Home vs. Domicile – how do full-time RVers handle mail?

home

Although we travel full-time in our motor home, we are required to have a domicile. You may call it “home”, “where you stay” or “homestead”, but the government authorities insist you have a “domicile” on record.

Your home and domicile can be 2 different places – and for RVers who travel full-time that is often the case.  Our “Home” is where we park it – that is, our RV IS our home. But our “domicile” is Lebanon, Tennessee – that is where we get our mail, have our driver’s licenses and vehicle registered, etc.

NASHVILLE SIGN

For those who live in an SNB (a stick built home NOT an RV) the two addresses are often the same. If you live in an apartment or mobile home park, but get your mail at the Post Office – that is similar to how us full-time RVers handle it. Our RV is our home and it rolls with us – our mail and correspondence gets sent to a physical place and we catch up with it as we can.

Terry and I are spending the Memorial week near Nashville, TN – hence can run by our UPS Store in Lebanon to pick up our mail and Amazon orders that we had sent there. If we were not going to be physically in town, we would have the UPS store forward our mail to the RV Park where we are staying.  This way, we can also restock groceries in our favorite local health food and grocery stores, stop by the been-there-forever farm stand for fresh locally-grown tomatoes and visit with our local RV repair shop.

Changing domiciles – nowadays – can be a real PITA. You used to be able to go into the post office, get your new address, drive to the DMV, apply for a new license and then start notifying everyone “I’ve moved!”…. well, it is no longer that simple. You have to show PROOF to everyone of who you are and where you choose to be domiciled – and of course, because it’s all handled by the Department of Homeland security now, each department has different documents they want you to provide.

MOVING KIT

If you have a commercial driver’s license like Terry and I both do that makes it even more difficult, in addition to the DOT requirements you already need to meet. My last trip to DMV in TN to change from Arizona took 4 different trips and the desk clerk STILL screwed up my mail-to address from the information I had written on their application ! Even the clerks are confused about the process and what CAN and can NOT be used for ID as well as addresses.

You can apply for a voter’s registration card online and mail it in, but everything else that uses that same Voter ID card for proof of who you are, must be notarized and validated. It’s the craziest policy I’ve ever seen in 40+ years of driving, but “it is what it is” and we have to deal with it ~ just like many other parts of our life that are being regulated more and more by our public “servants”. (Do you hear a little sarcasm in there?” Yes, it’s VERY frustrating dealing with “them”!

If you are considering RVing full-time, I highly suggest you join the Escapees RV Club – it was started by a couple who chose early in life to live in an RV as they worked around the country, so they kept in touch with a mimeographed letter to friends and family. We didn’t have email and social media back in the 1980’s! Joe & Kay Peterson were pioneers in the RVing full-time area ~ they are the founders of The Escapees Club ~ and now have a 3rd generation of Petersons (and spouses) along with many other employees & volunteers operating the membership club. In my humble opinion, Escapees is THE BEST RV club for anyone who is interested in this lifestyle we have chosen.

Join Escapees Today!

Join Escapees Today!

They also have their own mail processing center in Texas (soon to be expanded into Florida & South Dakota) and offer LOTS of knowledge to members on the subject of RVing. It doesn’t matter whether you are RVing in a tent, van, pop-up, travel trailer, fifth-wheel or million dollar motor coach, The Escapees Club welcomes you with a warm SKP hug.

If you do decide to join Escapees, please tell them SKP # 90684 referred you. I get a lamplighter pin to add to my name badge 🙂 Thanks! and SKP hugs to you and yours. Happy RViing!

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2013 Rear view

Last year was chock-full for us. We traveled over 30,000 miles, worked at 101 different job sites, flew to Montana to help Mom get settled into her “Last Best Place”, purchased a motor home, damn near froze to death in the coldest winter in over 100 years and recommitted to staying with our jobs for at least 5 more years.

2013-states worked

Blogging had become more of a chore to me in late 2012, so I simply decided to not commit to this blog in 2013.  I did enjoy the blog posts of others, along with more time on Facebook. I volunteered to admin 6 FB groups – all RV related – and have shared more RV tips N tricks on FB than I can remember.  We even met some FB friends in person (THAT was fun!) and discovered new RV parks and apps too.

For  2014 now that I have a permanent desk in the RV, I can get back to blogging – but only every now and then, so don’t expect a daily report from me! We work full-time, moving every few days to our next location. I handle all the logistics, reservations and lead the 2-vehicle caravan using the GPS app on our smart phones. On weekends, I appreciate some down time and we don’t have satellite TV – by choice.

