Friday, June 29, 2012

Bureaucratic Hell and Rhubarb Custard...

John and I will celebrate at Amrikko's Indian Grill (Parksville, British Columbia) this evening with sister-in-law Sharon for having completed the import/registration/insurance process for our truck and the Jazz. (We must still go through the entire process for our Matrix car.)

The steps involved in the process of getting our vehicles into Canada with us were:

1. Export truck and RV from U.S. (at U.S. border)
2. Import to Canada (at Canada border)
3. Pay tax on vehicles at Canada border
4. Two inspections on truck at two different places
5. One inspection on RV
6. Register truck and RV
7. Insure truck and RV
8. Pay additional tax on RV

Be aware that this is a neat, orderly list. The process was the opposite experience. Barriers existed along the way and felt nightmarish and insane at times. We dealt with three government agencies and four private businesses from beginning to end (not including places we contacted for birth certificates, titles, the missing information label on the truck door, the RV dealer who wrote the letter stating the value of our RV, obtaining the required Canadian drivers' license and our U.S. personal insurance history documents.)

The month and a half of trying to get the vehicles "legal" in Canada was fraught with mistakes, uncaring bureaucrats, entitled business people, poor communication, and payments of taxes or fees at every turn. Needless to say, John and I thought we had entered a migration hell.

Hopefully, the process with the Matrix will go more smoothly.

This week has been very pleasing otherwise. We finalized our deal on our Surfside RV Resort "pad." We walked on the beach many times while enjoying a variety of weather from sunshine and warmth to cold showers and clouds. We spent time with Sharon and enjoyed her Rhubarb Dessert Torte one evening. (Let me know if you want the recipe. It was delicious!)

Sharon and her delicious Rhubarb Dessert Torte.

Parksville Beach boardwalk at mid-week.

Three women enjoying Parksville Beach this week.

Now time to look forward to the Canada Day celebrations this weekend. What are you doing for the upcoming holidays?

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Vancouver Island Dreamin'

John and I spent the day driving up to and exploring around Courtenay, British Columbia. It was a nice change of pace from trying to register and insure vehicles.

Parksville is about twenty miles north of Nanaimo. Lots of places to explore this summer.
We made a deal that we were not going to talk about the incredible red tape we've gone through and are currently going through with bringing our vehicles into British Columbia, Canada with us as part of our relocation. There have been exporting and importing processes, taxes to pay, multiple inspections, and now the biggest challenges and costs of all - registering and insuring them. It sounds simple but believe me IT IS NOT.

Oh yes, back to today's drive. John had not explored Courtenay and I've not been there before. Here are a few of my favorite shots from our visit.

Boats docked at Courtaney Slough.

Of course, you can't keep John away from getting a close up of the boats.

And there were lovers in the park enjoying the sun and sky.

Simms Millennium Park bustled with activity.

Courtenay River runs through the city.

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend. What's up for you this new week?

Friday, June 22, 2012

Important things to ponder as this woman transitions to living a Canadian life...

How do you take pictures in the rain?
What is the strategy for taking pictures on overcast days?
Could I survive a winter of Vancouver Island weather?
Why are Canadians so nice? (and hard-arsed at the same time?)
Are all Canadians happy?
When can I get an official job?
How do you get Prilosec in Canada? (It's over the counter in the U.S.)
Is there enough sunshine in my life?
Which is better? Tim Horton's or McDonald's sausage biscuit?
Which is better? Tim Horton's or McDonald's medium non-fat latte?
Which is better? Save On Foods, Thrifty's, Quality Foods?
Why do grocery stores use pounds instead of liters as a measurement of weight?
What must I do to stop wanting to sleep twelve hours of every twenty-four?
Why does it take so long to move a letter via snail mail from Canada to the U.S. and visa versa?
Are smaller cities inherently a higher quality of living than larger ones?
How long before we get medical coverage in Canada?
Why are there so many taxes on consumer goods? GST, PST, HST?
Why do we have to pay Canadian tax on vehicles that we owned and had paid tax on already in the U.S.?
What makes so many good Canadian comedians and comedy shows?
How are we going to make the money we need to support ourselves through our snowbird lifestyle?
Maybe I need a good tarot card reading. Where can I find one in the Parksville area?
Will I ever remember to say and write the day first, then the month and lastly the year?
Why are there so many black animals and insects on Vancouver Island? There is the black Brant Goose, there are big black slugs, black squirrels, black dragonflies just to name a few things.

