Quarantine Day 9

Day 9 of our 14-day quarantine. What fun do we have in store for today? Well, we get to find out just how bad this pandemic might be. The premier of our province will be releasing the “stark” numbers and the “dire” projections at noon today:

Premier Doug Ford says he has instructed Ontario health officials to release their projection numbers on where the province is headed amid the coronavirus pandemic on Friday.

In an update, the Ontario government said modelling numbers will be released at 12 p.m. Friday by health officials. Ford will then answer questions at 1:30 p.m.

“They’re going to tell the public exactly what they’re telling me and it’s going to be very clear where we were, where we are now and where we could be if we don’t follow the chief medical officer’s protocol,” Ford said Thursday afternoon in a press conference at Queen’s Park.

I can hardly wait.

What plans do we have once our mandatory quarantine ends?

We need to relocate the coach to our seasonal site. Fortunately it is not that far away.

Unfortunately the media has been encouraging mob mentality as it relates to social distancing and non-essential travel rules. Our plan is to leave in the dark and hopefully avoid any crusaders intent on calling out people not abiding by the COVID-19 rules. Here is one example of people calling out someone in New York City fleeing the stay-at-home order in a rented RV.

We will not be fleeing a stay-at-home order. We will be relocating our coach to our seasonal site once it opens. That will not be apparent to anyone we see as we move our motorcoach. Observers will look at our coach and assume the worst. Hopefully by travelling in the dark when most everyone will be asleep, we will minimize the possibility of being captured on a smartphone as we reposition our coach.

Quarantine shaming is now a thing. From a recent Associated Press report:

Quarantine shaming — calling out those not abiding by social distancing rules — is part of a new and startling reality for Americans who must navigate a world of rapidly evolving social norms in the age of COVID-19. As schools close and shelter-in-place orders sweep across the U.S., the divide between those who are stringently practicing self-isolation and those who are still trying to go about some semblance of a normal life has never been more clear. Complicating matters: What was socially acceptable even 48 hours ago may now be taboo, as government officials race to contain the virus with ever-expanding circles of social isolation.

Between now and when we need to move, our government may invoke even more stringent restrictions on mobility.

Boondocking

We are boondocking right now. It is still winter here in southern Ontario. The temperatures are below freezing as I write this post. The water to our pedestal is not running. And we have no sewage where we are parked.

We do have 50 amp service, a mostly full tank of diesel, and we are warm and comfortable in our coach.

My plan was to install a SeeLevel tank guage while we were in Florida. That did not happen. The system that came with our Dutch Star is a joke. Even when the sensors work, which is not the case right now for two of our three tanks, they only provide a rough indication as to the levels in our tanks. Not an issue when we are connected to services but certainly an issue when we are boondocking. Even more so now.

We have managed to last five days so far. Our black tank is reading one third, our grey tank is now full and our fresh water tank is reading empty. I don’t trust any of the readings.

Visually, the fresh water tank is closer to one third than empty but that is probably to ensure that we don’t run dry. Unfortunately I do not have a line of sight to the other two tanks but I suspect that neither reading is all that accurate.

We last dealt with our tanks this past Friday. It took us roughly two hours to complete the process.

We had to drive to a building on the dealership lot with an active water line. Almost an hour to fill up the fresh water tank. We then had to move to another location to empty our black and grey tanks. We always rinse our black tank and that took a fair amount of water and a slightly different approach as the area where we dump our tanks does not have an active water line. We rinsed the black tank by flushing one of our water closets multiple times. We drained enough water out of our fresh water tank that we had to return to the active water line and top it up. Back to the site.

Today we will be spending several hours to get the coach ready for another 5-6 days of boondocking.

We need showers. We really need showers.

We need to do laundry as we are running out of clothes. And we have some dishes that we want to pass through the dishwasher. For the most part, we have been using paper plates and plastic cutlery to minimize water use.

Our dishwasher is pretty efficient. About 4 gallons to do a load. We have a high efficiency front-loading washer and it takes roughly 10 gallons or so per load. We have four loads to do today. And a 10 minute shower will use about 20 gallons per person.

