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Old 04-12-2014, 10:56 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Jim Flower View Post
Sounds like you are on track. IMO, a NW wind is your enemy and you are more likely to see less of it on the Yellowhead route due to the rolling terrane and preponderance of trees compared to the TCHyw across Saskatchewan, although the first 100 k west of Winnipeg is table top flat, but not 1000 miles of unbroken, near flat, like Winnipeg to Calgary. Jim
OK, so another vote for the Yellowhead route then! I'm sure after a bit more experience towing the Airstream through the mountains I won't be so nervous, but for my first road trip, I'd like to make things as easy as possible for me.

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Originally Posted by Jim Flower View Post
Yes to the chance of snow. Jim
Uh oh... I was afraid of that. I'm guessing this will be in the higher elevations of the Rocky mountains. Hopefully I manage to go through on a clear, dry day. But if I don't feel comfortable, I can always stop and wait it out. After all, I'm towing a mini condo behind me, so always a place to rest and sleep.

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Originally Posted by masseyfarm View Post
I have lots DVR of Northern Ontario from last Aug. and have posted one sequence here.

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f313...ml#post1402494

No hills to speak of and always a pleasant drive if the weather is good. This is a shot of meeting Jim Flower (above post) last year just east of Ignace.

If you go to my uTube channel you can see some shots of the Rogers Pass route from last year also,...
Dave
Nice videos, thanks for sharing them! Some narrow stretches of road there with a fair bit of oncoming traffic. And the 7% to 9% grade... wow. I've probably driven through that before, but have a better appreciation and respect for it now that I'm towing a 25 foot travel trailer. I'll probably stop periodically (where safe) to let the brakes cool, give the dog (and me) a bathroom break, etc.
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Old 04-12-2014, 11:15 AM   #16
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I must admit that I am confused as to your plan of how you will snowbird.

If you plan to spend summers in Canada, why is it necessary to do it in BC? Summer anywhere in Canada is nice, and the real estate costs elsewhere than Calgary and Vancouver would allow you to have a nicer place for the same money.

And the southeast US has generally less costly real estate than the southwest, I thought? Let's say that Florida is cheaper to live in than California, as far as what I have seen.

Or did I misunderstand your plan? You aren't bothered by going through the mountains out west?
Yes, I suppose it can sound a bit confusing. I left out some information. After having lived in Ontario (on and off 11 years in the snow belt, against my wishes and better judgement), plus 19 years in the Toronto area growing up, 7 years in Quebec in Montreal and its suburbs, I've had enough of long, cold snowy winters (with lake effect snow in Barrie, and two of the worst winters in recent history 1994-95 and 2013-14, I was there for both, got suckered into moving back a few years ago). I also don't like the short, hot humid summers. I've spent a year in Kelowna and liked it. I'm still not a fan of the snow, but there's significantly less, it's a lot milder and winter is much shorter. Summers are a bit hotter but dry, not humid, so easier to take. Kelowna is my third choice for a place to move to. If my parents come out to BC, they prefer Kelowna, so I'd go there if they moved to Kelowna. Nice scenery, nice place to live, and I could live there again, but I'd take Vancouver or the island first for what I consider better weather - one of my top priorities. And better work opportunities (both self-employed or as an employee). I'm working on generating passive income, so I won't have to take into account an area's opportunities for work so much as a place I'd like to live, all other things being equal.

I've lived in the Vancouver area before for almost 5 years and should have never left. Mild, almost snowless winters, cooler and more enjoyable summers, for me anyways. A world class city, great vibe and I just love that coastal lifestyle. It just feels like the right place for me. Spent some of the best years of my life there, mind you I was in my early 20s then, and those are usually the best years of most peoples lives. I don't really like the high density, heavy traffic, and hustle and bustle, but at least it's got the Skytrain and good transit to compensate. I visited Vancouver a few years ago and still felt the same draw and attraction to it. I also loved living in Montreal, but it's off my list due to long cold snowy winters and short, hot humid summers.

If I end up in Kelowna (not as likely, but possible), I would definitely want to get away for at least December and January each year. Preferably longer. Maybe even for the hottest part of the summer too.

I briefly considered Calgary. Been there a few times, nice city to visit, but it never felt like the right fit for me. And if I get stuck there during the winter, I'd probably want to kill myself. Well, maybe not, but I'd be cooped up indoors for half the year and miserable. I really, really, really hate snow and cold weather. Seriously. I've had enough to last me a lifetime and don't ever want to see any more snow or experience any below-freezing temperatures again for the rest of my life. It bothers me that much.