Lucy in Cincy

My blog posts now will be more of a review format – of places we have seen that are worth my taking time to write about. There are so many RV bloggers now that it boggles my mind – in comparison to just a few years ago. Many of the blogs I follow have committed to writing every day – and that is their decision. But when there is nothing to really write about, other than to say what we had for dinner or who we talked with I don’t see the need to blog about it. I am choosing quality over quantity.  Many folks have realized that we have to design the lives we want, rather than wait for it to come along …someday.

2012-04 – Michigan, mostly …

April took us north into Michigan again. We were here last year in September. This visit the weather was how I always remembered it from our trucking years …. cold, gray and rainy – mostly.  We did enjoy a nice meal in Owosso at the Wrought Iron Grill which is located in the old Woodard Patio Furniture factory building. Wrought iron patio table & chair sets have always reminded me of steamy summer nights enjoying my homes in Florida, so it was fun to see the factory where many of these sets were built.

  The building is beautifully restored and repurposed

Then, we ran over to Holland from our Grand Rapids location to see the tulips in bloom at Dutch Village.  Being in this area manifested another one of my bucket list items. They had not completely opened all shops yet as their annual Grand Opening day is closer to May 1st, but the weather was beautiful when we were there so we stopped at the Holland State Park first – just to see the beach on Lake Michigan.  Here is a link to ALL the pictures I took in Holland, Mi.  

On a Saturday while we were in Grand Rapids (GR to the locals) we visited the Meijer Gardens butterfly display.  Meijer is a wonderful grocery/department store chain in the 5 state area around here. IMHO Meijer is MUCH better than Wal-Mart because they offer organic and locally grown/made products and they contribute back to their communities.  They also have VERY happy employees, which means that the positive attitude starts at the top and filters down.  If we lived here, Meijer would be our #1 choice for MOST provisions.  They also offer some really cool products I have never seen anywhere else – at very reasonable prices.  Check out this retro micro I ALMOST bought …not that I need one at the moment, but boy, was I TEMPTED!

Next we returned to our 2nd favorite locale in our Heartland regional work territory …. The Amish Country of Northern Indiana – where 9 out of 10 RVs are made ….we were in THE RV capital of the world!  Goshen was our hub for this week-long stay even tho our 2-day project was 15 miles north at Dometic in Elkhart. One of the benefits of using the Law of Attraction is that WHEN something you have been focusing on “suddenly” manifests, you know EXACTLY where it came from … there are no coincidences and no 2nd thoughts!

Purchasing a truck & fifth-wheel is our primary focus for this year, so we bought a 2007 F-350 diesel dually 4WD King Ranch  from a local Goshen dealer and spent a long weekend enjoying our new ride thru the Amish countryside.

We also visited Heartland RV’s #1 dealer in Elkhart and walked thru a 2012 CrossRoads model to check out the front living room floor plan.  Front living room fifth-wheels were really popular in the 1908’s and they are coming back again so we wanted to get a feel for them in person. Redwood and Open Range both also makes a front LR floor plan we like.  Isn’t this beautiful ? 

We took an Amish buggy ride in Shipshewana

 after doing some shopping at Yoders Hardware and seeing the restored 1906 Carousel at Davis Mercantile.  Driving the back country roads in this area is such a pleasure when the weather is nice, which it was for our full day riding and walking around.

Mid April found us back in Michigan – first near Kalamazoo, then Lansing, then Detroit and Auburn Hills.   So far in 2012, we have been to the following states working as mobile OSHA hearing technicians.

We ended April with Terry in a local Detroit hospital.  With a prior history of a heart attack, when his symptoms developed beyond what we thought was just the flu, we headed for the ER.  That meant TK had to cancel our last 2 jobs scheduled in Michigan at the last-minute.  The upside for us is we had already checked into a kitchenette suite and had purchased groceries for a week, so we were set for a longer than usual stay.  All worked out OK, heart is fine, he just needs to get over the flu and will be back on his feet shortly.

2012-03 – Iowa and Indiana

Working the month of March in Iowa changed some of my opinions about this state.

See my blog post about the historic Des Moines Water Works property we visited early March  here

There are quite a few locales I would like to visit when we are in the area again.  Dyersville, IA is where the movie “Field of Dreams” was filmed and the site is open to visitors still.  The old farm house is typical of the many, many farms in Iowa – all well landscaped and neat as a pin.  When the unusually warm weather took off we had the pleasure of seeing the Daffodils pop up along white fence lines and under mailboxes, the flowering shrubs & trees blooming on the hillsides, the light green leaves on the trees and the green pastures coming to life after a mild winter.  Sheep and cattle happily graze and calves and lambs romp in the mid-day sun.  Such a beucolic scene we enjoyed all over Iowa.