Our fresh water tank holds 105 gallons, assuming that we do not trigger the overflow “feature”. A design flaw in the filling system can trigger a loss of 20-30 gallons after topping up the fresh water tank. You can read about it here and here. The overflow triggers whenever we fill the fresh water tank and, due to the bad design, it will continue to drain water until the fresh water tank levels out. We can lose almost one third of our fresh water this way. Not helpful Newmar!

I can modify the overflow system to prevent the loss. But not now. It is simply too cold to be working outside on the coach.

We will pull up the jacks and bring in the slides and move to the building with the active water line.

We will fill up the fresh water tank.

We will return to our site.

Between the showers, dishwasher and laundry, we will consume 80-90 gallons from our 105 gallon fresh water tank.

We will then pull up the jacks and bring in the slides again and go and refill the fresh water tank.

We will then head over to the dump area and dump out the tanks. We will rinse the black tank by flushing the water closet 20 times or roughly 30 gallons from the fresh water tank.

Back to the building with the active water line to top up the fresh water tank.

Back to our site.

The temperature will range from about 2 to 7 Celsius during the scope of our operation or 35 to 45 Fahrenheit. Cold.

Day 7 of mandatory quarantine.

The fun continues.

Ambassador Bridge Border Crossing

Border crossing during a global pandemic? A very different experience.

We decided to cross the border into Canada via Detroit. This was our first time crossing the Ambassador bridge in our coach. This particular border crossing is very poorly designed and challenging to navigate with a large motorhome.

When exiting from I-75 to take the Ambassador Bridge to Canada, you end up at a variety of crossroads with no signage telling you how to proceed.

Which way to the bridge? We had no idea. We made a guess and we followed some unmarked lanes with the bridge visible in the distance. The lanes do become marked with “AUTO” and an arrow painted on the road. Not all that easy to see in the dark.

If you stay in the correct lane, which is accomplished by following the left side of the off-ramp and not making any hard turns away from the road, you will eventually reach the top of the ramp. There you will find a series of very narrow lanes for collecting the bridge toll. Most of the lanes provide an unattended payment system. Designed for cars, not for motorcoaches.

Fortunately, we found a toll booth that had an attendant.

The fee to cross was $10 USD.

No choice but to take it slow. We were crossing at around 5 in the morning. Traffic was very light. I would hate to drive here in heavy traffic.

The bridge over the Detroit River was the longest suspended central span in the world when it was completed in 1929 at roughly 1,850 feet (560 m). The bridge’s total length is 7,500 feet (2,286 m). It is the busiest international border crossing in North America in terms of trade volume, carrying more than 25% of all merchandise trade between the United States and Canada. The four-lane bridge carries more than 10,000 commercial vehicles on a typical weekday.

But not the morning we went across. Traffic was almost nonexistent.

Enter the customs area and you might miss the tiny sign that points autos in one direction and trucks in another. No signs for RVs or buses.

We missed our entry lane and we managed to squeeze through some pylons to get to the customs booth.

The entrance into the customs lane is ridiculously narrow.

I had perhaps two inches of clearance on either side.

The customs officer told us the terms of entry: mandatory isolation for 14 days with the threat of a million dollar fine and three years of imprisonment.

Welcome to Canada.

I will try to avoid this border crossing in the future. Much easier to cross at Port Huron or Niagara Falls.

Here is a video of our entry into Canada. When I make reference at the end of the video to a 28-hour drive that includes the time it took for us to reach our site in Barrie. Barrie was roughly another 5 hours or so from the Ambassador Bridge border.

The Haunted Rest Stop

Somewhere along the way we decided to find a rest stop. Driving a large motorcoach for 28 hours straight does take its toll and the need for a rest stop makes itself clear. I’m sure you know what I mean.

Well past midnight, travelling on I-75 through the state of Kentucky, we started looking for a rest stop. We have two washrooms on board. We were able to avoid using any public restrooms during the marathon drive home. But we still needed to find a safe place to park the coach.

