Our motorcoach dealership, The Hitch House, was honoured by Newmar for achieving a Platinum Service Award. John Summat, Newmar’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing and Matt Utley, Newmar’s Vice President of Service Operations were both on hand for the event.
The Hitch House was kind enough to extend an invitation to Lorraine and I to join the event and we had a chance to meet and chat with both John and Matt.
It was interesting to hear their perspective on the Canadian market for Newmar. John described the past five years as soft for Newmar in Canada which would be in sharp contrast to the explosive sales results for the industry generally in the United States.
For Canadians, the combination of our devalued currency, high taxes on personal income and consumption and a smaller population all factor into the decision-making for such an expensive purchase. Sites are limited to a season which, in most parts of Canada, runs only from May to September. Although there are lots of options for camping in Canada, we do not have the same range of options that you would see in the United States. For example, I’m not aware of a single Class A resort in Canada.
I shared those perspectives with John. Not that he hadn’t reflected on those challenges for Canada but it must seem odd that in one country, sales have experienced nine years of growth and in Canada, flat.
If the Canadian government continues to mishandle economic files, I would not be surprised to see the country go into recession. Doubtful that high-end coaches will be flying off the shelves anytime soon.
Oh well. We had a chance to walk through a King Tire, a New Aire, a London Aire and a Mountain Aire. All wonderful coaches.
We even had cake.
At 11 in the morning.
Congratulations to the team at The Hitch House. They have been great to work with from our experience.
Well deserved award.
It was a dark and stormy night.
Well, perhaps not as ominous as all of that. Unless you are familiar with pain caves.
A pain cave is a place where a crazed cyclist goes to suffer. Spinning for an hour or two. Sometimes longer. With nothing but suffering.
Suffer, suffer, suffer.
I created a pain cave behind our coach.
Kinda looked like this:
I’ve been racing and riding bikes since I was 14 years old. And, closing in on 62 years old, I haven’t given up riding.
Taking the bike with us on the road wasn’t easy. That smart trainer you see in the picture, the one with the word Tacx written on it, weighs about 50 pounds. My Colnago bike, an Italian steel master built frame, is a bit heavy as road bikes go. It weighs about 19 pounds. My race bike, currently in storage, weighs just under 15 pounds.
I figure I can get to the equivalent weight of my race bike by losing 4 pounds on my body.
Finding a spot to store the bike in the basement of our coach proved challenging. We spent most of yesterday finishing our unboxing and our organizing from our big move. As part of that work we pulled everything out of basement and reorganized it.
After a lot of shuffling and debate on whether to keep our pullout tray or ditch it for more room, we were finally able to make a spot for the bike and for the trainer.
Last night I went out behind the coach and I did a few sessions on Sufferfest just to see how everything would work, moving the bike and the trainer into position and getting all of the requisite measurement systems functioning.
The Tacx gets power for the sensor data that goes to the tablet from the energy I provide when spinning. The coloured lights that you see under the pedals indicate workload. The bright reddish purple colour in the second photo indicates a lot of load for the rider.
The tablet reads the sensor data from the Tacx smart trainer and translates that data into metrics: speed, cadence, heart rate, power amongst many other data points. And, because it is a smart trainer, the software on the tablet controls the resistance to the rider. When the software calls for a hard effort, the smart trainer complies. This is known as ERG (ergometer) mode. The resistance of the trainer is controlled by the software, not by the rider.
I prefer to call it ARGH mode. It can really hurt.
Anyway. Proof that you can take a road bike with you in your motorcoach and you can train outside without needing to plug into electricity or the Internet. In my case, the Sufferfest training videos had already been downloaded to my tablet and my wattage provided the requisite electricity for the trainer. When I finished the ride, I connected back to the Internet and uploaded my ride data to Strava and Training Peaks.
If a ride doesn’t get up to Strava, it never happened.
What a day!
We’ve been at it since 6am and we are calling it a night.
Here is what the move looked like after we had everything packed up and ready to go.
22 boxes. Computers, consoles, guitars, pedals, cameras, a bike and a bike trainer were also part of the move.
When I looked at all of the stuff we were taking with us, I did not think it would all fit.
