Fort De Soto, 4th of July, and Red Tide

We decided we o try the new rig close to home at Fort De Soto park in St. Petersburg beach.

After all, some of our favorite beaches in the state are just due south of here in Manatee and Sarasota counties.

Plus, we had never been to “the fort,” but have heard good things.

The good, the bad, the ugly

As luck would have it, we decided to pull the new rig through heavy rain the day we arrived.

One of the joys of living in a tropical climate is rain every summer day by 3 o’clock.

Call if Florida happy hour where the sky must drown out its sorrows. Let’s make it a double.

Our main route was closed to construction so we took US19 straight down.

Needless to say with a 17,000 rig I got to use my trailer break a bit in the stop and go traffic.

Then when we arrived, I had to dodge some low lying trees in this old Florida campground.

Hopefully the entire weekend is this fun.

Dog Doo Beach & Red Tide

Often when the weather starts to warm up there is a occurrence called Red Tide in Florida.

Basically a bacteria is introduced in the water and causes some fish to die and wash ashore.

It’s like coronavirus of the sea.

Unfortunately we arrived at the tail end of the season so there was some fishy smells washed ashore.

Red Tide

But that wasn’t the worst of it as most of the red tide was in the bay now, not in the gulf side.

The worst was the dog beach here.

The first day, we realized that we had forgotten Low Rider’s crate that he stays in when we leave the house.

So we decided to check out the dog beach and bring him with us.

After all, we had a really good experience at the last dog beach in South Carolina, and ever since our other dog passed away, Low Rider doesn’t like being alone.

In our 1.5 hours there, we saw over a dozen dogs relieve themselves in front of us, in the water or on the beach. Yet not a single dog owner cleaned up after their dog.

“Shame on you owner! Bad owner! Bad…”

I wanted to rub their nose in it but didn’t feel it was appropriate.

That in addition to the rotten fish smell definitely kept us out of the water.

No Full Hookups

We have become used to campgrounds with full hookups.

Ah, yes. We live the high life.

So with a price tag of $40 per night, Kristi and I didn’t even think to look up the hookup situation.

We assumed they did have full hookups.

Turns out that all sites are electric and water only.

It wouldn’t have been a problem but we didn’t plan for it.

After the first two days of mud, dog doo beach and red tide, we got a little too shower heavy and filled up one of our grey tanks.

Tote Tank

The park doesn’t have sewer hookups at each site, but they have 2 dump stations.

So I had to hunt down a local place that had a large enough dump tank so that I didn’t have to do too many runs to the clean out.

Most places like Walmart only carry the smaller ones in stock.

Our tanks are quite large so that wouldn’t work for us.

Amazon has them but it wouldn’t get delivered until we were home.

I did track one down and Kristi’s grandfather picked it up for us in route.

Proud new owners of this 28 gallon tote tank.

Being that we moved to a 5th wheel, I also forgot my hitch. So he brought his. Thanks Pa!

The sun finally shines

The weekend finally turned for the better after Kristi’s mom and grandfather arrived.

Kristi’s mom remembered to bring a table cloth. It happened to be the wrong size so we called it our “table runner”
H showing off her reading skills

We still saw some rain but we’re able to get a couple of days of fishing and beaching in.

This time on the gulf side where we didn’t have to dodge both red and black tide (if you know what I mean).

We also got to check out the fort, see some stingrays and dolphins (even though they scared our fish away), and a bonnet head shark which Brayden really wanted to catch.

Camping at Fort De Soto

If you camp at Fort De Soto, come prepared to dump at a central dump station, don’t come during summer, avoid red tide, and the dog beach if you have kids that want to play in the water and sand.

Instead, go to the regular beach, and come when the weather isn’t so rainy.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Happy Independence Day everyone.

Wolf man and Our Southwest RV Itinerary

We made it back home, and Kristi us had a long road in recovering from COVID.

And in the couple of weeks it took us to get home, take care of Kristi and the kids, and run a business, all of my personal grooming went by the wayside.

As a result I got home, looked I the mirror only to notice that I slightly resembled the wolf man.

One man wolf pack

Thankfully, none of us contracted it except her. Or at least if we did, we didn’t have any symptoms.

Now that we are back I wanted to post our RV travel itinerary from Florida through north and south Texas, to New Mexico, Arizona, Southeast Utah, and Southwest Colorado.

