Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Post Covid Travel

Well, we are back - thirty fine folks enjoyed a wonderful 14 day Azorcan tour of Italy, Austria, Hungary and Germany over the past few weeks - with memories that will last forever.

Obviously after 2 1/2 years 'much' has changed in the world of travel so here are a few thoughts from our trip overseas.

First off, airlines and airports have not 'fully' ramped up so the only hassles we experienced were in dealing with staff shortages, especially at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport.

It's a 'big' airport and often you are at one end of the structure with a good long walk to get to your gate to transfer to wherever you are going to in Europe. 

Don't forget that you have to clear customs there and factor that time in to your walk to get to your next plane.   The line we experienced was long, to say the least, but it moved along very quickly.

One good thing they do is try to find out who has a tight connection, and they move you to the front of the line OR to a booth where you can scoot through relatively quickly.   

There's a staff member moving around the area so make sure they know you need some assistance.

They'll ask for your flight details to confirm your time - then off you go.

However the airline we used was short staff,  AND the ground crew is also not fully manned, which had us moving to three different gates in about twenty minutes. 

At our third and final gate there was only one employee and she was rather overwhelmed - and the automated check in machine was acting up so she had to do a quick shuffle to get everybody through efficiently.

After we were cleared it was on to a 'shuttle' to get to the airplane waiting on the tarmac - but - they weren't ready to go and we had to stay in a very packed bus, at 30c, and watched as they loaded on food/beverage for our flight.  Delay - about 30 minutes.

On the return flight, we only had one hour to get from one end of the airport to the other - clear customs - and race to the gate.  Once boarded the Captain came on to apologize that the ground crew was busy loading/unloading another plane and we'd be delayed another hour or so to get on our way.  In reality it was closer to an hour and a half.   

Weather in the Atlantic (hurricane) forced us to go further north to avoid weather problems so the planned flight was 8 hours and 45 minutes ended up being around a 10.5 hour jaunt.

You're wise to use something like the TripCase app as it is updated continuously with any details that change.  As well 'listen' carefully because announcements are also being made for the big shuffle.

Another big change, from past Euro trips, is that cell phone usage is now almost imperative.  For the most part I always just use wifi BUT not only is it unreliable in several hotels/cities we were in but the new 'double' sign on process requires that you get a 'code' sent to your phone - and if you don't have cell service you're not going to get that code.

I had trouble signing on to my Canadian bank and had to turn my phone on for about ten seconds (at a cost of a full day from Bell) to get a new 'push notice' that allowed me to do my banking overseas.

Throughout Europe wifi can be either really good or horribly bad.  At our first hotel it was almost impossible to use and speeds were extremely low.  As the trip progressed wifi was better at our various hotel stops.

So - buy a cell package - and it's not as simple as it was before either.  I actually went in to a Bell store to book it and they advised me that they couldn't help me and I'd have to go 'on line.'  I was hoping to find an easy link to sign up for service for the two week trip to find out that they only sell 30 day packages - and that that option wasn't even listed on their app.

In Europe many restaurants and services now use QR codes for menu's, tickets, etc.  If you're at that place, with no wife, you're hooped.

One thing you'll likely notice is the lack of American chains.  Several shut down over the past few years and it played in to the 'shop local' theme that most of the world is adhering too.  

There were very few McDonalds and Burger Kings - fewer Starbucks - and most of the KFC's are gone, as well as Subway and Pizza Huts.  No loss in my mind. The Mcdonalds over there has a Cafe off to the side where fresh baking was available...much different from over here.

Why go to these beautiful unique cities that feature incredible food and dine on products that you constantly use over here?  Try something'll be glad you did!  

In the past UBER was a big help to me - especially in countries with little English prevalent - as you dial in your destination, hit the request for service, and a driver comes to your pickup point.  If they don't speak English everything is handled via the app - which is great - and no cash is required as it is debited from your account automatically.

Several places I tried to access the service showed that UBER wasn't available in that city.  The good part is, however, that in some cities it is now possible to hail a CAB with the UBER app. Lots of price point checks.

Also with your cell, MAPS is a huge asset for you to get around town.  Again - if you don't have wifi you're going to have a problem.

In some downtown cores there is now blanket wifi - especially in the tourist areas - so you can access your cell apps. 

