Polar Vortex

Arctic air. Something to look forward to over the next few weeks. Despite significant snowfall in December, the weather has been relatively mild for a Canadian winter with temperatures hovering around the 0 Celsius mark. That would be in the 30s for my American friends.

Yes. Canadians have a different scale when describing mild weather. Using the Fahrenheit scale, temperatures in the 30s and 40s would be mild, 50s and 60s would be pleasant, 70s would be warm. 80s would be a heat wave.

We haven’t seen the lake freeze over as yet although I suspect that it will happen soon.

This morning I woke up to see a hint of ice beginning to form on the surface of the water.

A bit of a different view from last year at this time. This was from the front of our motorcoach in Florida.

No idea where we might be next year at this time. Part of the adventure I suppose.

Certainly thinking about other options now. Pretty much had enough of needing to worry about where we might be able to park our coach — aside from putting it into storage for months on end.

More Lockdowns, More Restrictions

Yesterday was not a great day. I received an update from the Canadian Snowbirds Association which included the following statement:

Earlier this month, Canada and the United States agreed to extend the restriction on non-essential travel at the land border until at least January 21, 2021. With case counts growing in both jurisdictions, it is expected that this closure will extend well beyond January of next year.

Quite the shock.

I expect the border will remain closed for at least another year.

As a consequence, we confirmed our intent to return to our leased house again in October of this year. It seems highly unlikely that we will be back south until possibly the fall of 2022, almost two years from now.

I would never have imagined, back in March of last year, that we would be prevented from returning to the United States in our motorcoach for what looks to be almost three years.

And now, further restrictions are looming. We are already in a lockdown in Ontario. The government has told us that we cannot have friends or family into our homes. We cannot eat out at restaurants. We should not be travelling. The list of restrictions is lengthy and I suspect things might well become worse over the next few weeks.

Could we have curfews?

Our provincial government has back-flipped on the potential for curfews. It all depends now on how the numbers go in Ontario.

Imposing more severe restrictions is likely due to the measures that our next-door province, Quebec, is set to announce later today.

Here is a perspective on the Quebec situation from a visibly angry Montreal lawyer.

I sense he is just as frustrated as I am. And I fear that we will soon be in a similar situation in Ontario. A never-ending series of lockdowns and restrictions.

Thankful that we have a beautiful house for the winter. Uncertain as to our retirement plans over the next few years. It looks as though we may continue to be in some form of house arrest in Ontario for a considerable period of time.

No Snow(birds)

Our wings are clipped this winter. No longer snowbirds, we brace ourselves for the inevitable.

The warning signs are everywhere.

A few days back, our snow removal service put these four foot high stakes in the ground around our driveway.

That can’t be a good thing. Four feet? Will we really get that much snow?

December can be a cruel month in Canada. I took the above photo just before the big snowstorm arrived in our area last night. We have a severe weather alert today because of the volume of snow that is expected to fall.

Just how cold can it get here in our part of Canada?

Well, let’s take a little trip down memory lane.

In December of 2017, before I had retired, we were colder than the North Pole. Bitterly cold. For most of the winter that year.

Never be cold again. It was on our bucket list for retirement. We did not want to experience that kind of harsh, cold weather ever again. We found it much harder to deal with as we got older. Our dream? To become snowbirds and to travel south in our motorcoach during the winter months.

We were able to do that for two years. Never in my wildest imagination did I envision a scenario where we would be grounded by government decree.

COVID overturned it all.

Our coach now sitting in storage. Our travel plans scuttled. Our snowbird wings clipped.

Winter is coming.

Snow?

I can handle the snow. It’s kind of fun to be in a winter wonderland filled with the covering of a fresh snowfall.

Cold?

I can handle some cold. Above freezing is manageable.

The bitter freezing temperatures? Where frostbite on exposed skin can happen in a matter of minutes?

Yes. I would definitely prefer to avoid that kind of weather.

And it’s coming.

Soon.

Status Update

How are we doing? It is a question we have been asking ourselves many times since our lives and our retirement plans were dramatically turned upside down with the pandemic.

