Saturday, February 22, 2014

Planning for a Canadian Border Crossing in the Little RV

The other day I made a comment on another blog I follow about going to Alaska.  I was surprised to have other readers comment on my comment.  

We were discussing pets, how we spoil them and what we feed them.  I mentioned Grant's many food allergies.
His most recent diet consists of bison, fresh green beans and quinoa.  

I am happy to say he is doing very well on this food combination but it is really expensive. Bison runs about $7 a pound (at Costco) and quinoa is available for about $5 a pound.  We're spending roughly $20 every three days to feed our dog.  How's that for insanity?  I have to say, we adopted him for life and we want him healthy so it is a small price to pay.  

None of this is meant to be a complaint. These are simply my thoughts on the health, legal, and cost considerations of crossing the border.  

The comments I received were centered around what you can and can't take across the US/Canadian border.  I had hoped to purchase and take as much bison as we could carry in order to assure we don't run out.  In some remote places I imagine bison is not easy to come by. Perhaps quinoa is hard to get too.  

After reading those comments, I began researching the finer points of crossing the boarder into Canada from the US.  Let me just say, I had no idea how restrictive the rules are.  Not only is there a limit on the types of food items you can bring over the border but there are quantity limits on the amount.

The first thing I had to do is figure out how much 20 kilograms equals in pounds and ounces.  People, I'm 51 and it's been a long time since I was in school. Don't judge.  20 kilograms is roughly 44 lbs. That made me feel a bit better.  Most of the limits are per person.  

I found this information on Canada's official border enforcement official site. This is not a complete.  I removed things that didn't apply to us like animal fat, suet, coniferous wreaths and Christmas trees, conifers and garden plants, cut flowers, infant formula, leather goods and skins, sea shells and sand. 

Baked goods, candies, etc.
  • no goods containing meat 
  • up to 20 kilograms per person
Dairy products (e.g.: cheese, milk, yogurt, butter)
$20 limit per person on dairy products?  Guess we can plan on one brick of cheese. There is a pretty big disparity between 44 lbs and a $20 value limit. 
  • up to 20 kilograms per person with a value of $20 or less
Fish and seafood
  • up to 20 kilograms per person
  • all species except
    • pufferfish - How could you eat that?  Look at that face!

    • Chinese mitten crab (Eriocheir sinensis)  He really does have mittens!  
Fruits and vegetables, including herbs: dried
  • up to 15 packages per person - How many fruits fit in a packet?  
  • but not more than 250 kilograms
Fruits and vegetables, including herbs: frozen or canned
  • fruits
    • up to 15 frozen packages or 15 cans per person 
    • but not more than 250 kilograms = 250 kg is roughly 550 lbs  
  • vegetables - How many cans of veggies can we bring?
    • up to 20 kilograms of frozen or chilled vegetables per person
Fruits and vegetables: fresh
  • one bag up to 4 kilograms of US number 1 potatoes per person and the bag must be commercially packaged -  one potato, two potatoes, three potatoes, four....
  • 15 packages or less up to 250 kilograms of fresh fruits and vegetables per person (excluding potatoes) - 
  • must be free from soil, pests, leaves, branches and/or plant debris
  • some restrictions on some fresh fruit and vegetables from California, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington
  • in British Columbia (BC): restrictions on fresh apples, stone fruit and potatoes
Game animal carcasses -  Doggone it!  I was saving a game carcass specifically for this trip.
  • with a hunter's permit and/or licence
Spices, tea, coffee, condiments  -  JACKPOT! - I do love my coffee and clearly they understand that in Canada.
  • entry permitted
Meat and poultry products (for example, jerky, sausages, deli meats and patties, fois gras)  - 20 kg equals roughly 44 lbs!.  I'm going right out and buying 88 lbs of fois gras
  • up to 20 kilograms per person
  • packages must have identifying marks, indicating what the product is
  • proof of country of origin may be required
Meat and poultry: fresh, frozen and chilled 
  • up to 20 kilograms per person
  • one turkey per person  
  • packages must have identifying marks, indicating what the product is
  • proof of country of origin may be required
Perhaps I'm over-thinking the whole thing. I tend to do that but the last thing we need is to have a bad border crossing and the loss of expensive items because we just didn't understand the rules. 

