Saturday, November 16, 2013

Saga in Sioux Falls - Renewing My Drivers License

Five years ago when we first checked out becoming a resident of South Dakota, we thought I may have to be in South Dakota in the winter time to get my drivers license since my birthday is in April.  They allow you to renew up to six months before your birthday.  It was time for me to renew, so I flew to Sioux Falls to do it.

Here's my saga, the short story:
On Tuesday, I flew from Orange Country Airport (Irvine, CA) to Sioux Falls, SD.  I got my license renewed on Wednesday, spent Wednesday night with friends (Steve and Therressa) and flew back to Orange County (John Wayne) Airport where Pam picked my up.  I am now back at Seal Beach Weapons Training Station (Navy) campground.

Here's the longer version:
I had a 11:00 AM departure from Orange County (John Wayne Airport) in Irvine.  Pam dropped me off.  I went over to the Frontier Airlines e-ticket kiosk and checked in and then over to the TSA security lines.

The security line was long but moved quickly.  I got a finger scan on what looked like an iPad and the TSA person checked my ID card with my boarding pass.  I didn't have to take off my shoes.  Only my belt and had to take out my laptop.  Moved through the line without incident and proceeded to my gate.
I had an energy bar which I ate for lunch on the plane.  I asked for coffee and decided against it when it cost $1.99.  I wanted some coffee but balked at the principle of the thing.  Times are changing.  I decided to do without.

After a snooze and some reading on my iPhone, we landed at Denver International Airport (DIA).  I went to Air Force training in the 1970's when they had a USAF base here which was before this huge airport was built.
At DIA, I had a meal at Panda Express that was pretty good.  I also was surprised at scarcity of outlets in the waiting areas where I could recharge my iPhone and plug in my laptop.  They did have a free 'Power Up Area' with six stools but they were all taken.  I brought a 'Y' pigtail cord to double up on a connection once I got an outlet at a payphone.

I arrived in Sioux Falls and picked up my Hertz car which was a Hyundai Accent compact.
Nice little car.  Even though it was only 100 feet outside the terminal, it was 28 degrees outside!  Yikes.  Reminded me of Santa Fe and Albuquerque at this time of year.

I went over to my Ramada Inn - no frills room.  It was warm and clean and the bed was fine.

Wednesday morning I checked out and noticed on my Hotwire confirmation receipt that there was no where that it had my South Dakota address.  I talked with the manager who was coming on duty and she said she could not add my address to the receipt, nor could she print out one with a zero balance that had my South Dakota address.

Ugh oh - the fun begins!

Hmmm.  But she did write a note on my Hotwire printout that said I stayed there the previous night.
I had an appointment (which you can make online)
I arrived a few minutes early and walked right up to the counter.  The lady was very polite and business like.  And she found me out.
I did not have a hotel/motel (or RV park) receipt with my South Dakota address.  I explained my situation.
She said showed my a print out of the web page.  Confirmation of receipt from third party (like Hotwire) was not proof.  Period.
She asked her co-worker standing there and then went back to her supervisor and asked if what I had would suffice.

Her demeanor changed when she returned.  She said I "had no document proving my local address".  I summoned all my polite, here's what I tried to do, here's what I did and here is my sad situation.
No dice.
I finally said, "I guess I have to rent a hotel room, get a receipt which shows my local address (where I just stayed). I won't be staying there tonight, I made arrangements to stay with friends. So I pay an extra $75 for a room I will not use?"  I asked her what else I could do?

She said, "My boss said Ramada Inn is not providing customer service.  They should print a receipt for you.  But that is for you to work out".
She was unsympathetic and also said, "You need to bring in all required documents before we can proceed.  Up to you how you want to do that."


I went back to the Ramada and talked the same manager who was there earlier.  She was very surprised sympathetic but could not print out a receipt for the night I stayed there with my address.  I didn't understand why not but she said had no way of knowing how much I really paid for my room on Hotwire.  

As they say in the cockpit in stressful times, "I was out of air speed and ideas", so I paid me the lowest cost she could give me.  For a room I did not use.  And I got my receipt with my local address at a cost of $50.62.  That combined with my Hotwire cost for my previous night ($50.22) came to a total of $100.84 to get my address document.

I could have gone online and gotten a $75 room at Ramada (plus tax) by going direct and saved about
So I tried to save $25 and it cost me $25 more.  But there's more... (see P.S. below)

I returned to the Driver's License place and filled out one form.
It didn't take 20 minutes to hand over all the documents which got scanned and get a new picture taken.  While there I asked about 'Online Renewal'.  A friend sent an email last week and said I could do that.  Turns out I tried it but could not.

Now that all my documents are scanned, I have a Gold Star on the right top corner of my license which means in five years, I can renew it online.  I won't have to be there in person.  

I was done by 9:15 even though I had to go back to the Ramada and pay for a room and get the receipt.
Next I went over to Alternative Resources and picked up my mail.
They are in business to accommodate and Full-Time RVers so I was going to suggest they highlight this kind of situation and get the word out.  They have a monthly newsletter.
Interestingly they said, "Oh -- you should have come by here, I think we could have found a way to get your local address on a receipt..."


That never occurred to me and not sure I would want to go that route, but she did say they work with two local motels and a campground that have no problem putting your local address on the receipt.

  • Guest House Inn and Suites (3101 W. Russell St, Sioux Falls SD, 57107) (605)338-6242 - Cost including tax: $66.61
  • Fairfield Inn (4501 W. Empire Place, Sioux Falls, SD, 57106) (605)361-2211 - Cost including tax: $86.32
Wish I had know that...
But hopefully those of you that are in similar situations may find the info useful...