While at our corporate office getting the truck & trailer serviced, we were able to attend a local RV show and picked up a wonderful gadget called the BoomBox.  It’s a 3”x3” square plastic gadget that attaches to ANY boxy object to create a speaker !  The RV show demonstrated it playing music from an MP3 player while we heard the sound emanating from a small garbage can, then a paper soft drink cup, even a small Styrofoam cooler.  And you could hear the music perfectly!  I was amazed.  For the $20 show special we picked up one in lime green (see it to the right of my laptop?) and I watched the movie The Bodyguard (for free with my Amazon Prime account) listening to the sound thru the Boombox using a small trash can as the speaker… MUCH better than my little PC speakers …. I am amazed at the quality of the sound from this little gadget.  Not like our  Bose, but so much better than the PC speakers alone.

We finished up March 2012 in the Amish Country of northern Indiana – one of our FAVORITE RV-centric locales.   Staying in Goshen, we visited Middlebury and Shipshewana also.  Amish restaurants are famous for their family-style dining and desserts galore! Spring was getting underway so the countryside was spring-green and flowers were blooming. Amish buggies clop-clopped down the narrow roads past draft horses grazing in the fields where the home-schooled children played outside. One of the owners of Evergreen RV – a new manufacturer and the first LEED certified RV manufacturer – gave us a tour of their plant and 2012 models.

Our hope is to be able to visit the area again during May when the quilt gardens are in full bloom !

I review each of the hotels we stay in on TripAdvisor under the name RVingFT …when we are staying in RV parks & Campgrounds, I’ll review those also.

2012-03 historic Des Moines Water Works

DES MOINES WATER WORKSworking at the historic Des Moines Water Works was a real treat.   This business was started back in the late 1800’s by private investors.  Back then, the City of Des Moines thought they should get their water for free, so they NEVER paid their bills, which eventually forced the private company to sell out to the City.  Sounds kind of like Mafia tactics to me …. but apparently it worked “back in the day”.

DMWW have thankfully (and thoughtfully) preserved their historic buildings and it was a thrill to have a private tour by Safety Manager RW Smith after our work was completed.  The original terrazzo floors, glazed brick tile walls, polished granite countertops, HUGE glass block windows and long hallways housing the filter pools were so exciting to see.

You could FEEL the commitment to detail these old buildings exuded.  Pride of construction was everywhere. Even many of the pumps and water fountains installed over a century ago are still in use today.

Some, but not all of the machinery has been upgraded over the years, because of flooding of the Raccoon River, which provides much of the source water.   Those original visionaries even offered SOFTENED water to their customers, and DMWW still does today.  We really appreciated the soft water while staying in a nearby hotel.

DMWW spends much of its revenue protecting and maintaining VERY nice park grounds which are well landscaped, along with a landscaped median down Fleur Drive.  It was early March when we visited, so we were NOT able to enjoy the flowering trees in the arboretum, which bloom in May.

I can only imagine how fabulous they are, but will definitely put THIS park on our travel route if possible during bloom season. Why travel all the way to Washington, DC with a show like THIS out west ?

And …because just 5 miles west of Des Moines Water Works’ 1500 acre complex is the Walnut Woods State Park, which offers spacious paved full hook-up RV sites under the shade of Walnut trees. It’s hard to believe with these 2 wonderful natural settings, you are in the Des Moines, Iowa city limits.

To see more of my pictures of the historic Des Moines Water Works buildings on our Picasa web album, click here.

2012-02

Route 66 – The Mother Road … so many icons from its’ heyday are still visible or in use today.  And visiting many of them is on our bucket list.  Some of our friends and family members can remember travelling Route 66 “back in the day”.  The old “filling stations”  and roadside cafes we have seen on calendar pages and blogs symbolize the freedom of travel and exploration to many of us.  As such Terry and I have made an effort to check out some of the locations in person as we travel the heartland. 

While working in Oklahoma in January, 2012, we discovered many of the Route 66 places are a short drive off the main highway, or on our way to a work project, so we stopped.

MIAMI, OK – when we first arrived in town for a 2 day job, we passed right by Waylan’s Ku Ku Burgers so made that our first Route 66 experience. Later that evening we visited the Coleman Theater beautiful, but since it was after hours, we couldn’t go inside.

TULSA, OK – There are many, many Route 66 resources easily reached by a google search.  Our recommendation is to do a little preliminary research and then either go see them, or at least put it on your bucket list like we did.  We drove thru the historic Fairgrounds and saw their homage to the oil industry started in the area, and enjoyed a meal at a historic Route 66 diner. 

In Kansas for a few jobs, we toured quite a few fifth-wheel RVs at the Nu Wa factory.  Nu Wa RVs are highly rated for full-time living and they reburbish traded-in RV’s to resell on their used lot.  It’s a great source for those looking for a full-time RV and need or want to save on the dealer mark-up.  Nu Wa also done sales prep for CrossRoads RV’s. 

