Sunday, January 6, 2008

1/07/08 Guinness World Record Car Trip

Sometimes wild ideas come together in ways that couldn’t have been imagined previously. Our trip to Ohio through South Dakota and Illinois in the dead of winter would qualify as something I never planned.

It all started with a free airline ticket for Mel that had to be used before March and a posting on a homeschooling site about a winter conference at the world’s largest indoor water park in Sandusky, Ohio. At this time, we are in New Mexico – and since airline tickets are inexpensive to fly to Albuquerque, I recommended that Mel fly somewhere with his free ticket that would be a better travel value. Since Mel’s beloved Aunt Ethel and his three fun cousins live in the Chicago area, he planned to use the ticket to fly into O’Hare.

The kids and I love being with the Chicago family, so Sarah suggested that we meet him. Looking at an atlas, Illinois and Ohio didn’t look that far apart, so I planned the dates so we could go to the unschooling conference and was able to get a fantastic price on a suite at the hotel. Remember, Sarah’s favorite thing to do in the whole world is to meet up with teens at homeschooling conferences and campouts. However, airline tickets from Albuquerque to Chicago and then Toledo for the three of us where a breathtaking amount of money.

Then, the magic moment happened. The California DMV renewal and my insurance bill for the RV came in the mail. Talk about scary numbers! While on the road, I’ve been meeting fellow full-time RVers with South Dakota license plates. South Dakota is actively soliciting the full-time RV community to make their “home base” in that state because federal tax dollars are based on the number of people that live in the state.

Having RVers become permanent residents is an excellent way to get people to “move” to South Dakota because we don’t need fire stations, sewer services or put children in their schools. They don’t have personal income tax and the cost to register and insure the RV in South Dakota is much cheaper than California – it would save us $2,000 each year! One catch however, you need to have a South Dakota driver’s license. The cost is $8 and if you have a good driving record you don’t even need to take a written or driving test – but you have to show up in person at the DMV.

I pulled out the atlas again and thought that driving in our tow car from Albuquerque to South Dakota looked pretty straight forward if I stayed east of the Rockies, plus I could travel on major highways until I got to Nebraska. We’d turn right when we got to South Dakota to visit the DMV and go straight until we arrived to Chicago.

No problem – the decision seemed simple – leave the RV in Albuquerque, kennel the dog with a recommended caregiver, the kids and I would stay in hotels each evening when we got tired so we didn’t need reservations, rented five audiobooks, packed the Garmin GPS, atlas, warm clothes, computers and bathing suits for the waterpark, and read the instructions on how to put snow chains on my front-wheel drive Malibu Maxx. We were off on the biggest car trip I’d ever done.

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