I spent the rest of the day with Steve and Therressa and stayed at their place.  Nothing like seeing good friends from way back and enjoying the day with them.  I filled up the car that evening so I was ready to go.  I noticed I did not have a boarding pass for the two legs of the flight, but figured I'd just print it out on the e-Ticket kiosk.

I got up early and showered and was at the Sioux Falls/Joe Foss Airport at 4:45 AM for a 6:30 AM departure.  The Hertz counter was not open but I noted the mileage and marked it on the card and dropped off the keys.

I went over to the Frontier ticket area and made some observations:

  • No e-Ticket kiosk available.  Ugh...!  Have to wait in line.  Another reason to arrive early.  Give myself some margin which cuts down on the stress.  No worries.  I got up to the counter after about 15 minutes and got my boarding passes.
  • A number of people in front of me were paying $45 or $50 they did not plan on.  Those checked bags cost $$$!  Sad thing was that too many folks were surprised.  And mad about having to pay the extra bucks.  At that point what are you going to do?  Probably vow never to fly Frontier again!  It would not surprise me if most airlines are charging comparable prices on checked bags.
I asked the person at the counter about no e-Ticket kiosk and she said to complain to Frontier corporate.  They would not put one in there because Frontier only has one flight a day out of there.

Next, I went through TSA security.  It was busy and reminded me of a few years ago.  Everyone had to take off their shoes.  It was pretty fast but crowded.  I got to my gate in plenty of time.  I got a large cup of Caribou Coffee (at $2.25 which was the best deal on the menu).  Then I proceeded over to a seating area with some plug-ins.  Wanted to have my iPhone fully charged before the flight.
The seating areas had lots of these charging stations.  Most were empty.  Nice to know.  I got on the flight and took a nap en route to Denver.
Ended up near the same gate I had a couple of days ago.  I had enough time to hit the Men's Room and quickly get on board for the return leg.  Best seat of the trip.  Window seat on an Exit Row.

Pam was their to pick me up at the Orange County Airport and we got back to the coach about 11:30 AM Thursday.

Mission Accomplished!  
I was successful on a number of accounts:

Purpose of the trip:

  1. Renew my Driver's License
  2. Pick up mail at Alternative Resources, including my plastic cap ends for the air/brake line hoses on our RV Air Force 1 (SMI Auxiliary brake)
  3. See friends Steve and Therressa (life long residents of Sioux Falls)

My approach was to get ready for the trip:

  • Get information on South Dakota Driver's License Renewal
  • Purchase Airline Tickets and Car Rental:  Hotwire and Kayak-
  • Check the weather
  • Check with Alternative Resources in case there is anything I need to do
  • Assemble Documents for driver's license renewal
  • Get a small backpack/laptop carry on

Having just finished it all, I would have done things a little differently and have my recommendations:
  • Visit the South Dakota website so you now what you need
  • Pre-print all boarding passes for all legs of the trip
  • Hand carry a small back pack or small suit case.  Do not check a suitcase unless you absolutely have to.  $$$
  • Stay with a friend (cheapest way to do it, or use one of the motels/hotels can print out a receipt with your address.
  • Give yourself some margin  and time for a contingency.  I could have gotten it all done with one overnight stay, but it was nice having the extra night. It could have been more intense if I had to arrive in Sioux Falls one day and fly out the next.
  • Check to see if you can renew online and avoid a special trip 
P.S.  -
As I go through this post and link some web sites I hope you find useful, I found out I could have stayed one night with my friends.  All I had to do is have them complete a "Consent of Use For Address Form".  Steve would have been more than glad to do that and help me out by going through the whole process with me.

That would have saved me the cost of the Hotwire and face-to-face reservation.

Note to self:  when researching, read all related information.... or better yet, have Pam take a look also.  She doesn't miss that kind of stuff.

That's how it went down on my Driver's License Renewal.

Thanks for joining me on this edition of the Roadrunner Chronicles!  If you have some ideas or helpful hints to share, please share!

Until next time...


  1. Wow! What a story! Sorry to hear it was such a pain. We'll keep all of this in mind when our renewal time comes.

    We both have gold stars on our licenses......I thought that was for being an organ donor, but good to know we can renew online by having them. :-)

    1. It wasn't really a pain something I wish I'd have figured out a little better than I did before I left. All in all, it went pretty quickly.
      My card says 'Donor' on the bottom right hand corner.
      Thanks for the note!

  2. Geez lessons learned! Thanks for the info.

  3. Great detail. Luckily we have the stars on ours also. I do talk with Alternative on all items, tags, voting, etc before doing. They have good insight. The Campground they like is Tower.
    Thanks again.

    1. Yes - one thing I didn't ask about was maybe renting a space at Tower Campground. Might be cheaper than the motels in the area.
      Both times we have renewed licenses in our RV, we stayed at the Lyons Fairgrounds. It was reasonable, had plenty of room and worked out fine for us in the summer time. It is closed for the winter now.

  4. I really loved your short story/ long story versions of the story! What useful information for so many folks that use South Dakota as their permanent residence. I hope they find this post.

  5. I'm a control type of person, and I just hate it when things happen that I didn't have under my control... and especially if they cost me extra money..... Rod

  6. It is so absurd. The fact that they accept a motel receipt as proof of residency tells everyone in no uncertain terms that they don't really care if you actually live there or not, so why not just take your word for it? But bureaucracies were ever thus.


  7. I'm happy I have the gold star on my SD license. Phew!