When I bought my new van, the dealer asked to see my driver’s license, which is a normal thing. But I was astounded when he came back and told me that it was expired. I looked for myself and I couldn’t believe it, but he was right, my driver’s license had expired in June. Somehow the renewal notice hadn’t gotten to my mail forwarder or on to me.
Still, it is my responsibility to know when my driver’s license is going to expire and get it done on time. The problem was that when I became a Nevada Resident, and got my license, in March of 2008. So I had it in my mind that I had 5 years to renew it, which would mean it wasn’t due until 2013, next year. But, because my birthday was in June, I didn’t get a full year in 2008, I only got the three months from March to June, my next birthday. The bottom line is my license is four months expired and I must renew it right away.
So the first thing I did was go to the Nevada DMV website and see if I could renew it by mail. Normally you can renew it by mail, and it looked like I could, but I wasn’t sure. So I emailed them and asked for clarification, could I renew it by mail even though it was 4 months expired? Unfortunately, I got a quick reply that said no, if it was over 30 days expired I had to renew in person. So I had to drive home to Pahrump, NV to renew it. Fortunately, it isn’t that far, only 200 miles one-way from our camp outside Victorville, CA.
So I am typing this sitting in the DMV office in Pahrump. According to the ticket I took, I am number 32, and they are on number 7. And, there are only two clerks! So, like always, there is a long wait at the DMV. Fortunately, more clerks came in and it was exactly one hour from when I took my ticket to when I walked out the door with my new license.
The trip is a waste of gas money but even so I am somewhat glad to do it for several reasons. First, I really love Pahrump and it’s good to see it again. If it weren’t for the very cold winters and very bad winds I would spend every winter here. Second, since my mail forwarder is here, this trip will let me place an order with Amazon.com, and have it waiting for me here (I have a Prime account so all my orders are free 2 day shipping). I ordered ladder racks for my van and Bill’s also (we are mounting solar panels on them) And third, my good friends James and Kyndal are camping there and I and it has been great to see them again, (check out there blog there: http://2completespirits.com/). Finally, it will be good to give the van a shake-down trip before I pull the trailer over to Quartzsite. On the trip up here it ran like a top, when I fill it with gas before I head back I will have my first calculation its gas mileage.
My old friend Wayne was there also and he made a pot roast for James, Kyndal and myself; as usual it was wonderful. I met Wayne when I first moved here 4 years ago, and we quickly became very good friends. He has been full-timing in an old Class C for over 15 years, and knows everything there is to know about it. I think I learned more from him than I did any other person. I haven’t been back to Nevada for almost 2 years because of my arm, so it was very, very good to see him again.
The van ran extremely well the whole time, I didn’t discover any new issues. It is comfortable and easy to drive and with a 5.7, 350 engine it had plenty of power to climb all the hills. I haven’t gassed it up yet so I don’t know the mpg, but I will tell you as soon as I do. A quick guess-timate is 15 mpg. I built the bed before I left and took a backpackers sleeping pad to sleep on. I know an upholstery shop in Pahrump that sells furniture-grade foam pads, so I went there and bought a mattress for the bed. It is 36×80 and 4 inches thick. It’s a little firm now, but it will develop some give over time
I think this would be a good time to talk about two important questions many vandwellers have to answer: 1) How will you get mail? 2) If you are a traveling vandweller, which state should you be a resident of? I’ve covered this topic on the website so I am not going to go into great depth, instead go to this page: http://cheaprvliving.com/Communications.html
WHICH STATE TO ESTABLISH RESIDENCY?
If you are a traveling vandweller, you can choose any state to be your home state. There are several factors you want to consider when deciding, but these are the most important:
1) Does it have an income tax?
2) Does it require an annual smog or vehicle inspection?
3) How easy is it to become a resident?
4) How much will auto insurance cost.
Based on those questions, the great majority of full-time vandwellers and RVers choose one of these four states for Residency (and as their mail forwarders):
- Florida (Good Sam Club)
- Texas (Escapees)
- South Dakota (too many to list-do a Google search)
- Nevada (http://jbmailroom.com/)
You can make an argument for each state since they all have pluses and minuses, but my advice has always been to make the final decision based on geographical location. I strongly encourage you to make your decision on where you will spend most of your time. Because I always plan to spend my winters in the desert Southwest, I choose Nevada. This incident with my Driver’s License drives home that idea. If I was a resident of those other states, I would be driving at least 1200 miles one-way to renew my license. At over $4 a gallon for gas, that would be a very expensive trip to drive somewhere just to go to the DMV and then turn around and drive home. While it’s true many things can be done over the net, this incident just shows that you can’t always plan everything out and having a resident state as close as possible is a very good thing.
HOW TO GET MAIL
When I first moved into a van very little changed in my life, I kept working at the same job and doing the things I had always done. I just lived in a van instead of a home. Chances are most of you will be doing the same thing. Because I couldn’t get mail at my old residence, I went to the local UPS Store and got a box. You may be wondering why I didn’t get a box at the Post Office? (A quick definition for clarification: UPS=United Parcel Service, USPS=United States Postal Service) The USPS won’t receive packages from UPS or FedEx, and since most internet shopping (like Amazon.com) ships by them, I couldn’t use the USPS. The UPS Store will receive packages from any delivery service. Another problem with the USPS is that they require physical proof of residency like an electric bill or rent receipt. Since I didn’t have one, I literally could not get a USPS Postal Box. The UPS store does not require any proof; all they require is two pieces of identification. I used my Drivers License and passport (you do have a Passport right? If not, go get one right now!!). In some larger towns there are Postal Express type stores that cost much less than the UPS Store and also do a very good job. Search the Yellow Pages for them.
So if you live in a city and stealth park, getting mail isn’t a problem. But you will still need a physical address for many different things. I just kept using the address of my last house. I used it for over 6 years and never had a bit of problem with it. It was just a physical address, all my mail went to my UPS box, so no one ever knew or cared that it wasn’t true. So it’s possible to just drive around a neighborhood, pick a street address and say that’s yours. No one is going to do the research to find out if you are renting a room or are a relative of the owner. The important thing is that it be a legal, residential address. Many computers are set to automatically verify that it is.
BUT, if you are a traveling vandweller, then things become much more complicated. For example, I am a Nevada resident but I don’t have a home of any kind anywhere and haven’t been in the state of Nevada for over 1 ½ years. So what do I do for a physical address, and where does my mail go?
The solution is in a mail forwarder. A mail forwarder is a company that receives your mail and then either holds it for you, or sends it forward to wherever you are. So I have a P.O. Box in Pahrump, Nevada that Marianne, my mail forwarder, opened for me, and three times a week she gets my mail and handles it for me. For example, if I am traveling she holds it for me till I have a local address then she packages it up and mails it to me. If it is important, she will scan and email it to me or she will open it and call me and read it to me. She will even take a check and deposit it in my bank in Pahrump. Marianne offers really outstanding service at a very reasonable price of $100 a year; I can’t recommend her highly enough: http://jbmailroom.com/
So that’s how I get mail, but what do I use for a physical address and how do I get UPS or FedEx packages? Marianne allows me to use her home address as my physical address. So my physical address is at her home at 1234 Main Street, Pahrump, NV, and my mailing address is P.O. Box 5678, Pahrump, NV. So this week when I drive back to Pahrump, I will go over to Marianne’s house and pick up my boxes from Amazon.com. I can’t recommend Marianne enough; you can find her at http://jbmailroom.com/. All the states I listed above have well-known mail forwarders associated with them.
This is not a comprehensive article, for more info go to this page on my site: http://cheaprvliving.com/Communications.html