Otherwise I would have gone back to Montreal in a heartbeat. Different vibe and lifestyle than Vancouver, but I loved it. Except for the weather. There's about two months of the year I enjoy, and that's it. Real estate prices there are among the cheapest for a major city in Canada. I considered the maritime provinces, but I'm just not an east coast person. And the weather is pretty nasty out east. The lower real estate prices are not enough to sway me. I've never really enjoyed living in Ontario either. If I had to, Niagara Falls is nice, but not nice enough to entice me to stay in Ontario. BC is where I belong. I've always liked it and am so looking forward to moving back - even though it's an expensive place to live.

It would be nice if I could get US citizenship so I could stay there year round. Or another country with a mild, gentle climate, or even a tropical climate. I'm working on figuring that out. Until then, if I have to spend summers in Canada, it's got to be in BC, preferably the lower mainland or Vancouver Island (though Vancouver Island and Kelowna have less work opportunities for me, but they will be on my radar for future consideration). If I get stuck in Vancouver or Vancouver Island for the winter, it's the easiest winter I'll get in Canada. Though I'd prefer to spend 4 to 6 months a year in the US south west. I know the US south-east is cheaper, but I just don't like it nearly as much as the south-west. Life is too short to to settle for compromises. I'm getting close to middle age now, and if my health doesn't improve, I may not be around for as long as I'd like, so I want to make the most of whatever time I've got left. I could be in a freak accident tomorrow and die, but that aside, if I have 10 or 20 more years to live, I want to live in places I like and do things I enjoy - things I have not had much of a chance to do until now. From now on, I know what I want and do not want to make any more compromises. I'm single, no kids, nothing really holding me back, except my elderly parents who I hope will still move to BC. They're on the fence about it right now.

Now, I like Florida, especially Key West, and would definitely travel there and stay for a little while, but for long term living, I'd move with the nice weather in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Oregon, etc. Either move up and down in latitude or up in elevation so it's never too hot or too cold.

Believe me, I've thought long and hard about this. Considered many, many cities in Canada to make as my home base, and finally whittled it down to Vancouver, Nanaimo (much cheaper real estate and still nice weather, though less work opportunities), Victoria (very nice city, though also fewer work opportunities) and maybe Kelowna (a decent all around compromise). As for the US, I really prefer the west and want to explore it a bit more. Easier now that I have my Airstream. There are a few places in the US east I'd still like to visit, and maybe go once a year to Key West, FL, but overall, the west, and in particular, the south west is where I want to be if I snowbird. Or could live there permanently.

Just one more hurdle to overcome when snowbirding in the US for the winters... legally not being able to work from my computer while in the US, even if it's work I'm doing for a Canadian client, for which I'll be paid in Canadian dollars, upon returning to Canada. Apparently that's not allowed. Unless the income is passive, on auto pilot, such as rental income, income from selling digital products on a website, etc. I have to look into this. Until then, I need to be able to prove to the US border agent, when I cross the border with my Airstream, that I will NOT be doing any sort of work and that I have money in the bank to support myself for the 4 to 6 months I plan on spending in the US. Until I can figure that out, I might need to limit my snowbirding to 4 or 6 weeks (rather than 4 to 6 months) in the winter. But I'm working on it!

PS: One of the negatives about moving back to BC is having to contend with mountain driving, not only to get there, but if I want to travel. But I think I've mapped out some routes for future travel that will greatly reduce the amount of mountain driving. For example, going to the US south west, looks like driving along the coast of California won't be too bad - even if it means a few more miles and hours of driving, I'd do it to avoid steeper and twisty mountain roads with steep drop offs.
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Old 04-14-2014, 07:38 PM   #17
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OK, a bit of an update:

1. I called the US border crossing and spoke to one agent who at first said it should be just fine for me to cross the border since I'm really just transporting goods "in transit" and passing through the US to western Canada as many Canadians do. But then he said I really should ask someone else and transferred me to the person he said would know best. That agent said that if I came to the border crossing when he was there, he would not let me in, as I have no fixed address anymore, no job to go to, and a bunch of personal and household belongings with me - just the right combination of things for someone looking to sneak into the US to live there permanently, illegally. Of course, that is NOT at all what I plan on doing. It's not even worth "trying" as every border crossing a person makes is recorded. He wouldn't confirm or deny, but reading between the lines, I gathered that if I get refused entry, it will show up next time I try to cross (and I don't know for how long after that). So, I don't want to ruin my perfect record with them, as I've crossed many times, always hassle-free and intend to keep that up so I can do so in future. Once I get settled in Vancouver with a new permanent address, work and attempt to cross under normal conditions, with or without my Airstream, I should have no problems. Looks like this time, though, I will have to stay within Canada for my drive out west.

