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June ’21 in Ontario

Finally – after 18 month we get to see Josh,  Arya & Cyrus!!

June 4th

After some sleep (not enough) in our own beds at the place we stored the truck and trailer in Buffalo, we were up early and started to get some things sorted out to get going.  After receiving the mail/packages that arrived while we were gone, we hit the road and went grocery shopping.

In order to cross the border you need a negative COVID test performed in the last 72 hours and the website says it must be done in the US so we were not sure if we could cross the border with the test we had done on Wednesday in Iceland that was required to return to the US.  We did some research and found a place near Buffalo that does rapid PCR (and other types) tests with results in 30 minutes so that was our back up plan if the Canadian border officials didn’t accept our Icelandic test.  There is no time in the foreseeable future that Canada will be non essential travelers, even vaccinated people, in without testing and quarantine.  So rather than wait even longer to see family, we opted to go through the “pain” of quarantine (been there, done that last year and survived, so we know we can do it again).

We got to the border and waited in a line of three cars and then it seems Doug’s “Calder horseshoes” held up and they let us through!  We even declared NINE cases of beer and did not have to pay duty.  Phew – a big hurdle avoided and $310 saved!

We were given a choice at this point to do the arrival COVID testing with the assistance of the Red Cross just up ahead or take the test kit home and do it ourselves with the help of an online assistant later today.  Since we are pulling a trailer, we opted for the latter so as not to take up too much room in the area and it might have been some tight maneuvering.  He handed us our four test kits (we need to do another test on Day 8) and away we went.

We are back in our homeland:

It took us a couple of hours to get to Tottenham, where our son and grandchildren live. We got set up in the local Conservation campground which is only taking seasonal already booked and paid up campers with their own bathrooms, so we were thankful we booked this a couple of months ago.  They are also only allowing camping in every second site although you can “spill over” to the empty site like parking your car there instead of on your own site.

All the staff at the gatehouse was masked up, as we were, and they pointed us to the dump station before having us follow their vehicle to our site and getting us parked.  They wanted us to park vertically but upon trying to get into a tight spot and hitting the corner of the awning, Fran asked if we couldn’t park horizontally as the spot was triangular. That direction gave us more room as we are the end of the row.

The bathrooms and showers are not open as yet but they hope at least the bathrooms will be on the next stage of opening up on June 14th.  We have power and water, a picnic table, trees for shade and a fire ring.  There is no dump facility at the site so we’ll have to move the trailer every 10 days or so; an annoyance but not unbearable. There is no Wi-Fi but Fran’s T-Mobile hotspot seems to be working fine.  There are maybe a dozen very spread out other campsites filled with trailers/fifth wheels but no tents yet, of course.  Our spot is right across the road from the playground so Arya and Cyrus will enjoy that.  There is a small lake here for swimming (?) and fishing with another playground and lots of open ground.  We are pretty pleased with the location – a few blocks from the main drag of the small town.  We are at the end of the RV row too so a little more room around us.

Once we are out of quarantine we can go to Josh’s for better internet (he’s less than 2 km away).  We can shower and do laundry there also.

So after getting settled, we had lunch and then did our at home COVID test.  You sign up on a website and click “home test” and are put in a queue to be on a video chat with someone who walks you through the test.  Despite Doug getting on earlier than Fran, she got hers done first and he waited a good half hour before he did his.  It was very interesting to see the lack of training of these people.  Doug’s assistant was way better than Fran’s and didn’t skip any instructions.  At the start she even asked if there were others in the family that needed to be tested – that would have saved a great deal of time.  Fran’s closed out too early so she didn’t get the shipping instructions done (Purolator Courier picks up them free of charge) and was not told to do a few things (nothing major but still…).  So she got back online to ask how to arrange shipping and was told to call Purolator herself!  After 40 minutes on hold she arranged shipping for us both but later upon receiving the email, saw they had input the wrong address!  So she called back and it was taking forever and this time we received the option to get a call back or try online.  She did both and actually got it sorted out faster through an online cha than the call back which she didn’t get for a few hours.

We both got sleepy early; Doug went to bed around 8:45 and Fran managed to stay up till 9:30.  We awoke later than we expected and felt rested.  We have a four hour time change to overcome, so that will probably take some time.

Saturday morning began our series of daily check in’s with Arrive Canada on their phone app (same app on which we filed our “quarantine plan”).  We are required to report daily how we’re feeling.  We got some chores done and had a relaxing weekend.