We had rented a 10-foot box truck to do the move from Kingston to our coach — the coach was being serviced in Barrie, Ontario and we decided to make the move happen there as it was a bit more convenient.
Once the truck was packed, this is what it looked like:
Does not seem like very much stuff at all once everything was in the truck. That stuff should easily fit into a 40-foot coach.
There was enough stuff to keep us busy unboxing and organizing for the past five hours. And we are about halfway done.
I have the truck for another day so we will be using tomorrow to get our basement bays organized and complete the rest of the unboxing and organizing then.
I will definitely sleep well tonight.
Sticks and bricks (house)? Gone for the time being.
Part-time or full-time in the motorcoach? Full-time for the next while. Possibly for the next two years. And we’ll see how much fun we are having. The nice thing about being retired is that we can always change our mind.
Moving day into our coach? Tomorrow.
Packing? Yes. For the past few days. Almost done.
We have been putting items into our storage unit in preparation for moving into our coach tomorrow. The picture above looks like there are not that many items in the unit.
That’s the cool thing about horizontal crops.
The vertical crop below shows a few more odds and ends. I am still staggered by how much stuff we had accumulated over the past forty years. We went from roughly 7,000 square feet of stuff in a house to a 50 square foot storage unit and to a roughly 400 square foot motorcoach.
Much smaller footprint on life. Less stuff overall but after packing for the past few days, a surprisingly large amount of stuff is coming with us.
Hope it all fits in the coach.
We love visiting Upper Canada Village. And, since we likely won’t be back to this area for some time, we decided to make the trip after getting our Nexus records updated at the enrolment centre in Lansdowne, Ontario. Upper Canada Village, located near Morrisburg, Ontario, is a walk back in time to a simpler life in the 19th century. All of the villagers generally stay in character and the overall experience is well worth the visit if you are in this part of Canada.
The shot above was taken at the cabinet maker’s shop where this apprentice was busily shaping dowels for chairs. Difficult exposure with the low interior light, bright outdoor light from the sun and the apprentice moving quickly.
How did it go for us updating our Nexus records?
We had a few surprises although at the end of it all, everything was fine.
The first surprise was the wait. We did not have one. We were the only ones there aside from one Canadian customs officer and one American customs officer.
I explained to the Canadian customs officer that I was there to update my change of employment. And it turned out that there were numerous changes that had not been reflected in both of our memberships, which, as the customs officer sternly reminded me, could have been grounds to cancel the card.
We had renewed our passports in 2017. Canadian passports expire every few years although now we can renew up to 10 years which is what we had done. However, that passport information was not updated in the Nexus records. I thought we had renewed an existing passport. The government views any renewal as a brand new passport.
When we sold our house, we had updated our Nexus records. According to Canada and US customs, only the mailing address had been updated.
Finally, our telephone numbers. When we sold our house back in July of 2017, we cancelled our landline. We only use our mobile phones and we have no need for a landline. Our Nexus records showed only our landline number.
Thankfully we were able to get all of our records updated quickly and without any issues. We were told that we could make all of these changes on the Trusted Traveler Program website without coming into an enrolment centre.
Except we couldn’t.
I did not want to complicate things by asking the customs officers if they had ever tried to use the website.
Best to leave well enough alone.
We are now almost all set to make the border crossing in about six weeks time.
There is a fair amount of documentation that I will be bringing along with me in case it might be needed. I will create a post about the information that both governments expect you to carry when crossing the border. Some of it was surprising to me.
Nexus cards help to speed up the process of travel, particularly air travel.
For a Canadian, the Nexus card provides pre-clearance for customs and can act as a proxy for a passport although we still carry passports with us when we travel.
To keep the Nexus card in good standing, a Nexus member is required to inform of any changes to status such as a change of address or a change of employment. Failure to inform Nexus of a change to status may result in the loss of the Nexus membership.
My address and employment status has changed. And it was remarkably difficult to update my Nexus records. I now have to make a special trip to the enrolment centre to inform them of my change of employment status as there is no mechanism on their new website to enter this change online.
Prior to October of 2017, Nexus members would use the Global Online Enrolment System (GOES) to update their information.
I had no idea that GOES had closed down.
There is now a Trusted Traveller Program in its place. I had to create a new account and migrate my data from the old GOES website.