2. As suggested, I requested a Trip Tik from the CAA. I asked for the least hilly, easiest route as I'm towing a 25 foot travel trailer for the first time. Due to the holiday weekend, it will take a bit longer, but I should be able to pick it up next Wednesday. I asked them for a Trip Tik staying within Canada on the way there, and through the US on the way back, just so that I'll have the US route mapped out for future reference, in case I need to go east in the future, once I don't have to worry about the border crossing issues mentioned above. As soon as I get the Trip Tik, I'll report back on which routes they suggested.
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Old 04-14-2014, 09:42 PM   #18
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I have two concerns about your upcoming journey--1) Do you have a good brake controller and are the trailer brakes in good working order? I think the downhill side is where you might be at most risk. 2) Have you planned to avoid high wind areas? Your trailer will out weigh your Chrysler by nearly 1,000 lbs. and the Chrysler's short wheelbase lacks stability. I must add that I feel you are risking the safety of the motorists you meet in route to BC
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Old 04-14-2014, 10:26 PM   #19
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I have two concerns about your upcoming journey--1) Do you have a good brake controller and are the trailer brakes in good working order? I think the downhill side is where you might be at most risk. 2) Have you planned to avoid high wind areas? Your trailer will out weigh your Chrysler by nearly 1,000 lbs. and the Chrysler's short wheelbase lacks stability. I must add that I feel you are risking the safety of the motorists you meet in route to BC
I had a brake controller installed by Can Am RV in London, Ontario (not sure of the brand but it's a good brand, and brakes, mechanicals, etc, all checked out, got new tires too - trailer was completely checked over and repaired as needed, it's ready for the road). Can Am RV is pretty much regarded as the authority on towing on this forum, and many people come from across Canada and the US to get them to install their hitches, so I trust them. I also bought the trailer from them, as they are a long time Airstream dealer, a top 10 Airstream dealer in fact, with a large inventory of Airstreams. They've got several Dodge Grand Caravans and Chrysler Town & Country minvans in their fleet. In fact, it was on their recommendation (actually Andy, the owner) that I bought my own Town & Country. So far I've only driven it three hours for the drive home, and it seemed fine. Also, I'm sure we all know Airstream are the best handling travel trailers - between the aerodynamic body and independent suspension. They also set me up with weight distribution and sway control, so I feel quite safe and confident.

Can Am also reminded me that the trailer is bigger than the van, as Roger from there told me "the cart will push the horse." I have to admit, I was skeptical at first, as many people are, but they reassured me I'll be fine with this van. They've got a reputation to keep - I don't think they'd set me up with an unsafe combination that would endanger my own safety as well as the safety of others. They've taken a Town & Country, with 4 passengers, towing a 25 foot Airstream to Denver and back without any issues. Earlier in this thread, it was mentioned that two other members driving similar vans (Toyota Siennas) made it through the Rocky Mountains. A bit slow up hills, but not unlike the tractor trailers, probably not as slow as they are. I'll find out soon enough!

In addition to the brake controller, they advised me to to downshift. I've got a 6 speed automatic transmission, but when towing I should keep it in 5th. Going up, and especially downhill, I will probably find myself downshifting to 4th and 3rd. I don't know about 2nd, that might be too low. The shifter is dash mounted and set up for easy upshifts and downshifts - tap to left to downshift, tap to the right to upshift (I think - it might be the other way around).
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Old 04-14-2014, 10:58 PM   #20
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I just checked, my brake controller is a Tekonsha Prodigy P2.
I'm not a mechanic, but assuming the mechanics who checked the van's brakes and the trailer's brakes, I'm told they're fine.

