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May 7, 2013 -

What a Sunny Morning!

There is just something about a sunny morning that is absolutely invigorating. It can be super hot or super cold out, doesn’t matter. I makes me bounce out of bed energized by the possibilities of the day.

Since this is my last chance to be on FHU for a bit, I have a long enough to-do list that I may end up staying a third night. The number one priority for today is laundry, and then getting the black tank emptied and rinsed. Tomorrow could then be a rest day since it’s another really full day to Minot.

My border and arrival plan keeps changing, but I think I finally have it down. The big thing is Canadian internet. I thought I was going to have to go to Medicine Hat to buy the only internet device with a decent bandwidth package, but… things keep improving.

Bell now has several devices with that ginormously generous, won’t hear me bitch about it, bandwidth package, at least one of which, a stick, doesn’t need 120V power the way the Turbo Hub does. Moreover, it’s ZERO down for a 2-year commitment AND I could buy it at a number of points along the Canadian route to my property, including in Estevan, Weyburn, and Assiniboia!

That changes everything as far as my reentry plans. Now that I don’t have to drop the RV and go to Alberta, I’m in no rush to land. So if I pulled out of Hankinson Thursday (three nights here total), I would get to Minot Thursday night and then Friday it would be about an hour and a half to the border at Portal and another 45 minutes or so to the Walmart in Estevan where is a The Source store within walking distance at which I could buy my internet device.

In Estevan, I could make sure both my computers can get online and also stock up on supplies (fresh goods that wouldn’t make it across the border; I’m also getting supplies in Minot). And then Saturday, I would have a leisurely three hourish drive to my property.

When I bought the property last year, there was cell coverage in Assiniboia but not my village. Coverage maps now show full coverage in southern Saskatchewan. So I am hopeful I will have internet at ‘home’ with a device bought in SK.

This route does mean that I will likely have to purchase fuel in Canada for the final leg of the trip. But I did more research on the Scobey/Coronach crossing and really don’t think it’s a good idea to cross there. For one thing, they close early, so I’d be racing the clock to arrive from Minot. For another, 22 cars a day in the height of summer is a big rush for them. So I’m worried that I would be providing them with a bit of ‘entertainment’ if you catch my drift. And I would be automatically suspicious for crossing there with my Alberta-plated vehicles as it is a crossing used mostly by locals. I’ll feel more comfortable using that crossing when I am plated in SK and can declare the village to be my home base.

There is a Saskatchewan snow melt map making the rounds of the internet and it is really impressive. Looks like there is almost no more snow in that province! AND the risk of flooding is just about gone! Woohoo! These warm temps should give my property just enough time to dry out enough to not be a festering marsh by the time I arrive.

Next thing to figure out: how I am going to deal with grass. Hopefully it will be a local teenager (I don’t mind mowing, but I’d rather not have to buy and maintain a mower). And I hope no one gives me flack for not taking care of the lawn last year. Ah, all shall be revealed in just a few days…

Finally, a bit of a semantics lesson. I’m having a hard time coming up with the right word to describe ‘my property.’ It is not and will likely never be ‘home.’ Home is MIRANDA. Full-timers get that, but most other folks don’t. Home is also wherever Miranda is parked. Ergo, while Miranda is parked on my property, my property will be ‘home.’ But I can’t say it enough, I am not ‘going home’ this week.

I have a name chosen for my property, but I won’t reveal it until I land and get a feel for the neighbours. Needless to say, it’s another Firefly reference. 🙂

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Boondocking/Dry camping, Campgrounds, Canada, Communications & Electronics, Countries, Internet, North Dakota, Personal, RV Pad, Saskatchewan, Technical, Travel, USA, Weather    8 Comments
Apr 14, 2013 -

Mobile Internet Prices in Canada Are Really Improving!

I’m doing some research this afternoon on a new mobile internet solution for when I get back to Canada.

