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Tuesday

Vehicle Registration Made Easy for RVers, New "Texas Two Step"

Whether you're a native, transplanted or temporary RV Texan, if you decide on Texas residency you'll need to have your vehicle inspected and registered here in the "Friendship State."


New TX Vehicle Registration: How it Applies to Texas RVers


The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has made some changes to the inspection and license renewal process , in effect as of March 1, 2015.  It's a big change for RVers in that now trailers and 5th wheels, even boat trailers and utility trailers, require inspection AND there are now two steps but only one sticker involved with the process.  So according to the DMV rules and literature, here's a simplified summary of the new rules especially for our Texas resident RV friends and those considering Texas residency.

  • Purpose   The purpose of this change is to simplify the vehicle & trailer registration process to a single sticker instead of the previous dual sticker system.
    New sticker to replace both the inspection and registration sticker
    One vehicle sticker replaces both the inspection and registration sticker
  • How it works  ALL vehicles AND trailers require a yearly safety inspection before you can renew the registration.  As has always been the case, proof of insurance is required for all vehicles at the inspection station. Previously the inspector would give you an inspection sticker; then you would get a second sticker from the DMV for the registration.                            As of March 1, 2015 your safety inspector will send the results of the inspection to the DMV electronically as well as issuing you a hard copy of proof of inspection.  You may get that inspection performed up to three months before the registration expires.  If you do so, the proof is likely to be recorded at the DMV office and you can do the registration online. If you are cutting it close to your expiration date for the inspection then you may have to go to the DMV in person with the hard copy of the inspection report to renew your registration.*  At that point you will be issued ONE sticker to cover both the inspection and the registration. The DMV has created this video to clarify these new rules:    (note the snappy tune.)                                                                                                                                     
  • Exceptions for Seasonal Texan RVers:  There are exceptions for Seasonal Texan RVers who are out of the state during their renewal period.  The process for renewing your registrations if you are out of the state is:
    1. Complete the information on the registrations renewal (online or by mail).
    2. Choose the out-of-state-self-certify option which allows you to receive your sticker without the inspection. DMV will flag your account.
    3. When you return to Texas you will have 3 days to get the inspection done.  The report will automatically be sent to DMV and at that time the flag will removed from your account. 
  • Cost of Renewals:The inspections will cost you $7.00 per vehicle or trailer.
    Registration renewal for 5th wheels and travel trailers:  Around $150.00 (plus a $7.50 safety fee)
    Registration renewal for cars and light trucks: $50.75 (plus a $7.50 safety fee)
    Registration renewal for pickup trucks between 6,001 to 10,000 lbs: $54.00 (plus a $7.50 safety fee)
    There is quite a range in renewal prices for motor homes so you will have to read your notice carefully or contact the DMV.
  • DMV Contact Information:The DMV website is a bit out of date and some of the links don’t work so you may have to talk directly to an agent for accurate pricing.
    DMV Phone Number:       (210) 436-6611
    Texas DMV Registration Renewal Page:   http://www.dmv.org/registration-renewal.php
    Texas “One Sticker” Information Brochure:     http://twostepsonesticker.com/

So, hope you've got all that.  If you need any clarification, feel free to call us. You may also want to check out this great compilation released by the Escapees RV Club called "How to Become a Real Texan."  It's a great resource for all kinds of info regarding making Texas your RV domicile, including everything you need to bring with you when completing each step of the process.  Although this new inspection/registration law is not reflected in the article, it will save you lots of time and may trips to and from the various agencies if you have all the documentation you need the first time you go there.

*Yesterday I had my vehicle inspected and today I went online and was able to process my registration.  I am assuming it will go through without a hitch but if there are any complications I'll let y'all know.  Didn't expect that the electronic recording would occur that quickly.  Yay!

If you have any clarifications to add please help out our fellow readers by commenting below.  As the system becomes more clear through our use and experience of it, we'll update this post.   


Teri welcomes you to Hidden Valley RV Park


Teri Blaschke is the RV Park operator of family owned HiddenValley RV Park in San Antonio, TX and writer of the park blog “A Little Piece of Country in San Antonio.” Teri contributes to various other blogs with a focus on either travel or social media and how it relates to the outdoor hospitality industry but her passion is serving the RV travel community by providing a memorable RV camping experience and growing the Hidden Valley RV family.  Connect with us on Google+, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter@HiddenValleyRV

Friday

Is Your RV Park Wifi Secure?

