Thar She SNOWS

Keeping the current theme going…

We’ve got some snow!  The last couple days of storms here in central New Mexico were mostly just wind – lots of wind. However; I see some snow on the nearby mountains!

I suspect winter may be getting close.

mountain snow


Thar She BLOWS!

I’ve mentioned a couple of times that my DIY windshield sun shade covers have never blown off in the wind.

That changed today!

The winds are howling – I am told 40 mph.  Yes, today my windshield shade cover things did indeed blow off!

In fact, the wind is blowing so hard that I thought one of my slide toppers was going to get ripped to shreds so I pulled two slides in for the day.  Even with the jacks down my home firmly planted on the ground, it feels a bit like I’m back in the sailboat – a bit of rock and roll’in going on here!!

Pueblo Lake State Park

I spent three nights in the Pueblo Lake State Park which is just outside Pueblo, CO, to the southwest. This is a nice park and lake. However; I just couldn’t find the time to put the kayak in the water or do much exploring.

The park is very large and offers many hiking, biking, kayaking, and sightseeing opportunities. The Royal Gorge is just a few miles west, is very impressive, and worth the time to take a look!

I stayed in the Eagle View Loop in the Northern Plains Campground. This loop has 15 campsites.

It is interesting to me how many parks close huge sections during the off-season – Lake Pueblo is no different. In the Northern Plains Campground, only the Eagle View Loop was open, the remaining 170-ish campsites were closed. The thing that is odd, in my opinion, is that all of the available spaces were reserved (as near as I could tell) and there were no spaces available for me or others that may just pop in. Now, the first obvious thing that comes to mind is that power and water is shutoff to these closed sections. That is not the case, I checked (whilst out walking around). There are not even campground hosts – as near as I could tell, it was a matter of opening a gate. Oh well… probably much more complex that it appears.

Pueblo Lake State Park Newmar Dutch Star

So, I moved up the road to Haggards RV Campground (west of Pueblo on Highway 50). Haggards is a nice little roadside campground. The owners are super nice and very helpful! There is some road noise from Highway 50 but it isn’t too bad.

Do No Right

Some days, it seems I can do nothing right.

I was recently at a state park campground (I’m not going to say exactly when or where). I was at this same place a year ago. The check-in process is all self-serve. Fill out the form, put some money in it, put one copy in your toad, put the other copy in the RV, deposit the form and money in the iron ranger. No big deal.

The yellow copy is the one goes in the RV and says “DISPLAY ON CAMPER/TRAILER DOOR” and has a sticky strip on the face such that you would place it on the inside of the door window so it is visible from the outside.

The last time I was here, I put the yellow on the window NEXT to my door so the wind would not tear it off and blow it away. When the campground host came around, he was none too pleased that it was not on the DOOR as the instructions stated. Ok, sorry, sorry, sorry…. I can read and I can follow directions, sometimes I just think too much.

Today, a year later, the campground host came around. I figured he would be super pleased with me this time as I had exactly complied with the instructions.

Angry and Frustrated by Managements Lack of IntelligenceHe was not.

He knocked and asked where my receipt was. I pointed to the door and said “on the door like the instructions say”.

His response: “I can’t see it.”

I didn’t know how to respond. Yes, the window in the one and only door is quite high – way above eye level. Yes, I had my exterior sun shades installed. Yes, it was impossible to see due to the height and cover. HOWEVER!!! I did EXACTLY what the instructions said. Should I not get some credit for that???

No. I should not.

Some days I should just stay in bed. I really hate disappointing people but I am slowly getting used to it since it is a regular thing for me.

On a positive note, the campground is as lovely and clean as ever.

Conserve Data

Ways to conserve data is a pretty big deal for fulltimers that rely on cellular data as their sole source of Internet connection.

Many folks think they can live or spend extended time in their RV and have all the comforts of home.

Sorry, it just isn’t so….

Technology is moving fast. It is possible that an unlimited, high-speed data connection will be available anywhere, anytime in the near future but it isn’t here yet.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

On a positive note, what is available today would have been inconceivable twenty years ago and hard to imagine ten years ago. In fact, I was looking at a magazine at a “period” restaurant the other day that was from 1993. There was not a single URL or email address to be found in it! So, apparently, we did not even know that we needed a cellular data connection never mind that we needed to conserve data twenty-two years ago!

