One of the most common questions we get from people planning to go full time or planning log RV trips away from their sticks and bricks home is what do we do about our mail while we are on the road. This week in the interview of the week, we talk to Amber Hobert, the President of Dakota Post, one of the largest of the various mail forwarding companies that service RVers.
We also talk about when it makes sense for RVers to declare residency in South Dakota and also registering their vehicle in South Dakota. It’s an interesting conversation coming up in the Interview of the Week Segment.
But also this week, your RV Lifestyle questions and comment, RV News, tips and a great ff the beaten path report from the Burketts.
But first, my lifelong traveling companion and my bride, Jennifer.
Show Notes for Episode #260 Sept. 18,2019 of The RV Podcast;
WHAT MIKE AND JENNIFER ARE UP TO THIS WEEK
We’re just back from Hershey PA and America’s largest RV Show. Almost 1,500 RVs on a huge area the size of 33 football fields. We’ll have a full video on it this Thursday on the RVLifestyle YouTube Channel.
We hit the road again this weekend, headed to Elkhart, Indiana and the annual RV Dealers Open House. This is not open to the public but is an industry event. We will be attending for you and let you know what the manufacturers are planning for next year.
And then we head west for a very big show that is open to the public, a show so big it runs for two weeks We’re talking about the California RV Show, which opens Friday October 4 and is being held this year at the California Speedway in Fontana. This is a new location for the show and it offers free parking and lots of room. We will be doing meet and greets on Friday and Saturday. Look for us at the Leisure Travel Vans Display the afternoon of Friday the 4th and the afternoon of Saturday the 5th. From 11am till 1-pm Saturday, we will be hanging out with some other RV influencers at the Campground Views/California RV Parks booth.
This part of the podcast is brought to you by Dish Outdoors, which lets RVers pay as they go and watch HD satellite television from wherever they are camped with easy to set up gear made with the RVer in mind. Just go to https://rvlifestyle.com/dish for details on the service and special deal just for listeners of this podcast.
RV LIFESTYLE NEWS OF THE WEEK
The big just keep getting bigger and another well-known RV brand is being gobbled up. As if they weren’t big enough, Winnebago Industries Inc. announced this week that it has entered into an agreement to acquire Newmar Corp., a manufacturer of high-end Class A and Super C motorhomes for a price just shy of about $344 million. Newmar has been around for half a century and is known for luxury and quality. So far, Winnebago plans to keep on Newmar’s executive team and to keep the brand headquartered in Nappanee, Ind. The deal could close as soon as first quarter 2020.
Thousands of migrating monarch butterflies appear at Canada’s Point Pelee National Park and other spots in the midwest
If you are planning to be in the midwest this week or next, keep an eye out for migrating monarch butterflies. About 4,000 monarchs were counted at Canada’s Point Pelee National Park in the southern tip of Ontario last week. They are also being reported in large numbers in Wisconsin on the shores of Lake Michigan and elsewhere in the midwest. The butterflies fly 2,500 miles from Canada to Mexico each fall, and viewing them in the thousands in one spot is something everyone needs to see one day. Here is a link to the Monarch Migration trail where you check if they are appearing in large numbers at a location near you.
Message in a bottle saves family trapped at waterfall when camping trip turns terribly wrong
A man, his girlfriend, and his 13 year-old-son are crediting a message in a bottle found by strangers with saving them when a central California camping trip went terribly wrong. The group was in a gorge near a waterfall where they were expecting to find a rope to help them get down. But, once in the precarious spot, they discovered there was no rope and they were stuck. The dad scratched help on a plastic water bottle and wrote a message on a receipt, saying they were stuck on top of the waterfall and needed help, and put it in the bottle before securing the top and tossing it down the falls. The bottle and its message was found hours later by hikers downstream who told authorities who sent help.
Canadian man found guilty of harassing a young grizzly bear, fined $4,000
It took four years, but a Canadian man who was photographed taking off his shirt, throwing rocks at and trying to provoke a grizzly bear along the Icefields Parkway at Banff National Park was officially found guilty of disturbing wildlife and fined $4,000 last week. The judge in the case said it was “abundantly clear” the man was harassing the bear, which park officials said ultimately puts not only himself, but the bear, and other people in danger.