Tallahassee, FL to Lafayette, LA

Lafayette to Houston, TX

Houston to San Antonio, TX

San Antonio to Fort Stockton, TX

Fort Stockton to White Sands, NM

White Sands to Gallup, NM

Gallup to Sedona, AZ

Sedona to Page, AZ

Page to Durango, CO

Durango to Albuquerque, NM

Albuquerque to Amarillo, TX

Amarillo to Fort Worth, TX

Fort Worth to Calhoun, LA

Calhoun to Jackson, MS

Jackson to Mobile, AL

Mobile to Florida

Overall we had 16 total travel days and were on the road for 66 days.

Other thoughts

Travel far distances for 2-3 days at a time

Whenever we had to go far distances, we traveled for 2-3 days back-to-back but never more.

By the end of day three I was pretty wiped out and didn’t feel like traveling more.

If I was driving solo that may be different but with kids you never know when you are going to have to stop for the bathroom.

Although our kids did really well (because we forced them to swallow their spit instead of giving them drinks). Sometimes nature called unexpectedly.

300 mile rule

My dad was a driver. He drove 24 hours straight through from Florida to Maine or Maine to Florida too many time for me to count.

Naturally, I have the inclination to do the same and push it.

My wife, on the other hand, tends to get restless an hour into the trip. Although she has gotten better, by hours 4 and 5, she gets a little antsy.

So I’ve had to learn to adapt to this and change my driving habits.

I’ve had to learn that you don’t always have to max out your mileage/daylight drive time…

Our goal was around 300 miles a day. Some days it was 250 (when there are hills and mountains).

Yet other days it was more like 350 (when you are driving flat and straight).

There were many drive days when we stopped at 3 or 4 PM because that is where we planned to get to and we made it there.

I know many people that might say, “we still have 3-4 hours of daylight, let’s push it more.”

That mentality might work without kids but we found that the afternoon stops were actually better for us. Here’s why:

  • First, once we stop, we still have to feed the kids, the dog and ourselves.
  • Second, many of these stops is where we still had time to play a card game or watch a good movie.

This time was actually some of my favorite. And it allowed us to do 3 days travel, back to back without hating each other or ourselves due to burnout.

So if you are in an RV, pump the breaks a bit and enjoy the ride.

Plan the main stops, not all the stops

When we first started planning, it felt very overwhelming.

So instead of planning every detail, on a second pass I just planned the main stops, must do’s, and things I had to book way in advance.

That not only took the edge off, it also gave us some flexibility in our travel schedule to “stay a little longer” or “leave early.”

Plus, some of our favorite things were the things we DIDN’T plan, and we wouldn’t have seen had we have been rigid.

Kristi and I agree on this point.

I Perfect length of stay

Another thing we felt we did really well that we’d recommend to other families is to use one of those main stopping points as your home base, then take day trips.

When you are RVing with kids, disconnecting and setting up your campsite only to tear it down a few short nights later can take a bit effort.

If you are going to stay a night then don’t disconnect or set up, but if you are going to stay more, then stay a week or so to maximize your time and minimize effort.

We found that 1 night was great for the back to back travel days.

1 week (5-7 days) was good for places that only had a 1-3 things we wanted to do.

2 weeks was good for main attraction areas.

This also gives you time to stretch your legs, do laundry, restock at Walmart, or do something spontaneous.

By doing so you might actually catch your breath, and find a hidden gem that becomes the most memorable part of your trip.

Southwest Colorado Beer Post

Colorado is known for beer. There are too many breweries to visit without people thinking I have a problem.

I call it a solution, but that’s just my opinion.

So this post is focused on the few (the very few) microbreweries I visited or drove past while staying I a southwest Colorado.

Ska Brewing

This brewery is located in Durango and has built the brewery from shipping containers.

Kristi was talking to the beer man at the grocery store and he recommended this seasonal beer. He said it was very popular.

I wasn’t expecting much by the can but I was very surprised.

If this was Bud-Light, I’d totally drink Bud-Light. Quite good “daily drinker.”

Steamworks

We visited Steamworks after our train ride in Durango.

Their beers weren’t bad but the unique ones (you know, the ones to write home about) were not my style – one made with green chilies and hot peppers, and a sour.

Kolsch

This one was my favorite from the flight and tasted like a Kolsch – exactly what I would expect. I like German beer so I enjoyed this very much.

