Thanksgiving

Death Valley. In California.

It was the end of February when I took this image. Not quite as hot then. But still a uniquely inhospitable place. No vegetation really. Dry, dusty although water does occasionally find its way into this area.

Being stranded in a place like this would be very challenging especially during the summer months where the temperatures can reach 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

Being stranded in our coach at a dealership near a major town is not very challenging.

Inconvenient? Yes.

Frustrating? Certainly.

We had much different plans for the Thanksgiving weekend when we first got underway a few weeks back. Those plans obviously changed.

We have family in nearby Toronto and they extended an invitation to Lorraine and myself, along with our son, to a Thanksgiving dinner at their home last night.

These are amazing people and they have played such a big role in our lives over the years and they continue to do so with our children. It was an absolute delight to get together with them and to enjoy a wonderful turkey dinner. It was wonderful to get together with our youngest son.

Important to start each day being thankful.

Thankful for faith, family and good health.

Moved In (Almost)

What a day!

We’ve been at it since 6am and we are calling it a night.

Here is what the move looked like after we had everything packed up and ready to go.

22 boxes. Computers, consoles, guitars, pedals, cameras, a bike and a bike trainer were also part of the move.

When I looked at all of the stuff we were taking with us, I did not think it would all fit.

We had rented a 10-foot box truck to do the move from Kingston to our coach — the coach was being serviced in Barrie, Ontario and we decided to make the move happen there as it was a bit more convenient.

Once the truck was packed, this is what it looked like:

Does not seem like very much stuff at all once everything was in the truck. That stuff should easily fit into a 40-foot coach.

There was enough stuff to keep us busy unboxing and organizing for the past five hours. And we are about halfway done.

I have the truck for another day so we will be using tomorrow to get our basement bays organized and complete the rest of the unboxing and organizing then.

I will definitely sleep well tonight.

Nexus Part 2

We love visiting Upper Canada Village. And, since we likely won’t be back to this area for some time, we decided to make the trip after getting our Nexus records updated at the enrolment centre in Lansdowne, Ontario. Upper Canada Village, located near Morrisburg, Ontario, is a walk back in time to a simpler life in the 19th century. All of the villagers generally stay in character and the overall experience is well worth the visit if you are in this part of Canada.

The shot above was taken at the cabinet maker’s shop where this apprentice was busily shaping dowels for chairs. Difficult exposure with the low interior light, bright outdoor light from the sun and the apprentice moving quickly.

How did it go for us updating our Nexus records?

We had a few surprises although at the end of it all, everything was fine.

The first surprise was the wait. We did not have one. We were the only ones there aside from one Canadian customs officer and one American customs officer.

I explained to the Canadian customs officer that I was there to update my change of employment. And it turned out that there were numerous changes that had not been reflected in both of our memberships, which, as the customs officer sternly reminded me, could have been grounds to cancel the card.

We had renewed our passports in 2017. Canadian passports expire every few years although now we can renew up to 10 years which is what we had done. However, that passport information was not updated in the Nexus records. I thought we had renewed an existing passport. The government views any renewal as a brand new passport.

When we sold our house, we had updated our Nexus records. According to Canada and US customs, only the mailing address had been updated.

Finally, our telephone numbers. When we sold our house back in July of 2017, we cancelled our landline. We only use our mobile phones and we have no need for a landline. Our Nexus records showed only our landline number.

Thankfully we were able to get all of our records updated quickly and without any issues. We were told that we could make all of these changes on the Trusted Traveler Program website without coming into an enrolment centre.

Except we couldn’t.

I did not want to complicate things by asking the customs officers if they had ever tried to use the website.

Best to leave well enough alone.

We are now almost all set to make the border crossing in about six weeks time.

There is a fair amount of documentation that I will be bringing along with me in case it might be needed. I will create a post about the information that both governments expect you to carry when crossing the border. Some of it was surprising to me.

Nexus

Nexus cards help to speed up the process of travel, particularly air travel.

For a Canadian, the Nexus card provides pre-clearance for customs and can act as a proxy for a passport although we still carry passports with us when we travel.

