Epic Fail and Recovery – Network Gear

So since we’re talking about Plan B situations on our coast to coast journey, let’s discuss network connectivity. Doing the digital nomad thing is great as long as you can connect to the rest of the world. For my first attempt, I failed twice with the Netgear Nighthawk M1 Mobile Hotspot Router. (TLDR spoilers: Amazon link here but who cares because it’s crap and don’t buy it.)

The fail started pretty fast even before we left. The idea with this router is you take any ol’ SIM card with a data plan (in my case, liberated from Fox’s iPad Pro 1st gen, an AT&T legacy unlimited plan, mmmmm….), drop it in the device, set up a little hotspot with the web page or app, voila. Instant internet anywhere.

What I got instead was a failure to charge the battery because the device was too hot. In Las Vegas. At 85º F. WTF. So this device wasn’t going to be the long term live in the Airstream and enjoy the multitude of USB charger ports available. Okay.

Next failure – The critical role of a hotspot is to BE A HOTSPOT. This one didn’t. After a little while of being turned on, it just decided…. nah man, we coo. It didn’t shut off, it just stoped providing any sort of connections. Not for lack of signal, the SSID just wouldn’t appear to any devices. You’d need to hard reboot the device with a battery removal to get the thing to respond anymore.

So, maybe just a bad unit, right? Swappy swappy time with Amazon. New unit arrives via Amazon Prime to my delusional uncle’s house who doesn’t understand why Trump is sending him random packages with license plates and electronics even though the label clearly says FOR SEAN on it…. ANYWAY. New boss, same as the old boss.

Maybe it was just losing AT&T (more bahs in more places…), and I needed a better antenna? Oh, Amazon. Your Netgear MIMO antenna in “retail packaging” was TWICE sent as a display model with clearly noted on the packaging that it was not for sale.

Plan B

So, buh bye went the Netgear. And I found https://mofinetwork.com on Amazon instead. This is NOT a simple router. This appears to be a full linux install in a small ruggedized box with metal enclosure, two cell antennas, two 2.4GHz antennas, and a sweet 12 volt adapter with a fuse tap for always on network. Now have successfully done multiple meetings from I-95 from the truck (where the router is a good 35′ away while driving down the highway). This one has been a winner so far.

Back on the road!

After a lovely time with my mother we are back on the road. As of today we have visited 21 states (see map below) and still have a few more to go along the route home.

Tomorrow we are pushing towards the Airstream Factory to not only take a factory tour (as we did at The Rouge where our F150 was built) but to make an appointment for some warranty repair work. We are dipping down so that we cross into Virginia and West Virginia before entering Ohio.

After our appointment and tour we’ll be heading over to King’s Dominion to visit the third Cedar Fair park of the trip (fifth of the year, that Season Pass is getting it’s workout this year). Then it’s onto visit a friend in Saint Louis, another in the greater Kansas City, MO are, then off to the biggest ball of Twine in the country.

After twine ball number two, we’ll either visit friends in Denver, or cut down directly to Santa Fe, it’s still up in the air…

First real disaster… and you thought the Cross Bronx Expressway as bad…

After visiting the world famous Iggy’s Chowder and Clam Cake house down in Warwick, Rhode Island with Jay and Pat, we made our way to Wawaloam Campground in southern RI, just a few miles away from my Mother’s place. It’s a nice campground.

Unfortunately, our hitch jack has malfunctioned and is no longer operational. My assumption is the worm gear is stripped… We couldn’t separate the camper from the tow vehicle…

A quick change to location within the camp ground and we were able to disconnect, acquire a jack, tools, and leveled for the night.

Today, after lunch at my Mother’s, we will be heading back to Massachusetts to get a new hitch lifting jack…

Cleaning Day – This time it’s personal

Today I cleaned the outside of our Airstream. Yesterday was all about the inside, today was all about the outside. I started from the top and worked my way down.

While I was tending to the detailing, Sean doubled our stored power by changing out the lead acid batteries with lithium ion batteries.

We should have the ability to go five to seven days on battery alone for basic needs (lighting, fridge low volt system, inverter to charge computers, and television).

The past eight days…

Each morning we would wake up at six, change into our work clothes, make a pot of coffee, and get to cleaning. The first four days were spent sorting the things to be saved, the things to be sold/recycled/re-homed, and the things to throw away.

The dumpster showed up on day three and was filled by the end of day four. It was emptied and returned on day five.

Day six we had a yard sale to sell/re-home as much as we could. It went okay, but not as good as that Grafton yard sale back in 2009. Many thanks to Giza for stopping by to keep us company and enjoy some much needed beer.

By Sunday (Day 7) we were exhausted and, with the help of a friend, staged all the items to be sent to Uncle Mike in the now clean garage.

Sunday Afternoon we visited Dorney Park in Allentown, PA for lunch and a few rides before admitting defeat and returning to the house to rest. Sore muscles demanded naps. Later in the afternoon I got my second wind and cleaned out the office getting everything ready for travel.

Now it’s Monday, and the house has been broom swept in the basement, floors have been wet-mopped upstairs and carpets vacuumed. The only two rooms with things in them are the office and bathroom, which we are using (as well as the island in the kitchen, which is our staging area for cleaning supplies).

Uncle Jed and Aunt Pat are coming up to pick up some heirlooms today and go to dinner with us.

Later tonight I will take yet another shower and do yet another load of laundry.

House Cleaning

We are now starting week two of our house cleaning project. We’ve managed to get the two bedrooms, office, dining room, kitchen, living room, and garage mostly cleaned out and ready for this weekend’s estate sale. The dumpster is almost full, another day of lugging stuff from the basement should fill and send it off to dreamland – we will need a second dumpster…

Today’s goal is to get everything for the yard sale into the garage and haul more trash out of the basement.

For those in the King of Prussia area, check out our estate sale at https://www.harvillc.com/estate-sale-holstein-road-king-of-prussia-pa/.

Day 17: Bingo!

Take two: didn’t hit the save.

Last night, after a day of helping Uncle Mike clean, pack, sort, and prep for his move to the great north (Massachusetts) we headed back to our camp site for dinner. While we were away from the campground more people moved it! Every available spot is now occupied by a camper! They played bingo last night.

Day 16: King of Prussia

We have arrived at Uncle Mike’s place – well sort of… We’re staying at a campground about 30 miles north of Uncle Mike as we want electricity, water, and our own bed. Tomorrow starts the sorting, boxing, and final prep for Mike and his cat’s move to Massachusetts. Next week we start the boxing and prep to get everything Mike wants to his new house.

Today was more corn…

So far we have driven 3082 miles in 61 hours with an average speed of about 51 miles an hour with each of us behind the wheel for about 30.5 hours.

Updated Map

We are here for at least three nights. After that we’ll decide what to do next.