It looks like there is cell service at my property now, which should simply things.  SaskTel holds a monopoly in Saskatchewan and I don’t want to go with them. So my plan at this point is to drop the RV on my property and then drive to Medicine Hat, the nearest large Albertan city, to buy my mobile internet solution. The big question is, will it work on the SaskTel network? According to the Bell website, it won’t. But I’ve had luck using devices in areas where they’re not supposed to work…

Since I have burned my bridges with Telus, my only other Canada-wide option is Bell. Last I checked, their Turbo Hub offered the best deal at about $75 for 10GB, and $55 for each additional GB. For the same amount of money, Telus offered a mere 5GB. In comparison, I pay Verizon $100 for 12 GB, and $10 for each GB beyond that.

So I just about fainted when I saw the new Bell Turbo Hub rates. Get this, they are BETTER than what I am paying in the US! OMG, my country is moving into the 21st century!

bell rate plans

That graphic shows the Turbo Hub flex plan. Of interest is that your commitment is only $10 a month, versus the $35 I had to pay with Telus. And you can get up to FIFTEEN GB for $105, with each additional GB being only $10!

The Turbo Hub is $300, but only $100 if you commit to two years. Why would I pay $300 up front when my commitment is only $10 a month? I just placed a pretend order to make sure there are no other fees and that the hub really is just $100 with a commitment, and the total they asked me to pay really was just $110 plus tax. And there I was thinking it would be $300 + to get back online in Canada!

I won’t be doing a happy dance until the device works in SK, of course…

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Alberta, Canada, Communications & Electronics, Countries, Internet, Saskatchewan, Technical, Travel    2 Comments
Apr 6, 2013 -

Breakfast With Half of San Antonio

Croft emailed this morning to ask if I wanted to join them for breakfast before going to Camping World. He had Googled best breakfast in San Antonio, or something along those lines, and got the Magnolia Pancake Haus. It was out in the middle of seemingly nowhere and half of San Antonio was waiting for a table. We had to wait just over an hour to be seated!

Norma went to the spa next door to try to get her eyebrows done, but others had had the same idea and that place was packed, too!

We ended up sitting outside and chatted with the other people waiting. Everyone said that we were lucky to have found the restaurant and that it would totally be worth the wait.

When we finally got a seat, I was pleased that it wasn’t in a super crowded and boisterous dining room. We started off with absolutely delicious coffee, which is always a good sign at a breakfast joint.

Since this was a German restaurant, I made sure to try their sausage, and wasn’t disappointed! My ‘short stack’ of pancakes was light and fluffy. Yum!

Norma had the bananas foster French toast, which ended up being dense slices of banana bread served French toast-style with strawberries and black berries. I had a bite and it was really good! The portion was ridiculous, though, so she brought a lot home. She also enjoyed her two poached eggs on the side.

Croft ordered the specialty, which I will not attempt to spell. It’s a thin pancake stuffed with apples and spices. Really good too (yes, I sampled some of his also!), but there’s no way I could have eaten all that. I’ve really cut back on how much sugar I eat and one bite was more than enough for me.

If you’re into breakfast food, you really need to try Magnolia Pancake Haus in San Antonio!

We headed to the Camping World after. It’s in New Braunfels, north of San Antonio. I have been looking for knobs for my Atwood stove for years and keep striking out. This parts guy was at least able to get me a SKU # for Camping World so I can try to find some at another store along my route. Every other Camping World I’ve stopped at I’ve been told that they don’t have those knobs and good luck finding them.

With breakfast taking so long, we only just got in, at 4PM! I don’t think any of us are going to be eating tonight!

I’m paid up here at the RV park up to and including tonight. I’m pulling out late morning and am expected in Dallas dinnertimeish.

I’ve enjoyed my stay in San Antonio except for one irksome detail that never ceases to surprise me: the internet connection SUCKS. I’ve got full bars on my phone and I have slower than dial up internet! This is surprising considering how close I am to a major city. I had high speed internet on the beach! The other night, I had to download a 200MB file and ended up having to try four McDonalds and a Starbucks in between them to find a connection stable enough to let me download the file, and it still took two hours! I’m trying to do some research right now and sites keep timing out. I am really tired of losing so much time because of a crappy internet connection. Hopefully Dallas will be better!

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Appliances, Campgrounds, Communications & Electronics, Countries, Internet, Nice Folks, Personal, Preparations for Departure, Restaurants, Social, Stove, Technical, Texas, Travel, USA    7 Comments
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