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Sunday, December 18, 2011

And the countdown to Christmas is underway

We are officially decorated for Christmas! Well, not completely.  As usual, my memory of where I put stuff last year was a bit fuzzy and I forgot that there were several strands of lights that I drool around the cabinet tops and all that were decommissioned due to a failure to illuminate.

So, I am now mostly decorated and a WalMart trip is in order to round out the decorations.  That is ok. I need to pick up a few other things, too, and I really don’t like to drive 7 miles to get just 1 thing.  The problem is that I am still in the habit of “making a mental note” of what I need. Of course, that scratchpad is almost used up and I keep forgetting to check it, anyway. Hmmm, maybe I should write THAT down so I don’t forget to check it….. Obvious flaw in that, somewhere.

On to better things.  I have really been unhappy with my internet connectivity “out here” in RVing land. So far, the campground supplied Wifi, whether paid or free, has been outright frustrating.  Likewise, my Sprint 3g/4g service, even when using the HOTSPOT feature on my phone, has been unruly and I am tired of having to work out some Rube Goldberg workaround to get everything connected consistently every time we move or I take my phone out of the process to use it.

Yesterday, after a lengthy amount of research, I ordered a Verizon 4g LTE USB Modem.  It’s a Pantech UML290 which should just plug right into my Cradlepoint MBR1000 router and provide the best of the best in a connectivity hotspot.  That is what my Verizon based Kids keep telling me, but that’s another topic.   I chose the UML290 because it has held the Editors Choice awards for a long time and is still up there. A really big reason, though, is because it has external antenna connections for 3g and separately for 4g external antennas.  This is a biggie!

I thought for a long time that Campground Wifi problems were surely in the CG system but I now have it clear that very often if not most of the time, the problems are in the backhaul side provided by the ISP that delivers the broadband connection to the campground.  Nothing I can do in my RV will make up for that other than to have other connectivity options, like Verizon.

The BestBuy store in south Jacksonville is holding my USB modem for me and from the data rates I have seen from others around here, it will be an awesome solution.   I just have to go pick it up sometime today.

I have been a loyal Sprint customer for many years and money wise, their unlimited everything plans are big $$$$ savers over everyone else’s plans. But I depend on good Internet connectivity to keep me sane and it is very unlikely that I will ever be in a campground that is close enough to a major city to get their 4G Wimaxx service solidly. I know they are putting in an Advanced LTE 4g service over the next 18 months but I need it now!

I will still keep my phones on Sprint but the only likely alternative to Verizon might be Millenicom but they only offer 4g on their hotspot device and not on a UML290 USB Modem. Living in an aluminum cage in the walls of the RV makes it mandatory to have a way to put up an external antenna for the best wireless connectivity.

So, now it’s time to go pick up “my Precious!”

ttfn

Budd

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The birds are scrambling

The marquee at the Fargo Theater in Fargo, Nor...

Image via Wikipedia

It’s 58 degrees on a fine sunny Saturday morning and it’s warming up nicely but the way the snowbirds are leaving this campground you would think a bad weather witch was coming to turn this place into Fargo, ND. It has been a pretty steady stream since about 7  AM.

For us, there is no problem at all. The projected temperatures of mid 50s to upper 60s are right in the middle of our favorite comfort zone so we will enjoy the elbow room… for a day or two… maybe. This RV park is so roomy that their presence is not particularly noticeable other than when we are walking around the roads and see the empty sites.

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We are comfortably settled in for the winter and I even pulled out the collapsible leaf rake and swept up the site around us though it was little more than a few pine needles and pin Oak leaves.

I parked Clifford a little differently this time to give me better access to the Sprint 4G service tower to our east but so far it does not appear to have made much difference in my signal strength. I can, however, stream movies and other video content through it with no blurps or gags so I am happy for now.

I setup the Dish antenna, yesterday, and we get a great signal.  I signed onto the Pay-as-you-go Dish Network plan for RVers that lets you suspend/resume your dish subscription without extra fees. It just has to be done by prepaying month to month. If you don’t pay then the service stops until you do.  Makes it easy.

The Dish receiver, a VIP211K unit, integrates the Dish programming guide and the local broadcast TV guide into its own guide. It also includes a Digital TV Converter section in the receiver so I don’t need a separate over the air (OTA) converter box for a non-digital TV. I just hook the dish cable and the OTA coax to the receiver and it does the rest to switch between these sources as I change channels.

ttfn

Budd

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Back to the Florida campground

We are back in the Stagecoach RV Park in St. Augustine, FL. Same park and same site that we were in before the Thanksgiving trip back to the Stix n’ Brix in NC.  Boy, it’s nice to be back here.

The whole Turkey adventure was very nice and we did enjoy it but the weather was starting to turn on us. More important, our dear SIL, Bette, had some more stuff to get started on this week so it was time to kiss the kids and get back  down here. We did have an exceptional time while we were there, though and even got an early Christmas (see: wow-we-ve-got-hdtv for the details.)

Just before hitting the road, Katie had a seizure at 4am in the morning. It lasted about 90 minutes and was more severe than the last few. It was only 72 days since the last one that she had but they usually happen more frequently in the late fall and winter than through the summer months. More to come on her blog.

The trips up and back to Florida were uneventful other than the old gremlin of the fuel temperature sensor triggering a false alarm in the engine computer.  Guess I will have to replace that sensor after all.  It has been really nice that Mer drives about half of every day’s mileage. She does an excellent job and I have no problem with going back to the bunk and taking a nap after my shift at the wheel.

The only problem with trying to nap is coming down through central South Carolina on I-95.  They have done a lot of work on the road and most of it is better but it is still really rough enough to bang me around in the bunk.  Just getting horizontal for a bit is still a real help.

More to come…

ttfn

Budd