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Heading North, Starting 2016 Travel Season

March 2 – April 25, 2016

We have begun our 2016 travel season this past Friday the 22nd of April.  We have a very ambitious travel plan this year; we shall see how that goes! Our plan this year is to visit most of the east coast and all of the New England states.  Then we will travel into some of Eastern Canada through Quebec City, Montreal and Toronto before heading South to Buffalo, Indiana, and then back to South Texas for the winter in November.  It really has grown to a large trip.

I am writing this from our new Residence address in Livingston Texas.  When we first started our full-time RV life we had used South Dakota as our residence instead of where I had lived for 32 years in New Jersey.  South Dakota was a good fit for us when we started out.  That was due to the low 3% sales tax on vehicles, NJ has an 8% sales tax, which saved us quite a bit of money when we bought our RV and truck. Both SD and TX do not have an income tax and their vehicle insurance rates are lower than NJ too.  However TX, for us, has a slightly higher insurance rate of around a $100 more per year.

Now that we have an annual site here in TX and we are never in SD we decided to make TX our residence.  Our new address is an Escapees mail forwarding address which is 171 Rainbow Drive #7137, Livingston Texas 77399-1071.



Our site at Escapees

We are actually staying at one of the 2 the Escapees campgrounds here in Livingston.  We arrived here on Saturday the 23rd and will leave today the 26th and head to Louisiana.  

This the national headquarters for Escapees.  Escapees has 2 campgrounds and a semi-campground for folks that can’t or do not want to travel anymore but want to stay in their RV.  It is sort of an adult care campground operated mostly by volunteer Escapees members.  We walked the entire 2 campgrounds and the RV retirement area yesterday morning.  The walk was 3 miles long to get around the place as it is pretty big.  

Our first day here on Sunday we played golf at the Livingston municipal golf course. It was a great day for golf, slightly cloudy with temps around 80.  Patty didn’t play her usual game and I played about normal for me, semi crappy.  The course is only 9 holes so you play it twice to get 18 holes in.  We thought that since it was a town course and that it was only 9 holes that it would be an easy but run down course.  Well, we were wrong!  It was a challenging course and was in fair shape, not great, but fair.  



Yesterday, Monday, we took our 3 mile walk around the Escapees property and then headed into town to take care of the reason we are here.  We are here to get our vehicles registered and to get our driver's licenses.  I am always apprehensive about dealing with government agencies and especially so when it involves my ability to drive!  

Our first stop was to the tax office to take care of registering the vehicles.  In Texas you need to first register your vehicle before you get a driver's license.  If you don’t have a car, there is a form for that and you still need to visit the tax office first.  

Livingston is a very small town of 5,200 and is the county seat of Polk County.  So the tax office was a throwback to my childhood in Indiana.  There was no wait and the people were very helpful.  I had to fill out a form that I didn’t know about so I went to fill it out at a table and the clerk came over and helped me with it.  That doesn’t happen in NJ!  So after $450 we have our truck and RV plated and a window sticker.

After the half an hour at the tax office we traveled the mile down the road to the Texas Public Safety office where you get a driver’s license in Texas.  This, again, is a very small office with just 2 clerks.  You are greeted with an automated booth at the door to sign in.  You register yourself with your reason to be here and give it a cell phone number; you get a number if you don’t have a cell phone.  You get a message on your cell phone to let you know how long your wait will be.  And, if that isn’t enough, there is a big flat screen monitor with the last 4 digits of you cell number on it with your wait time.  This probably works great in big cities but here it was just an added layer but not burdensome.  

The process for getting a driver's license is mostly the same as it was in South Dakota as it probably is in most areas of the country now.  The process is mainly centered on proving that you are a citizen and proving your identity.  It made me wonder how we knew who anybody was before the age of the automobile!  The clerk was very efficient and was even answering questions from people walking in.  It really was funny hearing people come in and see the electronic booth for the first time.  They would ask our clerk how to use it and why they needed to use it as the sign in booth was just 5 feet from the clerk.  Ah, small towns!

The driver’s license process went very smooth until the clerk lost Patty’s Social Security card.  It was funny and not funny at the same time.  I saw the SS card on her desk in front of her one minute and then it was gone.  She turned her area upside down looking for it.  Finally she called her supervisor who has access to the surveillance cameras to see where she may have put it!

