Home Again

It feels like going back in time, doesn’t it? When you return to a place that you considered your home? For many of us, there is more than one place that was a home.

When you are living in a motor coach, home is where you park it.

“I have learned that if you must leave a place that you have lived in and loved and where all your yesteryears are buried deep, leave it any way except a slow way, leave it the fastest way you can. Never turn back and never believe that an hour you remember is a better hour because it is dead. Passed years seem safe ones, vanquished ones, while the future lives in a cloud, formidable from a distance.” ― Beryl Markham, West with the Night

During our married lives, we lived in four houses. Two of them in London, Ontario. One near Toronto, Ontario and our last house in Kingston, Ontario.

This was our first house as a married couple. In London, Ontario. We started our family here and we quickly outgrew the place. It was tiny. I think we had maybe 600 square feet of living space on the top two floors plus a little room in the basement.  We lived there for a few years. Not long.

We then made a really big decision. We built our next house. Also in London. For whatever reason, I thought we would be in London for life. I had graduated from Western University in London, I had a successful career in Information Technology at one of Canada’s largest insurers, London Life, in London and we loved the city.

Whisperwood Avenue. Our forever house. Forever being 10 years.

London Life was acquired by Great West Life and we made the difficult decision to leave the city after spending almost 20 years there. At that time, I would have considered London our home.

I joined one of Canada’s largest banks, the Bank of Montreal, in Toronto. We left London. We bought a MacMansion north of the city. This one.

We lived there for 10 years. I never bonded with the place. It never felt like home. I missed London deeply during those 10 years.

Being in the Toronto area, that house is valued at far more money than anyone should ever pay for a house. But we sold it when I decided to become a Chief Information Officer for another Canadian insurance company, Empire Life.

And we moved the family to a beautiful country property on seven acres just north of Kingston, Ontario.

I loved it here. So much nicer than Toronto. Quiet. Peaceful. It always felt like coming back to a vacation retreat. London was no longer missed. In fact, I can hardly remember the years in London now.

Our kids started to leave home to make their own lives as adults during our time in Kingston. Retirement started coming up quickly. Suddenly entire areas of the house emptied. Too big a place for just the two of us. It began to feel like it was holding us captive.

We sold it and moved into our current house. This one.

We went from 7,000 square feet to 450 square feet. Talk about downsizing huh?

We are back in Kingston for the week to catch up with our oldest son and his wife.

Home again?

No.

I never confused a house with a home. Home is where my family is gathered. And home continues to be where my family gathers. It could be with my daughter and her family in their house. It could be with my youngest son in his apartment. Or with my oldest son and his wife in their house. Most of the time it is with my wonderful wife and my golden retriever in our coach.

I wondered whether I would miss Kingston the way that I had missed London back in the day. I don’t. Good to be back but our lives are in a new pattern now.

“Never believe that an hour you remember is a better hour.” The hour that you and I have right now, especially with our loved ones, is the best hour ever.

A house is just a house.

Or a coach.

Rocket Fuel

Rocket fuel. An important source of energy. Apparently not just for rockets. A critical source of energy for owners of Newmar coaches. A vital piece of information that we sadly lacked when we made our pilgrimage to the Newmar factory in Nappanee. A closely held secret, known only to a few Newmar insiders, at least until now. I am passing this along so that all of my Newmar friends don’t carry the same, deep sense of regret that Lorraine and I have experienced, learning about this fuel source after we left Nappanee.

This specific fuel source can only be found in Nappanee. Consider it an upgrade to your Newmar service visit.

We found out this secret, as is often the case, huddled around a campfire. So many secrets about the RV lifestyle are disclosed this way. It is a tradition.

Okay. Not the campfire pictured above. I took that shot a few years back. That one was a real campfire. Made from real wood. Not some artificial campfire, like a propane fire ring. I think that is cheating. Convenient though. I might get one.

Oh yes, rocket fuel, secrets, the inner workings of RV tribes, the attempt by the Newmar illuminati to suppress the newbies from learning about supercharging their Newmar factory experience.

Sorry, I became a bit distracted with the whole wood versus propane thing.

We were huddled with some friends in front of a propane fire last night trying desperately to stay warm in the near arctic temperatures of what passes for late spring in this part of Canada.

As my fingers slowly froze and the frostbite began spreading from the end of my nose to the edges of my ears, I raised a delicate subject.

Ice cream.

I determined, wisely enough, that talking about ice cream was safer than talking about whether global warming was having any impact in this part of Canada. And ice cream is cold.

And then our friends accidentally blurted out the secret. The location of the very best ice cream in the world.

Made with liquid nitrogen.

The finest source of energy for Newmar owners hanging out in Nappanee.

The Rocket Science Ice Cream shop takes a secret set of ingredients, zaps it with liquid nitrogen, and, bang, Houston, we have ice cream! The very, very best ice cream in the world.

We missed out on that experience. Do not repeat our mistake.

We also missed out on Amish Crack. Another closely held secret.

O Canada

2,812 miles over two weeks. No matter which way you look at it, that was a big drive. And we made it back to Canada safe and sound.

This was the return leg of our trip. We are currently parked at the Niagara Falls KOA with some Canadian friends we met at Myakka River Motorcoach Resort during our time in Florida.

Highlights of the trip back? There were several. We loved hiking in Sedona and wished we had more time to spend in that part of the country. Ruidoso Motorcoach Ranch was the nicest spot we stayed at throughout the travel back home. I cut a video about our stay there and the owners loved it so much that they have it featured on their home page. And Newmar Kountry. The factory service was a surprisingly wonderful experience. I’ll provide more insight into Newmar’s factory service and the plant tour in a future post.