Colorado now has new state park, expected open to the public in 2021
Colorado’s Fisher’s Peak and the ranch land around it will become that state’s newest state park, opening in 2021 according to news reports. The 30 square mile stretch of land near Trinidad in southern Colorado will be Colorado’s 42nd state park. It will also be the state’s second largest park.
Three-year-old dies after jumping out of moving RV at an Alabama campground
There was a very sad story out of Alabama last week. A family was driving an RV at Gunter Hill Campground in Alabama last week when a 3-year-old boy opened the door of the vehicle while it was moving, fell out, became trapped underneath and later died. Apparently the mother also jumped out of the vehicle when she saw her son jump but her injuries were not life threatening. The grandfather was driving the RV at the time.
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LISTENER QUESTIONS OF THE WEEK
QUESTION: Hi, Mike, and Jennifer, this is Elizabeth calling from Connecticut. And I’m just wondering if you’re still using Calgon in your black tank to get rid of odors. Am having trouble finding the powder. Even on Amazon. So I’m wondering how you would convert it to liquid if you need a cup, but are you still you using it because that was kind of an older YouTube video that you did. I think it was 2013. So I just want to know before I order it from Amazon. I’m still doing it and if it’s still works for you, okay? Thank you very much.
ANSWER: Calgon powder can be hard to find. These days, we don’t bother with that. Instead we use a product called Happy Camper Black tank deodorizer It’s all organic and comes in powder form. One scoop handles a tank up to 40 gallons.
We asked a couple weeks ago what it is you like about the RV you are driving. Here’s a couple of answers you sent in:
Hi Mike, this is Davis of Davis Tandy and Buster and just wanted to let you know that you have a 2018 Forest River Sunseeker 2400 W, which is the full slide. We love the floor plan. But beyond that nothing was under consideration unless I had a decent bathroom was a nice shower and a comfortable large bed. I am tall and I don’t like my feet hanging off the end of the bed. So once it had a good bed and shower and we were set for the rest of the floor plan, and we ended up going with the it because it had full wall slide. That’s great space. That’s it. Enjoy your show bye.
Mike this is Mike Rutkowski from Denver Colorado. I watch your podcast yesterday. I have a 2015 Winnebago Era 170 X. It’s on a Mercedes chassis and we bought our unit because we have two dogs and we thought we could travel easier with them and the dogs really aren’t that crazy about it, but they’re kind of getting used to it. I don’t know if they ever will or not. The Mercedes chassis is great. We pull a boat with it. Occasionally. It keeps up with traffic great gas mileage. My wife likes the Mercedes chassis because it’s smaller and not as wide. So that’s a plus. I hope you guys have some safe Journeys and maybe we’ll see each other on a road someday. Thanks for all you do by now.
And a listener wanted to know about a special course we are soon to announce for RVers:
QUESTION: Hi Mike and Jennifer. My name is Mary and I am in Houston, Texas. I heard you talk about an upcoming course on how we can get into our campervan or motorhome even though we can’t afford it right now by renting it out. I am so excited about it and would love to hear more information about your course. Thank you.
ANSWER: Our RV Renting School course will be ready soon. Maybe as soon as next week! To be notified when it is ready, click here – https://mailchi.mp/rvlifestyle/rental-course
Do you have a question you’d like us to answer, or a comment on the things we’re discussing. If so, we invite you to leave us that question or comment on the special voicemail number we have for the podcast – it’s 586-372-6990. If you are driving and can’t write it down right now, just go to the RV Lifestyle travel blog at rvlifestyle.com and scroll down the page. You’ll see that number prominently posted on the blog.
This part of the RV Podcast is brought to you by Battle Born Batteries, maker of quality, safe and reliable lithium batteries that can be installed in just about every RV. Get in touch with Battle Born to find out what lithium batteries and an upgraded energy management system can add to your RV Lifestyle. Check them out at https://rvlifestyle.com/lithium
RV INTERVIEW OF THE WEEK
This week our guest on the Interview of the Week is Amber Hobert, the President of Dakota Post, one of the largest mail forwarding companies servicing RVers.