I also found a pic the day I picked up the Airstream at Can Am, and a close-up of the hitch connection. Yeah, the cart pushes the horse. The tail wags the dog. Apparently, based on a lot of past experience with similar and identical minivan/trailer combos, it's a good set up. If it hadn't been for that, I probably would have bought a Suburban, Expedition, 3/4 diesel pickup, etc. But the van suits my daily, non-towing needs very well, and is fairly fuel efficient for the size and type of vehicle.

Based on all of this, I feel very confident that all is good. My bigger concern right now is the border crossing (which I probably won't do on this trip due to the above mentioned circumstances). Since this is my first time towing, let alone a long road trip across the country and through the Rocky Mountains, my next concern is getting the easiest route for a newbie towing - I'd be as concerned if I were driving a 1 ton turbo diesel dually or a full size SUV towing a 16' Bambi.
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Old 04-14-2014, 11:43 PM   #21
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Also wanted to mention, back in the 1970s and 1980s, people were towing with their Ford Country Squire station wagon with a 130 hp V8 and long rear overhang, or Chevy Caprice with front disc/rear drum brakes, mushy/soft suspension, 15" or 14" whitewall passenger car tires, and all the other technology of the day. And in the 50s and 60s, the heyday of camping, people were towing with cars even less sophisticated. I don't think many people were towing with a Chevy Suburban, let alone a 3/4 ton diesel pickup (all of which have a higher center of gravity and longer rear overhang, but admittedly, the modern ones have more power and torque).

I think my 2012 Chrysler Town & Country with a long wheelbase/short rear overhang, low center of gravity, 4 wheel disc brakes, anti-lock brakes, traction control, stability control, torquey and fuel efficient 283 hp engine, 6 speed automatic, 17 wheels, etc mated to a superb handling Airstream with weight distribution and anti-sway will have superior towing capabilities than the vehicles people used to use, and managed to get to their destinations in. Sorry for getting so defensive, but a lot of people today think that if you're not towing with a full size SUV or 3/4 ton pickup, it's wrong. If Andy from Can Am, or anyone else who tows with a minivan chimes in, I'm sure we'll hear that a minivan is actually a better tow vehicle in many respects. Maybe not for a 34' trailer, but I think for a 20, 25, 28 foot trailer, it is.

A little while ago, I got to drive a friend's 1971 Chrysler Newport with a 440 V8 and 3 speed automatic. It was a blast to drive, and looked really cool, but it made me realize how incredibly far automotive technology has come since then. I also used to drive 1 ton diesel pickups and vans at a previous job. Good power and torque, but you definitely feel the higher center of gravity, and I'm a pretty easy going driver.
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Old 04-15-2014, 05:39 AM   #22
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I think you might be over thinking this a little. I've got a friend who's parents have been full timing with a class A bus for close to ten years. They go south in winter and spend the summers in Canada. They have no permanent address in Canada, everything they own is with them and they have never had any trouble of any kind at the border. Just don't tell them your life story and you should have no trouble.

Your van is a good and capable tow vehicle, in many ways far more capable than many a truck, or truck based SUV, with an unsophisticated suspension setup and a high centre of gravity.

Don't worry too much and just enjoy the journey.
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Old 04-15-2014, 06:48 AM   #23
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Re the comment about the brakes on the Caravan and the short wheel base. We look at rear overhang as a percentage of the wheelbase and find this a much better number than looking at the wheelbase alone. The Caravan is very good in this regard. It's rear suspension stance is 20" wider than a full size truck which also assists with stability a great deal. Beyond that it has a much better tire and wheel combination. In downhill situations it does not matter what you tow with you need to use engine braking, with the 6 speed transmission the caravan can hold the combination's speed in control on a 18% grade quite nicely.

Since 1999 we have set up over 2000 front drive vans for towing and they have given amazing service. We have two caravans in our fleet one of which makes a weekly trip to Indiana to get parts and tow back trialers that are far harder to tow than any Airstream.

I have posted this before but it is a great link to a blog done by one of our customers. They have a 2004 Sienna that they have been towing their 2002 30' Classic with for 10 years. This is a blog of a trip through the Northwest Territories, Yukon and Northern BC.

Not@Home: 8/1/10 - 8/8/10

I hope this helps.

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Old 04-15-2014, 09:40 AM   #24
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Thanks, both Andys!

