Guarding the fort for a few days as Lorraine travels across southern Ontario tackling a few tasks that we need to clear off before we head south.
One of them we should have looked after while our youngest son was still at home.
I posted about our experience updating our Nexus records online here. Nexus is a trusted traveller program that we highly value and we wanted to make sure that my change of employment status to retired was registered with them. Lorraine and I went in, updated all of the relevant information required by the two governments, interviewed again with the border officials from both countries and all is well with our Nexus membership.
Our youngest son has to go through the same process only this time at Pearson Airport. Could take the better part of a day I suspect. Pearson is a very, very busy place.
Lorraine will make the three-hour drive out to Toronto, stay overnight with family, and then take Matthew out to get his Nexus records updated tomorrow. Matthew will be joining us in Florida over Christmas and the Nexus card will make his travel a bit easier.
Yours truly gets to safeguard the coach along with our trusty golden retriever.
I have yet to find a better guard dog.
We left the dealer on Saturday and made our way down to Sherkston Shores. We had originally booked this site for six weeks.
We will wind up staying here for ten or twelve days due to some issues that we had at our dealer.
Last week our timeline for the replacement parts for the damaged forward awning was set to October 26th. Our decision was to sit and wait for the parts to arrive or to head down to Sherkston Shores and circle back.
A bit of an expensive decision. We use toll roads to get down to Sherkston Shores and the downward leg is $80. As we now have to go back and forth to get the awning issue resolved, this will add an extra $160 in tolls. The extra fuel costs to make that trip? About $350. All in our short stay at Sherkston Shores will add an extra $500 in costs. And that was one reason why we debated waiting at the dealer. Unlike a car, travelling even relatively short distances in our coach can be expensive.
But the lure of full hookups and being in a tourist area — Niagra Falls — will make the next week or so more enjoyable than hanging out at the dealer’s parking lot.
Our trip down offered a bit of excitement. Our planned exit was closed due to construction and we almost wound up at the U.S. border.
Aside from that little bit of excitement, the drive was fine. Our toad tracked perfectly and we had no issues navigating our new length. Coach plus car puts us about 60 feet in length.
Here is a video summary of the drive down and a brief overview of Sherkston Shores.
We picked up our jacks and made our way down to Sherkston Shores. I’ll have more to share about our journey tomorrow.
Today we have been enjoying a leisurely Sunday. Went to a church in St. Catherines this morning. A little bit of grocery shopping after the church service. And then a nice lunch in our coach.
While eating said lunch, from out the window of our coach, I see a Porsche Cayenne pull up. A family walks out of the car and they proceed to walk right up to our site.
And then they started taking pictures of themselves in front of our coach. Not just one or two mind you. They were there for about ten minutes taking all sorts of photos.
Naturally, I went outside to introduce myself.
“Is it okay if we have some pictures with your bus?” the father asked.
Since they had been doing so already, I was hard pressed to respond negatively to his request.
“Certainly.” I replied.
“Nice bus!” he proclaimed.
And then they took another dozen or so photos of themselves in front of our coach, hopped into their Porsche and went on their way.
I’ve received a lot of email and some comments from those following our blog about our current situation. We have been stranded here for the past few weeks at the dealer. First by a punctured oil pan to our car, then by a failed heating system and then by a damaged awning.
We found out earlier this week that the parts for the awning are at least two weeks out. We had made plans to visit with some friends today and we’ve decided to pull up our jacks and head out to our originally booked site tomorrow and then return to the dealer later this month once the parts have arrived.
Obviously we never planned to be here this long. Here is a copy of a reply I made to a comment on yesterday’s post.
We had left the coach at the dealer back in early August to allow them the time to address a number of product recalls and technical bulletins issued by Newmar. We also had several items we wanted done on the coach including the tow bar system for our toad.
We had planned to be here for two days as that was the original estimate for installing the baseplate on our Lincoln. We arrived on September 18th and we thought that we would be on our way by the 20th.
