Moving Day

We move tomorrow. Even though our house is on wheels there is still a fair amount of work to get ready to go. Certainly not as involved as moving from one house to another. But not as simple as just turning the key and hitting the open road. Even less so when you have been planted for almost six months.

Let’s call it the creeping root syndrome. Because we were in one place for the past six months, we began to plant. We were able to spend time with family. We became very involved in our church. We made many new friends and really connected with our community. We even bought a complete outdoor sitting area for our site.

In a surprising way, it makes this moving day somewhat bittersweet. I am sad to go.

Winding up in Florida and bypassing the harsh and bitter cold of a Canadian winter is not a hardship. This is our site in Florida.

We are connected to the community down in Florida as well with family, friends and church. It’s hard to explain but there is a bit of a split life between living in Canada for six months and living in the United States for six months. There is an adjustment that takes place when you are saying good-bye to one place and hello to another.

Perhaps some of you can relate.

Almost ready to go.

We had to pack up the outdoor furnishings on our site. Because we are returning here next May, we can leave all of our outdoor furnishings on the site. To prepare them for the winter months, we needed to remove all of the soft material — cushions, umbrella, decorative elements — and put those items into storage. We needed to bring all of the furniture into a corner of the site, cover it with a large tarp and shrink wrap the contents to protect them from the elements.

There were numerous tasks to get the coach ready to move. Backwashing and regenerating the portable water softener before capping the inlets and the outlets. Now safely stored in a basement bay, ready for transport. Checking inflation. Inspecting all of the various systems of the coach. Re-organizing the basement bays for transport. Re-organizing the coach interior storage areas for transport. Updating the GPS system. Charging the tire pressure management system. Performing maintenance on the tow bar and car guard system.

You get the idea. Lots of things we had to do before embarking on a major trip with our motorhome.

The only system failure was yet another Oasis pump failure. I am really ticked off with the folks at ITR. They have wonderful people on the support desk but, in my view, they supplied defective pumps in their product and, rather than making it right, they let their units fail and they let their customers bear the cost and the inconvenience of resolving the issue.

We have three pumps in our Oasis system. Two of the three have been replaced. A few nights back, the temperatures dipped well below freezing. Our heat pumps cannot produce heat when the air gets that cold. The third pump failed when we called for the coach to provide hydronic heat. Fortunately it only impacted one zone in our coach. And fortunately we have in-floor radiant heat. We could get by.

But I am not changing out the pump here in Canada. I’ll wait until we get stateside and do it then. I’d rather do that job where it is warm.

The forecast for the rest of the month we are in Canada is looking fine. No sub-zero temperatures in the forecast.

The jacks go up tomorrow morning. By the afternoon we will be setting up camp near the border. We will cross into the United States on November 1st.

One RV and Home Free

Home is where we park it. We have been full-timing in our coach for just over a year now. I’ve been asked to do another seminar on the RV Lifestyle for my friends at the Hitch House, a large motorhome dealer in the Toronto area, at the end of October. And I thought it would be helpful to share our experience in making the transition from living the sticks-and-bricks lifestyle to living the RV lifestyle.

With so many irons in the fire right now, getting this seminar prepared for delivery is going to be a bit challenging. I used to do many keynote presentations during my corporate career and, unlike many, I always enjoyed public speaking. However, I knew that it would often take a day or two of focused effort to prepare for a one-hour session. I’m going to have to squeeze that time from somewhere over the next week. Wish me luck.

We encounter very few Canadians that live full-time in a motorcoach. It is far more common to see that lifestyle in the United States. I suspect part of that is due to our cold weather climate, part of that is due to the lack of available sites in Canada especially between October and May (most shut down) and part of that is due to cost considerations.

Many Canadians are apprehensive about being in the United States for an extended period of time due to healthcare concerns or perceptions  about the culture. Many Canadians are content to spend their retirement years on the front porch. The RV lifestyle is certainly not for everyone.

We have thoroughly enjoyed our time in our coach and I hope that we have many more years to live this way. Eventually we will come off the road and home will be wherever we find a spot.

Time and health matter far more to us than a house at this stage of our lives.

