I finally got around to finishing this up.. And wanted to update the thread with some findings.
The first is that the remote/RX end pin 3/DE must in fact be grounded. I just got garbage if I didn't ground it.
The other is that B on one end must be connected to B on the other end, and A to A. Connecting B to A and vice versa also gave garbage.
It seems to work fine without the resistors too, but I assume that may change with longer distances so I put them there anyway.
Figured this stuff might be good to know.
The chips I'm using are MAX3082E. Amazingly everything worked as expected the first time I connected it, I had to actually disconnect some stuff to make sure it wasn't just the software fooling me
This weekend we'll test with a longer cable in between.
Thanks again for all the help!