The base plate installation took them much longer than expected and we were told that the car would be ready on the Friday the 21st. Unfortunately, as they brought the car down from the hoist, the area underneath the car was not clear and the oil pan was punctured. They had also done some minor cosmetic damage to the front grill.
It then took another week before the parts for the car arrived and the repairs were completed on the car. We got the car back on September 28th.
A few days before the 28th, we had the dealer follow up on a couple of issues as a result of their service work: the Oasis heating system was not operating properly and the awnings were not extending properly.
They attended to those issues at different times. The Oasis heating system issue was resolved. On the 28th, the day that we were to get our car back, they took the coach in to service the awning and that is when the awning inexplicably extended while they were bringing the coach into the service bay. The awning made contact with the service building causing severe damage to the casing and to the deployment mechanism.
Until then, we had every expectation that we would be out by September 29th. We were in limbo until October 9th as the dealer, Newmar and Girard tried to figure out what caused the unintended deployment and how to deal with the repair.
We were finally updated on the new timeline Tuesday of this week. The parts will not arrive to Newmar until October 20th. And, from there, it will take another 4 days to arrive at the dealer. Their estimate to paint the casing and to install it on the coach is another 2 days.
We might not see the awning arrive until October 26th which means we won’t be away until October 31st. Just in time to cross the border.
Unfortunately, we gain nothing by crossing the border early to save 4 days or so. Newmar is in Indiana, way out of our way. And, being Canadian snowbirds, the earlier we cross, the earlier we have to return.
Canada, in March, is still very much in winter.
Our choice is to pick up the jacks and head out to our originally booked site — roughly 6 hours round trip — and return when the parts have arrived in two weeks. Or stay here until then.
We had made plans with friends to meet up with them today which is why we are still here. We might head out to our originally booked site this weekend and then return for the 26th.
We never planned on spending 6 weeks here.
Being stranded has turned out to be a great opportunity to really focus on getting things organized in the coach. With limited space, how and where things get stored can make a big difference in daily life.
Clearly, a small space forces a certain level of minimalism. That said, we have everything we need. Hard pressed to highlight anything that we are missing aside from a repaired awning.
Being retired means that I have a lot more time available to help smooth out the ride, as it were. And one area that really needed some smoothing?
There are a lot of things to remember when getting a coach ready to leave and getting it ready to arrive. I’m surprised that the manufacturers of motorhomes don’t publish checklists for their customers. I have some general documentation about our coach from the manufacturer but it is really, really superficial and it is generalized to the point of being irrelevant.
I have been revising our checklists for our coach and I am printing them out and placing them into a binder. I will follow the same protocol that pilots use when preparing an aircraft for takeoff and for landing. I will work through all of the checklist items. There are so many of them that I can’t remember them all and there is a tendency on my part to assume everything is okay and make haste to get on the road. Forgetting something in the process without a checklist is highly possible. For me.
Here is the departure checklist (still under development as I need to add the checklist items for getting our car ready for towing behind our coach):
One for testing air brakes:
One for arrival:
I have several other checklists. One related to getting our access point to WiFi and LTE for Internet access. Others for maintaining subsystems like our generator and heating system.
We’ll have two copies on board, one for me in the cockpit and one for Lorraine as she helps out with the circle check.
I’ve seen first hand several accidents that occurred simply because the owner of the coach was in a hurry to get going. Preventing unnecessary damage to the coach by trying to exit a site too quickly is one thing. The consequence of a critical system failure while driving could be catastrophic.
Otherwise we wind up in the House of Blues.
There is our coach with both awnings intact and operating perfectly.
The only problem? That was last year. This year, during a service call, the dealer had an accident with our coach and damaged our front awning. The awning inexplicably deployed while the coach was in motion and the awning impacted the service building as the coach was being brought into a service bay.
This is the start of week four at the dealership. We were only supposed to be here for two days.
Discussions took place between Newmar, the builder of our coach, Girard, the manufacturer of our awnings and our dealer. It was agreed that Newmar would cover the expense associated with resolving the issue. Thank you Newmar. And a course of action was agreed upon by those three parties.
We only just found out the timeline yesterday.
Two weeks from today.
