You’ve Got Mail

April 26th, 2011


An unusual mailbox in Miami, FL
I have always been a resident of Florida. I had always planned to be. That is, until I realized how much I could really be saving as a resident of South Dakota. Turns out, my car/house insurance could be cut in half. Neither Florida nor SD have state income tax or yearly vehicle inspections so that’s a wash, but it would cost half as much to register my truck each year in SD. Unfortunately, all the stuff we heard about health insurance being cheaper doesn’t seem to hold true. The prices were comparable to our current plans in Florida (which btw have gone up 50% in the last three year w/o any claims.).

We have been pretty happy with our current mail forwarding service. They are only $15/mo for up to five mailings a month whether they are scheduled or on demand. They discard all junk mail and only send us items that are first class or higher. We can also call and see what mail they have for us at any time of day. We are bit leery of switching to another. As far as I know, there are seven mail forwarding services to chose from. So, now we get to the true point of this post: Are any of our readers residents of South Dakota? Do any of you have experiences or opinions on the mail forwarding/residency services in South Dakota.

Life in the back of a truck (part 1)

November 20th, 2008

This is part of an ongoing series on what it’s like to live in a truck camper fulltime. You may read other articles here:

  1. Part One – The fulltime lifestyle
  2. Part Two – Why a truck camper?
  3. Part Three – Weights & Dealing with them
  4. Part Four – Boondocking resource conservation

So, you want to live in the back of a truck… First off, you should probably face the fact that you’re a bit of an odd duck. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk about some of the things that you’ll encounter along the way to making this grandiose fantasy a reality.

Where are you from?
You’re going to hear this question a lot as you travel around. It’s simply a polite thing to ask strangers that “aren’t from around here”. There are a few schools of thought as to how one should answer this question. You can tell people where you left “real life” from if you are in a hurry and don’t want to explain how you come to be living in that truck over yonder. If you’re dealing with a business or government agency, it’s usually simplest to give the address of your mail forwarding service or the address on your driver’s license.

The next two options are a pretty good way to strike up a conversation, so use them carefully as you may end up trying to explain yourself to a posse in the wrong town. You can simply tell the truth and explain that you’re traveling. This can lead to all sorts of interesting questions such as “are ya’ll circus folk/gypsies/carnies/hippies/destitute?”. I wouldn’t recommend telling the cashier at a local business this, but it goes over well at campgrounds. Events that bring a lot diverse folks together are also a good bet. You’ll have to explain yourself a lot more, but as you’re there to meet people anyway, it gives you an interesting topic to talk about. A lot of people are curious about the fulltime RV lifestyle and have lots of questions. The final answer to “where are you from?” is to say “I grew up in…”. This is a polite way of making smalltalk without committing yourself to answering a lot of personal questions from complete strangers.

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Odds and Ends

November 6th, 2007

Well, the big day is getting closer. I still don’t have an exact delivery date from Conibear, but we expect the camper sometime in the next week or two. Meanwhile, we’ve got only three weeks left in our apartment.

We’ve canceled cable television and internet service. There’s still way more television being broadcast in the area than we really need. Quite frankly, I wish we watched even less television than we do.

For internet we’re using Sprint’s wireless data service. We have the new Novatel U727 usb modem. One of it’s big selling points is the built-in GPS. Unfortunately, the GPS is pretty lousy. Most of the time, you can’t even get it to lock onto satellites in a vehicle. Perhaps it would work better in the open air, but I rarely walk around with a laptop and actually need a GPS.

At least the internet service works pretty well. It took some fiddling with the EVDO settings and finding a good place to put the router, but we’re getting about 800kbps downstream. There is not currently an external antenna cable available for the U727. Hopefully it will take less trial and error with locations once we can permanently mount an antenna on the outside of the camper.

I’ve been very happy with the EVDO router. Its a Cradlepoint C350. It acts as a wifi hotspot and NATs the IP address that Sprint assigns. The interface is pretty intuitive and packed with a ton of features. The only real problem we’ve run into is trying to get WDS to work properly between this router and the Linksys access point we’ve been using. Since the C350 is wifi only, a fair portion of our network is currently unable to reach the internet. We’re making due with a couple of PCI wifi cards I had laying around from another project and multi-homing our workstations so we can still reach the NAS.

Switching ISPs has forced us to move along with some other things as well. The biggest one so far has been relocating our email and web toys to a domain hosting company. For the past ten years or so, I’ve run all the services for my vanity domain and Jenn has done the same with hers. Its a bit of a change letting someone else deal with all the root level things and rather frustrating when you have an issue that you could solve in five minutes if it were your box but instead have to ask someone else to look into.

We’re using Hostgator as our domain host and so far I’ve been very impressed with their customer service as they dealt with some dumb questions and some more esoteric technical issues.

The other big thing we need to deal with is our phone service. We have VOIP through our company, but we’re planning to switch to Skype. I’m still in the process of researching wifi VOIP phones. I also haven’t been overly impressed with Skype’s website interface or their customer support when we ran into some website problems. Hopefully we can resolve that issue and get set up. In the meantime, we’ll use cell phones for a bit longer.

The last bit of setup this week has been our mail forwarding service. We’re using Good Sam’s mail forwarding service. So far, it’s been a nightmare to get set up and taken far longer than I expected. If you want to use Good Sam mail forwarding service, save yourself a lot of headaches and just call them instead of trying to sign up online.

It’s been a pretty hectic time for us as we try to get all of this sorted out. There’s still a ton of things to do before we get as far as moving into the campground for a few months. As I have more time, I plan to go into a bit more in depth review of the products and services we’re using. In the meantime, if anybody is using a good wifi phone for Skype, let us know about it!