Canadian RV Sales Dip

Sales are not great this year. That was the verdict I received when I spoke with one of Canada’s largest RV dealers this week. This, from Statistical Surveys Inc, paints a bit of a troubling picture for the Canadian RV industry:

  • Travel trailer sales fell 13% year-over-year through August.
  • Canadian fifth-wheel sales were down 20.1% for the eight months.
  • Folding camping trailer registrations declined 17.3% through August.
  • Park model RV sales rose 8.1% for the first eight months on low volume.

This is how the segments broke out for Canada:

  • Thor Industries Inc. was the overall Canadian towable sales leader through August with a 50.4% market share, ahead of Forest River Inc. (36.7%) and Grand Design RV Co. (6.6%).
  • Thor was the leader in travel trailer sales for the eight months, claiming a 51.8% market share, followed by Forest River (36.6%) and Grand Design (4.8%).
  • Thor also led Canadian fifth-wheel sales, capturing a 51% market share, followed by Forest River (27.6%) and Grand Design (18.1%).
  • Forest River led Canadian folding camping trailer sales through August with an 84.8% market share while Thor posted a 9.8% share.
  • Woodland Park topped the park model RV segment with a 45% market share followed by Cavco Industries (27.5%) and Forest River (20%).

I do not have the Canadian numbers for other types of RV shipments. The overall RV industry in North America is down this year and I would expect that the Canadian numbers would be similar if not worse.

Year-to-date sales of Class A motorhomes are down 26.5% from last year.

If Canadians elect a Liberal government, or put in place a Liberal minority government backed by the NDP and/or Green, the Canadian landscape would move even further left and that would certainly have a negative impact on the Canadian RV market.

Consider the new luxury tax that the Liberal government will impose if they are re-elected:

One interesting piece of confetti is the concept of a “luxury goods sales tax” being introduced to help offset some of the new spending in the Liberal platform. The psychological messaging here could hardly be plainer. This is not the grandiose and dubiously practical “super wealth tax” that the New Democrats want to introduce. On inspection, the tax doesn’t turn out to apply to most of what we would call “luxury goods” at all; the Liberals would rather die in a ditch than target $1,800-handbags or anything an interior decorator might hornswoggle you into buying.

It’s 10 per cent on automobiles, boats and planes for noncommercial use, if valued at $100,000-plus. In a word, toys.

I can think of one important exception to that last sentence: many retirees with empty nests spend $100,000-plus on a motor coach or RV to engage in dreams of continental travel while their health still allows for it. This tax will be a little bit tough on them. Anyone who has saved for such a vehicle and has been on the verge of buying it may have to adjust — or race to beat the tax if Liberal victory seems likely.

From what I can tell, there has not been a last minute surge in the sales of expensive RVs. And I think I know why. Many Canadians are unaware of this particular tax. When political parties in Canada talk about taxing the rich, or imposing a luxury tax, most Canadians believe that the politicians are going to be taxing someone else.

5th Wheel Or Class A?

It was always Class A. Whenever we talked about our plans to live in an RV during the early part of our retirement, it was always focused on a Class A motorhome. We did look at a few travel trailers, like the Airstream, and a few fifth wheels, but never considered them seriously.

Downsizing does take place within the RV community. More of it than what I thought would be the case. And switching also takes place within the RV community. People switching between the various classes of motorhomes, 5th wheels and travel trailers.

One couple we follow online, Dave and Diane, recently made the switch from a large Class A motorhome to a premium 5th wheel. Dave has a lengthy post describing, quite fairly in my opinion, the pros and cons between the two:

As those of you that follow our blog know, after over 6 years full-timing in 2 different Class A motorhomes we decided to switch to a New Horizon 5th wheel.

With that in mind I started thinking about how many times I see people asking on different forums “which is better for the full-time lifestyle, a Class A or 5th wheel” and how many times the people answering that question have only owned and actually lived in one or the other and can’t possible give a well-rounded answer.

When we are at the Florida RV Supershow in January, I plan to spend more time looking at the various 5th wheel manufacturers.

Would we ever want to live full-time in a 5th wheel or a travel trailer for that matter?

It just doesn’t have the same appeal as a Class A motorhome.

However, if we see a radical shift in the pricing and availability of fossil fuel, we might not have a choice in the not too distant future. I have yet to see any Class A motorhome companies planning, or even discussing, their transition to a greener energy source.