One of the commentors suggested we take the Alaska Marine Highway System ferry from Bellingham, WA to Alaska and avoid Canada altogether.  We did consider the ferry but the cost is outrageous and we wouldn't have access to our RV.  We'd have to book a cabin on the ferry.   Rob can't eat food with salt in it so eating anything other than home cooked food is not an option.  Additionally, pets aren't allowed allowed in the cabins and must be left in in a vehicle on the vehicle deck.  Our RV, when the slides are in, is completely inaccessible other than a 3' by 5' space where the entry door is located. I also read you cannot use the propane while on board and there is no electric hook-up so we would have to empty our refrigerator and freezer.

It's a bit disappointing to learn all of this about the ferry because it would be a beautiful way to see the inside passage. Instead we'll enjoy the beauty of Canada and the Yukon Territory 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

More Problem Solving in the Little RV

The ongoing saga of our light fixture woes is nearing an end (hopefully).  You may remember the light fixtures above our kitchen island were not of the highest quality and whenever we needed to change a bulb there was an epic struggle to remove the old bulb.  

These were the old light fixtures.  

I really didn't like the amber glass shades and they cut a lot of light from the bulb. Also the opening of the shade was so small I couldn't get two hands in to change the bulb and the base and wires would turn when we tried to get the bulb out.  

DRV agreed to replace them so during one of our many repair visits they were replaced with these fixtures. They are completely different and I like them much better but they are brushed nickel and the old ones were oil rubbed bronze.  Everything in the RV is oil rubbed bronze. I like the brushed nickel much better so I'm slowly changing everything over to brushed nickel. 

So, thinking our light situation was resolved we set out on our next adventure.  After our first trip we noticed the lights were not lined up correctly and were moving while we traveled.  I wasn't too concerned until we found one of them hanging by the wires after a day of travel.  
We reattached them as well as we could and contacted our repair shop to get them started on a solution for the lights.  Some of the connections are stripped and won't tighten up enough to stay put.

To  make a long story short, nearly a year later there has been no solution. Apparently getting pendent lights for an RV is nearly impossible.  I have searched high and low and so has our repair shop. After showing the problem to my dad (who can fix anything) we decided the best course of action is to keep these lights and try to make them travel proof.  

Isn't that attractive?
We took the lights down via the buddy system. I climbed up on the island and Rob handed me tools and acted as a brace to help me up and a cushion in case I fell off.  Dad completely took the fixtures apart and secured all of the joints and connections with Loctite.   Hopefully this will do the trick. 

Unfortunately, with these new fixtures, we are having the same problems getting the bulbs out when they need to be replaced. 

We are in the process of changing over to all LED lights so after much searching for the solution to that little problem I found these little beauties on ebay.  They adapt a bayonet light bulb base to a G4 LED pin base. 

Never again will we have to struggle to remove the bulb. And... these beauties are rumored to last 50,000 hours. 

We're just waiting for them to arrive and the lights go back up.  Hopefully for good.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Snow and We Have a Screw Loose in the Little RV

We finally had a great snowfall the other night.  Grant and I woke up and went outside for our morning walk and this is what we saw when we opened the door.

We got three or four inches of snow overnight. Grant frolicked like a puppy. 

What is it with dogs and snow?  He was having a blast.

We seem to have a bit of a situation.  The front end of the Little RV is saggin' big time.  I believe it is time for some cosmetic surgery.  

Upon further inspection we discovered the trim around the hitch was not secured and the fiberglass has sagged over time.  My immediate reaction was to blame DRV and their expensive, "high quality" craftsmanship. Then I remembered the "gator incident". 

The damage from that incident would have required that section of fiberglass to be either repaired or replaced.  I'm thinking it was not installed correctly when the work was done. The screws that attach the trim and the sheet of fiberglass around the hitch are all stripped and pulling out.  There is a gap between the fiberglass and insulation and the underside of our bedroom and closet. 

I'll be calling the repair shop to see what they have to say.

Rob has seen the ophthalmologist and is scheduled for injections in his right eye over the next three months.  That should put us just at about May 1st and a perfect time to leave for Alaska.  Bet the guy we are renting the lot from will be happy to hear about this.