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.

Moving Day

Moving day is coming up fast.

We move out of our condo into our coach in just a few weeks.

We have been busy getting all of our current stuff either bound for the storage unit or bound for the coach.

With our last big move, we managed to fill this trailer full of stuff and I do mean full:

Oh, and a second one too. Not as big as this one. It was a large cube truck to move all of my recording studio equipment.

We went from one huge house to another. And we filled nearly every nook and cranny with stuff.

As part of our retirement planning, we did a pretty dramatic downsizing. Sold a lot of stuff. Gave away a lot of stuff. Threw out a lot of stuff.

And, even though we are decidedly much more minimalist now, we still have a lot of stuff. Enough to fill two large storage units when we sold our house — although we are now down to one storage unit — and enough to fill a large two-bedroom condo.

We are fortunate to have a Class A motorcoach for our travels however we have to be really careful about how much stuff we carry. It has been interesting going through our condo and doing much of what we did when we first downsized our house a year or so back. What should we sell? What should we give away? What should we throw out?

Travelling light is a joy. We’ve experienced that when we have travelled abroad.

Travelling light in our motor coach is a given. There is limited space for stuff.

Moving day awaits. I’ll show you how much stuff we are taking with us when we get the truck loaded up.

On September 18th, we will be taking the stuff for the coach from our condo in Kingston to our coach at the dealership near Toronto. We will move everything in, get it stored away as quickly as we can, return the truck to Kingston and then head out the following morning back to our coach at the dealership for the start of our travels.

Between now and then, lots to keep us busy!

Florida to California

The result of almost 8 hours of planning. Getting things organized for our travel does take time and effort.

Our travels in our coach will take us south to Florida for three months and then over to California for two months. I’ve received feedback that in retirement, we should slow down and take our time. And that would be fine if we lived in the United States. We don’t and that limits how much time we have and where we choose to spend that time. Canadian snowbirds migrate south pretty quickly to escape the cold northern temperatures that hit in November and to maximize their time in the warmer climate areas.

We are going to take 11 days to cross from the Everglades Isle Motorcoach Resort in Florida to Desert Shores Resort in California. We will take in some beautiful resorts along the way including:

Bay Lake RV Resort

Carrabelle Beach RV Resort

Heritage Motorcoach Resort

Rayford Crossing RV Resort

Alsatian RV Resort

Maverick Ranch RV Park

Hacienda RV Resort

The Motorcoach Resort

Two of them are not confirmed yet: Bay Lake and Maverick. Depending on what we hear back from them, we may have to find alternate spots. We had some other choices on our list but they were already sold out for our dates. We are doing most of our planning 6-9 months out.

This will be our longest drive to date in the coach. The drive to Florida, by comparison, is a relatively quick 6-day trip. And we have two layovers where we are staying two nights. Basically, 4 hours of driving a day to get down to Florida.

Going across to California proved challenging in terms of logistics. Admittedly, we were a bit selective in terms of the layover spots. We aren’t planning to use Walmarts.

For ideas, we used a new thread on the IRV2 Newmar forum on Class A parks, Big Rigs Best Bets, and RV Park Reviews.

Booking is quite the process. Some parks have good online booking arrangements but they don’t provide discounts for FMCA or Good Sam unless you call them. Others will only take bookings through the phone. We found that we were often leaving messages for callbacks. Some of the resorts were only interested in longer term stays and not overnight bookings. Some of the resort websites were really well done, others, awful.

All in all, it took way longer than expected to plan out this leg of our trip.

Kingston to Florida. Check.

Florida to California. Check.

California to Kingston. Well, not yet. Another full day to plan that trip.

Toronto, Canada

We were back in Toronto after our Norwegian cruise. Not yet home, but getting pretty close. This will be the last post about our retirement cruise. And, rather than sharing images of Toronto with all of the new, glass-encased office towers, I thought I would share a few of my images from Toronto’s Graffiti Alley.

The alley is located near Spadina Avenue and sits in between Queen Street West and Richmond Street West. A bit of a walk from the main Toronto downtown office and condo towers.

It is an alley and you will find a fair amount of garbage. Toronto is generally a safe city to visit although I’m not sure I would go to this alley at night. Best to view the graffiti during the day.

There are some parking areas along the alley and the back of these buildings are also covered in graffiti. Except for the “Authorized Parking Only” signs.

Graffiti alley spans three city blocks. It is much longer than you might expect. The artwork is continuously refreshed and, in some cases, as in the picture above, dated. I’m not sure who decides when it is okay to paint over someone’s graffiti.

This was a tourist visiting Toronto from New York City. He wanted his photo taken for his Instagram and he asked us to use his smartphone. Lorraine took that shot for him. I took this shot using my own camera.

A bit of a different view of Toronto than what most tourists see.

And so, after an amazing two weeks travelling Europe, we finally boarded the train from Toronto to head home to Kingston.

New adventures will be starting soon as we begin a longer-term journey south in our coach.