Sunday, it began to get warmer and more humid; had to turn on the AC to be comfortable.  The highlight of the day was seeing Josh for a few minutes as he dropped off and picked up a few things.  We kept our distance and did it all over a fence on the edge of the campground.

Tuesday, we awoke to rain and it did that on and off all day and part of the next day with thunder at times.  However that broke the humidity and by Thursday it was quite pleasant, no AC needed.

We managed to get up early and catch the annular eclipse this morning.

No one else was up at 5:30 caught this:

It’s coming up:

Our best shot:

Today, our closest neighbour, Pete, asked across the lawn, if we could help him.  He has a portable dump tank but is missing a piece on his small hose; we didn’t have the spare piece he needed but did have a shorter hose than his long one so he used that one and then offered us the use of his portable tank.  So Doug dumped both our tanks today.  To thank him, we have ordered the part he needs through Joshua’s account and will probably use his tank over the summer so we don’t have to move the trailer.  The part came quick and made dumping so much easier after that with a very small hose.  You just hook up the tank to the ball on the back of the truck and drive it to the dump station.

We did an online grocery order later that day and Joshua very kindly picked it up and dropped it off at our site after work.

Those of you that have been following us for a while know that Fran won a portable fridge/freezer while we were in Brazil last year through a virtual overlanding expo.  As they would not ship it overseas, we had it shipped to Buffalo and picked it up last week.  Now we are trying to sell it as it’s too big for the back seat of our truck.  We’ll then buy a smaller one that we can actually use.  We had a few offers so Josh took it home in the hopes that someone would buy it this weekend.

Friday morning we had the fun task of performing our Day 8 COVID home kit online with an agent and this time we were able to do together.  Unfortunately, the site would still not arrange pick up so we had to call ourselves.  Glad that’s all over with!  So this was our THIRD COVID test in ten days!

The weekend was mostly uneventful.  The Ontario government eased a few restrictions on the 10th (last Thursday instead of the 14th) so the bathrooms but not the showers are open here although we still can’t use them.  There were more people camped over the weekend.  Sunday was pretty busy with day users but we are far enough away from that part of the park that we are not affected.

The weather has been great since Wednesday, pleasant, warm and sunny with no or little humidity.  We’ve received the results from both our self-test home kit COVID tests which were of course, Negative.

Saturday afternoon Doug did some work on the soffit again – it’s sagging some so we hope this repair does the trick.

Sunday we had a snafu – Doug was on the ladder cleaning the roof of the trailer from the tree debris and asked Fran to come hold it; she pointed out that one foot was not even touching the ground but we proceeded.  Doug leaned too far to that one side that was not touching the ground and down he went to the left – luckily, no broken bones, a few cuts and scrapes, a sore back and a broken arm on his glasses.  Since his glasses have the same frame as his last pair, he was able to swap out the lenses.  However, the next day he managed to break the arm on the other side!  Fortunately, he was able to swap out just the arm this time and he’s back in business – good thing we keep a pair or two of our older glasses!

On Day 11, Monday, the weather was on and off sun/sprinkles and cooled off some.  Several weekend campers left yesterday but a few larger RV’s arrived today.  No one has come into the spots closest to us.  Josh came over after work to drop off some things and pick up some and since we’d just had two negative tests, we invited him to stay for a beer sitting 6 feet way.   He’d just sold our fridge that day and almost for our asking price so we were all pretty happy.  They retail for $1100 USD so we hoped to get $900 CAD and we got $810.  That’s more than enough to buy the right size portable fridge for our truck.

It was SO nice to sit and chat with Josh even if only for 20 minutes.  We’ve made plans for the weekend including father’s day and we are excited to see Arya and Cyrus.  Seems they’ve not outgrown their usual initial apprehension about seeing people (COVID isolation hasn’t helped that either) so the first day or so they might be a bit distant but after 18 months we’ll take it!  We have Christmas to “celebrate” and their birthday is on the 26th.

Thursday was our day 14 and our fully vaccinated friend Dave, dropped by with some fresh strawberries and stayed for a beer.

Then we invited Josh over after work for a beer and a campfire; we figured “technically” our quarantine day 14 ended at 3pm (since we took our first test on day 1 at that time) so we all felt good about him coming over and he’d been able to get his second shot on Wednesday at a pharmacy pop up clinic.  He gave us each a key to the house and Friday we went to run a few errands, treated ourselves to Egg McMuffins and spent the afternoon at his place using the Wi-Fi and enjoyed longer hot showers than we have been doing in our trailer.

Josh got home before the kids arrived and when they did, we just let them be until they were comfortable coming to us – took about 20 minutes.  We played around a bit, had dinner and then played some games.