Testing, Testing

Never enjoyed them. Tests, especially multiple choice tests. You know going into a multiple choice test that for every question the correct answer is literally right in front of you. You just have to find it.

Here is an example:

Which of these offences will result in a licence suspension of one year?
A. Committing a shoplifting offence with a blood-alcohol concentration of more than 0.8
B. Being in control of a boat with a blood-alcohol concentration of more than 0.8
C. Walking on the street with a blood-alcohol concentration of more than 0.8
D. Riding on a train with a blood-alcohol concentration of more than 0.8

The correct answer?

B. Being in control of a boat with a blood-alcohol concentration of more than 0.8.

I know, I know. Right about now you are asking yourself, what, pray tell, does this have to do with the RV lifestyle?

If you operate a Class A Diesel Pusher in Ontario, it has everything to do with the RV lifestyle. This question is one of hundreds that you might find on the Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) written test which you must pass to drive, or to continue driving, your motorcoach.

My CDL is up for renewal in March of 2020. I have to retake all of the written tests for my Class D and my Z (air brake endorsement) as part of the renewal process. That test must be done in person in Ontario. Since I will be in Florida in March of 2020, I have to take those tests before I leave Canada.

Oh the joys of living in an over-regulated province.

Why is it that a retired senior, driving a motor coach perhaps 5,000 to 10,000 miles a year, is subject to the same requirements as a truck driver hauling commercial goods on a daily basis? There really should be some form of a restricted license that is specific to the requirements related to safely operating a diesel pusher.

But no.

You have to ingest all sorts of minutiae to answer questions like this one:

For maximum fuel efficiency, when driving at high speed you should…?
A. Open your right-hand window
B. Use your air-conditioning
C. Open both windows
D. Open your left hand window

The correct answer is B. Although one could debate whether maximum fuel efficiency is ever achieved when driving at an undefined “high speed”. Not up for debate? You would be cooler when driving quickly in your motorcoach with the air conditioning turned on.

The laws in Ontario were changed in July of 2018 (I have highlighted the section that applies to me):

When your licence is due for renewal, you will get a renewal application form either via e-mail or mail. Drivers under the age of 80 with class A, B, C, E or F and drivers over the age of 65 with a class D licence must pass a vision and knowledge test in order to renew their licence usually every five years.

Effective July 1, 2018, requirements for class D drivers under the age of 65 have changed. Drivers under age 65 will be required to pass a vision test and knowledge test in order to renew their licence.

Drivers aged 65 to 79 with class A, B, C, D, E or F licences are required to pass a vision, knowledge and road test in the event of an at-fault collision or the accumulation of three or more demerit points. For those commercial drivers with an air brake endorsement, the written air brake test has been aligned with the written knowledge test cycle, and the practical air brake test is only required when a road test is triggered. Drivers 80 and over with Class A, B, C, D, E or F licences are required to pass a vision, knowledge and road test prior to renewing their licence.

Commercial-class licence holders, depending on their age, are required to periodically submit a satisfactory medical report to maintain their commercial licence, or otherwise be downgraded to a Class G licence (refer to Medical Reporting). Effective July 1, 2018 class D drivers will also be required to periodically submit and pass a medical report to maintain their class D licence, or otherwise be downgraded to a class G licence.

If any tests are required, you must attend a DriveTest Centre to complete the tests and renew your licence. If no tests are required, you must renew your licence in person at any ServiceOntario centre. Take the form into any ServiceOntario centre in the province. They are all equipped to take photographs. You will be asked to sign the form, show identification, pay a fee and have your photograph taken. You will get a temporary licence on the spot if your application and documents are in order, and your permanent one will be mailed to you. You must carry it with you whenever you drive, and produce it when a police officer requests it.

If you do not get a renewal application form in the mail when your licence is due for renewal, call the Ministry of Transportation. You are responsible for making sure you have a valid driver’s licence.

If your licence has been suspended, cancelled or expired for more than three years, you will be required to re-apply for a licence in Ontario and meet all the requirements of graduated licensing, including passing all the required tests. Only then will you be eligible to re-apply for any commercial-class licences.

I have three weeks remaining before we leave the province. Aside from everything else on the go, this one is a bit of a pain to fit in as it will take a fair amount of time to read through all of the material, run through several dozen practice tests online and then spend the better part of a day in a crowded DriveTest Centre to complete the tests and renew the licence.