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Cross Border Expedition

JungleCruise

We have booked our second expedition for the Castaway. This one is a bit more of an adventure. We will be travelling about 1,000 kilometres to Petoskey Motorcoach Resort in Michigan.

Our first trip was very successful and it was also very local. We traveled only 50 kilometres to our campsite. Short drive and a two-night stay.

This expedition will be more of a test. We will be following this route:

Route

We will be breaking the drive down into two segments. The first segment will take us across the border and we will stop for the night at the Port Huron KOA. That will be about a 5-hour drive and whatever time it may take to get through U.S. Customs.

We have never crossed the U.S. border in a motorhome before. And we have never brought our dog across the border.

Tabby is a wonderful golden retriever and very friendly but she has no passport.

What do we need to bring our dog across the border?

Tabby must be healthy, and she is, and she must have a valid rabies vaccine certificate. The certificate has to be issued from a licensed veterinarian and includes the following information:

  • Breed, gender, age colour, markings and any other identifying information
  • Date of rabies vaccination
  • Expiration date of vaccination certificate or date that the next vaccination is due
  • Veterinarian’s signature

The CDC website outlines all of the requirements for bringing a dog into the United States.

What about crossing the border in an RV?

We will need to have our passports.

We may have to prove residency so we will have copies of our Property Taxes as well as some utility receipts.

We won’t travel with any food. We will pick up what we need once we cross into the United States.

We are only staying for a week so we do not have to worry about hitting the 182 day visitor limit. Once we start snowbirding in the United States, we will have to fill out a Closer Connection form and send it to the IRS so we are not held liable for U.S. taxes.

And we will make sure that we have U.S. travel packs for our mobile devices.

The second segment of our drive will take us to the beautiful Petoskey Motorcoach Resort. We have a great site reserved for the week. As we have not yet set up a toad, we will be renting a car. The folks at the resort will arrange to have the rental car brought out to our site.

The trip back will be a full day of driving — probably about 10 hours or so depending on traffic and any delays at the border.

We will be heading out in 4 weeks.

 

Driving Test Nerves

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Behind my mask, when I took my driving tests for my D Class and my Z endorsement, was pure fear. I did not expect to experience such stress. I did not expect to experience driving test nerves.

The mask I normally wear is a mask of confidence. It is a mask that says: I am okay and I have it all under control.

My first driver’s licence was issued when I was 16 years old. In those days, if you completed a driver’s education course, all that was required at the examination centre was successful completion of a short multiple choice exam. Within ten or fifteen minutes, I had my driver’s licence. No fear. No stress.

Totally different experience when I took the DZ tests.

What would happen if I did not pass the DZ tests?  We would not be able to bring the coach home as we had originally planned. And because Lorraine was delayed in taking her DZ courses, my DZ licence was on the critical path. No one else in our family would be able to pick up the coach from the dealer.

I did not want to let Lorraine down.

Failing something can be hard to take. Failing something can be embarrassing.

There were fifteen people in my class and every person was stressed out over the written and practical tests.

Why was everyone so nervous? What consequences did we face?

It then became clear to me: being nervous in these situations is actually pretty normal. The thing to watch out for?

Fear of failure often leads to failure!

It is so important to shift the nerves and anxiety into positive energy.

I told myself that I can absolutely do this. I told myself that I can ace these tests and, as it turned out, I did. Out of 160 test items over four different exams, I missed only 2 questions.

I used 4-7-8 breathing to ease my nerves and anxiety:

  • Slowly breath in through the nose for 4 seconds
  • Hold the breath for a count of 7
  • Slowly exhale for a count of 8

Repeat this process a few times and suddenly the nerves and anxiety levels calm down.

I did not treat the driving test as a test. I told myself that I was going for a drive. I have been driving for over forty years now. I know how to drive. Sure, I don’t often drive 4o-foot vehicles weighing over 30,000 lbs, but I know how to drive.

When I started the drive, I knew I had it. I knew that I could show the examiner that I could safely operate this class of vehicle.

“Congratulations!” he said at the end of the test. “You aced it.”

Lorraine took her Z endorsement training last week. And she had her tests on Friday. She was also nervous and anxious. She also aced the tests. Learning to control our nerves and our anxieties is part of life. Getting our commercial driver’s licences for our motorhome was a milestone in getting ready for our new adventures.

That was another important part of the process for us: keep ourselves focused on the goal. This was simply just another step in the process.

We get to drive the coach home this coming Saturday.

So excited.

30 Amp Service

30Amps

Our new coach is a fully electric coach. It needs a 50-amp service to run all of the onboard electrical systems.

A typical household breaker might offer a 20-amp service although our panel has quite a few 15-amp breakers. A 20-amp service requires 2,400 watts. A 30-amp service will need 3,600 watts and a 50-amp service will take 12,000 watts. That is quite a difference in power between 30 and 50 amps.

Plugging a 50-amp coach to a 30-amp service means that you won’t be able to use everything on the coach. In our case, we have two large air conditioning heat pumps on the coach as well as a number of large appliances. Connecting to a 30-amp service, we could only run appliances if we used our generator.

Last week we had our electrician install an outdoor 30-amp service for our RV. For a number of reasons we could not go with a 50-amp service.

We had room for the 30-amp breakers in our panel and we also had 8/3 wiring roughed in from the panel out to the back of the house. 8/3 can easily support 30 amps. For a 50-amp service, 6/4 wiring would be required.

For our site, the electrician had to run a conduit from the side of the house, trench an 18-inch conduit out to a decking post, and terminate the 30-amp service in a covered outlet (pictured above). It took two electricians a full day to complete the task. And it was very expensive. The cost of site inspection, labour, the trenching equipment, the conduit, the 50 feet of additional 8/3 cable as well as the outlet was much higher than we expected. It was important to us that we installed the service to code. Make it right.

The coach will be on our site for a number of months and we need to have some shore power. We will need to run our generator if we are in the coach during the hot summer months to have some air conditioning. For cooler evenings, we can do our work in the coach and have enough power to run the lights and perhaps the AV system by being connected to our 30-amp service. And it will give us a bit of practice for when we have to connect to 30-amp services at other sites.

Truck Licence?

Truck

Do you need a commercial driver’s licence to drive an RV?

The answer is yes if you live in Ontario and the RV is more than 11,000 kilograms (24,250 lbs). If the RV has air brakes, you also have to complete an air brake (Z) endorsement.

From the Ministry of Transportation’s website:

Class D Licence

The Class D licence lets you drive any truck or vehicle combination exceeding 11,000 kilograms, provided that the towed vehicle weighs less than 4,600 kg. If it weighs more, you will need either a full Class A or restricted Class A licence.

With a Class D licence you can also drive a car or light truck covered by a G Class licence.

Requirements

To apply for a Class D licence, you need to:

  • be at least 18 years old
  • hold a valid Ontario licence other than G1, G2, M, M1 or M2
  • pass an eye test
  • submit a medical report
  • pass a written test about operating large trucks and tractor-trailers
  • pass a road test

Both Lorraine and I had to go through the somewhat lengthy and expensive process of becoming truckers.

You can call me Trucker Rick. I have my DZ licence.

In a few weeks time you will be able to call Lorraine Trucker L. She is in her air brake program today and tomorrow and her D program in another two weeks.

We both found the courses to be very interesting and very worthwhile.

If things do not work out in retirement, I can always try my hand at trucking.