Thursday, May 13, 2010

Prepping For Take-Off

Ahhh, the DMV, the DMV. The Department of Motor, freakin' Vehicles. Apparently, there is less difference between New York and North Carolina than we thought, as no matter where you are, the DMV will find you, get our their duct tape, and make life very, very difficult. Upon arriving down South and moving all of our worldly possessions into a storage unit about ten times the size of our unit in Manhattan but $8 less per month, we thought all our troubles were behind us.

We found an awesome Chevy 2500 pick-up truck that could eat another vehicle alive and had a tow rating that made us blush. We christened it "Inconnu" after the large predatory fish and thought ourselves on our way. As it turns out, the Patriot Act and Homeland Security regulations have created a situation wherein: to buy a car in North Carolina you have to have a North Carolina license, and to get a license in North Carolina you have to surrender your New York State license...and show proof of being on an auto insurance policy...and proof of local address...and bring in your social security card...and pay a fee...and take a written driving test! And after ALL of that? You get a paper temporary license that isn't good for vehicle plates - and for added security they wait 10-20 days to mail your license to your local address and then you take that to the DMV (yes, an exciting 2nd trip), and then get to apply for your permanent plates for the vehicle.

Luckily, we benefitted greatly from 3 things: 1) Drew was able to pass the written driver's test even though it contained random questions about the specific penalties in NC for buying alcohol for minors and the current % of traffic deaths annually related to alcohol, 2) Scott (at the Flow Chevrolet dealership) found a form that would allow him to use a photocopy of the eventual permanent license to apply for and collect the license plates on our behalf and then give them to 3) Judith (Drew's mother), who was willing to receive said license while Chip & Drew visited Chip's mother Libby in Kentucky, take it to Scott at the dealership, receive the plates, and then FedEx everything to them on the road before they crossed the border into Canada. Thank our lucky stars that there are good people like those two in the world!

So, we are on the road with our truck and our Lance 805 slide in camper purchased from the excellent Mike at Xtreme Campers down in High Point. He even fabricated a ladder for us on the back so that we can climb up and down, as well as a rack on top for a canoe. Marcus (Drew's brother) gave us a heads up and we found discounted insurance for camper + truck from Progressive, so we are insured against pretty much everything, and have managed to collect 5 different roadside assistance plans, figuring that between them, wherever we break down in the Northwest Territories, we can piece together some sort of coverage that will get us back to civilization.

Louisville has been an excellent place to fine-tune our adventure - the first step has been to test out our new home. Chrissy (Chip's cousin) has been an awesome host, and is letting us park Inconnu on the grass in back of her house while we visit. We sleep in the truck but are using her kitchen to save our propane and generator fuel, and use her bathroom facilities as it is likely her neighbors wouldn't appreciate the two of us Solar Showering under a mosquito net in the back yard, much less using my portable potty during daylight hours.

The fact that we decided to spend the next 3 months mostly off-road with the truck and camper unit means that things need to be in our cupboards and storage areas in a way that will prevent total chaos every time we turn off a highway. This lead to us ransacking WalMart for organizers, shelving, rubber mats, and tools to help make use of all of our space while also setting things up so that they don't fly off shelves and out of cupboards while we travel. While Drew was putting in shelves and storage bins in the camper, Chip was crawling around on top with a drill rigging the roof rack to provide padding for the gunwales of the awesome Bell Northstar canoe we got from the guys at Quest in Louisville. A few more days, a FedEx package from NC, and we are on our way up North.