Oct 30, 2014

Oct 30 - Millenicom Verizon Dilemma

Perhaps "dilemma" isn't the right word, as I don't feel as if we really have any option here. A week or so ago we found out that our internet service provider, Millenicom, was effectively "out of business"... accounts taken over by Verizon. For those that don't know, Millenicom was a bulk re-seller of Verizon broadband, and offered considerably more bang for the buck. When with Verizon we paid $60/month for 5GB of data. Millenicom offered 20GB for the same $60 (which recently jumped to $90). And as i-connected devices have multiplied in our lives, we're using an increasingly larger chunk of that 20GB.

While there are a number of options for mobile internet service, there aren't many good options... at least as far as I'm concerned. Verizon, I'm told, has the most geographic coverage... the most built-out system... compared to competitors ATT, Sprint, T Mobile, et. al. As we travel around we've found that to be the case. Since we've become so dependent on being connected our options boil down to either crawling back to Verizon or drastically reducing our dependence on the internet. At this point, I'm not willing to do the latter. But I'm getting closer.

Some of those reading this are in the same predicament. Verizon has informed Millenicom customers of a number to call for more information and to be set up in their system for billing. Those making contact with V are reporting varying stories, but it looks like the end result will be that we'll be able to keep a 20GB plan for a few more shekels than we've most recently sent to Millenicom. The big problem for me is the reported wait times... up to two hours of listening to bad music and V commercials while waiting to talk with someone. I'm not sure I'll be able to jump this hurdle. I'm not good with lines, waits, or anyone messing with me. And this feels like the big V is messing with me.

Best information I have is that I have until the 8th of November to resolve this.


later in the day addendum:   got V on the phone after waiting on hold for about 15 minutes; did our business, changed over account, set up on V, questions, answers.  Bottom line is this:  will have 20GB for $100 with no contract;  Not happy about the price or the amount of data we're using, but good to know we won't have a break in service.

Now we've got to do a little soul-searching about how much data we're really willing to pay for, and how we can crunch down our demand for data with an eye toward getting the cost down.  It's just stupid for us to kill as much time as we do online. In so many ways it really is just a time waster.

Oct 6, 2014

Oct 6 - Back at Home in Sutherlin

Along the Columbia, s. of the Walulla Gap
We left Cabelas in Post Falls ID without dropping a dime in the store. I know... that doesn't show much gratitude for the free RV parking they offer, but over the years I've spent a lot of bucks with this good company. They probably didn't even notice.

The drive into the Portland area on Friday, the 3rd, was the best of the 5 drives this trip. The route was I-90 to US-395 to the Pasco - Kennewick (Tri-Cities) area where we caught US-12 as it bends around to the east side, across the Snake River and along the Columbia, and down through what's called the Wallula Gap. This narrow opening in the high surrounding rocky hills is what plugged up with ice during the last glacial retreat, creating a giant lake that spread across eastern Washington and into western Montana. When the ice dam let loose... as it did numerous times, the biblical flood of water was so great... of such a proportion... that it literally carved out what we now see as the Columbia River Gorge. Yes, the Wallula Gap is certainly a place to see.

When we reached Umatilla OR, we crossed back over to the Washington side of the river, and took WA-14 the rest of the way into the Portland area. Most people go through the Gorge on the Oregon side, on I-84. A more relaxed and often more spectacular drive can be had by driving down the WA side on 14. That day, the sun was bright, the wind light, and the views?... well,... just the best.

We arrived at our daughter and SIL's place mid-afternoon. The first order of business was hugging the grandkids... and then on to unloading the trailer. Much of what we brought was staying right there. Then, good time catching up with everyone, dinner at a new Chinese restaurant, and more talking until some of us were getting a bit "noddy". Sleep came easily and quickly.

If you had peeked through a keyhole Saturday morning you would have seen 4 people in a queen sized bed. That'd be Dar, 2 grandkids, and me... talking, watching short videos, and horsing around. Of course, we miss these times when we're traveling, but what's that they say about absence?  Something about making the heart grow fonder?

By 11am we were back on the road, heading toward Sutherlin. For the three hour drive we reminisced our trip, talked about the future, and felt good about "going home". There's nothing like the feeling of going home... unless it's the feeling of leaving again on another excursion.

So, how'd the old bushouse make it through the hotter-than-normal Oregon summer? Overall, pretty darned good I'd say. The battery in the car was dead, but the batteries in the bushouse were in tip-top shape... kept that way by the 400 watt solar system. It's a lengthy process to re-commission a camper after returning... especially one in a deep state of mothballs. But system by system, things woke up, fired up, filled up, and lit up. She did good.

Some may remember we caught a mouse a day before leaving last June in one of my always set "tell-tale" mouse traps. This could have been a sign of trouble and we did fear what we'd find when returning. But ultimately there was nothing to worry about. Not a single varmint in any of the dozen or so traps we set. Clean as a whistle.

The past day or two we've also been slowly unpacking and cleaning and doing laundry and reconnecting with friends around the Park.

It's good to be home.

But I can't wait to leave again.


Oct 2, 2014

Oct 2 - Into Idaho with a stop at a tire shop

Yesterday we left Red Shale CG about 8am with promising skies giving us some hope that it'd be a better day. And a better day it was. While we still had the incessant head wind, sun lifted spirits as we moved across Montana.

We stopped at Little Bighorn National Battlefield Monument for a brief refresher in the history of the "white man's" confiscation of the culture and way-of-life of the native American Indian. How can we not be ashamed of what we did to these people? I hope that'd I'd have had the guts to fight back like they did.

Little noteworthy after that as we moved west with our sights set on Bozeman.

One of my brothers lives in Bozeman and we wanted to stop by... spend a little time with him and see the new house he just bought and moved in to. Since it's all so new and he's had so little time to get things unpacked, etc., we stayed in our little camper on the street in front of his house. It all worked out great... this camper gives us great sleeps... and we had a nice time connecting up with him again. Thanks Bro.

This morning Dar woke me from a deep sleep a little after 8am. Yikes... what'dya say there boy... let's get moving. On the road a little after 9am, early fluid exchange, and we're heading west once again.

A little east of Butte we stopped at a rest area where a regular inspection of the equipment revealed a chunk of rubber had liberated itself from one of the old U-Haul trailer tires.  I don't recall if I'd mentioned that this trailer, according to the mfrs. tag on the side, is 32 years old. Judging by visual condition of the tires, they may have been 32 years old too.  What a poor excuse for a rental trailer!  I accept some of the blame for this situation as I didn't do as thorough an inspection before I rented it as I should have.

Regardless, I now had a slowly disintegrating tire (although it still held air), and some quick decisions to make.  First off... call U-Haul roadside assistance and ask them what we should do. We're near Butte and could take care of the situation proactively, or... or... we could wait for the inevitable blow-out further down the line in more inaccessible location that would cost them even more.

In an encouraging sign of reasonableness, they agreed to connect us up with a tire guy in Butte... which we did... and after about 3 hours (there goes the schedule...) we were back on our way west with two new tires, two freshly re-packed wheel bearings, and a little more confidence in an old trailer.

With the delay, we decided to drop anchor near Post Falls ID and Spokane WA... at a Cabelas store again. Tonight we're nestled among the semi-trucks, nice and warm, and looking forward to a shorter drive tomorrow into the Portland area... and one of our other "homes-away-from-home".

G'night All.

Travelers know it's advisable to stop once in a while and
wash the dust from the road from your throat.

Beyond Branson; Pondering Future Travel

This past Tuesday, we moved from Branson to a very nice Corps of Engineer’s Park on Wappapello Lake.  We’re in the Redman Creek CG. This fac...