For the most part a quick 'ask' around you yields somebody who can help you.  We had a great waitress dial in our hotel while we were seemingly lost - and she handed over her phone so that we could see how to get to it by 'walking' and bingo we were on our way.

Another big thing that has changed is TAP.  Many places have it, but on a few occasions it didn't work back to my bank in Canada.  A few times we had servers who couldn't speak English so you try to ask to use the 'swipe' (some worked - some didn't) and I was forced to use cash for the transaction.

In other problem.  So...carry cash, a debit card, and a credit card so that you're covered.

Another tip for you...if you're going to visit any attraction, and you're not on a group tour where you have purchased tickets, you'd be wise to book ON LINE for that visit.  As travel is getting back in to full swing you're likely to find large crowds to deal with and some places are still restricting numbers of people allowed in to the buildings so you could be left out of the attraction and miss seeing some of the great places in the world.

Another good app to have is the 'translate' app - and there are several.  Some are very good and can be utilized via text, voice, and even using your picture/scan feature to translate from English to whatever language you require.

Rick Steeve's Europe app is also very good and he hosts walking tours around cities.  Simply start where the app directs you and crank up your headphones for a description of the walk around town.

Other app's that I use - Spotify for podcasts and music - and various video streaming services - also require wifi (or pre download) so that you can stay entertained on the airplane or on long bus rides around the country.  And the currency app...know what you are paying.

Another big change since the covid shutdown is the use of EBikes - they can be a godsend on hilly roads - and can help extend your enjoyment by covering a fair amount of ground.  There are guided EBike tours available now too.

In many cities the Lime EScooters are also available.  Rome was 'covered' with these things, and many business's aren't too pleased about it as they are often just dropped in the middle of the sidewalk in front of their shops.  Download the Lime app here before you go and a quick scan has you scooting around your destination.  (Some areas are now restricted so be cognizant of where you can/can't ride) 

In Austria there are a good amount of bikes/scooters, yet in Budapest I saw few - if any - available.

Google search a city before you go to see what is available. 

ATM's are available everywhere, but all are different, and may take a few minutes to learn how to flip to English so that you can utilize their machines.

If you're travelling in a group consider building a WhatsApp list so that you can keep in touch with other folks in your group.  This comes in handy if you're wandering around different parts of the city and need some assistance.

WhatsApp is also good for sharing your photo's on the trip.  As well you might think about a group Instagram setup so that your travelling friends can all contribute to the Insta with their pictures.  Just multiplies the fun when people back home are following along with you.

If you're driving around Europe you'll be pleased to see how they operate gas stations in rural areas.  Very often you'll find full bakeries and food services in the stations featuring a wide array of really good food.

Remember too that many restrooms over there that require payment.  Costs vary but usually around 50c or 1 Euro.  Always carry extra change for these pit stops.  

On public transit make sure you buy your ticket AND get it stamped when you board the bus/train.  There were stories of tourists getting big fines for not doing so.  Lack of understanding is no excuse.

As well there are several 'no sitting' restrictions too - including stairs - and guards will quickly scoot you off their protected areas. 

Also, remember that each country has different covid restrictions and, although most everything is now fully open and operational, some public transit requires full masking and SOME require N95 masks exclusively to use their service.

While we were away the ArriveCan app requirement was dropped so that problem has now gone away.  

On the airplane, and around Europe, there are still people who are wearing masks but I'd say less than 5% seems realistic. Personal choice is just that!  

Finally, double check your Passport and Nexus dates.  If your expiry date is within six months you could face problems. may have forgotten to renew your passes and it's taking a good while to get them replaced or updated.  

It was so great to see the world again and I can't wait to get back over to catch up on the three trips that my wife and I lost due to the covid shut down.

Europe is so diverse and so enjoyable to visit.  Study up a bit on your history before you to really benefit from the trip.  The Tourism Boards do great video work,

Remember... 'celebrate the difference.'  

Lots of things differ greatly from over here so be prepared and see how the other half lives.  

It can be quite enriching and enjoyable - but yes - it can cause concerns so be prepared. 

I hope you found a few helpful tips here.  

I'm allready planning my next jaunt April river cruise in Portugal.


Sunday, September 4, 2022

The World Opens Up

Well it's time to travel again - for most of us - and after losing three trips that would have taken me to Portugal, Vietnam, Cambodia, Turkey, Bulgaria, Serbia, Romania, Croatia, and Germany (that we lost due to Covid) I've rebooked three Euro hops in the next 18 months.  Thank goodness!