Anyway, the actual process took about 30 minutes for the 2 of us but looking for the SS card took another 30 minutes. Just as we were going to leave she stood up and pulled her shirt from her pants, shook herself and her top, and there it was, now on the floor.  We think it either stuck to her or in her top!  Wow!  At one point, she was actually on the floor crawling around under her desk trying to find this SS card.


New Texas plate

The new plates are a boring black and white so we ordered special plates! This is done from a separate site. Texas, however, doesn't offer any one time fee plates; just plates with an annual fee. Patty wouldn't have these boring plates so she ordered the Yellow Rose of Texas plate.

And now for some history.  I haven’t posted since the beginning of March or just about 2 months ago.  As I have said before, it is hard to write when you are sitting in one place and we are in a nudist park where we can’t take pictures. 


Our new end table to join our new La-Z-Boy chairs.  Patty was going to have
a table like this made but then found it online for about $70.  We love it!

Random picture near our winter site. A little flavor of the area.

Out for dinner at a local BBQ place with friends, the Foxes.

Big thing here in south Texas are the 1015 onions that are grown here.  This time of year during the harvest they have an onion festival.  We went to the Weslaco Onion Festival.



Car show at the Onion Festival.  Cool trike!

Patty's new ride, she wishes!

Getting the truck washed the south Texas way.
$25 for wash wax and interior clean.  Takes 1.5 hours!

We went to a Vipers basketball game.




Since we last posted, besides the usual stuff we do at our winter site, we have been slowly getting ready to travel again after sitting for 6 months.  This has been the longest we have stayed in one place since we have been full-time RVing.  
I made a list of stuff we wanted to get done before we left our winter site. 

- Fill all of the propane tanks
- Wash the rig including the roof (I wash the roof 2 times a year)
- Steam clean the interior carpets and floors
- Clean the entire interior from top to bottom.  Sort of a spring cleaning and to get rid of the Texas dust
- Check the house battery
- Clean the concrete pad
- Reorganize the site shed and our RV basement for travel.  We took all of the stuff out of the shed and placed it into 2 areas, one for the RV and one for the shed.  Then we cleaned the shed.
- Have the RV and truck inspected as we are leaving
- Lastly, have our 6 month dental check up!

We left our site as planned on Friday the 22nd of April. However, we left close to noon, about 2 hours late from when we wanted to leave. We had a 4 hour drive to our first stop and we wanted to get the inspections done too.  

We went to the inspection site in the nearby town of Elsa, a Pueblo Auto repair center about 2 miles away.  The actual inspection took about 10 minutes but the process took about an hour!  Inspection here in Texas is mainly about identification.  They want proof that you have insurance and that the vehicle you say you have you really do have.  The truck is not even started up!  The inspector spent his time looking at the odometer and the VIN numbers.  That was it! We were on our way north around 1pm.


At the inspection station.

Rest area about half way to Victoria Texas

Our first stop was in Victoria at the Lazy Longhorn RV Park. We stayed here last year as we headed north.  This RV Park is a nice park with concrete pads and a pool for just $15 a night with Passport America.  However, this time we were just doing a bump and run (one nighter).  We did manage to have dinner at a great restaurant in town called the Old Pump House located on the Guadalupe River.  We tried to eat here last year but it was closed for renovations.  We highly recommend this place to those who pass through here.


View of the Lazy Longhorn RV Park

Our site at the Lazy Longhorn

The pumping station is a Victoria landmark

Outside dining with the Guadalupe River in the background

Ready to leave Victoria and a picture of Patty calling ahead
to make sure we have a place for the night in Livingston.

Oh, just one more thing before I end this post.  Patty has made a lot of progress with her health while we sat for so long.  And that was planned!  Anyway, one of the things that came out of all of the doctors’ visits it that she is going to see one of 3 doctors in North America that do a specialized test concerning her pancreas.  This is not diabetic related but related to her odd symptoms that seem to point to pancreatitis.  I say seems to because she only partly fits the diagnosis and her doctors are disagreeing about that. Anyway, she has an appointment with this special doctor in Jacksonville Florida in May.  It worked out great as we were going that way anyway.  We also have some flex time while we are there too as we can stay for up to a month before we have a serious schedule conflict.  We really want it to all happen within a week then we don’t need to reschedule anything.  We shall see!

OK, that’s it for this post, next will be after New Orleans next week.

Stay tuned!