Pain Pils

This was decent but nothing too unique or to write home about.

Wit

This was a bit fruiter thank I expected. Not bad, just reminded me of a mix of cider and wit.

Steam

I didn’t care much for this one. I did drink it though so it must not have been that bad.

Red

This was a very strong red.

Burn

This was one of the most unique beers I’ve had. It was made with green chilies and hot pepper.

You know that circus person that can shove a flaming sword down your throat?

That is exactly what it felt like to drink this.

Personally I hated it. But I can think of several people I know who would love it.

I give it a B+ for creativity.

Dolores Brewing

This brewery was only 4 minutes down the road and they have a cool logo so I was excited to check it out.

One thing I loved about this place is that although they don’t have the best selection of beers, many were German and Bavarian origin – a brewery after my own heart.

The place was really cool, right in a little historic downtown, in a historic building with a nice courtyard, and wood fired pizza.

Here are a couple of the brews I got to taste before COVID showed up and ruined the party.

Who invited that guy anyway? Such a jerk.

Less is more…and a pottery store

So how’s Kristi, you ask?

Well, a couple of days after arriving in Texas, I had to take her back to the ER due to shortness of breath.

Sure enough, pneumonia in both lungs.

As a souvenir, she was prescribed a steroid, antibiotics, antinausea just in case and something else in addition to the 5 or 6 medications she got in Colorado.

Finally, yesterday was the first day in 18 days where Kristi didn’t get worse or exhibit new symptoms, and 10 days since she tested COVID positive.

She still felt awful but today we were able to have a conversation outside without her being short of breath.

I’ll take that as a small win.

COVID is sneaky

You know that song “heads, shoulders, knees and toes?”

That’s kind of what COVID did to her.

Except it would be “head, throat, tongue, nose, veins, skin, phalanges, chest and gut.”

I know, it doesn’t sound as good as the nursery rhyme…

For Kristi, it started as a headache, then got more intense than any migraine she’s ever had.

That lasted 8 days before we brought her in.

Then a few days after she tested positive, it moved to her throat and a cough developed like a cold.

She then lost her taste and smell.

Then parts of her body got a weird pattern on it – not a rash but you could see her blood vessels – almost translucent skin. Very weird.

Then her fingers and toes turned purple for a couple of days.

Serious stuff

Then she started being short of breath.

Then chest pain started. We found out that this was related to the shortness of breath, not her heart.

The meds have helped heal those symptoms.

Now her stomach hurts but we don’t know if that’s COVID or the meds.

Then exhaustion set in. Walking 10 feet can make you question your choice to use the restroom.

One day she slept 16 hours, the next she slept 17.

Like slept – out cold. I tickled her feet a few times each day to make sure she was ok.

I definitely see how COVID can become more serious for folks if they don’t pay close attention to their symptoms.

How are the kids and I?

The kids were pretty scared for the first several days so I kept it mostly lighthearted.

We went to the Fish Hatchery in Colorado (before Kristi was COVID positive, she just had a migraine).

This was really cool. They release rainbow trout into the river every year for fishing.

But you can go there and feed the fish.

We even got to see the train drive by that we rode the week prior.

We did one more mountain biking trail but had a rain/snow storm on our tail so we couldn’t complete the trail.

In Texas, instead of “Don’t mess with Texas” our motto was “less is more.”

I just let the kids use their imaginations while Kristi was trying to recover.

Red clay

There was red clay so the second thing they did after mud slinging with their bikes is applied their knowledge of mud that they have learned during our recent travels.

All along our trip to New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Colorado they have learned and actually seen how natives built things out of red clay and water.

Pots, plates, jewelry and even buildings.

So they made a bunch of clay pots out of the local mud.

It was actually pretty impressive – the mud was the perfect consistency the first few days (it had recently rained), and it dried rock hard.

Like you can drop it and it won’t break, hard.

Take that, corningware.

Child’s play really…

Enough with the puns, Eliot.

Clay pot business

Anyway, they decided they decided to turn it into a business.

Much of the rest of the week they say by the road on our campsite, at the clubhouse, and even at the stop sign “because then people have to stop, dad.”

Duh, that is just good business sense.

I’ve never been so proud.

Closed for lunch
The kids talking to an unsuspecting victim, er, I mean customer.

The funny thing is, that after a few days the kids made over $70 selling these pots to people at the campground.

