Myakka River Motorcoach Resort

Right about now we would be getting ready to make our way south to our winter home at Myakka River Motorcoach Resort.

But not this year.

I remember our first time arriving to this resort. We weren’t quite sure what to expect.

We had spent a long day travelling in the coach and we were running a bit late. The resort wanted us to check in before dark and we were really pushing it to get there before sunset.

Our first impression as we entered the resort?

My goodness. What a what a beautiful spot.

This was a paradise for us.

After a few weeks of staying here we thought to ourselves why would we go anywhere else for the winter?

But Myakka is not going to happen this year. All because of COVID-19.

We will miss our family, our friends and our church in Florida.

Here is a video from when we first arrived at Myakka. Wonderful memories.

A Runaway Train

Ontario faces ‘runaway train’ of COVID-19 cases if families don’t scrap Thanksgiving gatherings. So read a recent headline from this CBC article. Our prime minister told us that it is up to Canadians throughout the country to do their part, to wear their mask, to maintain physical distancing:

“Unfortunately, to not get together with their families and friends for Thanksgiving so that we can take control of this second wave, so that we can all celebrate at Christmas.”

Government officials at all levels have provided inconsistent messaging about the long weekend leading many to wonder whether they could gather with family this Thanksgiving.

The premier of our province was under pressure to clarify the new COVID-19 rules and he issued the following statement:

As we approach the Thanksgiving weekend, we have an opportunity to take time and reflect on what matters most as we all live through these unprecedented times in our province.

I know Thanksgiving is normally a time when people get together with family and friends to give thanks and reconnect, but these aren’t normal times. This year, we will have to make adjustments in order to ensure everyone remains healthy and safe.

On the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, it’s not enough to limit the size of Thanksgiving gatherings to 10 people or less. We must all do our part to keep gathering sizes small by sticking to our immediate households.

If you live alone, you may join one other household to ensure no one is alone or isolated this holiday season, but please take the necessary precautions to keep gatherings small.

We are also encouraging everyone to please stay home and limit trips outside the home, except to go to work or school, pick up groceries or medicines, keep a medical appointment, or to exercise.

The family section of our park was jammed with households that clearly missed the premier’s memo. I suspect a fair segment of the population in Ontario ignored the government’s request to limit gatherings to immediate households. The roads leading out of Toronto were just as busy this weekend as they have been all summer. This will change soon as the Thanksgiving weekend is usually the last big weekend for cottagers and campers in our area. COVID or no COVID.

The park closes today. We are able to stay on our site until October 24th. After that we will spend a week at our dealership before putting the coach into storage and moving into the house for the winter.

We did gather with family this weekend. But only with our youngest son. He is still in college and he lives alone. According to the government, he was able to join one other household to ensure that he was not alone or isolated over Thanksgiving. That household was our household.

I was so happy to see him and to spend time with him.

We went on a photoshoot in Copeland Forest to capture the beautiful colours of fall. Despite the doom and gloom of COVID-19, there is much to be thankful. A walk in the forest was just what the doctor ordered. A few images from our hike yesterday.

Essential Travel

Can you cross the land border if you own or rent a seasonal place in the United States? Would the customs officer view the crossing as essential?

I caught this question in the latest issue of Canadian Snowbirds Association:

As a snowbird living in a seasonal home in Canada, I am concerned about reaching my Florida home for the winter if land borders are closed. However, I have heard that we may be able to fly down. Is this correct?

Here was the response:

This is correct and we have lots of examples to prove it. Many of the normal airlines have flights to the U.S., but to limited destinations until business picks up. We believe that it is very safe as long as you take the normal precautions of masks, distancing and hand washing/sanitizers.

The CSA is working on having the U.S. allow us to enter by vehicle as “essential travel,” if we own or rent a home in the U.S. You might try calling the border office where you are planning to cross and asking them if going to your home in the U.S. will count as “essential travel.” If they say ‘yes’, and I think that some border officials will, then ask for their name so that you can use it when you cross.

