unfortunately, passed away.

While the amount of my writing has decreased over the past year or so, that’s more to do with living with Sunshine and simply not having the time to write more than anything else. I still write here on this blog on a semi-regular basis. I also have a travel blog that serves as an outlet for my creative side (plus I just love documenting where I’ve been…for no other reason than to have a distinct and detailed account for when I get older and can’t remember anything). I still have the “guilty pleasure” blog, but I seem to have run out of a lot of guilty pleasures so that hasn’t been updated in awhile.

I appreciate the friends I’ve met through this blog (and even more-so the ones I’ve ended up meeting in person!) and I really appreciate those who have continued to read this over the years.

I thought it would be fun to share the original post that kicked things off here back on January 21, 2009…

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I guess the point of this thing isn’t really to be cute or funny or unique or original, but to just BE. That’s what I plan on doing.

I’ve been writing a blog now for almost a year over on another host.  It started off as something I wanted friends to read, but as I continued on day after day…week after week…month after month…the blog became more of a burden because I was debating whether or not I could be myself.  If I revealed something personal or said something “off-color”, what would my friends say?

So I’ve decided to start over…start fresh…begin anew…

You can expect random ramblings from a thirty-something divorced father of two.  Although, technically, I’ve just been separated for almost two years…not quite divorced yet.  That’s a story for another day.

I might transfer some stories over from my old blog from time to time, too…primarily to fill space (heh) but also to establish who I am and where I’m coming from.

And me?  You can just call me CBG…the Canadian bald guy who used to have hair before this world drove me to lose it (pun intended…heh).

Nice to meet ya!