Crazy right?

Grant it, $25 was from mom and dad, but still pretty impressive in 4 or 5 days. About $10 a day.

Grandmas – hide your wallets, the kids are coming back to Florida soon with some handmade pots.

Settled dust

Anyway, I say all of this now because I feel that the dust has settled a bit.

It was actually pretty scary at times.

Four doctors visits, two of those the ER, 6 pharmacies, and a bakers dozen prescriptions.

Plus, we’ve all had a year of horror stories in the news that messes with your psyche.

In addition there is the loneliness and seclusion – Kristi doesn’t like that.

Although Kristi has a ways to go to be 100%, I feel like there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Just wanted to give everyone an update. We are ok but treading lightly.

3 Days To Texas

Our time in Colorado ran out without much to show for it. We did get to do a few things:

We took an incredible train ride in Durango.

The kids and I rode some great mountain biking trails.

We took a glance at Mesa Verde National Park.

But Kristi didn’t get to do much.

Now what?

We were 1 week from heading home anyway. So we decided to cut that one week out of our trip, and instead head back to Texas – the halfway point – in case it got worse or the kids or Eliot got COVID.

So we skipped Carlsbad Caverns until next time.

This would buy us 2 weeks time to figure it out and let Kristi rest.

After all, her headaches started feeling better with the meds. So we thought we were over the hump…

Sights and thoughts along the way

It took us 3 days of driving to get to the Fort Worth area but it could be done in less.

With the kids in tow and Kristi not feeling well we didn’t push it.

300 miles a day is pretty solid when you are pulling 12,000 pounds.

I-40 > I-10

The first thing I noticed from the drivers seat is that the stretch of I-40 from Texas to New Mexico is way better than the same stretch of I-10.

Once we hit Lafayette, LA on I-10 driving turns into a game of Fogger where you have to dodge idiots, potholes (remember Dukes of Hazard?), and miles of construction.

Anyway, with Kristi sleeping and the kids having their long awaited internet time, I had a lot of time to think and observe…

Here are a few of the sights along the way:

Hot air balloons of Albuquerque

Windmill fields

Buffalo farm

“What did the father Buffalo say to his kid Buffalo?”

“Bison”

You can keep that one in your back pocket.

Oil pumps

Angus Beef farm

We passed the largest angus beef farm I’ve ever seen.

Texans do love their steak after all.

Cadillac Ranch

Note: I did t take any of these photos as I was driving…

Now that we’ve parked in Texas, we are going to try to wait out COVID.

We are nearby hospitals and the DFW metro if things go south.

COVID in Colorado (and Mesa Verde too)

A lot has happened during the past 36 hours.

Went to a national park. Had a couple “shitcidents.” And had a confirmed case of COVID.

Where should I begin?

Kristi has had a migraine pretty much since we arrived in Colorado, so we haven’t really been able to enjoy the sights as much as we’d hoped.

We’ve had a good day or a fun afternoon here or there but less than what we expected.

Migraine at Mesa Verde

Finally on Sunday, Kristi got tired of it and we decided to venture to Mesa Verde National Park.

As we started to climb in elevation her headache got worse and we had to turn around and drive the 20 miles back down the mountain and out of the park.

This is the one photo we took in the park while letting the kids have a bathroom break before heading out.

Telehealth and Insurance are jokes

We called our telehealth to try to see if they could prescribe something for a migraine. No big deal, right?

Wrong.

First, the Walgreens pharmacy in our area happed to be closed on Sundays. We didn’t find that out until after they called in the prescription.

So she called back and had them transfer it to Walmart. Problem solved, right?

Wrong.

She called the Walmart to find out that they didn’t have the medication in stock. It would have to be ordered and wouldn’t arrive for 2-3 days.

No bueno.

So we called the next pharmacy – Safeway. Hurray, they have it in stock. So we call back and transfer again.

We get to Safeway only to find that insurance has a pre-approval notice on that medication. There is a minimum 3-14 day approval process and nothing that we can do. No reimbursements or anything.

We plead with insurance. Sorry sucker.

We plead with the pharmacist. Nothing they could do.

We have really good insurance so I hate to see what bad insurance looks like.

The medication was crazy expensive without insurance (think thousands) so Kristi opted out.

It was almost Monday at this point where she could schedule a telehealth with her primary.

