1 Sep 2014
Hope you've all spent some time enjoying the summer. Any amount of time is good! I love this August weather - unusually cooler than usual. My furnace motor died after I returned from vacation with Larry. I told some friends, it's my fault that we had cool and even cold weather for part of August. I requested it because my furnace did not work so I could not use my air conditioner. So, blame me. Anyway, my furnace was fixed just as some hot weather rolled in.
Larry and I went away for a few days on the second weekend in August. We love Sauble Beach, located along Lake Huron. We headed to Grand Bend at the southern end of L. Huron and headed north. We stayed in Port Elgin, which is about 26 kms south of Sauble Beach. We stopped at the beach in Grand Bend. As some of you know, Larry tried to convince me to go camping at Pinery Provincial Park. He made a valiant effort but I just kept turning that down. A tornado struck Grand Bend just a week before our vacation. I know a tornado will seldom strike the same place twice but I even used that as an excuse not to go camping in that area. In the end, I suggested that we head to Grand Bend and drive up the coast, so, Larry agreed to it. He's already warned me about going camping next year at the Pinery!
Larry did some research about a Great Lake steamship called the Erie Belle which exploded just south of Kincardine. On November 21, 1883, he Erie Belle was sent to rescue a schooner called J.N. Carter which had blown southward while trying to reach the Kincardine Harbour during a storm. During the rescue mission, the boiler on the Erie Belle caused an explosion. Four crew members died while the other eight were picked up by the J.N. Carter. The is boiler of the Erie Belle is now grounded on what is now called Boiler Beach. Larry and I were able to find the boiler. From the road, it is not clearly marked that the boiler is at that particular location. We had to ask those who lived in the area to find it. I'm glad we succeeded in locating it and even timed a nice sunset walk along the beach! Afterwards, we headed to a pub named after the Erie Belle in Kincardine. If you would like to learn more about the Erie Belle, take a look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erie_Belle. By the way, the pub I mentioned does not have any relics from the ship. On their menu, they have the story about the Erie Belle.
Sauble Beach held their annual Sandfest the weekend Larry and I were there. It was great to see a classic cars show on the beach. We also saw very talented folks create pretty amazing sand sculptures! It is not just building sand castles! In the evening, we went to the Sauble Speedway to watch some races. This year, the kids got involved again in bike races which is really fun to watch. We love watching these young competitors. The weekend event lasted about three hours. It's sheer fun and afterwards, we were able to wander to the paddock to see the race cars and meet those who work on or own the cars. The entire Sandfest is a fabulous family event! If you decide to go to Sauble Beach, I would recommend choosing to attend during the annual Sandfest which takes place in August.
Larry suggested that we stay till Monday, unlike previous years where we would head home on a Sunday. I'm glad we stayed an extra day and were able to do something different this year. We went on the Chantry Island tour in Southampton. The two hour excursion began with a boat ride out of Southampton Harbour on Lake Huron. Access to the island is prohibited by the public except through this organized tour and is limited to no more than 9 tourists between May and mid-September. The 200 acre island in Lake Huron is a designated bird sanctuary - home to gulls and great blue herons which we could easily see from the lighthouse the higher up we went. The tour allowed us access to a boat house, a 106 step lighthouse and the Keeper's cottage. Lots to see and learn for sure. When we first got into the boat to head over to the island, a young woman recognized me. She is a barista at the Yonge-Wellesley Starbucks where I use to visit every day when I worked at Queen's Park! She told me who she was and when she took off her sunglasses, I immediately recognized her too! As I often say, what a small world!
I love taking the Georgian Bay route when we head home from Sauble Beach. We enjoy the trip to a farmer's market just before reaching Collingwood. Larry always swings by Wasaga Beach, Beach 1, and as he slowly drives along the short road along the beach, I would snap photos from the car. It is so lovely to see the beach, water and the sunset! Those of you on Facebook can see my Wasaga Beach drive-by photos!
