Monday, June 30, 2014

Staying connected on the road

View from Foothills library
We’ve been spending a lot of time at the Foothills library recently. Partly because it’s a lot cooler than our trailer and partly because of the free internet. It also has better views out the windows than our trailer does.

We have a mobile hotspot (Verizon Jetpack)  that allows us to get internet service wherever we can get Verizon cell phone service. It’s a handy little device to have, but expensive to use. The rate is based on the amount of data you use. Initially we signed up for 4 gigabytes of data usage per month. Go over that amount, and the cost zooms from $50 to $80 a month. I upped our plan to 6 GB a month for just $10 more total. Still expensive, but we can usually manage on that amount.

We were managing pretty well on 4 GB a month, but that was when I was in treatment five to seven days a week at the hospital. Jon used to bring his laptop and watch youtube videos for two to four hours a day on the hospital’s internet connection. Videos eat up so much data that I won’t let him watch them at home. Since we no longer make daily trips to the hospital, he needed another internet connection. Hence, the daily visits to the local branch of the Yuma County Library District, so he can watch videos to his heart’s content.

Like most libraries, this one limits internet time if you use their computers. Bring your own laptop and you can be online all day. The Foothills branch is a really nice library, and is bigger than the main branch of the Mid-Columbia Library back home in Kennewick, Washington. One side of the building is nothing but windows with a wonderful view of the mountains that surround Yuma. The library also sells snacks, such as sandwiches, bagels, chips, soft drinks and candy bars, so you can munch away while you’re online.

Staying connected on the road is important. We both do more than just email. I use the internet to research articles for the clients I write for, as well as for my own writing projects. Many RV parks offer internet service, but it’s usually not free. Plus, you have to sign up for each park’s service and that can get to be a hassle. We got our portable hotspot after one park’s service said my bank refused the credit card charges – this is after I’d spent an hour on the phone with a tech just trying to get to the web page where you sign up – while the bank said the ISP never submitted any charges, so how could they refuse them. Multiply this by a different park every night or every week, and it’s just not worth the trouble.

The convenience of not having to go through this every time we change RV parks is worth the extra money. We hope to be back on the road in the next few weeks, and I’m looking forward to researching campgrounds while Jon is driving. That’s something you can’t do with a standard modem.

Disclaimer: The federal government requires me to say that I did not receive any compensation from Verizon for mentioning their service in this article.



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