Friday, November 13, 2009

Return to Sender, Address Unknown...

We are at the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park, on the Suwannee River (yes, the one made famous by the Stephen Foster song), just north of Live Oak, Florida (map). We've settled in for the weekend, taking the scooters out to zip around the park, and even setting up the patio mat and the hot tub.

We have a nice site in the woods with full hookups. We can't get the dish on-line, but we have plenty of signal from the park's Wi-Fi network. Festival admission is being handled by an outside promoter, but we were able to get the insider rate, and we have our wristbands. Now all we need is some tie-dye to fit in (and plenty is available for sale).

We've been able to enjoy lots of the music right here at our site, which is fairly close to three of the main stages. That's good, because I decided to tackle the "dish project" today, and spent five hours or so on the roof. The music made a nice backdrop.

"What dish project?" I hear you ask. The MotoSat DataStorm self-aiming internet satellite system has been creaking a lot lately, and I've had it on my to-do list to get up there, pull all the servo-motors out, and lubricate everything. The reflector was also "done," in the sense that it's got lots of cracks in the gussets, and the lower lip, to which is attached the feedhorn mounting arm, appeared to be on the verge of self-destruction. We've used this thing constantly for over five years, and I bought it third-hand to begin with, not to mention we whacked the feedhorn off once on a low overpass, so it's really no surprise.

Back when we destroyed the feedhorn, I repaired the system myself by buying an entire used DirecWay system on eBay. I think I spent about $150, and I was able to just mount up the feedhorn bits that had been destroyed to our existing reflector and mount. That left me with a spare modem, which I sold on eBay, a spare transmitter, which came in handy a few months ago when the old one quit, and a spare reflector, which I asked my folks to store in their attic. Knowing I needed to refurbish the dish, we picked that up from them when we visited last month.

I've been waiting for the conjunction of warm weather, a full spare day, and access to Wi-Fi (in case I needed to look something up while I had the dish apart and off-line), and today was it. The spare reflector has otherwise been taking up space and generally getting in the way down in the scooter bay, so we really did not want to wait for the next opportunity.

It took me all afternoon -- I had not realized the new reflector would need some additional holes drilled into it, and the mounting studs removed -- but the whole mount has been cleaned and lubricated, the reflector changed out (and hardly a moment too soon, based on the extensive cracking at the feedarm mounting point), and the full range of motion tested. I can't actually check the system "hot" here under the trees, but I have no reason to suspect anything I worked on today will impact the ability to acquire signal.

While I was in the middle of reassembling everything, Louise popped her head up through the hatch to tell me "we have a huge problem." I thought one of the pets had escaped, or the toilet had quit working. Nope -- she had just called our mail forwarding service to confirm they sent our mail out yesterday, and they casually informed her that "oh, we've been meaning to call you -- we are closing permanently on December 1st."

WHAT?!? With only two weeks notice?

So, yes, we have a huge problem. We have just two weeks to find another mail service and change our address with absolutely everyone. The post office will not forward mail for PMB's, so we can't just fill out one of those moving kits they have there at the counter and expect any mail to follow us. And we have to do it all by remote control; non-trivial, since the post office requires positive ID and a signature on a form in order to open up a PMB at a new service.

One of the things we are now considering is whether to open a PMB in a different state. As long-time readers here know, our plan for when we are "done" with the bus (whenever that is -- we have no schedule for it, and it could be as much as five years from now) is to get a long-distance power boat, and continue our adventure by sea. The domicile considerations for boat ownership are different than those for full-time RV living, and Washington is not necessarily the best option. However, I'm not sure I can fully research these issues in the limited time we now have available to us.

In the meantime, if you are one of the very, very few entities that has occasion to send us anything by mail or delivery service, if it arrives after the end of this month, it will be returned to sender. As soon as I have a new mailing address, I will update our contact page and post it here.

Photo by shoehorn99, used under a Creative Commons license.


  1. Wow...good luck guys. I was perusing the paytrust website and they have no mention of the closure - makes it look like business as usual. Yikes.

    Another travel blog I read mentioned: Haven't used it myself, but it was recommended by them.


  2. This might not work for you due to the location, but we have used My Dakota Address for the past 3 years and are very satisfied. We receive a daily email with whatever has been received, and if it something we need to see imediately she will scan it in and email it to us. We have always received our mail in two days via priority mail. The url is The contact person is Terri Lund.

  3. @Christy Z: It isn't Paytrust that's going out of business, it is our mail box company in Washington, PostNet. Not sure if the whole PostNet system is closing, or just the store we use. Fortunately, Paytrust seems to be going strong!

    @Anonymous: Thanks for the tip. I'll check that out.

  4. How about The UPS Store (formerly MBE) in a state with favorable taxes (if you peg your address to your tax domicile)? I've used one for the past 10 years. They accept everything and will forward upon request anything. Alternatively, there are also the usual Escapees and SD mailing services as well, but I've felt more secure in The UPS Store models and the price is decent. Even my driver license and voter card pegs to my The UPS Store address as they are real street addresses. Pick a store that is in a shopping center that does NOT use a single street address with suite numbers for each store and your address will be just like a stix-n-brix.

  5. Sean:

    Hope all is well with you. I have been reading your blog for several months now and this is the first time that I remember you skipping an update for several days in a row.


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