Friday morning was quite a bit less busy than Thursday morning, and the afternoon was no different. TLE and I were allowed to leave for home about 1/2 hour early as we had run out of things to do. And so, thus goes the rest of September as the season quickly winds down. We have 12 people leaving our co-worker ranks on September 24th, so that means we will most likely be down to 8+ people to man the store as we shift store hours on that date once again to 9 am - 6 pm.
Around 8:30 pm we hopped in the VW to meet up with our co-workers (Roscoe, Geni and Dodge) at The Rusty Rail as we have often done this summer......a nice way to wind down the work week even though we have two more days of work before we get our three off days. We were home by 10:15 and in bed by 11 pm.
It occurred to me this morning while reading another blog written by a friend (Becky Schade of Interstellar Orchard fame) in which she discussed her mobile internet situation that I have not really discussed in detail how we connect to the internet. TLE and I have been with Verizon for many years......well, TLE for the past 6 years....she was with AT&T back in her workaday life as her employer had a discounted monthly rate with them. Once we were on the road she rejoined me on my Verizon account. To be clear, Verizon is not the cheapest option out there, but they do, unequivocally, have, by far, the best coverage of all the major providers.
When we initially hit the road we had about 5 GB of data to use per month, and that worked well for about a year, but gradually I began to approach my limit each month so I increased my plan to provide 10 GB per month. As is oft the case nature abhors a vacuum and eventually I was using all of the 10 GB each month to I increased it to 20 GB/month and stayed there for quite a while. In late 2014 Verizon offered to double my data to 40 GB for the same rate I was then paying, so I accepted their offer. This worked well for me 99% of the time, but there were a couple of months where we nosed right up to the 40 GB limit. In late 2015 I attempted to purchase a grand fathered unlimited data plan (UDP) so I wouldn't have to worry about how much data I was using anymore. I contacted the Verizon AOL (assumption of liability) department and with their help took over the plan, however, it ended up being a scam. Just as I was accepting the terms and conditions of the grand fathered UDP plan the former owner bought a new iPhone which nullified the grand fathered plan, and essentially added a fourth line to my existing plan sharing my 40 GB/month. I didn't need a fourth line, obviously......I need UDP. Verizon essentially left me to 'swing the wind' even though they knew I had been scammed. I was on the hook for a fourth line for 2 years.....essentially the scammer got a free phone for which I ended up paying.
At this point I could have said 'Screw you Verizon!' and gone to another carrier, but in the end I stayed for the very reason I referenced above.....they have, by far, the best coverage. I had to decide if I wanted to 'cut off my nose to spite my face' and then deal with connectivity problems in the remote areas in which we love to boondock. In the end I sucked it up, accepting my part in the debacle which had me rushing along to get the deal done and not doing my due diligence, paid off the new line, then cancelled it, and stayed with Verizon.
You know, if you have been reading my blog for a few years, that I post every day of the year, and often during the winter from pretty remote areas. I have never had to drive into town, or to a Starbucks, or McDonalds to use their WiFi. In the end I love the fact I don't often have to worry about no cell, or data coverage with Verizon.
Then about 4 months ago Verizon offered a new UDP plan which I investigated and found that I could switch from 40 GB to UDP and actually see my bill go down $50/month! Just as with my 40 GB plan, the new UDP plan had limits on using my mobile hotspot of 10 GB per month before my mobile hotspot speed was throttled down. Since we have three devices (Android, iPhone and Mini iPad) we just moved from one device to another as one device reached the 10 GB limit giving us 30 GB of streaming capability and mobile hotspot capability per month. Just a few weeks ago Verizon upgraded my UDP plan at no additional cost giving me an additional 5 GB per month per device before my speed is throttled on any given device, so now we have 15 GB per device giving us 45 GB per month for mobile hotspot use, and streaming video (Netflix, Hulu, etc.). As long as we are just accessing the internet using our three devices we are not throttled....only when we exceed the 15 GB on each device's mobile hotspots.
As you no doubt know, cell phone coverage in Yellowstone is limited to mostly the more heavily populated centers in Yellowstone such as Mammoth Hot Springs, Old Faithful, & Canyon Village, but only if you have Verizon.....the other major carriers do not work here. I have found I get reception often in areas where I should not be able to, such as Tower Junction, Mt. Washburn, Bunsen Peak, and other hiking trails, but I mostly leave my phone on 'Airplane Mode' when traveling outside the population centers to keep my battery from running down prematurely as it attempts to find LTE coverage when there is none.
At any rate here in Gardiner, MT and up at Mammoth Hot Springs, WY, and anywhere in between, I get some of the best LTE coverage ever. We can stream Netflix videos easily here in Gardiner, MT, by connecting our smart Phillips TV to the mobile hostspot, and uploading pictures and videos for my blog is easy peasy. I don't use any amplification devices, or antennas....I just turn on my cell phone mobile hotspot and connect to the internet......no muss, no fuss.
Now, to be fair not using special cell phone antennas, or amplification devices does limit to some degree where we boondock, and what workamping jobs we accept. Since I have committed to producing a daily blog 365 days per year I try to make sure I can do just that without a great inconvenience. I think you will agree that we have found some pretty amazing places to boondock, and work without sacrificing cell coverage.....it just takes a little more research and planning. One of the factors that tipped my hat in favor of working at the Grand Canyon Desert View General Store as that there is good Verizon coverage there, and we know that first hand because we visited that store a few years ago and were able to post to Facebook with no problem.
So, there you go....that is how we stay connected. Naturally, your traveling and lifestyle choices may mean you might need to investigate amplifier and antenna options, but for the most part it has not really been an issue for us.
Thanks for stopping by!