Motorhome Vacation Just The Thing For A Pandemic
I’m stuck at home these days, but I’ve always wanted a motorhome.
OK, it’s nearly July. The summer seems half over. The pandemic has got us all down. Where to go for some R&R?
Usually, at this time of year, I’m either at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park north of Bowmanville or at Oswego Speedway in New York state with side trips to Indianapolis and Montreal thrown in. I used to tell my friends that instead of a summer cottage, I had a standing reservation for Room 326 at the Best Western Captain’s Quarters in Oswego.
But because of COVID-19, CTMP has had to cancel all its spectator racing programs so far this year and, as of this moment, there will not be a Grand Prix du Canada. The Indianapolis 500 has been postponed until late August and there is still no supermodified racing at Oswego, but it doesn’t matter anyway because I can’t get across the border.
I was thinking about this the other day and I thought that my wife and I could drive down east to visit my sister in Nova Scotia, but then it struck me: Upper Canadians (and everybody else in the country, it seems) are persona non grata these days in the Maritimes.
Out west, I won’t find police at the borders telling me to get lost, but Canada is a huge place and if you meander, it will take you half your holiday to get to Vancouver and then you would have to beat it home to either go back to work or be ready if your employer should call.
Which leaves Ontario, and according to my good friend Bob Verwey, is there any place you’d rather be? “The great thing about the border being closed,” he was telling me the other day, “is that people can get to experience what Ontario has to offer.”
Now, as well as travelling to races during the summer, I have been on the road frequently the past two years to cover the unveilings of new cars. Anybody who’s spent as much time on planes and unfamiliar hotels as I have (and that includes the world-famous Hôtel de Paris in Monte Carlo) knows that you always pack hand wipes to give the TV remote a good cleaning, as well as the telephone receiver and the toilet seat.
Now, with all due respect to the hotels and motels in the cities and towns of Ontario, if I don’t trust places like the Hôtel de Paris to sanitize TV remotes when times are good, I’m not sure I would be too happy booking into any hotel in the midst of a pandemic.
But my pal Mr. Verwey reminded me that there is an alternative: people can take a motorhome holiday.
Full disclosure: Bob Verwey sells motorhomes and travel trailers, and rents them out, at Owasco RV Centre, east of Oshawa. He’s a former president of the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association, which is how I know him.
“You get a motorhome or trailer, it’s disinfected and you can keep it that way,” said Verwey, who also owns three car dealerships and a collision repair centre. “Nobody has to go in there except you and your family. You go into a motel and you think about the virus and who was in the room before you. Not with your motorhome.”
The RV salesman was quickly in full flight. “Some people worry that motorhomes are hard to drive. They’re not. Just get in and drive. All your stuff is in there. You have your plates, forks and knives — everything. You have your stove and fridge. You have your water on board, generators are on board. It’s like your cottage on wheels.
“I was in Florida, at an airport, taking a three-day course (Verwey has a plane and has to take a three-day refresher every year to satisfy insurance and other requirements). We took a motorhome and stayed right in the parking lot. We felt better doing that rather than booking into a motel.”
He said there are plenty of places to park a motorhome or trailer. “Walmart lets you stay in their parking lots because you’re probably going to do your food shopping there and buy other supplies. Truck stops are also free because you‘re going to fuel up. And there are rest stops on the sides of highways all over the province, so you just pull off the road and they all have a place for RVs.”
If you buy, prices for a new trailer that’s perfect for a family of four start at around $20,000. Class A motorhomes (the Taj Mahals of the motorhome set) can run from $140,000 to much higher — but remember: it’s like buying that cottage. If you want to rent, ask Owasco or dozens of other motorhome retailers around the province for a price list.
I’m stuck at home these days, but I’ve always wanted a motorhome. My wife? Not so much. Guess who’s still dreaming?
Norris McDonald is a retired Star editor who continues to write for Wheels under contract. He reviews the weekend’s auto racing every Monday at wheels.ca.