Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Road Trip: Livingston, Texas: Part 2: Becoming a Texan

Teeny RV at Good Golly Miss Molly's in Livingston, Texas. November 2019.

On home bases

A nomad needs a home base.

The usual custom, I think, is for a nomad to maintain their home base in the state where they lived when they began their new, portable life. This makes sense. There's already a history there for mail, banking, taxes, vehicle registration, driver's licenses, health insurance, vehicle insurance, etc.

Over time, though, as one's spiderweb gets stretched ever so more thinly from its center, there comes a point when a nomad stops spinning for a bit and contemplates where home base should be.

I arrived at that point this year.

My old home base was no longer tenable, for a variety of logistical reasons. Furthermore, it was no longer home even on a sentimental basis. I have beloveds there, but I can maintain those ties without being a member of that state.

So where to make my new home base?

This is where Escapees RV Club comes in.

Escapees RV Club

My home-base move actually began with a more modest need: A reliable, stable mailing address (and forwarding service) that I could use now and for years hence, as my old system was no longer viable.

Since I bought my Prius, I'd begun viewing many videos that offered tips for tricking one out for camping, which led to binging on car and van "tours," which led to general #vanlife sorts of video channels.

Most of these youtubers are full-timers in that they live out of their rigs. I am also a full-timer, but in a different, slower way.

 I encountered some videos on mailing address and forwarding services for full-timers.

Hands down, the mailing service most cited for nomads was Escapees RV Mail Service.

While checking out its mailing service, I saw other videos that talked about changing one's domicile, and I saw that Escapees RV was a good launchpad for that, too. And I had come to realize that, in addition to finding a new, permanent mailing address (and forwarding service), it was time for me to divorce my old home base and marry a new one.

Full-timers seem to gravitate to one of these three states as a domicile: Florida, Texas, and South Dakota. There are a number of reasons for narrowing their options to these three, but one of the common denominators is that Escapees RV has a presence in all three, specifically its mail forwarding service.

Once my head moved from simply finding a mail forwarding service to establishing a new domicile, it took very little time for me to execute on same.

I chose Texas as my new home because:
  1. Escapees RV Club is based in Texas, and Polk County (in which Livingston sits) is accustomed to working with Escapees RV Club members who make Texas their domicile
  2. I loved my time in El Paso (and also Big Bend National Park), so I have a good vibe with Texas, generally
  3. South Dakota - shudder! - too cold! 
  4. Florida - too far away from the places I lean toward
  5. Texas is so immense, there are ample numbers of communities for me to consider if I choose to put down sticks-and-bricks roots there when I'm finished nomadding
  6. Establishing a domicile in a new state is not just about some paperwork - it's also about establishing ties to communities in the new state - and I'm willing and able to do that with Texas.

I'll talk more about Escapees RV Club in Part 3.

Sutton County Rest Area design, 1-10 Exit 394, near Sonora, Texas. November 2019. Not my favorite design.

Becoming a Texan

I arrived in Livingston on Friday afternoon.

On Saturday morning, I had my car inspected at the Grease Monkey in Livingston. I was dazzled by the friendly staff, homemade muffins, and coffee that you could make to order, with flavored syrups! I arrived before it opened so I could learn as quickly as possible if there would be any issues that I needed to address if my car didn't pass.

My car passed!

On Monday morning, I arrived at the vehicle registration office before it opened, with requisite paperwork in hand, and ..... I left with two spankin' Texas plates and windshield sticker! In addition to registering my car with Texas, I also had my vehicle title transferred to Texas.

Gosh, I really smiled looking at the Texas plates in my hand. I never would have thought I'd become a Texan. This new rite of passage felt good. It felt right.

From the registration office, I drove to the driver's license office. There are some puzzling logistical issues with that office that are not very customer-friendly, but rather than dwell on that, I'll focus on the positives:
  1. The staff were amiable; 
  2. My paperwork was in order; 
  3. I surrendered my old state's driver's license; and
  4. I emerged with a new, Texas driver's license! 
Again, smiles. One in relief that I had all of the appropriate documentation. Two, my divorce from the other home base felt complete; there was closure. Finally, with this second ceremonial rite, I felt that my new status as a Texan had been sealed.

I may have skipped to my car.

Three nights in Chez Prius

I stayed at the Escapees RV Club campground for three nights.

I had a 'dry' site, meaning I had no electricity or water hookups. A restroom (with showers) was conveniently close by.

As with my rest area night in Part 1, I felt supremely cozy each night in my vehicular space.

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