Whoever designed the Trusted Traveller Program website accomplished their mission of making it singularly user-unfriendly. No migration wizard to be found. Rather, a maze of disconnected and rather unhelpful content seemingly engineered to make the whole process as difficult as possible.
I was able to migrate my GOES account over to the TTP account but I could only update two pieces of information: driver’s license and address.
Nowhere to be seen was a place to update employment status.
We head out tomorrow morning to queue up at the enrolment centre to let them know that I have now retired. Technically my official retirement date is October 1st as I had a number of vacation days that I was able to use over the past two months.
We don’t want to lose our Trusted Traveller status particularly as we will be spending our winters south in the United States. Crossing a land border with an RV does not allow you to use the Nexus lines. Those lines are for cars only. Presenting a Nexus card does help even at the regular customs lanes. A customs officer will see all of the relevant data which helps the officer determine the risk level of the traveller in question.
Which, for Lorraine and myself, should continue to be low as members of the Trusted Travellers Program.
We have firmed up our travel plans for our trip south. It begins with the leg from Canada down to Florida.
We are moving down the eastern U.S. at a fairly good clip largely because of weather. We leave Canada on November 1st and we are taking six days to do the drive.
We will be staying at the following properties on our way down:
1. Our starting point.
2. Sherkston Shores RV Resort in Ontario, Canada for 5 weeks.
3. Stonewall Resort in West Virginia for one night
4. Mountain Falls Motorcoach Resort in North Carolina for two nights.
5. Hilton Head Island Motorcoach Resort in South Carolina for two nights.
We will have a pretty long drive to get us over to California. We will take 11 days to make this crossing.
We will be staying at the following properties on the drive west.
1. Our starting point at Everglades Isle Motorcoach Resort.
2. Bay Lake RV Resort in Florida for one night.
3. Carrabelle Beach RV Resort in Florida for one night.
4. Heritage Motorcoach Resort in Alabama for two nights.
5. Rayford Crossing RV Resort in Texas for two nights.
6. Alsatian RV Resort in Texas for one night.
7. Maverick Ranch RV Park in Texas for one night.
8. Hacienda RV Resort in New Mexico for one night.
9. The Motorcoach Resort in Arizona for two nights
And then we stay at Desert Shores Motorcoach Resort for two months.
We originally planned to take a different route back to Canada but we will run out of time. We need to be back across the border before the 180 day limit. This is our planned route.
- Our starting point from Desert Shores in California.
- Eagle View RV Resort in Arizona for one night.
- Route 66 RV Resort in New Mexico for two nights.
- Oasis RV Resort in Texas for one night.
- Twin Fountains RV Resort in Oklahoma for one night.
- Ozark RV Resort in Arkansas for two nights.
- Sundermeiner RV Park in Missouri for one night.
- Elkhart Campground in Indiana for one night (not at the location shown on this map).
We were a bit stuck after stop 7 because of parks still being closed for the winter — even though we will be travelling through this area late April.
After our layover in Indiana, we will drive straight through to Toronto. It is roughly a 7 hour drive from Elkhart.
All in all, we have the southern leg pretty much all mapped out and confirmed.
This was basically it. Two days before my last day in the office. This was the day of my corporate retirement reception. Lorraine and Tabby walked me to the office and, to my surprise, someone with a camera took photos of the day.
I received a beautiful photo book today. I’ll share a few of the images here.
The event started with speeches. Really, really nice speeches.
What was I thinking about right at this moment? I’m at the wrong event. They must be talking about someone else!
I gave a speech as well. It was a tough one to write. I posted the speech over here.
It was also tough to deliver. So many emotions during this event. I managed to hold it together.
But there was a reward at the end of all the speeches.
And more cake.
You might notice a picture of our coach on the second cake. Somebody found it over here. The inscription reads:
Retirement is not the end of the road… it is the beginning of the open highway.
A final goodbye to my office.
Many, many fond memories from my years with the team at this company.
Since that event back in July, I’ve had a number of colleagues ask me what retirement is like.
I’ve told them that retirement feels a lot like summer vacation did when I was a kid.
So much freedom.
In less than two weeks, Lorraine and I will finally be out on the road in our coach.
So looking forward to this next chapter of our lives.