RVer using the Wifi in his RV

For RVers on the road and full time RVers, online banking and bill pay is not merely convenience, it's a necessity. Many Hidden Valley RV Park guests have asked us if our WiFi systems at the park are secure.  Can they do their banking and visit other privacy sensitive sites?  There is also the popular related question about security on Hot Spots in places like Starbucks, McDonalds or libraries.  Here are some points to help improve your security on the internet at public places:

Address bar on browser with "https" secure site address

While internet security is a vital concern, the bigger question really should be regarding the security provided by the sites you visit.  When you visit a site where you will be entering private data or information, be sure the address in the address bar begins with https:// rather than http://.  The "s" stands for "secure" and means that the site is encrypted from your device through the local area network, through the wide area network from the site and back to you. So, you are secure from any nosy hackers...they will not be able to see your passwords, user name or data.  For a person to have any access to info about others online they first must be on the local network.  If you are on a site with "https" in the address, all a would be hacker would see is a bunch of encrypted 'gobbledy goop.' Takeaway: it's more important to be aware of the protection afforded by your banks or other websites when it comes to internet security.

Person on wifi in Public place, hiding their internet screen from onlookers
This may be overkill but some caution is wise when in public places online

Although location has no bounds when it comes to someone wanting to steal your data, RV Parks are not the common harbingers of hackers.  When it comes to hot spots in places like local eating establishments, libraries and airports, a larger threat abounds with hackers who may be looking over your shoulder or even using video cams to scout out what keys you're typing on you tablet or laptop.  Some awareness of your surroundings may be wise in such situations.

It is very important to use whatever internet connection you have while traveling to check your bank and credit card accounts often, even daily, to verify that the withdrawals and charges were all made by you or companies that you have authorized.  If you notice early on that there is a fraudulent charge you will likely not be liable but if you wait till it comes in on the statement, it's sometimes too late. 

So don't get overly anxious about using an RV park Wifi system for sites involving private data.  Just remember to verify the security of the site itself with the "https" in the address.  

Please feel free to share this post with other RVers that may have the same question.




Teri welcomes you to Hidden Valley RV Park

Teri Blaschke is the RV Park operator of family owned HiddenValley RV Park in San Antonio, TX and writer of the park blog “A Little Piece of Country in San Antonio.” Teri contributes to various other blogs with a focus on either travel or social media and how it relates to the outdoor hospitality industry but her passion is serving the RV travel community by providing a memorable RV camping experience and growing the Hidden Valley RV family.  Connect with us on Google+, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter@HiddenValleyRV

Thursday

Another RV Antenna Bites the Dust



If I pull out with my TV antenna up one more time I am going to turn my keys in!

One of the most common things missed while getting ready to pull out of a site is leaving the TV antenna up.  I have even had people honking at me trying to let me know that my antenna was sticking up and I actually waved at them like they were my friends.  

Funny RV Toon showing the hazards of not having a hook up check list


It doesn't matter what type of RV you are sporting, Motor Home, Bumper Pull, or 5th Wheel, there is probably a TV antenna up there. Most of them are a crank up system; some are stationary.  If it is the movable type you must remember to lower it before you hit the road.

 Some people use a check list to remember all the little hook up duties and some just wing it.  I use a system that fits somewhere between the two.  Along with a fairly detailed written checklist I have learned to leave myself stop-guards, tricks and reminders. 

RV Park sign reminding RVers of the most forgotten steps for departures

I have hooked my 5th wheel trailer up so many times it is like second nature.  But, if I am parked in one place for an extended period of time the process becomes more like 3rd or 4th nature.  I forget my routine. I find myself saying "Oh yeah, yeah, yeah" as I go through the hook up process, so I have developed some break-point reminders.
 
Here is how I have saved myself from the embarrassing and costly mistake of leaving my TV antenna up.   The minute I unhook, I take the lock pin from the hitch lever and hang it on my antenna crank handle.  Then when I hook back up I have to go retrieve the pin off the antenna crank and “Aha” this is enough to remind me to roll the antenna down while I am there.
Hitch Pin hanging from antenna crank
                                               

I don't know how many times this has saved me but I CAN tell you how many times it didn't.  That information is documented in my check book.

Any tips that you'd like to share in the comments would be appreciated.  The crazier, the better: those are usually the best tips.


Travel Safely
Janice
Janice has recently become a solo RVer. Having Oregonian roots she now is a "6 time across the US" RV traveler and enjoys workamping, yarn crafts, hiking and biking and everything horses. Guest blogging is a new addition to her interests.




