House Arrest

Stay-at-home orders were announced in Ontario yesterday. They will take effect after midnight tonight. Stay-at-home sounds better than curfew or house arrest although it is hard to see much of a difference. Our government has declared that leaving our home is now against the law and punishable by fines and detention.

There are a few exceptions. We can leave our homes for “essential” reasons only: shopping for groceries, going to work if deemed an essential employee, accessing health care and exercise.

As of tomorrow, police and bylaw enforcement officers will have the power to enforce the stay-at-home order.

The order will be in effect for at least a month. Given that we have been operating under one set of restrictions or another since last March, I doubt that the order will be rescinded any time soon. We are likely in this mess for at least another few months.

The Canada/US Border will remain closed to non-essential travel for another month. That was also announced yesterday however it did not make the front page. Most Canadians expect the border to remain closed until the pandemic is over.

And when might that be?

There are many opinions on when the pandemic will end. McKinsey & Company defined the end of the pandemic as the point at which significant and ongoing public-health measures are no longer required to prevent future spikes in disease and mortality.

Their best guess is late 2021 to achieve herd immunity.

Will our border open up before then? Highly unlikely.

Will we be freed from house arrest before then? I certainly hope so.

Will things get back to normal quickly? Doubtful.

A perspective from Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Medical Officer:

We will book our site at Myakka for the fall. I know, I know. Likely wishful thinking on my part. But it gives us a bit of hope that we may one day resume our travels south. We have a fallback here in Ontario in the event that the border remains closed. The possibility of a second winter in Ontario remains very high in my opinion.

Getting through the next few months may prove challenging. Canada can be a tough country in the winter time. Little in the way of sunlight. Very short days. Long nights. Cold temperatures. Being under house arrest will not do much to improve the mood.

RV Love or Hate?

We’re done RVing. No, not us. At least not yet. The pandemic forced us to hang up the keys for a season. For how long? It seems likely now that the pandemic is going to last for years. Not weeks. Not months. But years.

If that turns out to be the case then I really don’t see much point in keeping a beautiful coach locked up for half the year. With our style of RVing, Canada does not offer much in the way of Class A motorcoach resorts. I haven’t found one in our country.

Where we park our coach in Ontario is the nicest RV campground we have been able to find but it really does not compare to any of the Class A motorcoach resorts we have enjoyed in the United States.

We embraced this lifestyle so that we could travel both sides of the border without having to maintain two properties. Who knew that a pandemic would change all that?

In our province, we are locked down until the end of January. Health officials are gasping at the increase in case counts and debating new restrictions for the population. What more could they restrict?

The list of what is restricted now is so extensive that I can’t really imagine what else could be imposed. If you are curious to know all that we cannot do, the complete list is here.

Vaccines? Perhaps they might help. Right now Canada has vaccinated roughly 50,000 people. At the current pace it will take about 70 years to vaccinate the population. I expect the pace of government will improve somewhat.

The Ontario government is suggesting by fourth quarter of 2021 that roughly 8 million people in Ontario will get jabbed. Not sure if that will be one or two jabs as the individual leading the vaccination charge is already pondering whether the vaccine manufacturers can deploy a single dose vaccine. The current ones require a couple of pokes.

What if a couple of pokes in enough arms doesn’t end the pandemic? What if COVID has staying power for years to come?

This from the World Health Organization’s chief scientist, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan:

I don’t believe we have the evidence on any of the vaccines to be confident that it’s going to prevent people from actually getting the infection and therefore being able to pass it on so I think we need to assume that people who have been vaccinated also need to take the same [public health] precautions.

I’m not optimistic about life getting back to normal any time soon.

In my social media feed, I received this news from Marc and Julie Bennett from RV Love. I had followed them for quite some time before they decided to use their social media activities for profit.

I have nothing against people that decide to monetize their websites or their YouTube videos. Selling stuff to other people happens to everyone all the time. I sold my labour and my time for decades before retirement.

I just didn’t like the direction they took once they started making money from their followers.

They have now abandoned the full-time RV lifestyle. They bought a house. Here is what they had to say:

Many RVers are making changes right now. This news may not even be that surprising to you. After all, many of our fellow full time RVers have also either shifted to part time travel, decided to take a season off and pause their full time RV life, and some have hung up the keys on RV life altogether… we’re not saying we are stopping full time RVing for good! We’re just putting it on hold for the time being. We’ll wait for the world to settle down a bit, which will also give us time to reassess what’s next in our RV and travel adventures.

