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Old 08-28-2013, 09:24 AM   #1
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Trip Around the Great Lakes

Hi all,

I am planning a trip around the exterior of the Great Lakes and am curious if anyone else has made this trip and if there is anything in particular I should be aware of, esp. on the Canadian side? This will be our first big trip and, of course, want everything to go as smooth as possible so am trying to anticipate any general issues that I can avoid.

For instance, I have my passport but my spouse, doesn't. She insists she can use her birth certificate. I insist things are different now since 911 and a passport would be benefical.

While not on a time clock, I thought I'd start in May or June of 2014 clockwise from North of the Chicago region, making the horseshoe, continue my way around Lake Superior, Lake Huron, continuing the on the North side of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, returning on the south side of the lakes and up round the interior of Michigan.

I thought I take in a combination of State parks and commercial RV parks, to get the full flavor.

I'll have the coach checked out mechanically to hopefully avoid all minor issues.

Any thoughts or suggestions and thanks as always!!!
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Old 08-28-2013, 10:24 AM   #2
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IMO, your wife should get her Passport... makes life easier.
Also cleanout every cupboard and storage compartment. Remove anything you don’t need for this trip. You’ll be inspected at least twice by Customs Inspectors. So have all paperwork for any pets (dogs, cats, etc). They don’t like to see any left over ammo from your last hunting trip. They will take any bear or pepper spray (so carry wasp spray instead). If you have any foreign made items, they could ask to see a purchase ‘receipt’. I saw a Customs guy ask a fisherman for receipts on (French) Mepps spinners he had in his tackle box (they took them away). Sometimes fresh fruit or vegetables will be taken. Best to think ahead... and remove anything that inspectors might question. Limits on beer, wine, smokes, etc. Be sure your LPG compartment is properly labeled with red “LPG” sticker. All running lights must work. In Canada you need daytime driving lights or you must turn on your headlights while underway.

That being said, I’ve crossed Canada-USA border many times. Sometimes it’s 30 seconds and ‘Have a Good Day’. Other times it’s 2-3 hours covering how much cash $$$ we had, reviewing vehicle insurance papers for CDN driving (talk to your insurance agent for CDN proof of coverage). Empty your compartments onto a long rolling table so they can inspect contents. If you pull a Toad or trailer... be sure it’s legal in CDN and insured (carry paperwork). One time they even asked if we were married... so expect odd questions. It’s only to see your reaction and how you respond and recover (simple LEO trick).

IMO, always hit the border crossing station early in the morning, when you are fresh and have time on your side. If you pull up at end of your travel day... you’re tired and in a hurry to get to you campground down the road. Makes it harder for you to smile and be jolly while folks inspect your RV.
Have a great trip, be safe...
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Old 08-28-2013, 01:56 PM   #3
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We returned from Canada yesterday. We had been in Sioux Narrows fishing for not quite a week and had a pretty good trip. We have made the trip six times in six years and been inspected two or three times by both the Canadians and US.

Passports are pretty near required to get back into the US. I suppose you could do it with BCs, but why make it difficult.

We have had more scrutiny from the US than Canada. Yesterday they made me open the compartments, entered the coach and went through the freezer. Each fish we brought back had to have a patch of skin so they could identify it. They confiscated my DWs lemons and limes as contraband. They threatened to also take our home grown tomatoes that we had brought from home.

All in all we had three intimidating agents with threatening attitudes search the coach. Kind of an over kill I would think.

One time the agent came aboard our old Airstream 345 Diesel because, as he told us, he just wanted to see the inside.

Just stand back and let it happen. It doesn't do any good to argue.
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Old 08-28-2013, 02:47 PM   #4
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Passports or a passport card, good for Canada, Mexico and I think, the Carribean, is absolutely required. The card is less expensive.
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Old 08-28-2013, 02:56 PM   #5
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You need a passport or an enhanced driver license for Canada just a birth certificate won't do anymore.
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Old 08-28-2013, 03:07 PM   #6
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Enhanced Drivers Licenses are only issued by 4 states

Enhanced Drivers License

Passport Cards are $65

Passport Cards

Even though not required, I would also carry a copy of the birth certificate. I live on the border and was used to going into Canada with nothing but a drivers license. I flew into Toronto and when asked for ID at Customs, I showed him my Driver's License. He said "do I look like a traffic cop?" That's when I learned it doesn't hurt to have the birth certificate. The card is handier to carry than the passport book and not as easy to loose.
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Old 08-28-2013, 03:52 PM   #7
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Passport is a must. No guns, mace pepper spray etc. They went through our coach with a fine tooth comb, including a dog. They take things out but don't put them back. They are almost as arrogant as our federal government.
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Old 08-28-2013, 04:19 PM   #8
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Are you sure you want to visit all of the Cnd side of the lakes. In our opinion if you have not done the US side, there is plenty to see in the US. I grew up in Michigan and had not see the Superior shore until a couple years ago and was real impressed.
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Old 08-28-2013, 04:30 PM   #9
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Don't take any firewood, the canadians will take it. I know there is a website that will tell you what you can and cannot bring across the border. This did a inspection of my RV, every nook and crannie, was sure glad I didn't lie about how much cigs or alcohol I had on board. I had a passport and pretty sure that is required. Google for the website, crossing into canada?? something like that.
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Old 08-28-2013, 04:49 PM   #10
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Make sure you take a lot of extra "EH,s" and put one on the end of sentence.
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Old 08-28-2013, 05:04 PM   #11
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I doubt you will see finer parks than the Ontario Provincial Parks along Lake Superior. Ontario Parks has a great website with full details and lots of info.Spectacular part of the world. Cdn government website has full details of what you can bring in. By the way the only time we have seen firewood taken was in Michigan crossing onto the upper peninsula from the mainland. Like anywhere else some border guards on borh sides of the border can be rude. But they are generally aok and just doing a tough job. Research the rules and follow them. Our last half dozen crossings both way have been really easy. Enjoy your trip!
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Old 08-28-2013, 05:25 PM   #12
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If you can work the Mackinaw bridge it is a great ride. Mackinaw island is also a great day trip.
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Old 08-29-2013, 04:33 PM   #13
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Ditto on the passports, makes life much easier. When we passed into Canada at Glacier 2 yrs ago my wife lost her personal pepper spray but they told us we could keep any bear spray we had, guess because of all the bears around that area. On the return to the US later that same day, the US side was much more intrusive, searched our cab and storage. I got out to unlock a storage locker and the border agent freaked out..
It may be out of your way but I suggest Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario. We have been there twice, great place, loads of wildlife and if you are there in late summer you get to hear the wolves howl across Pog Lake.
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Old 08-30-2013, 06:19 PM   #14
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I am always wondering what people did or what profile they matched to get this level of searches. I have gone to Canada two times in the last 3 years and we only had them come onto the MH once and only checked the refrigerator.
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