Previously, I posted about our trip through the Great Midwest and back again to Georgia. But the sole purpose of this trip was to become residents of the great state of South Dakota – mecca to full-time RV-ers across this nation and a pretty cool state as well (as we came to find out).
Our destination was Rapid City, South Dakota – home of America's Mailbox. The folks there know all about handling mail issues on the road, because their owners (Don and Barb) are full-timers who travel the country enjoying life, and stopping occasionally at RV shows to set up their vendor booth in order to help inform people like us about how to best tackle mail while traveling. We spoke to them at the Hershey RV show 2 years ago, and again at Tampa the following January, and we were convinced they were the ones to use.
Don is a pleasant guy, but a no-nonsense guy who isn't afraid to tell you where he thinks you're going wrong when it comes to setting up residency, or using the various services his company provides. In fact, they have specialists that cover residency, auto licensing, driver's licensing, RV insurance and an online parts store to handle most of a full-timer's needs. In addition, he has a small campground onsite where RV-ers can stay for their required one night to establish residency, or a small 3 room hotel where we stayed since we don't have an RV yet. And without sounding too much like a commercial for them, their rooms are better appointed than most hotel chains, and about $30-$50 a night cheaper.
The key thing for us is that (like other mail services across the country) the folks at America's Mailbox establish a PMB (private mail box) for you instead of a PO Box. The most important thing about a PMB is that it is a physical address where mail and packages can be received, and for U.S. Government purposes, a legal address where a U.S. Passport can be sent. They do not recognize a PO Box in the same way.
When you check out, the folks at America's Mailbox make sure you have a receipt for each person establishing residency for the hotel stay and your mailbox rental receipt. Both will be needed later at the Pennington County Treasurer's Office for your plates, and at the Driver's Exam building for your licenses.
Now, a word to the wise: Don't stay overnight on a Sunday. This is because the Driver's Exam building is closed on Mondays; so unless you want to spend an extra day in the area (not a bad thing, as there are lots of things to do), make sure you stay overnight on Monday-Thursday, because the Treasurer's office is closed on Saturdays. If you time everything right, you can get to the Treasurer's office at 9 AM when they open, and be on your way to the Driver's Exam building for their 10 AM opening. The folks at America's Mailbox will walk you through all the paperwork you'll need to bring with you (originals – not copies) to make the process go flawlessly. And don't forget to download the Affidavit of Fulltime Travel from the SD DPS site so that you won't get called for jury duty while on the road!
At the Pennington County Treasurer's Office, we were helped by Nathan. Nathan has this rare quality, in that he speaks faster then most human beings on Planet Earth. As native New Englanders, Barbara and I tend to talk faster than most people, but Nathan is in a class by himself! The good news is he also works faster than most people on Planet Earth, and had everything done in about 10 minutes (even while handling two phone calls). He even let us borrow a screwdriver so that we could immediately change out our Georgia plate for our new South Dakota plate.
And the same pleasant, personable efficiency was enjoyed at the Drivers Exam building for our licenses. Waited all of about 10 minutes for Barbara to get called to a station, and I was about a minute after that.
“Do you have this document?” - “Yes, yes I do.”
“This document?” - “Yes, yes I do.”
“How about your DD-214 for Veterans purposes?” - “Here it is.”
“Stand back at the blue curtain and look at the middle circle.”
A quick flash and a minute later, a still-warm South Dakota drivers license was handed to us. Barbara had a slight delay when a guy next to her photo-bombed her first attempt at a picture when he left his station and walked in front of her just as her picture was being taken!
One of our more interesting stops heading towards Rapid City was at a rest area about halfway across I-90 which featured a sculpture called 'Dignity: of Earth and Sky'. Standing 50 feet tall, she is is, in a word, strikingly beautiful. You can read more about her origins here.
Needless to say, we'll be heading back to our new home state for some quality time, and sooner rather than later.
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We're Dave and Barbara Richard, and we're living the ultimate retirement experience - traveling the U.S. and Canada in style in a Tiffin Open Road 36LA Class A motor home, playing golf and stopping at every weird and wacky roadside attraction we can find.