What to do with mail is a question we are asked about a lot by RVers planning to go fulltime or to be on extended trips away from home.
Others want to know about the tax benefits of registering their RV in South Dakota or even declaring South Dakota as their residency.
We talk about all that and more with Amber Hobert.
Mike Wendland: Amber, thank you very much for making time out of your schedule to join us and talk about mail forwarding. How are you today?
Amber Hobert: I’m doing very well. How about yourself?
Mike Wendland: We’re doing excellent. Let’s talk a little bit about Dakota Post. I have used your service and there’s a number of other ones out there, I know. This is become a very important concern for people as they embrace the full time RV lifestyle. Exactly how does it work and when should one consider signing up with a mail forwarder if you’re a full time RVer?
Amber Hobert: Even if you’re a snowbird, you can still sign up for service with us. We have short term and long term policies for both. A good portion of our customers though are full time in the RV traveling world and so as you can imagine, your mail doesn’t stop coming to you just because you no longer have a home. We make sure that we can get the mail in here and then find you wherever you are to get your mail back out to you.
Mike Wendland: Now, how do you get that mail back out to somebody who is on the road? They may be in Montana this week, Idaho next week, down to Utah, and then Arizona. How does one get their mail that way?
Amber Hobert: Yeah. We have a couple different options. We have some of our customers that just do traditional mail. They put in a forward of their address to here, so we would receive their mail in and then they pick the option of how frequently they want to get their mail. Whether it’s once a week, once a month, twice a month, and then at that time they know that their contract is for the 16th of the month. So they know 16th of the month, right before that they need to let us know where they’re at. They can go onto the website, they can enter in their information, they can give us a call. And then that way we make sure that we’re sending it out to the correct location because as you said, we have people who are traveling to a different state, different location all the time.
Mike Wendland: Now there are-
Amber Hobert: The other option-
Mike Wendland: Yeah, I was going to go to the other option. In fact, when we used the service, we were gone pretty much half the year and I really got hooked on being able to look at my mail online. Explain how that works. I can’t do it justice cause you guys do it all the time, but I just thought it was magic. It was pretty cool.
Amber Hobert: Yeah. That’s the other option is to have a virtual mailbox. That is by and far one of our most popular plans. Essentially your mail comes in here, we go ahead, we scan it into a portal. You have an individual login that you go to our website, you put in your own credentials, and then you can see everything that’s been scanned into your mailbox that day. From there, you can go ahead and tell us, “Don’t do anything with it,” which means we’re going to put it in your box. “Shred it” if it’s junk mail that you don’t want. Or you can ask us to open it and scan the contents to you. Maybe it’s your credit card bill and you want to see all your charges to make sure that you’re paying the right amount and that everything looks okay, then we open up, we scan that to you, and then that information, we just have to back an envelope, put it back in your box.
For the virtual mail customers, they let us know whenever they want their mail. A lot of customers that are virtual, they don’t get their mail for over a year because they have everything that they need out of it, so they don’t want the extra paper. In an RV, obviously your space is limited, so that’s important too.
Mike Wendland: You say you look at a digital image of it and determine whether it’s worth saving and whether it’s not. I know at the time I used you guys, it was the first part of the year and of course I was getting all my tax forms coming in. I was working with my accountant back in one state and we were in many different states, but it was so nice to get those in, and then I could take a scan of it, and just forward those electronic files right on, and I didn’t have to go visit them in person. Every now and then I’d have you deliver them and that wasn’t too hard, I just would find a campground or where we were going to be and they would all show up.
Now there are some types of mail though that are not forwarded and could you talk about those that RVers need to be aware of? I’m thinking of perhaps like checks sometimes that are not allowed to be forwarded. What do you do then?
Amber Hobert: We still receive a lot of checks in here. It’s not something we run into a lot where we have run into, and other people just running into difficulties with, sometimes with financial institutions. That do have a personal mailbox number, they perceive that to be a P.O. box. And then of course depending on the sensitivity, then they’re a little bit cautious that I don’t want this just going to a P.O. box. Usually that’s something that we work through with the vendor and we don’t have a lot of trouble with that type of thing anymore.
Mike Wendland: Now are these things then that the RVer would arrange to have set up before they sign up for the service or in the middle of the service? Is that a pretty easy thing to work around?