Andreasduess, that's great to hear your friend's parents have been fulltiming and snowbirding in the US for almost a decade. But, I think they've got a few things in their favour that I dont:

1. Age. I'm going to guess that they're of typical retirement age, in their 60s or older, and hence are not expected to be in the workforce. They have a guaranteed income in the form of a pension. Me... I'm in my early 40s. People of my age are expected to be in the workforce working full time or own a business. I have neither at the moment. The US border agent I spoke to told me that if I had a job lined up for me waiting for me in Vancouver, that would have helped a lot.

2. Permanent address. Since they're full timing in a motorhome, they don't have a bricks and mortar home anymore, but they're probably using a real residential address of a friend or relative. When they cross the border they probably don't volunteer this information, they probably say something like "we're from Toronto" and the address on their ID will support this. They might even get away with a mailbox address, but if the border agent knew it was just a mailbox address, that would probably raise some red flags.

3. Although they have everything they own with them, it's neatly put away in the cupboards of their motorhome. I will have my things neatly put away in the cupboards of my Airstream, but I will also have a few boxes of kitchen items (duplicates of what's in the Airstream), home office items and all of my clothing, plus (if it fits and I'm not overloading) a living room chair, a floor lamp, a dresser and night table. To a skeptical border agent, it sure would look like I'm ready to set up a new home in the US.

4. A history of entering and exiting the US for long periods of time. I'm not sure if it was easier to go south for the winter 10 years ago, but in any case, a border agent will be able to see they've crossed the border every fall or winter and returned every spring, so they've built up some credibility already.

Border agents need to be suspicious of everyone. I can see how it would look to them. A 40 something guy pulls up to the border, with boxes of household items, a travel trailer, just left his job, sold his house, no ties to anything or anyone in Canada and wants to enter the US on the premise of taking a shortcut to BC. If I had a job lined up and/or a condo already purchased in Vancouver, that would have helped a lot. But so far, it sounds like at best, I have a 50/50 chance of being let in, depending how lenient the agent is that I would get. And if I'm refused entry, it will go on my permanent record and may harm my chances of getting into the US in the future. I don't want to jeopardize that.

I sporadically follow a blog by Rae Crothers and purchased her book (see her blog at http://travelswithmiranda.uskeba.ca/). She's Canadian, appears to be in her 30s and self-employed and is a full time RVer with a Class C motorhome towing a small pickup behind it. She's finally given in and bought a piece of property to "have ties" to Canada as she was increasingly having problems getting into the US and was tired of giving half-truths and always worrying if she'd be let in. Her solution was to buy a cheap piece of rural Saskatchewan land. As far as I know, there's no house on it yet, she's still full timing out of her RV, on that land in the summer. I'd say my situation is more similar to hers than your friend's parents.
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Old 04-15-2014, 09:49 AM   #25
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Andrew T, thanks for replying! I was hoping you would, as I know many people here consider you the authority on towing and hitch set ups. I know you wouldn't have risked your reputation or business to set me up with an unsafe tow vehicle/trailer combination. I didn't realize you had set up over 2000 front wheel drive minvans already - that helps reassure me even more! And I love that blog from Anne-Grethe and Einar with their Sienna and 30' Aistream Classic and the places they've been, including extensively through the Rockies. Makes me feel a lot better about taking my 25' Airstream Excella through the Rockies with my Chrysler Town & Country.

Good point about the minvan's wider and lower stance, which is actually an advantage over pickups. The full size SUVs and 3/4 ton, 1 ton and turbo diesel duallys have an advantage with engine power and torque, but modern minvans like my 286 hp V6 engine is quite capable. And has the benefit of being easier to drive in urban areas and more fuel efficient when not towing (and maybe even when towing - I have yet to see).
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Old 04-15-2014, 01:22 PM   #26
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The main problem crossing the border is that, while it is normally very routine, there is always the risk that it will become a huge hassle for reasons that are difficult to anticipate or for no reason at all.

I had problems entering Canada from the U.S. once on a fishing trip. The Canadian customs agent made an ass of himself because he took exception to the fact that I was driving while my parents (who were driving with me) had packed the truck. We were delayed by an hour or so while they searched through the truck and our belongings. While not a big deal in the greater scheme of things the unreasonableness and bureaucratic attitude colored the balance of our trip.

I guess the customs agent wanted to teach me a lesson. The lesson I took from it is that it's more fun to spend my vacation on the U.S. side of the border.