Playground Poop

On top of all of this, we stoped at a park while we were trying to figure all of this out to let the kids play.

I sat down on a bench and a bird pooped on my head from the tree above.

True story.

At that point it was my confirmation that today wasn’t going to go our way.

Persistent Migraine

The next morning her migraine was unbearable so she asked me to take her to the urgent care or hospital so she could get some relief.

As we are trying to walk out the door in the wee hours of the morning and amidst the chaos, the dog vomits everywhere.

I can’t make this up.

At that moment, I knew then that today wasn’t going to be our day either.

Confirmed COVID

These days, it doesn’t matter what you go in for, they are going to test you for COVID.

If you walk in with a missing leg, they’ll still test you for COVID.

As it turns out she tested positive for COVID and the doctor claims that is the cause for the intense migraines.

COVID wasn’t even on our radar.

Thankfully, she left the doctors feeling a lot better thanks to the Presidential cocktail they gave her to relive the symptoms.

They didn’t write a script though so we still had to figure out a regular doctors appointment in Florida to get something in case the migraine came back.

Later that day, she almost missed her appointment since she never got a conference invite. But after several calls back and forth to the doctor, we got it worked out just in time.

She got her meds!

Multiple urgent work issues

As soon as I arrived back at the camper, and while the telehealth visit was going on, I received 2 frantic phone calls from team members about two separate, unrelated urgent issues I had to help resolve.

All this while trying to calm the kids about mommy having COVID thanks to the media.

The reason why I mention all of this is to illustrate that even though we are on an epic road-trip, life doesn’t always work out in your favor.

Needless to say, it was not our week. But we are ok.

Durango Train Ride, Snow, Brews, and Views

We took another train ride today. This time from Durango, Colorado up the Animas River into the San Juan National Forest to Cascade Canyon.

The views looked like this…

View from the front of the train to the back as we headed back to the train station.
Emerald and Hazel river

Snow flurry

As we pulled into Cascade Canyon for lunch, we went from sunny weather to a snow flurry in the matter of 10 minutes.

This is why you should always bring a jacket kids…

Snow started coming in around the river bend.
Snow flakes not lice
Rainbow from the steam engine
Catching snowflakes

Railroad and Durango Museum

Back at the train station they have a free museum featuring Durango train and local memorabilia.

This was surprisingly cool.

Look out for that moose
Harper’s private coach
1928 Ford Model T
Rail Bike

Steamworks brewery and restaurant

We finished the day at a local brewery and restaurant.

One final note on this. Their French dip was actually a freshly smoked beef brisket…wait for it….with Swiss and smoked bacon. And it was amazing. It has joined the ranks of the top 5 sandwiched I’ve ever had. I just wanted to put that out there.

Mountain Biking Colorado

We arrived at our new campground in Colorado this week.

The first thing Harper said when she got out of the truck was “I’m gonna get some grass!”

“Like hell you are,” I thought to myself.

True story.

Thankfully Harper was just talking about the grass outside at our campsite, since our last two stops in Arizona and Utah were lacking grass.

For those of you that don’t get the joke, pot is legal in Colorado.

Anyway…I digress.

Ever since Harper lost her training wheels in the fall, I’ve been slowly and secretly conditioning her to ride further on her bike with the hopes that this day would come.

Selfish, I know. But necessary.

Brayden, on the other hand, has been a biking ace since he was like 2 with his Stride bike – the balancing one without pedals that Nana got him.

Thankfully they both have learned to love biking.

As luck would have it I found a great beginner / intermediate mountain bike trail for the kids and I to ride 10 minutes from where we are staying in Colorado called Phil’s World.

It was single track. mostly flow, with a couple of rocky obstacles. Nothing too technical. Definitely kid do-able if they are decent riders.

It ended up being a really fun trail.

Definitely going to hit it up again while we are here.

RV internet: 5G or 4G? What are the best hotspots for campers in 2021?

Traveling and working from an RV isn’t necessarily easy. One big challenge of living on the road is Internet.

Mobile Internet

Mobile Internet plans tend to be expensive and worse yet, typically limit your bandwidth.

Even “unlimited” plans are not really unlimited. After you hit the “fair use” bandwidth clause on the contract (usually around 20GB), your data speeds are slowed drastically.

It is so bad that it makes the internet almost unusable.

Bandwidth and campsite location

Another issue is where your camper is located in a campground.