Rest stop after rest stop was the same story. Literally overtaken by a seemingly endless gathering of semi-trailers. We tried one rest stop. We did not notice the sign that flashed a warning that the rest area was closed. Truck parking only.

The experience was surreal. Did several hundred truckers abandon their rigs here? There was no sign of life. And there did not appear to be a way out.

Check out our video below for a look at a haunted rest stop.

Welcome to Canada

They told me I shouldn’t do it. They told me I couldn’t do it. And, at times, I didn’t think I would be able to do it.

Mission accomplished.

I drove our coach for 28 hours. 2,485 kilometres. 1,544 miles. From 7am on Wednesday, March 25th until 11am on Thursday, March 26th. We made three fuel stops and two washroom breaks. We did not enter any public places during our journey home. I used latex gloves to pump fuel and we used cards to process payments. I drank protein shakes and I ate energy bars to keep me going. We practiced social isolation for two weeks before returning to Canada. No symptoms. And we will be quarantined for two weeks at our current site. Hopefully no symptoms after that activity has been completed.

I maintained careful focus on operating our motorcoach during that big drive. If, at any time, I thought I would compromise our personal safety, or the safety of others on the road, I was more than prepared to pull off the road and find a spot to get some sleep.

It is a funny thing this human motivation. It can drive you from Florida to Canada.

I have several videos to share including a surreal encounter with a rest area and our crossing at the Ambassador Bridge. Whoever designed that border crossing should be fired but you will find out more once you see the video. I need a bit of time today and tomorrow to cut them and I will drop them once they are finished.

We are safe and sound in our site at the Hitch House, a large motorcoach dealership just north of Toronto. We are providing on-site security for the owners while their business is closed. In return, they are providing us a private area to park our coach and connect to services. We will be moving to our summer site once it opens in a few weeks.

I’ll share our border experience in case some of you might be wondering what it was like after the Government of Canada passed the Quarantine Act.

Most of the border interaction was what we have come to expect. A few questions about when we left, items to declare, money on hand, etc.

Then the officer read from a printed document.

“You are required by the Quarantine Act to complete a mandatory self-isolation for 14 days. Compliance with this order is subject to monitoring, verification and enforcement. If you violate this order, you will be convicted of a criminal offence, subject to a fine of up to $1 million and imprisonment up to three years. Welcome to Canada.”

With that, he provided us a printed overview of the mandatory self-isolation guidelines and sent us on our way.

Suspension of civil liberties. Government intervention at an unprecedented scale.

He did not take any specific information from us at the border. I suspect our government may already be tracking citizen movements by gathering data from our telecomm providers. While in Florida, both Lorraine and I received text messages from the Government of Canada urging us to register as travellers. They knew we were travelling and they knew that the best way to reach us was through our smartphones.

I expect to receive further texts from our government while we are in self-isolation. And probably a visit by some other officials if my smartphone dares to travel too far from our current stay-in-place location. From the CBC a couple of days back:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hasn’t ruled out using smartphone data to track whether people are complying with public health officials’ pleas for them to stay inside to curb the COVID-19 pandemic — a notion that raises some thorny ethical dilemmas regarding public health and privacy rights.

Tracking where the coronavirus will strike next, and convincing people to self-isolate and avoid gatherings, have proven challenging for public health officials around the world. That’s prompted some governments to lean on mobile data to keep tabs on infections — even to predict where the virus is heading.

“I think we recognize that in an emergency situation we need to take certain steps that wouldn’t be taken in non-emergency situations, but as far as I know that is not a situation we’re looking at right now,” he [Trudeau] said.

If you are having trouble sleeping, take a gander at the Quarantine Act. Imagine the effort it took to craft this document. Here it is: https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/q-1.1/page-1.html

We are now entering day 2 of our mandatory 14-day isolation period. So far so good. Our church is helping us with any groceries or other items we might need. My cellular network is performing flawlessly. Anywhere between 75 and 100 Mbps.

Mandatory self-isolation is a social introvert’s dream come true. I will be fine.

Lorraine and Tabby might need some help. Fortunate to have the Internet to connect us with our family and our friends.