Settling In

I’ve been saying that the only reason I might not spend the whole winter here in Quartzsite is if I don’t have enough internet to work. A few people have told me about FastNet, basically a local internet service provider (remember those?) with its own towers for wireless internet. As long as you have a clear line of sight to one of FastNet’s towers, you’ve got broadband, separate from the cellular networks. It’s a great idea for an area like this, where the cell towers get overloaded, and especially for people like me.

So today I invested in a setup. The equipment costs $129, and then you own it, none of this cable modem rental stuff. (The woman at the store pointed out that I can sell the equipment to someone else in Quartzsite if I decide to back out later.) Then it’s $59/month, with the option to suspend service when you’re not going to use it. So when I go on driveabout next year, I won’t have to keep paying for the service, the way I have to keep paying for my T-Mobile hotspot that’s about as useful as a paperweight out here.

I already have my ham radio antenna on my painter’s pole mast, so I added the FastNet antenna to that setup. Unfortunately I can’t seem to make a connection to a tower. There’s a vague map of tower locations on their website, but I have no way to get better than a vague bearing in that general direction. I may also need more elevation for their antenna, for all I know. I ran out of daylight to play with it, so I’ll keep poking at it tomorrow. Even now, my Verizon hotspot’s data rate is marginal. That’s partly why there aren’t a lot of pictures in this post.

While I was making my town run, I got onto one of the main drags, and traffic was backed up going super slow. After a minute I saw why — a dog running all over the road in the direction we’re going, blocking traffic.

I was on my motorcycle, so I weaved my way through traffic until I could pull up alongside the dog, still trotting down the road. I remained next to the dog, and used my bike to pace it and slowly squeeze it to the right, getting it to hop onto the sidewalk and then a parking lot, safely off the road. Traffic resumed its normal flow.

Whatever misgivings the other drivers might have had about me cutting ahead of them were gone. A few people passed me with big friendly waves as they went by. Are there any job openings for a motorcycle dog herder in Quartzsite? I have experience.

I’m loving it here in Quartzsite. I’m with a good group of friends, new and old, in my camp. The weather is great, 70s during the day, 50s overnight — I handled worse in both extremes on my Route 66 trip. This whole area caters specifically to nomads like me. I went into town today and found stuff I could use that I’ve only ever been able to get online before. And I haven’t even begun to explore all the off-road motorcycling in the area — not until I learn about and acquire the proper permits (plural — one from the state, and a separate one for trails on Native reservations).

Thoughts have begun entering my mind of turning Quartzsite into my official home base — possibly even including residency — and spending my summers traveling, avoiding the 120° heat rather than avoiding cold snowy winters like I am now. Like I said, this area is set up specifically for people like me. I don’t have to worry about where to park overnight for the next four months plus. Once I get my internet sorted out I’ll have everything I need to live here, but in a van rather than a house or apartment. It’s not a totally crazy idea.

It’s also compatible with my potential plan to get a camper trailer and carry my motorcycle in the van. I can simply park the camper for a few months over winter. In fact, that would broaden my parking options in the LTVA. Since I don’t have at least 10 gallons of black water storage (a composting toilet doesn’t count for anything), I have to park within 500 feet of a vault toilet. It’s not a hardship, but I’d have more options if I was self contained. They do have dump tanks available for when those tanks fill up.

But I’m also not committing to such a major life change after just two days here. That would be a totally crazy idea. It’s something I can ponder over the next few weeks and months, though. I need to get to know the area really well before I commit to living here, even for part of the year. Of course, I say that having already invested some money into an extended stay here. But I’m still just checking it out. Spending a few weeks or even months is one thing. Committing to a new home base is quite another.

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