55 Days To Go – Domicile Change & The Florida Keys
Believe it or not we’ve only got 55 days to go before we leave the US of A!!
Lots of busy business going on here at the Wheelingit camp, so I’m not blogging as often as I should, but be assured that things ARE moving along. The good news is that, despite going a tad crazy with organizational stuff, we’re in a reeeeeeally relaxed place.
For the past two weeks we’ve been in the Florida Keys, lounging in our absolute favorite place (Middle Keys) at several superbly gorgeous State Parks. We scored these incredible sites thanks (yet again) to a blog reader who couldn’t make it down this year and offered to transfer them through a cancellation/re-book. So we decided to snag them and make this our last hurrah in “the beast”. It’s bittersweet stuff all around, but it’s giving us an incredible place to just hang & enjoy this final time in our home before we move out.
I think these will be good memories to carry with us to Europe.
Missed my Key’s Posts from last year? We spent 6 weeks here in Feb & Mar enjoying the whole chain from Upper, to Middle and Lower keys. Here’s my 4-post series on the best sightseeing, eating & dog-friendly spots in each of those areas:
- Settling Into The Island Vibe – Key Largo, FL
- Wildlife, Bridges, Beaches & Friends – Middle/Lower Keys, FL
- The Small Island With The Big Crowds – Key West, FL
- The Adventure Of A Lifetime – Dry Tortugas, FL
The Keys Look Really Good
Many of you might be wandering what the Keys look like after Hurricane Irma.
They weathered the heart of the storm, so there was plenty of damage here, especially in the Middle Keys (around Marathon), but the recovery efforts have been amazing. Most of the debris is gone, and apart from a some piles of branches along Hwy 1, it looks really good. You can certainly still see the scars from the Hurricane (e.g. houses missing roofs, destroyed RVs & trailers), but lots has been cleaned up, and almost everything is open including most of the private RV parks and pretty much all the local businesses. The Keys were badly hurt, but not defeated and they are humming again.
As far as the State Parks go, Curry Hammock, Bahia Honda & Pennekamp are all back up & running again (Long Key is the only campground still closed), and we’re planning to hit them all before we leave.
Our first 10 days were spent in Curry Hammock State Park (full review coming) and now we’re in Bahia Honda State Park for 2 weeks. Both campgrounds have newly graded sites with brand-new power pedestals, so they’re looking really good. Sadly, most of the thick vegetation is gone, ripped out by massive winds, so there’s not as much site privacy as there used to be. But there’s still some ground-covering and smaller trees, and of course the ocean views are as amazing as ever. The beach at Curry Hammock actually looks fabulous, but Bahia Honda still has a long way to go and most of the park (including all ocean-side beaches, Sandspur Camping Area and the marina) is still closed off for damage control. It’s going to take a long time for them to finish the repairs here.
But is still soooooo pretty here! We are just ecstatic to be spending these weeks here and are totally digging our water views and that southern beach tiki-hut kinda vibe. It may not look exactly as it did last year, but it’s still amazing. The Keys are always a special place.
Europe Practical Stuff Is Moving Along
On the practical side we’ve done a bunch a stuff for our Europe move.
As you know our plane tickets are already booked (Mar 30th is THE DATE) and our pets have been confirmed to go. I’ve got blog posts coming on the whole pet thing including what methods there are to travel with your pets across the Atlantic (there’s more than one way) and the exact requirements & docs which are needed to make that happen. We’ve also got Paul’s brand new (renewed for 10 years) passport back and have an appointment to apply for his long-term Visa in mid-Feb. Fingers crossed that all goes smoothly!
We’ve Set-Up Domicile In Florida!
The other big news is that we just transferred our US domicile from South Dakota to Florida. That might seem an odd thing to do right before we leave, but there are several good reasons we decided to do it. The first is for family (for the future), and the second, rather critically, is for Paul’s French Visa.
For the latter specifically, France has a Consulate in Miami which makes applying for a long-term French Visa here MUCH easier than it would have been through our previous domicile. With a permanent address in South Dakota, Paul would be required to travel to the Chicago Consulate to do this Visa application. This not only meant organizing a round-trip plane ticket + hotel for him in Chicago (in the dead of winter!), but also meant we would only get ONE shot at the application. Any issues or missing papers and we wouldn’t have time to fix it!
Now that we’re officially domiciled in FL, we can do everything right here in Miami, and if we run into any issues (including in the future, such as renewals or changes) we can do it all through that same Miami Consulate. Paul’s whole family is based here, so flying back to Miami is something he’s going to do several times a year anyway. Having that flexibility was WELL worth the ~$600 it took to change our domicile.
By the way, getting our drivers license & plates in Florida was a breeze thanks to these two blog posts:
- Winnie Views: How To Move To Florida In 1 Hour
- Technomadia: Setting Up Domicile In Florida As a Fulltime RVer
Lynn (Winnie Views) and Cherie (Technomadia) have covered EVERYTHING you need to know about setting up residence in Florida, so there’s really no reason for me to re-hash that process here. We simply followed their blog directions to a T and got the entire change completed over the course of ~2-3 weeks. We signed up for our mail service (and started to change addresses) in early Jan, the local police came to Curry Hammock State Park to do our VIN verification last week, and then we drove a mere 10 mins to Marathon Key to get our licenses (at the licensing office) & plates (at the tax collectors office, just down the road). Thanks to those two excellent blogs, it was easy peasy.
Oh and for our mail service we decided to sign-up with St. Brendans Isle. They have all the snazzy online services we need (mail scanning etc.) and are used to dealing with cruisers & international travelers. Plus, we know several folks who already use and like them. So we felt they would be a good choice for us while we travel around Europe.
Our RV Will Be Listed Soon
I’ve had several folks inquire about our RV listing. We hope to have that up and “live” within the next week. I do have updated pics, specs & details for anyone interested, but it’s just taking us a little longer than we anticipated to put the video together (we feel a video will give a more solid overall feel of the RV). Our goal is to have her sold before we leave for Europe (Mar 30th), but if we haven’t managed by then we’ll simply drop her off at a consignment agent. We’ve already spoken to and picked our agent, so that’ll be an easy transaction if it comes to that.
And We’ve Seen Some Amazing Sunsets
Most importantly, we’ve seen some amazing sunsets that have calmed our souls and bathed our minds with peace during this tumultuous planning time.
The Florida Keys are really a pretty cool place, and although they’re only around an hour from Miami they literally feel like a different country. It took us a few weeks to settle into the vibe when we visited last year, but once we did we ended up LOVING it.
And this time around we’ve slotted right in like a well-worn glove.
So, we’ve spent days lounging by our beach-side campsite, our asses in the sand, dipping our toes into the cool water and watching the colors of sunset lighting up the sky and turning the earth a twilight blue. We’ve had rum cocktails at the local fish restaurant, walked the beach by moonlight and enjoyed a cool beer overlooking the ocean. In addition, Paul’s dad & stepmom are with us this week, so we’ve got family here too. We literally couldn’t ask for a better way to finish our US travels.
55 sunsets to go, my friends. I’m freaking out (a tad), but I’m also feeling good. Let’s see what challenges the next 55 days bring us….