Some logic and thought starters here.    

First off, you can break down your life's travel opportunities in this manner - as it aligns with my pattern.

From age 20 to 35 hit Las Vegas as often as you possibly can, get absolutely stupid, then...get married.

From 36 to 50, raise your kids (start saving for Disneyland...both of them...or more) and enjoy your peak earning years - head to Hawaii, or some other warm spot, during the winter to download some stress and soak up some sun,

From 51 to 65, see the much of it as possible. Learn about the different cultures; experience the glorious history of that country; expand your knowledge on why it's ok to be 'different' from others; and pass that knowledge on to others.

*Leave the kids at home - they'll love the break - and they won't understand the complexity of what they would see on these trips until they are much older.  

From 66 to 'whatever' cram in as much travel as you possibly can because the reality of life is that your body slowly breaks down and makes simple things like waking up in the morning harder as every day goes by.  

There’s no known ‘best before’ date…so…go…

My knees are causing grief; my back surgery 40 years ago isn't getting any better; and my sleep patterns are bizarre.  No need for an alarm clock anymore.  Anybody need a 6:31 am wake up call - consistently?

Plus, in the past few years 'covid' has made travel an absolute pain in the butt (not physically) and it's going to be more and more difficult in simply getting to parts of the world from now on.

As well, sadly, many of us think we will 'travel later' and that reality can often be lost.  

In the past five or so years alone I've lost close to 20 friends...most of them younger than me...many who didn't enjoy a single moment of retirement or enjoying the benefits of very successful careers.

I know this isn't possible for everybody.  I know...I'm fortunate....I live a wonderful lifestyle because of my media career.  I was fortunate enough to visit many places, through business, that gave me a free preview of wonderful places to return to - Miami's South Beach; the beautify of the California and Oregon coasts; and other amazing places.

A five decade career isn't exactly easy so before you think I'm boasting just remember that I ran radio stations in the biggest markets in Canada and they all have one thing in common...they never close.  

A minimum nine to five office day 5 days week; meetings for several community groups you're wise to join; and when you get in the car during the evening and weekends it's not always a good idea to tell your wife to "shushhh I have to listen to this!" 

So, over the next 18 months I'm going to blog and post my trip highlights so I can 'hopefully' help others in understanding the complexities of travel these days and open some doors to some countries you may have not ever thought of visiting.

Am I scared to travel right now?  Absolutely!   It's a wild card.  

Cancelled flights. 

Bumped off somewhere you don't want to spend more than a few hours in.  

Lost luggage - both ways - coming and going.  

Sitting beside people you have no idea of their health situation and hoping that they don't cause you any unnecessary grief.  

Weather issues.  Custom issues. Language differences.  

It's a long list - but - travel is an adventure and if you keep an open mind some of the 'mis'-adventures can end up being the highlight of a trip that you will remember....forever.

I'm travelling with 30 people in a private bus through Italy, Austria, Germany, and Hungary.  I've been to all these places before but usually rushed and didn't have enough time to discover the many amazing things in those cities/countries and without a local guide.

The last 7 trips overseas have been done solely with or with Azorcan Tours hosted by my good friend Paul Almeida.    

They have one thing in common.  Amazing organizational skills and opportunities, a worry free goal for their customers, and neat 'surprises' like meeting people like ex Oiler Jari Kurri in Helsinki, Finland..

Your only obligation, honestly, is to 'be on the bus on time.'   

With both groups you hand your luggage off at the airport, hop on the plane, and get set to enjoy everything the travel brochures highlight because these folks have you covered top to bottom - safety included.

I'm travelling with some incredible friends too,  Bryn Griffiths is the worlds best traveling partner and can get you 'anywhere' you want to go with his forensic planning via all transportation modes with no language issues. .   

In countries where English is as scarce as hens teeth it's a huge comfort.  

As well, Craig Roskin, another media vet, is returning to Italy after over fifty years.  We have known each other since 1955.  My Dad (Jerry) started CHED with his Dad (Lou) at that time. 

Of note...Craig enjoys The Art of Conversation (yeah that means he talks a lot) so I've packed my Bose headphones and added to my 5,000 song Spotify playlist, so I’m prepared. 