I wouldn't recommend trying to go across the border with all that stuff if there is a good alternative. If they find a marijuana seed that a former owner dropped under the seat of the dinette you'll spend hours dealing with them.
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Old 04-15-2014, 03:37 PM   #27
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The main problem crossing the border is that, while it is normally very routine, there is always the risk that it will become a huge hassle for reasons that are difficult to anticipate or for no reason at all.

I had problems entering Canada from the U.S. once on a fishing trip. The Canadian customs agent made an ass of himself because he took exception to the fact that I was driving while my parents (who were driving with me) had packed the truck. We were delayed by an hour or so while they searched through the truck and our belongings. While not a big deal in the greater scheme of things the unreasonableness and bureaucratic attitude colored the balance of our trip.

I guess the customs agent wanted to teach me a lesson. The lesson I took from it is that it's more fun to spend my vacation on the U.S. side of the border.

I wouldn't recommend trying to go across the border with all that stuff if there is a good alternative. If they find a marijuana seed that a former owner dropped under the seat of the dinette you'll spend hours dealing with them.
Good points! Exactly. You never know when you will get some agent on a power trip wanting to teach me a lesson about something, or blow something out of proportion and pull me aside for an hour or half a day and go through everything. Or just turn me away if they don't believe me that I'm only passing through the US. I bet many people have run into something like this when crossing a border, from whichever side, and it really puts a sour taste in their mouths about wanting to return to visit that country again.

Though I've crossed the border many times, it's always been routine. A few times I've arrived late at night, there was no line up, and I spent no more than 30 seconds talking with the border agent before being let through. Once, with a friend, we were pulled aside to do a light search of the car because they didn't believe we were across the border for the day and didn't buy anything to bring back. It was true, we had lunch, bought gas for the car (not needed to to declare), but they wanted to check anyways. With all the stuff I'll have in the van, and in the Airstream (and you're right, there could be a trace of drugs from the previous owner), I could be in for trouble. They could rip the van and trailer apart looking for drugs. I don't touch drugs myself, but I can't say that in the previous 24 years while my trailer was owned by other people there weren't any in there. A drug sniffing dog would sure know though!

The more I think about this, the more it makes sense for me to drive across on the Canadian side since it's readily available. Gas will be a bit more expensive and the roads maybe not as good, but I'd rather air on the side of caution. Once I'm not hauling my household stuff and have my employment and new address set up, I'll cross the border with my Airstream for a vacation. And you made me think, it's probably a good idea for me to fully clean and detail the trailer (and the two year old van, which I also bought used), just in case there are traces of drugs, gun power residue, tobacco, alcohol, etc that a trained dog could sniff out.
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Old 04-30-2014, 09:57 AM   #28
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1990 25' Excella
Vancouver , British Columbia
Join Date: Jan 2014
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A few updates:

(I'll probably be delayed a few days, but hoping to leave no later than this weekend to arrive in the Vancouver area by May 10 to May 15. Driving solo, I've done the trip in 3 1/2 to 4 or 5 days, but with a trailer, towing for the first time, I'll give myself 5 to 7 days, 4400 kms or 2800 miles to cover! ).

1. CAA Triptik Recommended Route:
It was suggested I get a CAA TripTik, because even in this day and age of GPS and Google Maps, the people who put together the TripTiks are supposed to know the best routes to take, based on the member's requirements. So, I ordered my Triptik, and requested the easiest, least hilly route. One route through Canada, and another through the US. When I got the TripTik, it suggested pretty much the route I would have taken if I used what Google Maps would give me. So, I had the clerk call down to the people who make the TripTiks to make sure they noticed my request for the least hilly routes and that I'm towing a 25 foot travel trailer. Apparently they did, and would still recommend the same route as if I were driving solo in a car because it's also the best choice in my situation. Here are their suggested routes:
Through Canada:
Toronto, take Hwy 400, then Hwy 11 to North Bay, continue on Hwy 11 (TransCanada Hwy at that point) through Kapuskasing to Thunder Bay. Then Hwy 17 to Dryden, (called Hwy 1 Trans Canada Highway entering Manitoba), through Winnipeg MB, Regina SK, Medicine Hat AB, Calgary AB, Banff, cross into BC still on Hwy 1 through Rogers Pass, through Golden BC, Revelstoke BC, Kamloops BC (I'm going to skip my side trip to Kelowna this time), then take Hwy 5 (Coquihalla, well engineered road but with steep hills for 200 kms or 2 hrs 15 min driving time) to Hope BC then back on Hwy 1 (Trans Canada Hwy), through Chillwack, etc right into the Lower Mainland. Here's a Google Map of the route: https://goo.gl/maps/kXVvd