I had a lovely encounter with this black dragonfly while walking the railroad tracks the other day.

How glorious it is to have the sun rise at 4:30 a.m. and not get dark again until 10 p.m.?
Why was I in the irresistible mood for a summer solstice party two days ago? Could it have been all that light in the day?
Am I actually falling in love with this place? (Parksville, British Columbia, Canada)

Parksville on the Georgia Strait. From Tom Whitfield's webpage.

My "immigration" thus far has definitely been one of the most challenging transitions in my life to date. What has been your most challenging transition?

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Power of Railroad Tracks

These first few weeks here in Parksville, British Columbia, I've taken to walking the railroad track almost daily with Gingee and occasionally John comes along. What is it about a railroad track that makes you feel so connected to the past and to the world?

This is my favorite spot on the defunct branch line of Southern Railway of Vancouver Island.
The other day as I was walking quietly along with Gingee, I remembered summers when my mother walked with me and my two brothers and a dog or two along the Star route of the North Carolina Southern Pacific Railroad. It was always such a carefree pleasure for a child.

And as I walked along the other day, I thought of the history of Chinese in America who laid so many railroad ties so that we might travel and move goods faster from one coast to another. What stories even a very small section of a rail line might tell if it could talk!

Here is some history from Wikapedia about this particular rail line.

"Beginning March 18, 2011 the rail line between Victoria and Courtenay was closed indefinitely, due to safety concerns about the poor condition of the tracks. In April 2012 the Federal Government announced that it would match a $7.5 Million grant offered by the BC Provincial Government, providing the required $15 Million for basic repairs and upgrades to reopen the rail line. The line is expected to reopen, and rail services re-commence in 2013, possibly in the spring.

"The Southern Railway of Vancouver Island is 234 kilometres (145 mi) in length, and is one of two remaining railways on Vancouver Island, the other being the Englewood Railway. The railroad runs from Victoria to Courtenay, with a branch line from Parksville to Port Alberni" (that is currently closed and is pictured above).

What kind of thoughts do rail roads conjure for you?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Goats on the Roof!

Today was sunny in our section of Vancouver Island (British Columbia) so I said "John, let's take a drive out to Coombs. You know to see that store with the goats on the roof."

So off we drove and both of us were very glad that we did. John's comment - "Wow, the business section of Coombs has grown lots over the past twenty five years!"

Here are some of the shots from around Coombs Country Market.

That's right. You can eat lunch out on the patio while the goats watch you as you watch them!
Coombs is only about five or six miles from where we are in Parksville, British Columbia. Today we felt the way we had hoped we'd feel by day fifty of being snowbirds! Relaxed and taking in the scenery.

Where are you this Wednesday and what was your day like?

Saturday, June 9, 2012

I had a great title but it slipped away after I woke this morning!

We've had lots of rainy, cloudy, cold and windy weather this past week. Gingee found the solution to that problem!

Miss Gingee finding her place on Vancouver Island this past week.
Today is beautiful and sunny. John is out mowing the lawn and I'm finally catching up on emails and pushing myself through my transition muck! Feels good.  We've been looking at RV pads at the membership Surf Side RV Resort here in Parksville (British Columbia, Canada) this week.

Does anyone have experience with buying membership for an RV pad?

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Marionberries, ducklings and here we are...

Today is day 40 of John and I being snowbirds! We have arrived at our destination in Parksville on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Each day is a challenge getting set up on Sharon's (sister-in-law) beautiful property but we're making headway with getting adequate electricity to The Jazz, assembling a sewage disposal process and making ourselves comfortable.

We're in a pretty, private part of Sharon's yard.

Gary, John's brother, was a landscaper and you can see the beauty of his efforts in his
yard even though he has been gone for nearly a year already. 

We have taken time each day to drive around this area where John was a child and a young adult. This is his first chance to re-explore "home" since leaving Canada over two decades ago. I'm loving hearing his stories.

Everywhere we go, we see ducklings, experience the native wild fruits and take in the beauty of the scenery.

Ducklings are everywhere we go.

The edible wild marionberry.

John and Gingee at Skaha Lake in Penticton last week.

Our transition has been and is slow but we continue to remind ourselves that we haven't just switched "states." We're in a new country that has coin dollars, kilometers, meters, litres, different banking systems, more expensive everything it seems. We have to remember to give ourselves a break and to enjoy the journey.

Where are you now?