If you are looking for a peripatetic philosopher, keen observer, challenger of the status quo, appreciator of all that is grand, noticeable, and worthy, and someone who’s handy with tools, you may have come to the wrong site.
Trying to define yourself is like trying to bite your own teeth.
— Alan Watts
I’m Robert. Some people call me Bob. And that’s okay too.
I’m an ordinary bloke attempting to make sense of our amazing and wonderful world.
You might want to know that I was born very young. And that happened a long time ago. A bunch of stuff has happened since I stopped answering to Bobby. But I don’t think you really want to know about that.
I am passionately curious, a life long learner, with many diverse interests. I have an appetite for adventure, slow travel, nature, fresh air (and breathing), beauty, good coffee, technology well done, photography, cultures, authenticity, integrity, the rule of law, social justice, accountability, new ideas, noble ideals, good dogs, gravity, living better, laughter, kindness, courtesy, compassion, toques, wool socks, maple syrup, mounties, and smart, active, practical, reliable humans and machines.
I’ve been around a bit. I often travel to faraway lands and try to connect with the people I meet wherever my journey leads. I have travelled to over 30 countries. When I travel it’s mostly for months at a time, sometimes years at a time. I do that so I can explore deeper and gain a more intimate understanding of the people, their culture. It’s not that I’m trying to escape Canadian winters. Really.
After 28 years working for the same employer, I took early retirement shortly after a colleague was diagnosed with a terminal brain cancer. Paul had worked 37 years for that same organization and was only two months shy of fulfilling his lifelong dream of travelling with his wife. We’ve all heard similar stories. I had. But what was different is that I worked along side Paul and witnessed his excitement when he talked of his plans. It made me realize how fragile and short life could be and I had to go. While I still could. I was only 48 years old when I pulled the pin. Paul passed a few months later.
My last day of work was exactly 28 years after I started working for that organization. The day after my last work day, I jumped on my motorcycle and started a 58,000 km / 36,000 mile journey from a small town on the east coast of Canada. I rode across the USA to California, then through Mexico, Central America, flew from Panama to Colombia as there are no roads through the Darién Gap, and then rode down through South America, all the way to Ushuaia, Argentina, the most southern city in the world. Then I rode back.
That trip was epic for me. I wasn’t in a rush and took nine months to do it on a big heavy 1200cc motorcycle. That adventure changed the direction in my life. I wanted to do more of this type of travel. And to more parts of the world. If I was to do that same trip over again, it would take me much longer. I’d take more time getting to better know the people, learning from them and learning about their cultures. And I’d do it on a smaller bike.
A few years after my trip to South America I rode the length of Vietnam on small 110cc Honda Super Cubs over 5 months, and had just as much fun. Maybe even more. The developing world runs on these wonderful little machines. Bigger is not always better. Often the simpler solution is the better option.
Your mileage may vary. It should. Your experience is and will be different. As it should be. Mind the gap.
I’m a sailor, a motorcyclist, a racer, an overlander, a voyager. I have run seven marathons, including twice the Boston Marathon. I’m a licensed amateur radio operator (Call Sign: VE9CDN). I have seen more people in pain than any one individual should. But, oddly enough, I don’t know how to ride a horse.
In my younger days I raced an open wheel Formula Ford, and rallied 4-wheel drive Subaru in the Canadian Rally Championship. Before that I dreamed of racing against Gilles Villeneuve, the great Canadian Formula 1 driver. I was fortunate to admire him race his Ferrari up close when I was a race marshal. He too passed away too young.
I’ve owned and travelled in a VW camper (fun but not reliable) and a truck with the lightest available commercial camper, yet it was still too wide, too heavy, and not aerodynamic. I have spent months at a time visiting Cuba, Thailand, Cambodia, India, the USA, and many other places. I am currently building my own truck camper for future voyaging that, if I’m fortunate, will take me through Europe, parts of Africa, Asia, Oceania, South America, and then North America.
I’m curious about life, people, cultures, things. It’s one of the reasons I enjoy travel. It’s also the reason I read so much.
I’m a big fan of things that are reliable, purposeful, and work. Honest machines. Reliable people. I’m not tied to any particular brand. Often the shinny new gadget turns out to be just an expensive wrong tool that needs replacement after a few months. Simpler is usually better.
You may also want to know that I am currently under a long-term contract to a bossy, sturdy, wilfully stubborn, active three-year old. A 17 lb. Cairn Terrier named Skye. Most people fall in love with her after meeting her. For me, she’s a daily struggle. A battle of who’s going to be in charge. She is shaggy, spunky, intensely tenacious, playful, independent, scruffy, and scrappy. She thrives on attention and is very friendly, but when she spots a squirrel or cat, she turns into a mad barking beast warning me the world is about to end.
I had been looking for a sailboat to go cruising full time when I found her. So I named her Kai, which is Hawaiian for ocean or sea. But she hates open water. Any water. Even puddles. Imagine that, a terrier not liking water. So I renamed her Skye after learning Cairns were first developed more than 200 years ago on the Isle of Skye, a destination I plan to visit with her.
I’d still like to sail a small boat across an ocean some day. That plan is on hold.
My first language was French. I was educated in English. I was born and grew up in Montréal. I am very fortunate to be a citizen of this wonderful country. I don’t take that for granted. Canadians are kind, “we’re polite, we’re reasonable, but we also will not be pushed around.”
Travel has shown me that we all live on the same beautiful blue marble and have more in common with each other than most of us realize. I think the world is a better place when we take the time to get to know each other a little better.
I have visited our ten Canadian provinces and lived in half of them. I plan to spend more time in my own county and see more of it. I have yet to visit our three northern Territories. I hear they are magnificent. But first I want to travel to more distant places while I still able. Able physically and due to the quickly changing political environment.
There’s a whole lot more to this story that I’m not quite finished writing. If you want to know more about my life lessons, check out some of the things I’ve learned so far. It’s a living document and is often tweaked.
Your journey is finite. Be bold. Be true to yourself. Do what you want to do. Go where you want to go. Or stay. Your choice. Live your life. On your terms. You are limited to one. And you are responsible for it. Go for it. Take chances. Make mistakes. You will be tested — You can stand up and do something about that, or you can lay down and give up. Your choice. If you don’t like something, change it. Never stop learning. Your experiences should be different. They are uniquely yours. Be kind to yourself. Be kind to others. Do good. Don’t forget to enjoy the ride. Your life is the destination.
I hope you are well.