We are in a similar spot right now. Debating what makes sense for our future. We were forced to put full-time RVing on hold. We are back in a house for the winter.

Like Marc and Julie, we’ll wait for the world to settle down a bit. We really have no choice.

That wait might take a few years.

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.

Myakka River Motorcoach Resort Site 90

Our home away from home. Until COVID came along. And then we were forced to seek out alternative living arrangements for the winter. Depending on the course of this pandemic, we might be forced to seek out alternative living arrangements again next winter.

We have a beautiful waterfront house to enjoy until the spring. November ushered in summer-like conditions. Last week, we had temperatures in the 20s — in the 70s Fahrenheit for my American friends.

The view from our back deck:

Then winter decided to show up yesterday.

The temperatures plummeted to -5 Celsius or in the low 20s Fahrenheit.

Yet it was a beautiful morning when I took that photo. I decided to step outside and take it all in.

Yikes.

Frozen.

In just a few seconds I raced back into the warm house.

I miss Myakka. I miss the sun. The palm trees. The warm weather.

This year I missed the two hurricanes that hit our area in Florida, Eta and Iota. Literally missed them. I was up north enjoying the unseasonably warm weather in Ontario. I hope all of our friends at Myakka made it through those two storms safely.

Yesterday we received a package from one of our friends at Myakka. It included this note:

Richard and Lorraine,

We hope this finds you well. We know you’re unable to travel south this year but wanted to give you a little something that will remind you of Myakka and are able to take it with you wherever your travels may take you.

Take care. God bless. We miss you both and Tabby too.

Rick and Marsha. Izzie too!

Here is a picture of that little something on my desk just to the side of a Canadian coaster:

What a wonderful and thoughtful gift!

At the entrance to each site in Myakka, there is a light and a marker. Shaped just like the carving above.

Site 90.

Our home away from home.

Sigh.

I really do miss Myakka.

And I really do miss all of our amazing friends at Myakka.

It’s Not A Loophole

If you repeat it, if you say it louder, if that is your talking point, people will totally believe it. This was a quote from one of Canada’s cabinet ministers in our federal government. If you repeat it, people will totally believe it.

From the Toronto Star: Canadian snowbirds find creative way to get to Florida.

Up until a few weeks ago, Canadian snowbird Diane Rood and her husband, Theo, weren’t sure if they were going to be able to make it to their winter getaway in Florida this year, given the COVID-19-related restrictions on crossing the border by car.

“I have arthritis. The thought of staying in Canada with our cold, damp weather just seemed inconceivable,” she said.

The couple from Lambton Shores, Ont., who always drive to Florida, contemplated taking a commercial flight. But that would mean not having a vehicle when they arrived. Plus, they’d have to leave their beloved black Labrador, Abby, behind.

After listening to his mother’s gripes, Jeremy Rood, a helicopter pilot with Great Lakes Helicopter in Cambridge, Ont., got in touch with a friend, Greg McClay, who operates a commercial trucking business, GRM Transportation, out of Dorchester, Ont. It turned out his grandparents were facing the same dilemma.

After some brainstorming, they came up with a solution.

McClay would take snowbirds’ personal vehicles across the border on his flatbed truck to the Buffalo airport, while Rood would transport the cars’ owners — plus any pets — over the border in his helicopter to the same airport. Once landed, the owners could just get in their vehicles and be on their way, making the roughly 2,000-kilometre drive to Florida.

“This solved all of our problems,” Rood’s mother said Monday.

“It went as smooth as silk. … Within minutes, we were out of the helicopter and at our car.”

Since advertising their solution on the Canadian Snowbirds in Florida Facebook group recently, Rood and McClay say they’ve received hundreds of inquiries. They’ve already done a handful of trips and, as of Monday afternoon, had an additional 35 to 40 trips booked.

“It’s been an exceptional year. We have a roadblock that’s been put in place. But there’s a way around it. We’re doing this to get people down there, so they can enjoy and be healthier. That makes me happy,” Rood said.

“It’s not a loophole,” he added.

Got it. It’s not a loophole.

Here is a picture of the couple in front of the helicopter that carried them across the border.

Always follow the rules:

“We’re just playing by the rules, right?” Charlton said. “Those are the rules. The land border is closed. You’re still allowed to fly. That’s not necessarily a loophole. That’s just what’s legal right now.”

Renting a helicopter to hop across the border? Using a trucking company under the pretence of an essential transport of an automobile? Spending thousands of dollars to get around the land border closure? All in defiance of a ban on non-essential travel?

Definitely not a loophole.

If you repeat it, people will believe it.