In Missouri, we walked thru brand new Open Range RVs and were really impressed.  I really like the front living room RV floorplan, but am not interested in the Montana by Keystone.  The Joplin RV dealer we visited also has a very nice RV park behind the dealership that we would stay in when back in the area.

When in Omaha, Nebraksa we discovered an authentic Cuban restaurant, Gusto’s Cuban Café – that was a real thrill for me, because I am of Cuban decent.  It has been almost 10 years since I left Miami, Florida so I have REALLY REALLY been missing the local food.  Cuban food is completely different than Mexican food.  Cuban food is seasoned similar to carribbean food, and it is not spicy, like Mexican food.  We visited with the owners and thumbed through a 1958 yellow pages directory. 

We ended the month back in our favorite hotel stay, Candlewood Suites – Olathe, KS.  Having been in and out of KCMO every other month or so, we are able to stock up on our favorite products at the new Trader Joes.

We also had RV Anywhere install our repaired propane heater in the testing trailer. We met Mike with RVAnywhere on Facebook and were pleased with his services.

Click here for our 2011 recap

2011 recap of our first 6 months as mobile OSHA technicians

Image Well, it’s been six months since Terry and I changed careers.  And we are STILL lovin’ it. The honeymoon is over, but we are so grateful for this opportunity.  The timing was PERFECT for us although we didn’t realize at the time, HOW that change would manifest itself.  NOW we are shopping for a full-time RV to finalize our jobs as mobile OSHA Certified Hearing Technicians with The TK Group. As I write this entry we are at our favorite location in the Kansas City, MO area, which we have decided we like VERY MUCH. We’ve either worked or stayed in this area many times over the last six months, so we have learned where everything we need is located, enjoyed lots of GR8 Bar-Be-Que, made some friends and really feel like we are coming to our home away from home when we return.

For now, our favorite crash pad is a Candlewood Suites hotel, but we are looking for a suitable MHP or RVP we can use near this area once we are RVing full-time as we work.

January provided us a week long project in Oklahoma City so we visited the OKC Museum of Art to see the exhibit of Dale Chihuly.  This is the 2nd time we have seen his work, and it always is impressive.  We also took in a rodeo.  The last week in December we spent a whole day at the National Cowboy Museum.

Christmas was spent back in Arizona in our vintage travel trailer, which we left in dry storage right on the same site we camped on. Our trailer is for sale so that is nice, not having to haul it in and out of the previous storage property.  Quail Ridge RV Resort is a great RV park, with full-timers, permanent residents on their leased lots plus overnighters all comfortably on spacious lots.  They often host the annual Cowboy Poetry Festival event, which is coming up in February. It’s only a 20 minute drive into Sierra Vista, Tombstone, or Patagonia from Quail Ridge. Our 2 weeks off at the end of the year included a 3500 mile round-trip from our last work location (Tulsa, Oklahoma) to Arizona, thru Kerrville, TX to visit Mom and back to Tulsa.

November took us to Alabama to visit with my Dad, and we worked in Arkansas and Oklahoma.  By Thanksgiving we were back in KCMO and I was able to cook a full turkey dinner with trimmings in our crock-pot.  Had never done that before, and it turned out better than I expected.

In October, we spent a day in Branson, Missouri where we met with Phil & Lorie, friends of ours who drove over from their new job location in St. Louis, Mo. Four years ago we met them when we both managed self storage locations in Phoenix, AZ.  Phil & Lorie loved living in their motorhome years back, so they are looking forward to purchasing another one some day.  We also enjoyed a few hours in St. Joseph, MO at the Patee House museum and Jesse James museum.

September we were working in Michigan and discovered how many great RVing spots there are in that state … we never knew!  Stumbling on the annual Woodward Dream Cruise was a blast from the past as we drove our Freightliner MDT along with the classic cars for a few miles.  They were taking pictures of us as we were taking pictures of them, laughing all the way. What a blast that was!  We crossed 2 items of our bucket list – the Henry Ford and The Ford Rogue factory tours. We also had a nice tour of the Laura Ingalls Wilder farm home in Missouri.

August was HOT everywhere and Indiana and Illinois were no exception. Having acclimated to the Arizona desert, the corn fields triggered allergies that I never knew I had.  Next year, I will carry Quercetin with me 24/7.  I almost couldn’t get to work one day, I was so miserable. When we took off from AZ in July to take our training classes in Illinois, we crossed another item off our list … the Great Platte River Pioneer museum.  You know, that HUGE bridge that crosses over both the east & west bound lanes of I-80 in Nebraska?  The one everyone says “what IS that thing?” the first time they see it?  Along the way, we stopped at the NRA Whittington center for a visit where Terry became a member before we left.