Saturday

Hidden Valley RV Radio Interview

This post has just been updated to include the latest Hidden Valley guest appearance on the Lonestar Sportsman Radio Show.   Listen to the latest radio link to discover the new promotion mentioned and how you can cash in. 

Many in my age group have grown up accustomed to "talk radio."  Saturday and Sunday mornings, especially, were abuzz on the radio waves with travel journals, political banter, and interviews with some local or renowned expert.  Although they are not as popular today, it is a fact that talk radio still exists.  One example is the Saturday morning broadcast on the syndicated WOAI station that focuses on the great outdoors and is hosted by Alan Warren.
photo of Lonestar Sportsman host Alan Warren

After a 30 year outdoor TV career traveling the globe in search of extraordinary fishing and hunting destinations, Alan Warren has returned to his Texas roots as the Lone Star Sportsman. Airing live each Saturday morning from 5-7am, the Lone Star Sportsman is an engaging blend of outdoor information and education and is FUN for anyone who loves the great Texas outdoors. From answering listener calls about fishing, hunting, RV’ing and camping, Alan also discusses conservation, education, property rights issues and outdoorsy news stories that every Texan should know about.  
They have listeners and callers that have an interest in hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities. You may hear some humorous, could have been fatal type, hunting stories or learn how to make your own fishing flies. The 5:30 to 6am half hour has been detailing specific RV camping venues in Texas - associated with the TexasCampgrounds.com (TACO) group of over 400 member campgrounds. Michael Moore of TACO, teamed up with Alan to feature Hidden Valley RV Park this past Saturday. We had the opportunity to talk about some of our park amenities as well as the unique features of Hidden Valley, the great city of San Antonio and the direction the RV lifestyle is heading today.

If you want to see what kinds of questions they asked me and my humble opinions OR if you just miss my voice (Teehee)...head on over to this link for the 20 minute recording.


We will air again on the Lonestar Sportsman on January 17, 2015 to talk about more Hidden Valley news and our involvement with the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo through our annual kickoff event at Hidden Valley's Cowboy Breakfast on January 23rd.

Although this is a syndicated broadcast we especially invite our local and nearby friends to listen in at the link and our next "appearance" on the Lonestar Sportsman on January 17.  So if you can muster up the energy to get up for the 5:30 AM (yes, I said AM) broadcast, tune into WOAI 1200 on the AM dial or watch for a post here and on Facebook too.

Okay folks, update time! Here's the January 17th Hidden Valley radio broadcast.  Listen closely for a unique promotion only available at this link:


If you've never stayed at Hidden Valley RV this promotion makes it the perfect time to reserve an RV site for a long weekend with the family or a quiet romantic getaway.  Click on over to our RESERVE NOW page on the Hidden Valley website and make your reservations today.



Teri welcomes you to Hidden Valley RV Park



Teri Blaschke is the RV Park operator of family owned HiddenValley RV Park in San Antonio, TX and writer of the park blog “A Little Piece of Country in San Antonio.” Teri contributes to various other blogs with a focus on either travel or social media and how it relates to the outdoor hospitality industry but her passion is serving the RV travel community by providing a memorable RV camping experience and growing the Hidden Valley RV family.  Connect with us on Google+, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter@HiddenValleyRV

Monday

A Digital Eye in the Sky

While sitting by the fire with some guests this past week and talking "geek," you know,  ipads and new ways to edit photos and get WiFi in the boonies - an RVer introduced us to the wonderful world of the starry sky and planet, comet and constellation location with a handy app that works by pointing your smartphone towards the sky.  

GoSkyWatch Planetarium - the astronomy star guide

GoSkyWatch Planetarium - app icon



So simple and full of animations that make sky gazing a fun experience even for new astronomers.  No matter how remote the location (the remoter the better if you want to escape city lights) you can still access the app since it will work even without an internet connection once you have it downloaded.  


It's available on iTunes for iOS for $3.99, CLICK HERE (you'll need to sign into your iTunes acct for iPhones and iPads) and there's  

A compatible app for androids called SkEye for free on the Google Play Store CLICK HERE


Constellation Screenshot from the iPhone appGalaxy Screenshot from the iPhone app 

   Screenshots from the iPhone app

















So the next time YOU'RE out by the campfire - share this great and easy to use app with your friends.  Do you have any favorite apps that you couldn't live without?  Please share them with us in the comments.