The anxiety of not knowing where we would be able to park our coach — or if we would even be able to continue living in our coach — brought me very close to selling the bus and getting back into a house. Even with the absolutely insane price of housing in this part of the world.

When we returned to Canada from Florida back in March, we had no place to stay. The dealership where we purchased our coach graciously offered us a spot on their property to sit out our quarantine. The lockdowns at the time included the park where we had a seasonal site. Our site was closed down. We literally had no idea where we would be staying over the summer months.

After some lobbying at the provincial level, exemptions were made for snowbirds to return to their seasonal sites.

Suddenly we had a place to stay for a few months.

But would the border to the United States reopen to allow us to travel to our site in Florida for the winter?

That was constantly on the back of my mind. What would we do if that border remain closed? Where would we live?

The border, much to my surprise, has remained closed since March. It will likely remain closed for quite some time to come.

We got lucky though.

We found a beautiful house by the lake for the winter. Expensive mind you. Thankfully we have the financial resources to absorb the cost.

And we now have some stability. We are here until the third week of May. We will then move back into our coach. We will also rebook our lakeside house for the fall of 2021.

Why?

Because I have no idea when the border will reopen.

Canadians learned yesterday that our government officials negotiated vaccine contracts on a “back-of-the-line” basis.

Canadians will get COVID-19 vaccines later than people in other countries because of a lack of domestic vaccine manufacturing capacity, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday.

As a country, we outsourced most of our manufacturing to places like China. And that included outsourcing pharmaceutical production. We will have to wait for other countries to vaccinate their citizens before we can begin to vaccinate our own citizens. I strongly suspect that the border will remain closed until widespread vaccination has taken place. Either that or the border will require proof of vaccination to cross. As far as I can tell, we still have at least another year of public health restrictions.

We may see yet a second winter in Canada in 2021.

Needless to say we are thinking about our options. The RV lifestyle is wonderful and we have thoroughly enjoyed it however being locked down in Canada makes the lifestyle untenable in the winter.

I need to be patient I suppose. Perhaps next year things will be different and life gets back to normal. We may be able to rejoin our family and friends down in Florida for the winter. And hopefully we can resume travelling about the country in our motorcoach.

To our friends, we are safe and we are healthy. We love the house and the property and we are very content to be here. In a way, it is like being on a luxury vacation. Mind you, with a lot of snow, ice and freezing temperatures.

Our youngest son has opted to spend the winter with us. His college classes are all virtual and he can easily maintain his studies from the house. So happy to have him home.

I am knee deep in audio engineering, mixing and production. I am doing more playing and recording now than I ever have. All because of the pandemic. Everything that used to be done live is now being pre-recorded. I love the craft and I love being this engaged with music. But it sure is keeping me busy.

Lorraine is far more balanced and positive about all of this drama in our lives. Except for the pandemic restrictions. She is not too happy about those.

All in all, we are blessed and thankful.

I’ll continue to post here about the RV industry and the RV lifestyle in general as I normally do. And I will chime in from time to time about how we are doing in the Great White North.

Moving Day

Up at 5am. Packing boxes. It is amazing how much stuff we crammed into roughly 500 square feet of living space.

We have filled 20 or so U-Haul boxes and we might have another 3 or 4 to pack.

Doesn’t include three guitars, audio console and monitors, all the computers and related technology, all the cameras, bike, golf clubs, books and whatever else we decide to take with us from the coach for the next six months.

We will leave very little behind in the coach. Ladders, tow bar, air compressor, kitchenware and perhaps a few other odds and ends. All the furniture and appliances will remain.

Soon the coach will be empty. And soon it will be left alone to face the harsh winter of Canada.

We will be heading out to the house in another few hours with one load of boxes. It will probably take 6 or 7 trips from the coach to the house to finish the move and that will be done this evening and tomorrow.

Friday the coach will be thoroughly cleaned and then off to the dealership.

The coach has been our home for the past two years. The government has caused us significant stress as full-timer RVers ultimately forcing us to change our lifestyle and to leave our home on wheels. All to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

We have complied with the COVID-19 rules, regulations and recommendations from our government and we will continue to do so.

But I’m not happy about it.