Saturday morning, Doug helped Josh go pick up some new-to-him living room chairs using our truck, while Fran stayed with the kids.  We spent the afternoon playing with them and then took them all over to our campground to play some baseball in the field near us before starting a campfire.  We ordered pizza (they didn’t want to roast hot dogs – what’s up with that!?!) and then roasted marshmallows for s’mores.

They wanted to sleep over but we figured it was too early in the summer to do that as they might feel strange half way through the night so we’ll do it another time when Josh can bring his tent.  We since found that the until Ontario hits stage 2 we cannot have overnight visitors.

Sunday morning, father’s day, Josh called and said that the kids’ mom is not happy with how we all had indoor contact yesterday!  WTH we’re fully vaccinated and just came out of quarantine with 3 negative COVID tests!  She feels we are not abiding by the current Stage One rules and wants all activities to be outdoors and masks worn if we need to be in close contact.  Doug was more stressed about this than Fran – more so about the stupidity of it than anything else so Fran walked over by herself and then he joined her midafternoon.  The weather cooperated and we were able to stay outside all day, even played some cards by us moving back from the table and only leaning in to throw our cards.   They are kids that like to abide by the rules but like every kid, they do try to push the envelope but we didn’t want them to be in between Mom and Dad.

Stage Two of the provincial opening is set for July 1st but their birthday is next weekend so Josh will try and talk to her this week so we don’t miss anything, but of course, cannot promise anything.

When we arrived in Canada on June 4th, enroute to our quarantine property, we got a rock chip in the windshield while driving on the QEW.  Doug filed a claim the next day and had not heard back since so he reached out again and within an hour, we had an appointment set up to take the Tundra into nearby Alliston to a Speed Auto Glass shop.  The appointment was for Tuesday afternoon so we combined a few errands and made an afternoon trip.  We dropped off the truck, walked to a bank to see about an account opening, then we got a treat of a large scoop of delicious ice cream at a local shop, bought a couple of things at Wal-Mart and got one propane tank refilled.  Alliston is larger than Tottenham and has many more stores and services.  We even hit a Dollarama for a few items before heading over to our friend Dave’s RV Park for dinner.

It was rather cool today with a brisk wind so we ended up sitting inside his RV.   We enjoyed a lovely dinner which we all took a part in preparing and then said our goodbyes.  Dave is returning the US after Canada Day to meet up with his fiancée (this was happy news to us – Dave lost his wife nearly two years back and we are happy he’s found someone who enjoys this nomadic lifestyle).

Thursday the 24th, we joined Josh at this house to watch game 6 of the Canadiens/Knights semifinal Stanley Cup game – yeah! the Habs won (in overtime)!  Tomorrow night will be game 7 of the other series so we won’t know who Montreal will be playing until then for the cup.

Friday was a dull, grey day; Doug went for his long walk and other than a blister on his toe, fared well.  It rained all afternoon but we spent it at Josh’s awaiting his and the grandkids’ arrival for their birthday weekend. Before arriving, Josh was chatting with their mother  and she still feels we should be abiding by the Stage 1 rules (despite being fully vaccinated and negative tested) we were not supposed to be indoors with the kids this weekend.  So we left before they arrived as it was going to be dinner time then bedtime as they were arriving late.  A very muggy weekend has begun with on and off showers.  (Ontario has now moved up the date for Stage 2 to June 30 instead of July 2nd so we were somewhat miffed but again did not want to put kids in the middle of this.)

Saturday and Sunday we spend several hours each day participating in a Pokémon birthday celebration of Arya and Cyrus’s 8th birthday.  They had put up decorations outside on the front porch and we only went into the house to use the bathroom as needed wearing a mask.  Luckily Josh’s front porch is rather large and covered so it protected from rain and sun.  They opened a few presents each day and played some games and enjoyed a Dairy Queen ice cream cake.  (As we have Christmas presents along with us from 2020, we will be spreading out bday and Christmas presents over a few weekends.)

Monday night we went over to Josh’s to watch game one of the Stanley Cup finals between Montreal and Tampa Bay; sadly Montreal lost.

Fran went into Bolton on Tuesday to meet Josh to do a Costco run on his lunch hour and a work errand then she finished our grocery shopping at the Bolton Walmart before heading home with DQ blizzards for us.

Wednesday night after work Josh asked us to meet him in Barrie at the Walmart where he’d must managed to purchase the one 70” tv they had for $280!!   He’d been looking for a while for a good deal, and it paid off.  We put the tv in the truck bed and drove it to his house while he attended Beavers with his kids.