Teri welcomes you to Hidden Valley RV Park

Teri Blaschke is the RV Park operator of family owned HiddenValley RV Park in San Antonio, TX and writer of the park blog “A Little Piece of Country in San Antonio.” Teri contributes to various other blogs with a focus on either travel or social media and how it relates to the outdoor hospitality industry but her passion is serving the RV travel community by providing a memorable RV camping experience and growing the Hidden Valley RV family.  Connect with us on Google+, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter@HiddenValleyRV

Saturday

Your 2015 San Antonio Event Calendar

As we're finishing off 2014 in San Antonio with a bang, 2015 is almost upon us and most of us RVers are already planning an itinerary for winter, spring and beyond.  The Hidden Valley RV Park Calendar is also coming together and we urge you to click on over to it so you can make your RV site reservations during your favorite park activity whether it's our Cowboy Breakfast on January 23rd, our Mardi Gras Happy Hour or one of our special potluck get togethers.

If, like many, Hidden Valley RV is one of your regular stops, you already know that we share all kinds of local and nearby happenings with our Hidden Vallian guests too.  December is one of the fullest months on the calendar locally and the Riverwalk Lighting Ceremony and River Parade the Friday


The Riverwalks all Lit Up for the Holidays
The Riverwalk during the holidays

after Thanksgiving is always one of people's favorites.  If you prefer to visit the Riverwalk during a more quiet time, you can still view the festive lights all the way through December.  La Villita and El Mercado downtown are a buzz with hundreds of unique gift ideas if holiday shopping is still on your mind and we'll be glad to help you get your gift packages mailed home from the park.  After the holiday rush is over, treat yourself to a New Years Celebration on the Riverwalk, San Antonio style with fireworks, music and entertainment.

If you'll be here the weekend after Thanksgiving we invite you to our Harvest Potluck on that Saturday.  The Hidden Valley facebook page has posted a great link to some potluck recipes to die for in case you're at a loss for ideas.

Post by Hidden Valley RV Park.







Wanted to share this great San Antonio Calendar infographic by  VisitSanAntonio.net.  If you need a reminder of some of the unparalleled reasons to visit SA, bookmark this post to keep it handy.



Thanks to VisitSanAntonio.net for this fantastic graphic.
18 reasons why to Visit San Antonio
Thanks to VisitSanAntonio.net for this fantastic graphic.


We'd like to know what activities interest YOU.  Do you like organized nature walks, hobbies and crafts, tours, festivals, etc.?  Drop in a comment and let us know.


Teri welcomes you to Hidden Valley RV Park

Teri Blaschke is the RV Park operator of family owned HiddenValley RV Park in San Antonio, TX and writer of the park blog “A Little Piece of Country in San Antonio.” Teri contributes to various other blogs with a focus on either travel or social media and how it relates to the outdoor hospitality industry but her passion is serving the RV travel community by providing a memorable RV camping experience and growing the Hidden Valley RV family.  Connect with us on Google+, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter@HiddenValleyRV

Thursday

How to Find New Friends on the Road



Traveling like we do, it is difficult to find people to do things with that share your  interests.  I am not referring to dating but to a network of people that get together to enjoy and support each other in whatever they enjoy doing.   

I have found a solution to this dilemma with a couple of websites that specialize in helping people meet up with other people out there enjoying life.  I also talk about one site to stay away from    There are so many interest groups to check out.  Like groups for  foodies, knitters, road cyclers, Mt. bikers, Harley bikers, poets, photographers, winers, beer lovers, natural plant lovers, gardeners, etc.  The list is almost endless.

1. MEETUP.COM

Probably my favorite website is called MEETUP.COM.  After a very simple registration process, you will find that no matter where you travel in the US (and probably in the world) you can choose from thousands of interest groups with invitations posted for you to shop through.

For example, just today in San Antonio there are 2,483 different interest groups meeting up to do fun, interesting things!  This is what the home page looks like.  There were so many groups to pick from I could not show all of them so here is a sampling.

Meetups.com home page
Home Page of Meetup.com Groups
 

2. RVILLAGE.COM

For those that are RV diehards and want to find and meet up with other RVers near their location check into the RVILLAGE.COM site.  I love this one and it is very easy to use.   

Most sites are so protective of their member’s privacy that you never get to communicate with any of them.  However, the express purpose of this site is to help members locate each other.  From that point you will be able to find out where the parties are, if someone is going on a tour or if anyone wants to do an evening walk by checking out the get-togethers posted on the site.  

I am located at Hidden Valley RV Park just south of San Antonio, TX.  As you can see by all the bubbles on the map below I found so many other RVillage members near me I couldn't count them.  All I would have to do is click on one to get their contact information then sail out a message to find out if there is anything fun going on that I could join. There is also a button to help you locate people you have put onto a "friends" list.  