After recovering from the road trip to Sauble Beach, I started to have the itch to go on more road trips. I wasn't sure, at first, where to go. I finally had the idea to do a TOUR which inspired the title from this month's episode of KaTsZoNe: From Penny Stocks to Penny Slots.
As some of you may know, I started buying stocks about twelve years ago. I had a financial planner for a few years to but finally decided to take finances into my own hands. I researched about stocks through books, discussion boards, speaking to experienced friends, and by attending conferences. I did not have much money to throw away so I decided that penny stocks was a way to go, particularly since I had friends to ask for advice. Penny stocks, by one definition, are stocks which cost under $5 per share.
I began purchasing mining stocks back in early 2000 -- all penny stocks. A mining company that was at the exploration stage was risky, however, with a lot of reading, discussions, etc., I was able to find stocks as low as 10 cents and up to about $3 per share. A group of friends and I got together to research undervalued penny stocks, and hoped that the junior mining companies we were devoted to would eventually be bought out by a large company. I use to say, we were little fish waiting to be hooked by a big fish! After a few years, I experienced my stocks profiting 3x, 8x and 10x the purchase price.
Buying penny stocks and getting into the stock market in general was risky and a gamble. I don't think anyone would disagree that stocks are are one of the more riskier investments. We call it an "investment" but it was like gambling. You take greater risks and invest more money if you hoped to make bigger profits. People will get greedy and often make stupid mistakes like sell their child's RESP or their own RRSP or mortgage their house in order to buy stocks. I have a rule: I will not buy stocks which would not allow me to sleep at night. If I am checking the stock markets too often so that I could not focus on work, go out with friends, spend time with family and living a life, that meant trouble! I am not a day trader. I hold investments for the long term.
I have always kept detailed records of my stock trades. Having a file on each company and tracking the amount of stocks I have bought and sold was good practice for me. I keep a book which chronologically listed my trades. Although my discount brokerage firm provides monthly statements, I created my own records so I can double check the information.
At the end of July, my nephew and his wife and I went to the Ajax Ribfest. The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) had a booth and we had the opportunity to spin a wheel and see what we could win. Everyone was a winner - just different amounts. We won various amounts for playing the slot machines or to buy food at the restaurant at Ajax Downs. We went to Ajax Downs and signed up for the Winners Circle Reward card, which included coupons to play the slot machines. So, the three of us played the amounts we received and went home.
One day in August, I decided I wanted to visit Georgian Downs in Innisfil, located just south of Barrie, Ontario, because whenever Larry and I returned home from a road trip to Wasaga Beach and Sauble Beach, we would pass it along the Hwy 400. I figured it would be a nice little road trip. Anyway, I spent two hours and played $20 on the slot machines. I found it a bit boring to play those slot machines, however, it was a great day for a drive. Instead of taking Hwy 400 home, I decided to go south on Yonge St. and I loved it!
When I returned home from Georgian Downs, I decided to check the OLG website again. It came to me that I could visit another OLG Slots venue. I tried to choose another place not too far away. I decided to go to the Mohawk Racetrack in Campbellville (Halton Region). I did not want to leave so soon since it was a longer drive, so, I stayed for a few hours and lo and behold, I found more interesting slot machines to play on. In particular, I found the 1 cent and 2 cent machines. I had been playing with 25 cent machines and ended up not playing as long. At Mohawk, I decided I would try out their restaurant. Somehow, at that point, I decided that I was on a TOUR! Indeed, after two visits in two days, why not continue on and find another OLG Slots venue. And so, my next stop was the Woodstock Raceway.
The Woodstock OLG Slots is a smaller venue, with less slot machines. A couple ladies taught me about the machines and the Winners Circle Reward program. I learned that I had enough points for food vouchers at the restaurants and even get cash back which I used for gas. I was thrilled. This was turning into my OLG Slots vacation of the summer. The first time I won some money was in Woodstock. Winning some money was just icing on the cake. More importantly, I was having fun on the road trips and OLG paid for my meals and gas!