Amber Hobert: It’s pretty easy to work around. Usually it’s just a matter of education to that vendor to say, “Okay, this is essentially where their mail comes. This is their touch point.” We have it before people sign up, during, people that have been with us for a long time and then decide that maybe to have a new vendor that we work through that with them. But typically we can find ways to just educate them more than anything.
Mike Wendland: Now, mail forwarding, of course, is one of the more important things that those who are on the road a lot need to to deal with it, those snowbirds or full-timers. But another question that we get asked a lot, actually there’s two of them that I’m going to run by, because I know you handle out of state residence, South Dakota residency, and vehicle registration. Let’s start with residency. For a lot of our viewers who have sold their house, the full-timers who are going out on the road and maybe they’re looking to be gone a year or two years, but they don’t really have a sticks and bricks house. It makes sense, you got to have a residency somewhere. Tell us why South Dakota is so attractive to so many.
Amber Hobert: Well, a lot of it has to do with our tax base. Here in South Dakota we don’t have a state income tax, so essentially for people that means that your social security and then having a state tax come out of it, any kind of a pension isn’t going to have additional state taxes coming out of it. And no personal property taxes here in South Dakota. So it’s very fortuitous when it comes to that for people to sign up here as far as, obviously if you’re living on a fixed income, every little bit of that counts. And then along with the fact that we have lower vehicle insurance rates, our excise tax on the purchase of vehicles or RVs is relatively low compared to the rest of the nation. So that’s kind of what makes South Dakota kind of unique in that aspect.
Mike Wendland: You can register your vehicle, I think. What are the requirements of that? Do you need to be on the road, not in one location a certain length of time? What do you have to do to register a vehicle in South Dakota because boy, those license fees can be pretty expensive in many states. And of course, if you buy one, the sales taxes, as you mentioned earlier. What about registering a vehicle? When does that make sense?
Amber Hobert: You have to register your vehicle here, you just need to be a South Dakota resident. We help you get that set up and [inaudible 00:07:58] plates. Then from there, we do have a couple ladies in house here that just work strictly with vehicle registration to make sure that you have all the documents that you need. And then they work directly with the County Treasurer’s office in order to obtain those plates or tags for you depending on if you’re licensing for a first time or if you’re a renewal. So they work with that just to make sure, because every state is different, so it can be kind of a difficult if you’re coming from a different state trying to figure out what to do here for the first time.
Mike Wendland: So the the answer of staying connected with mail is not as difficult as many think when they start dreaming about hitting the road. I get this question all the time from people saying, “I’m not going to be able to get my mail and what do I do then?” So the mail forwarding services are good. What do they start at? Let’s go back to that for a minute. What does mail forwarding, how much does that cost somebody?
Amber Hobert: The mail reporting plans for the year start at $144 and then they go up to $228, which is our virtual mail.
Mike Wendland: Okay. So the $144 is $12 a month and that would have it forwarded to you physically, but-
Amber Hobert: Correct.
Mike Wendland: For the $228 you can log on anytime, see how it mailed you, have accumulated, whether you want it forwarded, or shredded, or whatever the case may be. It’s not a bad return. It’s not as expensive as many people, I think, thought and it’s so convenient. Last question I want to ask you, Amber, is how do you do this? How does somebody begin this procedure and tell them how they can get ahold of you at Dakota Post.
Amber Hobert: Oh, sure. You can certainly go on the website and you can kind of research the plans if you’re kind of a self starter. If not, you can always give us a call here in the office and we’re happy to go through each of the plans and what they consist of. Our number here is a toll free number that we have, which is 1-800-477-2664. Or you can go on to our website which is dakotapost.net and you’ll find all that same information there as well.
Mike Wendland: Well, I’ll put links to those in the shownotes for all of this. So a number of services, vehicle registration, South Dakota residency if you are truly a full timer, and mail forwarding, whether you’re a snowbird, and this is the time of year many are thinking about escaping the cold of winter and all of that. How do you get your mail? Well, we just solved that for you. Amber from Dakota Post, thank you so much for making time for us and helping our audience understand how they can get their mail on the road.