Our Italy itinerary includes Rome, the Vatican, Siena, San Gimignano Florence, Pisa, Bologna, Verona and Venice.  (Fortunately Naples isn't included...been there/done that/hated it/don't ever drive there!)

In Germany we head for Munich, and a stop at the legendary Oktoberfest.  I was there once on a motorcycle tour through Europe and I can tell you that it honestly makes the Calgary Stampede look like a shindig.  

Massive tents filled with gigantic jugs of beer, pretzels, Oompa pa music, a complete Fair, and a dozen ambulances lined up at the gates to take out patrons that can't walk.  It's an amazing visual - trust me.

In Austria, one of may all time favourite countries, we will be stopping in Innsbruck (home of the 1964 Winter World Olympics) Salzburg - yup the Sound of Music city; and Vienna - one of my all time favourites with so many things to do in a fairytale setting - including some amazing music centres, Lipizzan Horses; and unique foods.     

We will finish up in Budapest, another city I enjoyed a few years back.  Anybody who has been there can tell you how stunning the harbour is between Buda and Pest - all lit up at night - during a cruise in the Bay.

We have local guides travelling with us and if you've done some of the worlds biggest city bus tours with those awful sound system head sets I can't tell you how rewarding it is to sit with people who LIVE in the countries you are visiting,

Paul can confirm that my seat in the bus is always at the front and often beside these guides where I enjoy some eye opening conversations about their lives.

The most compelling are in the former Communist countries.  

Most of the things they grew up with we never learned in school - just too deep - and when you hear of the restrictions they faced as kids and young folks growing up - well - it just makes me shudder when I see about some of the meaningless things that we complain about over here in North America.

So - I will be posting pictures and short descriptions of our experiences as we roll through each country. 

Hopefully, if you're thinking of getting back on the big silver bird yourself,  these tips and thoughts may be of some assistance to you.

Essentials, by the way before I leave you, check all your documents well ahead of your travel plans.  It's taking forever to get your passport renewed and the NEXUS fighting between Canada and the US is leaving most offices closed thus only 'renewals' are getting done.

My lounge pass benefit was cancelled by the bank without notice to me - so I would have handed out an outdated lounge card in Amsterdam after a 9 hour flight and 7 hour time difference…glad I double checked. 

You'll need the ArriveCan app; Re-open Euro is helpful; Uber, TripCase is excellent; MyHealthRecords, my lounge pass is now Visa Airport Companion; Google Translate (it's gold); and of course your Airline app.  

Make sure you turn your phone on to airplane mode OR purchase a plan that will cover you over in Europe.  A mistake here can be very costly.'

Next, take a picture of your important information and leave it with somebody back home...a relative is best.  I you lose your passport, or other documentation, it can be a real struggle to get it replaced and get back home.  Trust me!

And finally, my last warning, that often gets overlooked.

Don't get hammered on the plane!  

A hangover, 7 or 8 hour time difference, and jet lag can be an absolute killer. 

We warned one gent on the flight over to the World Junior Championships in the Czech Republic a few years back and he missed three days of the fun and games with a massive headache and certainly wasted a good amount of money needlessly.

As well border agents can be a real pain in the ass.  It's their job.  

If you are drunk and obnoxious they can do one of a few things.  First, turn you around, Second arrest you, or third detain you for a very long tine to sober up and scare the hell out of you.

In's sobering. (Pun intended)

Often, when you step out of the airplane in a European country, you are met by guards, both male and female, holding automatic rifles - and they have zero tolerance for anybody misbehaving.  

I have my four AHS covid shots, with both the MyHealth App and auto transfer on the Apple Wallet, my ArriveCan app, TripCase and Apple AirTag ready to go.

So..way we go...let’s roll..


Thursday, April 25, 2019

Euro trips - Euro tips!

Although I haven't reached Rick Steeves status yet I'm proud that I'm on my eighth trip across the pond and have learned a great deal about travelling in foreign countries (now 27 of them) and I'm happy to share some tips here.

First off - 'do your prep.'  If you're going to a brand new company learn a bit about the culture and history of that country.  Europe is draped in history and their customs and various systems are often 100% different from North American norms so it's wise to be prepared.

Wikipedia and YouTube are your best friends and now Podcasting is a huge help.  A simple search of the City or area you're going to will yield a goldmine of information - and video - and help you get to know a few of the landmarks you'll be visiting.