To keep the Nexus card in good standing, a Nexus member is required to inform of any changes to status such as a change of address or a change of employment. Failure to inform Nexus of a change to status may result in the loss of the Nexus membership.

My address and employment status has changed. And it was remarkably difficult to update my Nexus records. I now have to make a special trip to the enrolment centre to inform them of my change of employment status as there is no mechanism on their new website to enter this change online.

Prior to October of 2017, Nexus members would use the Global Online Enrolment System (GOES) to update their information.

No longer.

I had no idea that GOES had closed down.

There is now a Trusted Traveller Program in its place. I had to create a new account and migrate my data from the old GOES website.

Whoever designed the Trusted Traveller Program website accomplished their mission of making it singularly user-unfriendly. No migration wizard to be found. Rather, a maze of disconnected and rather unhelpful content seemingly engineered to make the whole process as difficult as possible.

I was able to migrate my GOES account over to the TTP account but I could only update two pieces of information: driver’s license and address.

Nowhere to be seen was a place to update employment status.

We head out tomorrow morning to queue up at the enrolment centre to let them know that I have now retired. Technically my official retirement date is October 1st as I had a number of vacation days that I was able to use over the past two months.

We don’t want to lose our Trusted Traveller status particularly as we will be spending our winters south in the United States. Crossing a land border with an RV does not allow you to use the Nexus lines. Those lines are for cars only. Presenting a Nexus card does help even at the regular customs lanes. A customs officer will see all of the relevant data which helps the officer determine the risk level of the traveller in question.

Which, for Lorraine and myself, should continue to be low as members of the Trusted Travellers Program.

Travel Plans

We have firmed up our travel plans for our trip south. It begins with the leg from Canada down to Florida.

We are moving down the eastern U.S. at a fairly good clip largely because of weather. We leave Canada on November 1st and we are taking six days to do the drive.

We will be staying at the following properties on our way down:

1. Our starting point.

2. Sherkston Shores RV Resort in Ontario, Canada for 5 weeks.

3. Stonewall Resort in West Virginia for one night

4. Mountain Falls Motorcoach Resort in North Carolina for two nights.

5. Hilton Head Island Motorcoach Resort in South Carolina for two nights.

And then Florida. Myakka River Motorcoach Resort for one month, Riverbend Motorcoach Resort for one month and Everglades Isle Motorcoach Resort for one month.

We will have a pretty long drive to get us over to California. We will take 11 days to make this crossing.

We will be staying at the following properties on the drive west.

1. Our starting point at Everglades Isle Motorcoach Resort.

2. Bay Lake RV Resort in Florida for one night.

3. Carrabelle Beach RV Resort in Florida for one night.

4. Heritage Motorcoach Resort in Alabama for two nights.

5. Rayford Crossing RV Resort in Texas for two nights.

6. Alsatian RV Resort in Texas for one night.

7. Maverick Ranch RV Park in Texas for one night.

8. Hacienda RV Resort in New Mexico for one night.

9. The Motorcoach Resort in Arizona for two nights

And then we stay at Desert Shores Motorcoach Resort for two months.

We originally planned to take a different route back to Canada but we will run out of time. We need to be back across the border before the 180 day limit. This is our planned route.

  1. Our starting point from Desert Shores in California.
  2. Eagle View RV Resort in Arizona for one night.
  3. Route 66 RV Resort in New Mexico for two nights.
  4. Oasis RV Resort in Texas for one night.
  5. Twin Fountains RV Resort in Oklahoma for one night.
  6. Ozark RV Resort in Arkansas for two nights.
  7. Sundermeiner RV Park in Missouri for one night.
  8. Elkhart Campground in Indiana for one night (not at the location shown on this map).

We were a bit stuck after stop 7 because of parks still being closed for the winter — even though we will be travelling through this area late April.

After our layover in Indiana, we will drive straight through to Toronto. It is roughly a 7 hour drive from Elkhart.

All in all, we have the southern leg pretty much all mapped out and confirmed.