RVillage Sample Friend Page
RVillage


3. YAHOO GROUPS

I would stay away from this choice.  After signing up for a "5 string banjo group" and getting accepted as a member, all I found was a chat room that was 100% sex and filth.  The OTHER kind of hooking up.  Not one post was about banjos.  Then they tried to sell me the "advanced membership".  Ha Ha Ha, I am afraid to know what that might get me. 

As always when meeting new people and groups please use common sense and keep yourself safe.  Those tips may be for another time. 
Are there any ways you've found to meet people while you travel?  Tell us below in the comments or join the conversation on facebook. 

Happy travels; get out there and enjoy life!






Janice has recently become a solo RVer. Having Oregonian roots she now is a "6 time across the US" RV traveler and enjoys yarn crafts, hiking and biking and everything horses. Guest blogging is a new addition to her interests.

Saturday

Thinking About Texas Vehicle Registration and Inspection?

Many of us travelers share blog and newsletter articles with each other and greatly benefit from the research of our fellow travelers and RVers.  On of the ezines (email magazines) that I read twice each month comes from Jaimie Bruzenak over at RV Lifestyle Experts.  She recently interviewed an Escapees staff member.  Escapees have been working with Texas officials to keep policies convenient for RVers.  With her permission I have reprinted the article here. 

 *******


"There has been some confusion as to whether RVers who have registered their vehicles in Texas must get them inspected prior to being able to renew their vehicle registration. Depending on what office and person you talk to, you may receive differing information.

In the past, RVers could renew their vehicle registration online and then take care of their inspection when they returned to Texas. That changed with the passage of a new bill. However, Escapees has been working with officials to continue the former policy. This is what Jim Koca, Advocacy Director for Escapees, replied when I asked him how RVers could handle this.

I have talked to Polk County Tax Office this morning where vehicle registration takes place. They assured me that it is not their office that tells people that RVers will have to return to the state for the inspection.

The clerks are instructed to tell the citizens that a process will be in place to allow the registration of vehicles without the need to return to the state for the inspection. The “DMV” is sometimes called the DPS office where people get their drivers license. The Tax Office says they get confused with DPS sometimes.

RVers, students, military, truckers and contractors will be able to renew their vehicles while out of state. This process can be done by mail or online. The individual will do a “self-certification” process stating they are out of state at the time of renewal. Polk County or really any county tax office, will be able to override the need of the inspection sticker requirement. Once the vehicle is back in the State, owners will have 72 hours to get the vehicle inspected. Even the inspection stations are not up on the new process and they are also telling the RVers that they will need to come back to the state before re-registering.

I am trying to get the word out to them also."    Jim Koca
 *******

So note the point of confusion mentioned:
  • the DMV, (TX Department of Motor Vehicles)  handles registration of vehicles, title transfers and license plates
  • DPS (Department of Public Safety) oversees the issuance of drivers licenses and although they make the regulations regarding vehicle inspections, the inspections themselves can be self-certified online with the DMV. 
  • Go to the DMV here to register your vehicle online

Department of Motor Vehicles Registration Link

Hope that clears up some seeming discrepancies in the requirements.  Remember to check the DMV website before completing any online forms just to verify that no new laws have been put into effect.

Have you had any difficulties in getting your vehicles registered in Texas?  Comment below if there are any other Texas residency or registration questions you may have and we'll research them for you.

The text within the asterisks is from Jaimie Bruzenak.  The opening and closing comments are mine.

Teri welcomes you to Hidden Valley RV Park

Teri Blaschke is the RV Park operator of family owned HiddenValley RV Park in San Antonio, TX and writer of the park blog “A Little Piece of Country in San Antonio.” Teri contributes to various other blogs with a focus on either travel or social media and how it relates to the outdoor hospitality industry but her passion is serving the RV travel community by providing a memorable RV camping experience and growing the Hidden Valley RV family.  Connect with us on Google+, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter@HiddenValleyRV


Jaimie Hall Bruzenak is an RV lifestyle expert, specializing in getting started in the RV lifestyle, life on the road, working on the RV road, and solo RVing. She has been RVing since 1992. She and her late husband weren't retired so RVed on a budget and worked on the road. She is the author of Support Your RV Lifestyle! An Insider's Guide to Working on the Road, Retire to an RV: The Roadmap to Affordable Retirement and other RV books. Find out more at RetiretoanRV.com and RVLifestyleExperts.com.
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