My OLG Slots/Racetrack tour continued after Woodstock on the following day when I returned to Georgian Downs for the second time. It is a really nice venue, so, I figured I would stay a bit longer this time. And, now that I knew that I could receive a food voucher, why not stay for lunch! I won more money at Georgian Downs but I ended up breaking even in four days. Needless to say, I was relieved to break even. It would've been quite a huge loss.
Four OLG Slots in different cities in four days but I was not done yet. After a one day break, I went back to Ajax Downs near my nephew's house. I went to visit my nephew first and updated him on all that had happened during those four days. I had actually been updating him all along. Since it was my nephew's birthday in a couple days, I told him I would give him my winnings for his birthday. Then, I went to Ajax Downs that day and lost. At the back of my mind, I thought, maybe I should not have gave up my winnings so soon! Yet, in my mind, I knew that my nephew and his family showed their love and support to me and my mom for many years, and more importantly, during the time when my mom was in the hospital and after she passed away. All I can say is, family is really important. In fact, I told an elderly lady sitting next to me at one of the machines that I gave my winnings to my nephew. She was so surprised but agreed with me that family is really important and any way we can help family was a good thing.
After giving my winnings to my nephew, I lost money at Ajax Downs. My tour was not over yet. I decided the next stop on my tour would be the Woodbine Racetrack. All these years, I have heard about the Woodbine Racetrack but had never visited the place. It is the largest out of all the OLG Slots I visited. The grounds is just beautiful! I was also impressed with a lifesize statue of a famous Canadian race horse, Northern Dancer. I like to walk around the entire floor before I sat to play on a machine. Now that I had more experience, I realized that I would just walk around and figure out where those 1 cent and 2 cent slot machines were located and more importantly, where the restaurants and washrooms were! Finally, I found a machine and there was no one sitting in that row. I chose something near and dear to my heart -- a game that had gold bars! It definitely reminded me of those gold stocks I use to have in my portfolio. After half an hour, I won some money. Actually, I won almost 6x the amount I had given to my nephew! Holy cow! Guess you could say, I was having a lucky day! Since then, I wonder if I would've won anything if I did not give my nephew my previous winnings.
It was quite a day at the Woodbine Racetrack and when I arrived home that evening, I thought, that's it. I am done! But, I remembered speaking to a lady in Woodstock and she told me that the OLG Slots in London is really nice. So, I was off again the next day, on the Friday before the Labour Day long weekend. I left my home quite early in the morning and about two hours later, I arrived at the Western District Fair - OLG Slots in London. I spent only two hours in London but did not feel inspired. Okay, you can laugh because the translation of not feeling inspired means, I was losing money! I decided that if I went back to either Woodstock or the Mohawk Racetrack, I could make it for lunch! So, off I went and I ended up at the Mohawk Racetrack for lunch and later on, for dinner too!
My tour of 6 OLG Slots in 7 days and 8 visits taught me a few things. Penny slots (and other slot machines) is gambling, but, it was like buying penny stocks and I applied some similar rules. I learned to scout around the entire floor looking at all the games before I even started playing which is like doing research. I observed which games were popular as people were winning most on those games. After a couple visits, I learned to play at machines which had a nice pay out and stuck to 1 cent and 2 cent machines, but, they were also games which I had a passion for. I love horses so I would play a Fire Horse penny slot. I also love Michael Jackson and Nascar auto races, so, I would play those penny slots. I calculated the cost of maximizing a play before I started playing so that it would be possible to win more money. I kept my betting money in a separate wallet and tried to stick to the limit although it was not easy to do when I won some money on that particular day. I listed what I was spending each time I put money into the machine. At the end of each day, I knew the bottom line. The risks, research, record keeping and some luck while playing penny slots definitely reminded me of my penny stocks days!
My one week Slots tour is done for now but my next tour may be horse races! Don't be surprised if you see a future episode of KaTsZoNe called From Auto Racing to Horse Racing!
Catch you again in October!
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