Once you get to your destination you'll be shocked at how much you DON'T know and my common line upon hopping the plane home is "if I'm ever reincarnated and come back to life I'm going to pay attention in History class next time."

Currency is different all over the place....and even though the Euro was supposed to cover most of Europe there are a few countries that don't accept the money OR take it 'hesitatingly' and often you will get short changed in the exchange.

We travel with very little cash as there are bank machines everywhere - but again some do NOT have English on them so it can be a bit challenging getting cash out when needed.

We also carry two different credit cards - American Express and VISA for use - because you can run in to merchants that won't accept one or the other or for that matter credit at all.

A hotel Concierge is your best friend and can be of huge assistance for everything from giving safety tips or calling a cab (or Uber in some cases) as well as helping with any language issues.

Many hotels have airport pickups as well...which can be extremely helpful after a long tiring trip.

There are several apps that do the conversion for currency all over the world and it's wise to have one of those on your smartphone.

Ditto 'language' conversation.  Even knowing a few key terms can be helpful.

Most countries it's very easy to get along with just English - though France has had a few challenges for a waiter picking up the menu and walking away when we asked for an English one. He never returned.

Speaking of smartphones roaming is incredibly expensive.  I put mine on Airplane mode and rely on wifi (which is readily available throughout most of Europe - except in some small towns) and use my SKYPE account to call back home after I've checked messages on my phone.

Electricity is different all over the world too so you'll have to be a plug that adapts to the various countries you are visiting.  Be careful though as you need multiple units.  The UK, for example, has their own unique system and it's different from most of Europe.

Caution at airport arrivals.  Many cities have 'rogue' drivers who look like any other cab driver except they are IN the airport and grab you at the luggage area and aggressively direct you to their cars.  They are not licensed and some drive like madmen.  On a Paris run with my daughter one was going over 200 kph as we screamed at him (in English) to slow down.

Heathrow has a high speed link from the airport/downtown - Paris has their Metro (subway) that can save you money and avoid congestion.

UBER can be gold especially in cities where language problems can occur.  Simply order your ride share in the hotel lobby - take the ride without worrying about any 'lost in conversation' problems.

A few safety tips:

1.  Tell your security system provider you will be away and give them two 'contact' people in case of any needs.

2.  Give a copy of your itinerary to other family members mrs so that they know where you are at all times.  Give them hotel names, your travel agents name, (if applicable) in case anybody back home needs to contact you.

3.  Put a business card in your luggage with all your contact information as well - including phone, email, etc. - so that there are multiple ways of getting hold of you.

4.  Pickpockets are huge in Europe - many travel in teams.  One distracts you or bumps in to you and bingo you're hit.  Watch your purse or bag when you put it on the floor at a restaurant or where you stop.  These are 'pro's' and if you're not careful that bag will be gone in a blink.  On a plane or a train loop your arm through the straps on the bags because they also unzip a bag and quickly grab anything they can while you sleep.  I 'somehow' lost an iPod on a train without a trace.

5.  Group tours are the best so that you can all the local info - try to stay close to them - and especially at night be aware of your environment.

Set up a special Facebook site so you and your travelling companions can upload photo''s free.

REMEMBER to use the 'check in' button feature as it geo tags the photo to the exact spot you were standing when you took it.  After a long tour, believe me, you'll have so many pictures you'll have a hard time remembering the city/town/area you took that picture especially with trying to remember a remote locations name.

6.  Travel light. Leave your expensive jewellery and watches at home.  No need to have them on hand  'just in case.'

7.  Pre book as much as you an ahead of time.  There's nothing worse than getting to a location you wanted to see and there's a long line up to get through.

8.  If you're going to London download the Metro guide - it's the biggest subway system in the world and is several levels deep.  

9.  If you're going to the LOUVRE Google 'secret entrance' - and you'll find a set of stairs across the street from the building(s) that is used by the locals and those smart enough to find it.  No signage - and it leads directly to a tunnel and shopping area inside the Louvre with machines to buy your entrance ticket.

10.  Buy a cell phone package - again - just in case.  There's lots of free wifi available for phone/ipad use but if you get separated from a group - or lost - it can be a life saver.  Plus 'text' where possible and let your friends back home know your location of destination in case they need to reach you.

Take as many tours as possible.  The Red/Blue double decker buses are cheap and circle the city stopping at various tourist attractions.  It's hop on - hop off - and you can make the most of your time using them.  Some have dual routes so check out what the best one is for your desires.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Defining a successful career....Forbes style.