For example, we stayed at one place where some camp sites were on the mountain side, and others were down in the valley.

For the ones in the valley, the internet reliability went way down.

The app Campendium can help. People leave reviews and mark their carrier and service that they had.

But it still can change depending on how many people are streaming when you are there.

Campground Internet

Never go to a campground expecting that you’ll have high speed internet.

At best you’ll have DSL speeds during non-peak hours – say 3-5 AM.

If you have anything better, congrats! You have found a unicorn.

So what are your mobile internet options?

Post-paid hotspot

Post-paid plans typically get you the highest priority for bandwidth but are also typically the most expensive. Moreover they still limit your data.

It’s best to buy these direct and not from a reseller.

Also these frequently come with contracts attached if you get a promo such as a free phone or hotspot.

Be prepared to be locked in for 24 months if you go with a promo.

Pre-paid hotspot

You can find these cheaper than the other plans, but they also have less data and lower priority.

The benefit though, is that you can turn them off and on at will for occasional use – no monthly contracts.

So if you don’t always need mobile Internet, this might be a good option.

What we tried…

Skyroam

This orange puck has a good value proposition – an eSIM card switches networks to get the best signal with the beat carrier in the area.

It works pretty good in places with great internet. However, we found three main shortcomings:

1) it only switches between GSM networks like AT&T and T-Mobile, not CDMA networks like Verizon or Sprint.

If it worked with all four it would really be a great solution.

2) no 5G yet. 4G LTE only.

3) Data refills were expensive. Because it is prepaid, the max plan size is 20GB a month. It has options for refill automatically.

However, during our first 2 weeks we had 3 refills at $60 a refill (Harper was streaming like it was her job).

At $180 in 2 weeks, we decided to start looking for alternatives.

Car connect

Many new vehicles and aftermarket stereos come with options for mobile internet plans. Our tow vehicle does have an option with a very affordable, unlimited plan with AT&T. I think it was $20-25 a month or $200 for the year.

For high speed, LTE data, that is really inexpensive so that is what we use in the truck and for the kids while we are traveling.

iPad with Data Plan

If you so t have car connect, you can get a similar plan at a similar price for an iPad.

That said, I have seen reports that have said that in iOS 13 or 14, they added something so carriers can see if you are tethering or not so they can restrict bandwidth if so.

In other words, if you are watching videos from your iPad directly it is unlimited. But if your laptop or tv is tethered to the iPad and streaming, they can slow you down.

Visible (by Verizon)

Verizon created this subsidiary that doesn’t have stores and does everything via mobile app and mail order.

You get the benefit of cheaper prices on the Verizon network but not lower prioritization as you would through one of the many Verizon resellers like Straight Talk.

They also have announced that the bandwidth is really unlimited but that capped at 5 Megabits and 480p for streaming.

5 megabits isn’t blazing fast – like slow cable speeds, but it is usable.

The downside is that Verizon doesn’t have the best or fastest service everywhere.

Or in areas where Verizon is king, you might have slower speeds because you and everyone else is sharing a tower.

That said, our friends used this own a recent trip and had great internet.

GL.iNet Router and Tethering

With tethering, you can only connect to one device at a time.

So only your laptop can be hooked to your phone. Not your laptop, TV, and kids devices.

However, this little router (and other similar ones) allow you to tether to it and then multiple devices to connect to it at the same time so you can “share internet.”

It even has other features such as a VPN and the ability to modify TTL so carries might not realize you are tethered.

You’ll have to Google around to find out how to do this. Plus it does require a little technical elbow grease so it isn’t the best option for all.

T-Mobile Home Internet

T-Mobile started offering mobile Internet as home Internet (probably to figure out how to compete with Starlink).

Our friends recently tried this option and it may work for some but I believe the consensus was that 4G speeds were way too slow at their house to keep this.

If you get great T-Mobile speeds wherever you go, this could be an option.

Starlink

Starlink is one of Elon Musk’s companies. It is actually the end game reason for his rocket company Space X.

Each time he launches a rocket for say the US Government, he launches so low orbit satellites that provide internet around the world.

Currently Starlink is available in beta but is geo locked which means you cannot move it outside of a radius around your home.

This is so Starlink can collect data on where internet is available.

Eventually, the hope so that you can move this. When you can, I bet it will be popular for RVers.

It is also the most costly at $500 for the kit and $100 a month. But you can get blazing speeds with it.

