Calgary

Alberta snowbird forced to migrate home early self-isolates in RV

Terry Taylor drove home from Tucson, Arizona, six days ago, and has been quarantined inside of his trailer at the Bow Rivers Edge campground near Cochrane, Alta., ever since.

Terry Taylor drove home from the U.S. six days ago, and has been quarantined inside of his trailer ever since

Nearly 429,000 Canadians crossed the U.S. border by car in the first week the federal government called them back, according to the Border Services Agency. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Travel restrictions implemented during COVID-19 forced snowbirds to migrate home for the winter, and some are now self-isolating inside their travel method of choice: RVs.

Alberta snowbird Terry Taylor drove home from Tucson, Arizona, six days ago, and has been quarantined inside of his trailer at the Bow Rivers Edge campground near Cochrane in southern Alberta ever since.

"It was a hard, long drive," Taylor said on the Calgary Eyeopener Tuesday morning. 

"I would normally take a week-and-a-half to come back, but you've got to be able to stop someplace to sleep, and there's not a whole lot of those places available right now."

Nearly 429,000 Canadians crossed the U.S. border by car in the first week the federal government called them back, according to the Canada Border Services Agency.

Lack of sleeping arrangements, food on the road

Between a lack of sleeping arrangements and empty grocery store shelves, Taylor made the trip home quickly — in about three days.

When COVID-19 was named a pandemic by the World Health Organization, Taylor said he found that stores across the U.S. were quickly depleted of supplies.

The limitations on food that travellers can bring across the border complicated his situation even further.

"Of course, everybody began to panic-buy. And so, like everybody else, I'm thinking, okay, what do I need," Taylor said.

"As things progressed I realized that at some point, isolation was going to be a situation. And so, I began to put things like proteins and whatnot away — but unfortunately, when you come back across the border, you can't bring vegetables and fruit and that sort of stuff with you."

Taylor said he coordinated his grocery order with his daughter so that he would have food when he arrived back home.

"As she went to get her own groceries, she would find things," Taylor said. "'Oh, there's a bag of potatoes, dad's going to need potatoes.' That kind of stuff."

Campground opens early to house snowbirds

About a third of the 144 sites at Bow Rivers Edge Campground are usually occupied by Canadians who drive to the U.S. in the warmer months, manager Jay Stephenson said.

Right now, it is home to about 20 trailers belonging to those who had to come back early from the U.S. and face quarantine.

While federal and provincial parks have been closed, Bow Rivers Edge Campground has not because some people live in their trailers on the full-service RV campground — making it "essential," manager Jay Stephenson said.

So essential, in fact, that it opened about a month early this year, just to accommodate Canadians who were driving home from the U.S. in RVs who might otherwise wind up stranded.

"As soon as we heard that there were snowbirds who had to come back early, we simply opened up early, and made sure they had somewhere to come back to," Stephenson said.

Social check-ins from afar the new norm

For Taylor, living under quarantine in his RV isn't a chore — as his primary residence, it's about as big as his daughter's apartment, he said.

Plus it's a friendly place to be — even under quarantine. 

"We have a little long distance social gathering of at least one today, where we all kind of step outside, and we yell across the street, 'Hello, hi, everybody, are you doing well, and you got enough to eat?'" Taylor said.

"It's just a social check to make sure that everybody is doing all right by themselves, locked in their unit. So step outside, get a little breath of fresh air, and yell at your neighbour."

With files from the Calgary Eyeopener

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