When your Father is a legend in the business - and your two brothers have a 3 and 6 year head start on you - you obviously have to be pretty inspired to 'be the best' at your craft and especially if you carry the Forbes name.

Double that if you HAVE your Fathers actual name and you think that the Jerry Forbes Centre for Community Spirit is named after 'you' - but they just spelled it wrong.

Brother Ger is hanging up his headphones at CJAY in Calgary shortly - after about four decades of success at some 'legendary' radio stations across Canada working with 'nothing but great people'.

Being a Morning Man is one of the toughest gigs in the world.

Insane hours.  Pressure to get up at an ungodly hour and entertain and inform your listeners - often at minus 30; or after a long night out;  and to make sure you are fully prepared (every day) with the craziness of the world factored in to your prep.

As well "serving the community" isn't a cliche to anybody in the Forbes Family.

Our Father started a great radio station and an even greater charity in the mid 1950's that are so powerful that this year, 37 years after he passed, a building is being named for him in Edmonton.

How's that for 'pressure to perform?'

Ger got it.  Early in life.  Growing up listening to 630 CHED and 1050 CHUM...with a goal to be as good as or better than some of the finest broadcasters "in the world."

It's a long list but he will tell you - among them - Wes Montgomery, Bob McCord, Jungle Jay Nelson, Norm Edwards, and to be humbled...'his brothers.'

There isn't enough room here to list Ger's accomplishments. 

The WAB |Hall of Fame; the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee for Community Service; and even in a fun way I believe he holds the record for the most CBSC 'complaints' ever for a broadcaster - which, when you're in rock radio, is truly a badge of honour if you're doing your show properly.

But above all - day one - and on his last day - I'm pretty sure that Gerry will tell you his absolute greatest accomplishment is what he did to pay his success forward with community service.

For some in the media that means the odd mc gig - or hosting an event.

For Gerry it means day after day giving his entire focus to helping out in the city that treats him so well.

If we could go back and count the actual CASH that has been raised through his charity work it truly would be immeasurable.

Big cheques to big projects - but even more meaningful little checks or little gestures to help somebody out.

I know of many many times when Ger quietly visited a home to help somebody out who was 'challenged' with a problem.

It could be a stolen bike.  It could be helping out a blind kid.  It could even mean helping out another employee of the radio station and Ger somehow magically made something good happen for those people.

I'm not going to dwell any further at this point - as I hope to write a tribute to him for one of his (likely) many retirement gatherings and I'll post that.

Ger, I've been proud of you from the very first day you headed out to CHNL Kamloops to start your career - and even though you had to steal the stations toilet paper to survive those first few years - your move to CHUM, CFTR, CHQR, CHFM, the The Bear and eventually CJAY - all help to define an amazing career at the biggest and best companies in Canada.

 I simply can't tell you how much I respect you.

The Forbes boys got their start by hanging around Dad's "Family" room - the fireplace going with real logs; a hefty glass of Cutty Sark scotch on the table; Dad's legendary aromatic pipe smell - and a few words of advice that the three of us have never ever forgotten....

"Don't ever forget the power you have in your hands with your radio station."

Worked for him.  Worked for us.

Thanks for making me laugh all those years too Ger.  We paid the price often for people who didn't understand our unique relationship working together - and many of those folks have fallen by the wayside with their careers - but I can safely tell people that even after 40 plus years in the business that you and I still text other daily - OFTEN - and ALWAYS about one thing.


(OK there was the ODD time we may have crapped all over the other guys favorite sports team - but just the odd time eh)

We were so damn blessed by Dad and by being in a business that truly rewarded all three of us with wonderful careers, families, and 'true' friends.... and all three of us enjoyed success in entirely different areas of the business.  Not many other radio families that I know can say that!

We were also blessed by a Mother, and Step Father that were behind the three of us boys all the way too - never under estimate how much of a huge influence they were on your career - many many times we needed them to prop us up during those down times.

Now bro...sleep deserve it!

Calgary's losing a gem.

Love ya!


Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Seeing the sunset...and remembering Family and Friends...

I have to admit.  I'm struggling lately - with 'death.'

Don't be shocked by that's just that I've lost several good friends over the past few years, most younger than me, and these are all people who have had a huge impact on my life.