Amber Hobert: Absolutely. It’s our pleasure.
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OFF THE BEATEN PATH REPORT
By Tom and Patti Burkett
We were excited to hear your report of your visit to the Adirondacks and Finger Lakes territory. We’ve enjoyed many visits along the lakes. Our favorite campground is at Keuka Lake State Park. In the fall, after the leaves have come off the trees, you can look down the length of the lake, with vineyards marching down the hills to the water on both sides. Anyone who enjoys wine can spend days exploring the wineries—maybe a bit hard on the liver, but it’ll keep you feeling good!
One thing that didn’t make it into your report is the fascination people have in the region with hot dogs. It’s no surprise that New York is a hotbed of wiener enthusiasm. Sometime around 1865 the first hot dog cart appeared in New York City and shortly thereafter Charlie Feltman opened his first stand on Coney Island (coney dogs, right?) where many visitors began a lifetime love of tube steaks. Just as pasties and pepperoni rolls were the food of the working person in parts of the USA, the industrial cities of upstate and western New York were supplied with workaday fare from lunch carts and wagons serving this adaptable and convenient handful.
Greek immigrants gravitated to the food service industry, and are responsible for several of the common toppings of the region, especially a chopped red onion mixture and the meat sauce called chili, which is not like any chili you’ve eaten anywhere else. Anyway, let’s talk dogs. Around the city of Troy you’ll find a local chain called Hot Dog Charlie’s. This is one of several shops that serve a three-inch wiener on a Lilliputian bun. They also bottle the “chili’ that’s a requisite topping, in case you want to take some on the road with you. Another tiny hot dog stand, Gus’s, in Watervliet, also serves an amazing small Italian sausage sandwich. The last place to check out in the Troy area is Famous Lunch. It was called Quick Lunch from the time it opened in 1932 until 1958. The story of the name change can be found on their website.
There are a lot of stories about how wieners came to be called red hots. My favorite has to do with a baseball game on a cold day at the New York Polo Grounds. Whatever the case, upstate New Yorkers dived their loyalty between red hots and white hots. One of the best known makers of both, Zweigle’s Meats in Rochester, explains the difference. Red hots are made from smoked and cured meat, whereas white hots are made from uncured and unsmoked meat. White hots also often include veal on the ingredient list. While you’re visiting the Susan B. Anthony Museum, walk a few blocks to Nick Tahou Hots and order their garbage plate. It’s a Rochester thing, and you can get it with red hots, white hots, or both.
Around Plattsburgh, if you order a Michigan, you’ll get a bright red Glazier’s dog under a mound of chili, onions, and mustard. In Syracuse, you’ll wand a coney (they pronounce it cooney) and it’ll be made by Hoffmann’s. Keep moving east, to Buffalo, and the dogs are made by either Sahlen’s or Wardynski’s, and begin to resemble midwestern version many of us grew up with. Don’t be fooled. The taste is significantly better. At least in upstate New York, it seems hot dogs are like pizza in that whatever you grew up eating is your favorite. But whatever your favorite, you can find plenty to like in the countryside (and on the streetcorners) of New York as long as you’re willing to take it steaming and on a bun.
We’re Patti and Tom Burkett, and we hope your path and ours will intersect one of these days, out here off the beaten path.
RV CALENDAR OF EVENTS
· September 20-22, Charlotte Fall RV Show, The Park Expo & Conference Center, Charlotte, NC
· September 20-22, NYS RV & Camping Show, New York State Fairgrounds, Syracuse, NY
· September 27-29, Indianapolis Fall Boat & RV Show, Indiana State Fairgrounds, Indianapolis, IN
· September 27-29, Austin RV Super Sale, The Dell Diamond, Round Rock, TX
· September 27-29, Washington State Evergreen Fall RV Show, Evergreen State Fairgrounds, Monroe, WA
· October 4-13, the California RV Show, Auto Club Speedway, Fontana, CA. This is a new and larger facility for this amazing show and it offers free parking now, instead of the $15 parking fee there used to be at its previous location in Pomona. Jennifer and I will be there that first weekend and we’ll be doing meetups Friday and Saturday Oct. 4 and 5. You can get tickets and learn more at https://www.californiarvshow.org/