Through the US:
Option 1 for first part of trip: Toronto to Sarnia/Port Huron border crossing taking Hwy 400, 401 (and optionally, take the 407 toll route to avoid heavy Toronto traffic), then 402 to Sarnia. Then I-69 to Flint MI, I-75 to northern Michigan near St. Ignace, then Hwy 2, Hwy 117 briefly, then Hwy 28 into northern Wisconsin.
Option 2 for first part of trip: Toronto Hwy 400 to Parry Sound, becomes Hwy 69 to Sudbury ON, then Hwy 17 (Trans Canada Highway) to Sault Sainte Marie ON, cross into northern Michigan, take Hwy 28. Gets me to the same spot as the above mentioned route.

(both optional routes meet up here) Then continue on Hwy 28. Looks like it turns into Hwy 2 around Ashland WI. Continue to Superior WI, then Hwy 210 (also labelled as Hwy 10) across Wisconsin, cross into North Dakota. At Fargo ND take I-94 and take it right across North Dakota into Montana. At Billings MT, it turns into I-90, take it through Bozeman, Butte and Missoula MT, into Washington state, through Sokane WA. Stay on I-90 right through Washington almost to the coast, at Bellevue (suburb of Seattle), go north on I-495 (also labelled as I-5 closer to the Canada/US border near Bellingham WA). Cross border from Blaine WA to White Rock (Surrey) BC. Take Hwy 99 into lower mainland.
Map of Option 1: https://goo.gl/maps/vqIFt
Map of Option 2: https://goo.gl/maps/GD7qQ (my preferred route due to less heavy traffic)
2. To cross the border or stay in Canada?
If you've read the earlier posts in this thread, you noticed my concern with crossing into the border. I've spoken with several border agents over the phone at the border crossing I'm considering crossing at. At first it was implied that I would most likely be refused entry into the US since, in the eyes of a skeptical border agent, I have all the means to lie to get into the US and illegally live and work there. I'd have all personal belongings that I haven't sold, my van, my Airstream, no job since I quit it, no home since I sold it, etc. No job lined up in in BC, no home lined up in BC.

But lately, I've been working with a Realtor in the Vancouver area. I have enough money for a modest 1 bedroom condo in the suburbs of Vancouver and am considering putting in a conditional offer on one that's a good deal. Conditional upon me seeing it in person by May 15. I'm still waiting to hear back if my offer will be accepted. I'm a bit leery about buying sight unseen, but since there's so little in my price range, I might consider that option and trust the Realtor's judgement. This would speed up the closing process, AND more importantly, give me "ties to Canada" - if I've bought, or am in the process of buying a place in BC. The US border agents can't confirm or deny anything, but "reading between the lines" it seems quite likely that this would greatly help my chances of being let across the border in transit to Canada. Even better would be proof that I've been applying to jobs in BC. Of course, there's still no guarantee. It seems if I'm refused entry, the next time I try to cross I will be required to provide extensive proof of my ties to Canada so they know I have a good reason to come back. And then, from then on, I should be OK. I'll still stay in my Airstream, but probably not as long if I can take possession of the condo sooner. I may stay in the Airstream at a campground a bit longer if I choose to do some renos to the condo before moving in. Maybe. I'm looking forward to trying out my Airstream!

If I do decide to attempt a border crossing, I would probably try it at Sault Sainte Marie, ON into Sault Sainte Marie, MI. That way I miss heavy traffic in Toronto, southern Ontario, metro Detroit, Chicago, etc. AND, if I'm denied entry, there's really no back tracking - just continue through Canada. If I tried to cross at Sarnia ON/Port Huron MI, and was denied entry, I'd have wasted 6 hours of driving time (return trip), at least one full tank of gas or more, plus the better part of a day. Not to mention driving in heavy traffic and probably $80 in 407 tolls. So, going through northern Ontario into northern Michigan would be the better way to go, if I choose to try crossing the border. I'll see how much paperwork I can get put together and how confident I feel. Otherwise I'll stick to the Canadian side where I'll get colder temperatures, possible snow conditions (so I won't be able to de-winterize my Airstream until I get to Vancouver), less amenities, more expensive fuel and steeper hills through the Rockies.
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