Home Sweet Mobile Home

The RV life is the way to go For this Quebec couple

To the casual observer, it’s just another RV park at a bend in the road. But to Diane and John Cyr of Gatineau, Que., the Llano Grande Lake Park Resort & Country Club in Mercedes, Texas, is home away from home for six months a year.
A vibrant place filled with friends and fun, it reflects the atmosphere in any one of hundreds of RV parks in the U.S. south frequented by Canadian vacationers. “It really is a wonderful community,” says Diane, who says about half the park’s residents are Canadian. Together they have established a real “family” – a number of whom gather at an annual summer reunion in Quebec hosted by the Cyrs.
Five-year veterans of the RV lifestyle, an experience that allowed them to explore the U.S. and compare and contrast options for a fixed retirement destination, John and Diane recently swapped their moveable beast for a more permanent “manufactured home” at Llano Grande.
In addition to the social life, Dianne teaches Aquafit classes in the morning and directs the annual play. Fittingly, a recent production was entitled At the Border, a comedy about crossing from Canada into the U.S.
It isn’t just the resort, however, that keeps the Cyrs coming back. They return to Texas partly for the warm welcome and partly for the less humid weather. “There’s a sign when you come into the Rio Grande Valley saying Welcome Home Winter Texans, and they really mean it,” Diane says.

Becoming an RVer
After many years on the road, John and Diane Cyr have learned a lot about RV living. Here, they share some of the tips they’ve learned from life on the road.
â–  It helps if you have some camping experience and don’t mind living in close quarters.
â–  There’s a learning curve attached to driving and parking a 15,000-pound trailer. Rent before you buy – and expect the occasional mishap while driving.
â–  Talk to other people about what it’s like. “I know it sounds sexist, but since men will likely have septic duties and  women will be in charge of packing, the men should talk to the men and the women should talk to the women,” Diane says.
â–  Invest in a GPS, suggests Diane. “But don’t rely on it – it’s important to have a good navigator in the front seat.”
â–  Check out the Texas Association of Campground Owners, which lists 400 parks throughout the state. When it comes to picking parks elsewhere, most states have RV associations that publish directories.

Snowbirds need to know
• Climate ranges from arid in the west to humid on the Gulf Coast

• Average home prices are rising, $174,000 is up five per cent over the previous five years

• More than 1,000 golf courses

• 1,000 kilometres of beaches

• 75 working guest ranches

• A Canadian Consulate is located in Houston