I can only imagine the encounter when making the attempt to cross the border in our motorcoach.

US Customs: “What is your reason for crossing into the United States today in your recreational vehicle?”
Me: “I called the border office and spoke with someone named John and I asked him if going south for six months would count as essential travel and he said sure thing.”
US Customs: “My name is not John and the border is closed to non-essential travel. Let’s get you back to Canada.”

I will wait to hear official word from the United States that they intend to allow Snowbirds to enter as essential travellers before attempting a land crossing with our coach based solely on a call to a border office.

Canada To Keep US Border Closed

But only to “non-essential” traffic. The latest signalling from Canada’s Minister of Public Safety indicates that we won’t be returning to the United States anytime soon.

From Reuters:

Canada will maintain restrictions on non-essential travel with the United States until the coronavirus outbreak in both nations is much less serious, a senior government official said on Friday.

The comments by Canadian Public Safety Minister Bill Blair suggest that the ban on non-essential travel could stay for months to come, given spiking cases of COVID-19.

The measures, first imposed in March, are due to expire on Oct 21. They do not affect trade.

Blair told reporters that Canada would keep the restrictions in place “until the conditions on both sides of the border … change very substantively, until we can be assured based on the advice we receive from our public health officials” that the measures could be lifted safely.

Our public health officials would like to re-impose shutdowns, limit citizen movement to “essential” travel only, and prohibit social gatherings. The big debate in our province right now is whether we can get together with family and friends over Thanksgiving.

“It’s all too likely we won’t be gathering for Thanksgiving, said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau while announcing that British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec are in the second wave of COVID-19 on Sept. 23. But he suggested Christmas might still be on the table if we rein in gatherings for now. A day later, Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé told Quebecers to cancel Thanksgiving plans.

Officials and medical experts have been emphasizing that the large, extended family gatherings with family members from all over are not a good idea this year.

Christmas might still be on the table? My goodness what a statement to make to the public.

We know of one couple that will circumvent the Canada/US border rules and head south this winter. They have hired a commercial service to drive their rig across the border. They will fly down to collect their rig and then drive it to their winter destination.

It angers me to no end that our government has imposed restrictions on social gatherings, physical distancing and travel. And yet it angers me more that people can exploit loopholes and backdoors to circumvent those restrictions.

In another three weeks we move out of our coach and back into a house.

It really is the last thing I want to do and I am quite upset about it.

Canadian Snowbirds Update

No surprise here.

Recently, Canada and the United States agreed to extend the land border restriction on all non-essential travel until October 21, 2020. This means that travel for tourism purposes will not be permitted at any land border crossing until at least October 21, 2020, but we anticipate this closure may well extend into 2021. While the Canadian Government will consider certain travel applications, on humanitarian grounds, on a case-by-case basis, the U.S. Government will not be considering such applications at this time. The CSA remains in constant communication with government officials and border agencies in both Canada and the U.S. to ensure that the concerns of our members are heard during these trying times.

While leisure travel to the United States by vehicle continues to be restricted, Canadian citizens are still able to travel to the U.S. by air.

And from snowbirdavisor.ca.

On September 18, 2020, Canada and the United States agreed to extend the land border closure through October 21, 2020. It is possible that the current land border travel restrictions may be extended on or prior to October 21 for one or more additional 30 periods or some other length of time, and there is currently no clear indication as to when land border travel restrictions may end.

A temporary 30-day measure from March of 2020 appears to be locked in now. The border closure may continue for years. Except, oddly, if you decide to fly.

We know of several snowbirds that will fly to their winter homes and stay in COVID-19 lockdown south where it is warm.

Other snowbirds are attempting to influence the government.

Some snowbirds are campaigning for authorities to open up the land border to people who live in the U.S. seasonally. Neither Global Affairs Canada nor U.S. Customs and Border Protection directly addressed questions about whether such exceptions were under consideration.

I’ve resigned myself to spending the winter in Canada.

Time to buy a winter coat, winter boots, winter gloves and a winter toque.

It’s going to be a long, cold season.