That is when the parts will arrive at the dealer. Assuming, of course, that they arrive on time at Newmar. Newmar is expected to receive the parts from Girard on the 20th. Newmar will then forward the shipment to the dealer.
Not sure why the parts are not coming direct from Girard to the dealer but there it is.
Two days to install if everything goes smoothly.
This brings us very close to our planned crossing of the border on November 1st.
It is also very close to the onset of winter conditions in this part of Ontario.
Temperatures should stay above freezing for the next two weeks. We could lose access to water in our coach if the temperatures go below freezing for any length of time. The campgrounds in this area close this weekend and shut off their water lines because of the potential for freezing temperatures at this time of year. We could boondock from our fresh water tank for a few days and I do have tank heaters to protect the coach from freezing temperatures but I would rather avoid all of that fun if possible.
We do have the option of going to our site in Sherkston Shores for the next ten to twelve days. We would incur a fairly hefty fuel cost to go back and forth.
We are in a meeting with the service manager later this morning to review the situation.
Not sure what to do right now.
Regardless, we are at least two more weeks before we get the issue resolved.
The weather has been swinging dramatically from unseasonably warm to unseasonably cold. And when it gets cold, the cycling goes inside.
A pain cave can be put together almost anywhere.
Our coach can be transformed into an awesome pain cave with multiple screens to help amplify the glorious pain and suffering.
Takes a bit of effort though.
The trainer that I use, a Tacx Neo, is a wee bit heavy at roughly 48 pounds. I stow the Neo in the passenger side forward bay. It is somewhat challenging to move it out of the bay and into the coach on my own. With Lorraine’s help, no trouble at all.
We spread foam mats underneath the bike to protect the tile floor and to absorb the energy being transferred to the trainer. The Neo, fortunately, is very quiet and very stable.
A few towels are spread out to catch all the sweat. Not unusual for me to drop 4 or 5 pounds of sweat in a typical 1-hour spin. Although not visible in the picture, there is a fan to push some air around to create the false impression of being cool on the bike.
The bike itself is stored in a bay that has a pullout tray. I store it with both wheels off. I bring in the front wheel and set it aside. I bring in the bike — without wheels — and attach the front wheel when I am inside the coach. Then the bike gets attached to the trainer.
I attach a sweat guard to the top of the bike. You can make it out in the photo above. It is the triangle shaped black and red material near the handlebars. Two water bottles at the ready.
I fire up Zwift on the Apple TV if I am doing a recovery spin or the Sufferfest on the MacBook Pro for some real pain and suffering. With the Sufferfest, I use AirPlay to throw the computer screen to the two front screens of the coach via Apple TV.
The Neo and my heart rate monitor connect via Bluetooth, transmitting all of the metrics of the ride to the software apps I am using (either Zwift or Sufferfest). My Garmin bike computer also tracks the ride.
The software app takes control of my smart trainer and the fun begins.
Great sound in my custom built home theatre system and the coach’s blackout system really does conjure up a cave-like experience.
Takes about 10 minutes to setup and roughly the same amount of time to tear down.
This was a video tour of my old pain cave at our former house.
Doesn’t matter where you are though. Suffering is always available.
Even in a motorcoach.
Death Valley. In California.
It was the end of February when I took this image. Not quite as hot then. But still a uniquely inhospitable place. No vegetation really. Dry, dusty although water does occasionally find its way into this area.
Being stranded in a place like this would be very challenging especially during the summer months where the temperatures can reach 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
Being stranded in our coach at a dealership near a major town is not very challenging.
We had much different plans for the Thanksgiving weekend when we first got underway a few weeks back. Those plans obviously changed.
We have family in nearby Toronto and they extended an invitation to Lorraine and myself, along with our son, to a Thanksgiving dinner at their home last night.
These are amazing people and they have played such a big role in our lives over the years and they continue to do so with our children. It was an absolute delight to get together with them and to enjoy a wonderful turkey dinner. It was wonderful to get together with our youngest son.
Important to start each day being thankful.
Thankful for faith, family and good health.