As each friend passes away it's now taking me longer and longer to 'get over' the sadness of their loss.

Everybody, including experts, say this feeling is normal as we age but none the less it doesn't soften the loss in any manner.

First off I've lost my Father, late step Father, Mother, Aunts/Uncles and those close friends of my Parents that we called 'honourary' relatives.

My Dad's brother was 47 and left 7 kids when he died.  Dad's folks were just 61 and 62 when they passed away.

My Mother made it to 87 years old, and most of her side of the Family made it to their 90's.

I'm 67 and have outlived several of my elders in the Forbes clan.

Recently I decided to make a major change in my lifestyle that is reflective of the losses of my Friends and Family members by deciding to sell our Arizona condo, which we have held for the past decade.

As I explained to my friends - who I all adore down there - there are no guarantees in life and each of these losses have had a combined profound affect on my psyche that leaves me with an overriding desire to be around MY family and friends back home in Edmonton - Alberta - Canada.

My brothers are in Toronto - Calgary - and Vancouver.  I don't get there often enough to see them and, as time flies, know we MUST plan better to spend some time's...too...late!

Yeah sitting in a blinding snowstorm - or chipping snow off my windshield certainly magnifies the effect of the move - but - each year over the past few years my Days in the USA have been falling significantly meaning I'm funding a place that is two thirds of the year 'empty' at an inflated cost due to the Canadian/US dollar exchange but more so when I see '100 days' as my track record I can't help but think I'm missing some pretty good family moments every year.

Birthdays away.  Anniversary away.  Those magic moments that only Grandchildren can provide - like watching 18 month old Liam mimic everything that Mom Rayanne does and receiving a video of him walking around nude in the living room with a kids size vacuum cleaner 'helping' Mom simply breaks my heart.

To help cheer you up your friends and Family - and I guess the experts - tell you to focus on the qualities and impact those people you lost had on you while they were still alive - and for that it works temporarily because the quality of people that I hang out with are all 'top notch' and I applaud what they did while they were here on earth - but the true story is I'd really like to spend more time with them and 'grow old' together - somehow celebrating the fact of what we did here on the planet while we were blessed with our lives here actually meant something.

Is there a heaven?  Are we going to hook up again?

When you hear your Fathers voice on the radio 37 years after he passed away.

When you drive through the Riverbend area and see the road signs named after him.

When you're part of a group that is opening a synergy centre called the Jerry Forbes Centre for Community Spirit.....

|It only reminds you of how sad it is that Dad missed seeing his three sons achievements in the broadcasting business.

Dad...we all did 'pretty good.'

|It reminds you of how sad it is that he didn't get to meet my daughters - and eventually his grandchildren.

Proud as punch and honoured at such recognition - but you know what - I'd love for him to have little Liam sitting on his lap - tugging at his Pipe - or grabbing at his ears just once in my life.

58 was way too young to leave us - but you can imagine the sheer pride I have watching 25,000 toys scoot out the door of Santas Anonymous every Christmas.

Nothing makes me prouder than seeing them help out at Santas  events - or selling 50/50 tickets at an Oilers game to raise funds for the cause.

The list of those lost is way too long to properly honour those friends of mine who have passed away over the past decade especially.

I have been so blessed to have been able to enjoy almost ten years of retirement allready with the lifestyle that I enjoy.  A nice car - motorcycles - place in the Sun - travelling to some of the most exotic countries of the world.

Some good gigs too.

I don't take a day for granted any more - and my entire focus for the past ten years while I have time on my hands is to "tangibly" give back to the City of Edmonton.

That's why I work so hard at the projects that I get involved in - and they too are numerous - and the people inside those organizations are the reason I work my butt off because each and every one of those people enrich my life, greatly.

So as I write my Edmonton Sun goodbye column about Tommy Banks this morning I'm just feeling a little sorry - not for myself - but for those great people I was so blessed to call friends over my six plus decades on this crazy planet for not being around anymore.

I miss each and every one of you and thank you for the pleasure of knowing you in my lifetime.

|I'm a product of the amazing people I call friends - and Family - and I just wish that they'd gotten to enjoy the 'sunset' a little more like I'm planning to do.

I'm hoping for a fire alarm to be pulled on my 100th birthday as the candles set it off in my home.

Bless every one of you for whatever small moments we spend together - and I hope you realize how much each of those moments mean to a guy who is ageing and missing his best friends and family members.