15 November 2014

US Border Restrictions

We have never been sure how long we have to leave the USA for, until this year. The first two years of travelling really didn't matter as we left for seven and five months each time. We had heard that Canadians had to be at home for six months for healthcare reasons but didn't think it was because they have to be out of the States for six months. Immigration say that you only have to leave the country every six months for a day. There are some people in Border Control that say the same but also say that is not what is being enforced. Ninety-nine percent of Border Control have their own made-up rule that states "you must be out of the country for longer that you have been in". In a nutshell, if you stay for six months, you must leave for at least six months, preferably longer.

Coming back from Kenya we asked for a six month entry. We had been out for nearly a month, but had been there for five months prior to that. After a lot of page checking in our passports, it would have been quicker if he just asked me how long we had been where, he said "It looks like you are living here". No, we're travelling. They think you are working, which eeek, no we are not! "Okay, I will give you six months but you are not going to do this again are you?" err, okay. shit. That would mean we would have to leave for six months from March to August, just when we really really want to be there. So if we left now, we could be back when we are not so restricted on where we can go because of winter.

What to do, what to do. I nearly booked tickets back to Oz but as some nice scammer had stolen our credit card details from Home Depot and on-sold them to another unscrupulous person who then racked up $6,300 on our card, we had no credit left. We are seriously thinking of just using cash in the USA, this is the second time it has happened in a few months and we had only had the new card a week! Luckily while they were having a spending spree in Texas, we were paying for our hotel in Nairobi on the same day with the same card, so had an ironclad alibi. I finished our taxes and posted them to our accountant and we headed north. All the other RVer's were heading south, we were going against the migration.

I had to wait a day for some money to transfer to buy the air tickets and Lindsay just happened to be chatting to a Kyle in Calgary. "why don't you go to Vancouver for winter, it doesn't snow there" he suggested. Sounds like an easy plan. I had looked at going to other places but it's a bit daunting to move somewhere you haven't been before for four months without any planning and without all your "stuff". At least in Vancouver we would have our trailer and truck. Going through border control into Canada was so refreshing, they are really nice. You only need to leave Canada for a day every six months, so they are quite happy for us to spend our money in their country. Unlike their neighbours.

We contacted Cameron and Christine on Vancouver Island to see if they were still there in the hope that we could catch up before they headed down to Palm Springs in California for the winter. They were, which was great because we hadn't seen them for a couple of years. Lots of near misses but never quite connected. Quite unexpectedly, they offered their house to us! So we put our trailer on the ferry and store it close by so that we can get things when we want to, and will be here for the winter. Yes, it rains a lot and has even snowed a few days but it is lovely to have a bit of space, real walls around us, cable TV and Netflix. When there are no clouds, the air gets colder, the rain stops and it's freezing; so it's either cold or wet! It's an unseasonally cold winter this year, lucky us. I now know why the snowbirds head south in the winter.

We are in a gated community for active retirees, but it's nothing like retirement villages at home. The roads are a normal width and there are over six hundred houses here, of all sizes, not just small units. No compromising here if you don't want to. Many garages house a golf cart (buggies) alongside the car. There is a lady who exercises two Afghans twice a day while riding in her cart. A few of our windows look out onto the golf course where we see deer early in the morning or golfers during the day. Up past the letter boxes, some of the houses have a stunning view of the bay.

You never know, we might have a white Christmas after all.