And it does carry a cool kid factor of “I get my internet from space, bro.”

Nighthawk m1 and iPad plan

Every carrier has options for truly unlimited internet. They don’t advertise these but they might have had it previously but discontinued it, or they might have contracted business plans that need high bandwidth and priority but don’t advertise it.

You just have to know the right way to get these plans.

There are various hacks available depending on your carrier. This is one of them.

Basically, you get a compatible hotspot, buy credits from a third party who has this contract, jailbreak your hotspot so the carrier sees an iPad plan, and voila! Cheap, (mostly) unlimited, unrestricted internet.

I usually stay away from these as hacks used by the masses often get patched eventually.

With this one, I’ve heard that people using more that a 1000GB a month were starting to get blocked. Less than that, they have been fine as of this writing.

5G Hotspot

The carries have started to roll out 5G and each one now has a 5G option.

T-Mobile recently started offering 100GB a month for only $50. This isn’t the cheapest option. But it also isn’t a hack.

At $0.50 a gig, this is a very good deal.

5G is not only much faster that 4G, it also stretches further.

I proved this at my last campground in a valley – without this device I wouldn’t have had internet.

5G is good news for campers.

Plus you get the fallback of 4G and 3G in a single device – which actually saved my bacon when driving through Navajo country where internet is spotty or non-existent for most.

What do we do actually do for Internet in an RV?

I rely on the Internet to work. As such we have a hodgepodge of devices we have and can use if we need to.

Car Connect with AT&T

Our tow vehicle has car connect built in and the unlimited plan is only $200 a year with AT&T. So we did this and it has worked out well.

The kids get internet in the car but limited or none at the campsite. It forces them to use their imaginations when we camp and makes long travel days a lot better for mom and dad when the kids have internet.

Visible phones with Verizon

We both have Visible phones which includes tethering. I also have a wireless router with a USB I can tether with. This way multiple devices can connect and stream if needed.

So if Verizon has good service where we are at, this is an easy solution for us.

Years ago I purchased a prepaid Sprint hotspot. I used it on occasion as I didn’t often need it.

If I did I could just purchase some data and away I go.

It is so small that I just keep it in my bag as a backup to a backup.

T-Mobile 5G

Even with all of these options, I’ve been in a situation where the Internet was lousy.

I decided to give T-Mobile’s 5G hotspot a try and so far it has saved me quite a few times, even though I’ve only had it a few times.

In fact, this has been my go to device the past few weeks.

Whatever you do, if you rely on Internet, I’d have at least a couple of options.

Often times where one carrier has good service, another won’t. Or you’ll be in an area where bandwidth is used by other people. Or something else.

Always have a backup or two or three.

Forget Route 66. What about Route 89?

Many people have heard of Route 66 – the famous highway that goes east to west frequented by RVs and those seeking the western states.

That route definitely has some cool stuff along the way but what about Route 89?

So far, Route 89 has contained not only the most scenic drives, but also some of my favorite stops.

Route 89 officially starts in Flagstaff and goes up to the south entrance to Yellowstone, and through Montana.

It has 7 national parks on the route and some of the most amazing vistas I’ve ever seen.

For example, when taking it north you see snow capped Mt. Humphreys, followed by Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, if you make a right you’ll go the Grand Canyon’s south rim.

Somewhere on 89 north
Somewhere on 89 north

Then you enter Navajo territory and beautiful canyon scenery, followed by horseshoe bend – Google it.

At some point you get to Page, AZ which is a little town with Glen Canyon as the backdrop. Wow.

Right after that you get to Lake Powell and Utah.

Lone Rock Beach – our campground in Utah
Our campground in Utah on Lake Powell. In the distance where the sun is setting is Arizona.

Then Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, on and on.

A short hike off of 89 – Grand Staircase

Route 89a – The Arizona Route

But I’d you zoom the map out slightly you’ll see that 89a continues south through Jerome and Sedona – both top places to visit.

View of mountains-side Jerome
View from Jerome: Sedona Red Rocks and snow covered Flagstaff Mountains
Sedona: enough said.

So where Route 66 might get you west, Route 89 has some of the most incredible places.

On this Route you could go from desert, the red rocks, to snow skiing, then water sports in a matter of 1-3 hours.

Route 89 is where it is at. We are sad to leave but we’ll definitely be back to spend more time here and explore further north.