Then the border crossing.

I’m not sure why but I do get a bit anxious about crossing the border. Obviously, as a Canadian, the government is compelled to let me return home. They can, however, make the process difficult if they so choose.

I was completely prepared for the crossing with a comprehensive inventory of all of the goods, including serial numbers and sales receipts, that we had brought with us into the United States. I also had all of the goods and sales receipts for the items that we had purchased stateside. We had discarded all of our fruits, vegetables and meats. Even the dog food.

What happened at the border?

Well, there wasn’t a line-up. We drove straight through to the customs booth.

I handed over our Nexus cards.

This was the interaction.

“How long were you away from Canada?”
“We left Canada on November 1st.”

“Anything to declare?”
“Yes. X dollars Canadian for me. Y dollars Canadian for my wife.”

“Any tobacco or alcohol?”
“No.”

He handed back our Nexus cards and said, “Have a nice day.”

That was it.

Uneventful.

Very similar story when we entered the United States. I suppose it helps to have the Nexus cards and to provide concise and truthful answers to questions.

We are back in Canada for six months now. Today’s big task is to get the medical completed for my Commercial Driver’s License. If I don’t get that done before May 1, the government of Ontario will downgrade my license. They had already downgraded Lorraine’s CDL which meant that I had to drive the 2,812 miles from California all by myself — which I would have done anyway. If my license gets downgraded, I will no longer be able to drive our coach, not legally anyway.

We will head out to a walk-in clinic, wait for a few hours, pay for the medical (yes, even in Canada, you have to pay for certain types of healthcare services) and then present the medical in person to a licensing office. I expect to spend the whole day getting this task completed.

The other big task I must do today?

I need to buy a coat.

Man is it cold up here.

Ozarks RV Resort

1,678 miles travelled since we left Desert Shores Motorcoach Resort on April 14th. Only 1,133 miles to go and then we will be setting up our coach on Canadian soil. We are currently at Ozarks RV Resort on Table Rock Lake for two nights. We have had wonderful weather all the way so far. Sunny days.

It has been a bit of a challenge staying connected online. The quality of the WiFi service at all of the parks we have visited since leaving Desert Shores has ranged from poor to really awful. I’m going to have to beef up the mobile Internet over cellular for the coach on our next trip south. Our Canadian data plan is woefully inadequate when travelling in the United States. And slow.

I had done up a video for one of the resorts and the owners wanted to use it on their website. It took over 4 hours to upload the roughly 400 MB file off my smartphone’s hotspot.

I’m doing a seminar at a motorhome show in Canada on May 4th. I use a lot of graphics when preparing presentations like this one and that takes a lot of bandwidth as I source many of the graphics online. Trying to do that work while on the road is proving to be darn near impossible.

I’m hoping that when we stop at Newmar later this week I will have access to high-speed Internet so that I can get the seminar finished up.

Lesson learned. At least I will have a few months to research options stateside before heading south again in November. I’ve been a member of the Mobile Internet Resource Center for the past couple of years. I’ll leverage their guidance in terms of a better mobile Internet infrastructure for the coach.

It has been three days since we left the beautiful Ruidoso Motorcoach Ranch in New Mexico. We sure loved that place. Definitely has earned a spot in our top ten list of the nicest parks we have visited.

From Ruidoso, we stopped at Oasis RV Resort in Amarillo, Texas, literally a parking lot for coaches on the way to somewhere else. All paved, easy access to I-40, clean, quiet, level sites. More than fine for an overnight stay. Our next stop was Mustang Run RV Park near Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Similar to Oasis RV Resort. A decent spot for an overnight stay.

Then the Ozarks Luxury RV Resort in Arkansas for a two-night stay. The drive into the resort was filled with twists and turns. At least two hours or so of pretty serious motorcoach handling on very tight country roads. At one point, we came very close to a collision with a distracted driver. I have that one on dash cam and I will post the video whenever we get to a spot with decent Internet service.

This is our spot at the park.

Most of the sites are unoccupied. Although originally started as a Class A ownership park, that development failed and Ozarks became a mixed resort with all classes of RVs. They do emphasize that they are an ownership park however you can rent here without any difficulty.

We have a wonderful view of the lake and we are enjoying some downtime on this peaceful and upscale property. One more stop before our three-day service call at Newmar. And, from there, back to Canada for six months.

Ruidoso Motorcoach Ranch

We went out of our way to stop at Ruidoso Motorcoach Ranch. And thank heavens we did. What a stunning park!

We drove from Distant Drums RV Resort, near Sedona, Arizona, to Ruidoso Motorcoach Ranch. Eleven hours behind the wheel. Plus one hour due to a time zone change.

We left at 6:00am and did not arrive to Ruidoso until roughly 6:00pm local time.

The drive into the resort is a bit challenging. You will travel along some very scenic roads on your way and you will be navigating quite a few curves and climbing quite a few mountains. Ruidoso is situated at an elevation of about 7,000 feet.

As you drive through the gates, you will see this welcome sign.

“For from Him and through Him and for Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever! Amen.” — Romans 11:36

The owners, Lisa and Jimmy, will likely be waiting for you when you register at the clubhouse.

You won’t find a swimming pool or a fitness facility here. You will, however, find an absolutely stunning location for your Class A motorcoach.

Jimmy brought us out to our site, number 16. This was our view out the window from inside our coach.

And here is our coach at site 16.

And our front patio.

Here is a shot from the back of the park looking out to the clubhouse.

I made the following video of this special and unique property. If you have a Class A motorcoach and you are wanting to spend time in New Mexico, then you must come here. Highly recommended.