Internet data is one of those comforts that you simply will not have. Your motorhome is NOT connected to cable or DSL Internet source with an unlimited capacity of high-speed data when living abroad. Yes, there are a few campgrounds that have a good Wi-Fi connection waiting for you. However; that same wifi quickly becomes unusable when twenty people pull in and all start streaming Netflix movies. Please don’t do that, it ruins it for everyone.

Since a lot of people do it anyway – either because it is all about me-me-me or they won’t take a minute to think about it – most campground Wi-Fi is not great. Ignorance is no excuse.

The only reasonably dependable and affordable source of Internet data is a cellular connection (a smart phone setup as a hotspot (or tethered) or mifi (hot spot)). The limitation here is that nearly all of us are paying a certain amount each month for a limited amount of data – it ain’t free. Just like most things in life, you have to learn to be smart with the resources you have and/or can afford. This can be done with your computer and cellular data plan but it requires you to conserve data. Here are a few pointers:

  1. Turn off automatic updates. You really need to keep up on updates (critical updates, services packs, anti-virus updates, etc…) but doing so via cellular data is not the way to do it. There are many locations to learn how to do this, Google it for details.
  2. Set your email client to download headers only. Friends and family that are not operating with limited bandwidth seem to love to send email with 10 Mb photos attached. That’s ok but, via cellular connection, you don’t have the bandwidth that all of them have. The header information will show you the sender, subject, and the size of the message. You can then choose which messages to delete without even reading, which to download now and which to save to download once connected to Wi-Fi or a land line.
  3. Remove embedded photos from email replies. Sending a “Great photo!” email response that is 10 Mb in size is just silly (and just as silly as the same response consuming 200 k of data).
  4. Stop browsing “heavy” content sites when on cellular data. This generally includes any website that is heavy on photographs.
  5. Stop streaming TV shows and movies! At this point in time, this just isn’t possible – eliminate the expectation from your brain. If over the air channels are insufficient, fork out the money for a satellite connection and/or a DVD collection if you must have TV when on the road. Yes, it is one of the cons of RV living.
  6. Sometimes you just have to send a photo. Resize it first. There are many utilities available for doing this. Sending a 10 Mb, high resolution photo to someone for them to glance at it, chuckle, and delete is just a waste. Most photos can be reduced to 800×600 and 200 kilobytes or less and are still just as good as the original for this purpose.
  7. Stop forwarding junk. Lots of good info is communicated via email. If you are one that forwards every message you receive, stop it. Most people could care less about this junk email and immediately delete it. All you are doing is wasting the bandwidth for which you are paying dearly.
  8. Install an ad blocker for your browser. I’m not sure that ad’s make up a huge amount of data transfer but it can’t help. Remember that some sites exist because of the tiny bit of ad revenue they receive.
  9. Check you cellular plan usage often to be careful of overages. Also, check it on the last day of your billing cycle. If a bunch is remaining (and you don’t have a data rollover plan), get as many of the big item downloads done on that data as the available data will allow.
  10. If you have a more modern computer operating system, set your mifi connection to metered. This tells the OS not to treat the Internet connection like it is unlimited (don’t download updates, services packs, and such without your permission).

Please do not ask me for the details on HOW to accomplish some of the above. There are hundreds of variations – operating system, software, utilities, etc… and I make every effort NOT to know the details of all of them. As an owner and user, it is your job to educate yourself. The Internet is full of resources, check your manual, read the online help for your utility. Just like you would not install a new transmission in your car without doing a little research, don’t install something on your computer without a similar process. There is lots of junk out there (both utilities and advice) but also plenty of good stuff – it is YOUR job to figure out the difference.

It is probably worth noting satellite Internet service since someone will mention it. At this point in time, a mobile satellite based system is not what I call “affordable” as the dollar per megabyte is very high. These systems are available primarily for the marine environment (it seems). The land based, residential, satellite internet providers are getting closer and closer all the time (such as Hughes Gen4). It is hard to uncover the important details of these services and I am no expert. From what I understand, professional installation is required so use in an RV is not workable. They also seem to be very hush-hush about data limits.

Ok, you’ve done all of these things to conserve data but are a full-timer, how do you get the “big item downloads” that are needed (updates, big emails that you want to see, etc…)? There are several places that offer free Wi-Fi and these places are your friend. McDonalds, Starbucks, some travel plaza’s, etc… Pay attention to where free Wi-Fi exists and do you big downloads at these locations. Most of them are not super-fast but they are free!

With a little effort, you can most certainly conserve data and probably money, as a result, by educating yourself and following these suggestions.