While Saturday had beautiful weather, yesterday turned rainy, neither of which had been in the forecast. So I sat inside the van, kept up with comments on the new van tour video, and watched videos since I have plenty of bandwidth left this month. At least, until the internet stopped working.
My T-Mobile hotspot, which had excellent reception for the past three days, had switched from normal to roaming mode. The signal strength was still excellent, but something seemed to have flipped a switch, and now I was getting so little data it was unusable (signal strength does not equal usable data as I’ve ranted about before). At certain times, under certain conditions, I could live with this. But it was around 5:00 pm on a Sunday night, and I had to work the next morning, so getting the internet back was important. None of my reboots, resets, or other efforts worked. It was something at the tower, which I had no control over. There was no Verizon service, either. I prefer to be settled into a spot for the night by 5:00 pm, but with work looming over my head, I had no choice. I packed up and started driving down US 12 toward Yakima.
Fortunately, my previous research (since I planned to go this way anyway) had told me there was a Cabela’s in town that allowed overnight parking. Using my Garmin, which doesn’t require an internet connection, I set a course there. That would get me back online, and then I could figure out the rest of a new plan. I also picked up a quick dinner on the way, because I was hungry and didn’t feel like cooking with all the last-minute rushing around.
This worked. My overnight stay at Cabela’s was no problem, except for the landscaping crew that started running their loud equipment at 5:00 am. I made my way to a local park to let Lister roam a bit and to plunk myself somewhere to get some work done. Soon after arriving, I got a notification that my Harvest Host stay at a local brewery for tonight was approved. Since I arrived at Cabela’s after closing and left before they opened, I can probably get away with staying there again tomorrow night, which lets me stay in Yakima at least through Wednesday. I have another request pending that would get me through to Friday, when I plan to backtrack into the National Forest to find a new camp. Otherwise, I may try returning to my previous camp to see if the tower works as not roaming again, like when I first arrived.
The reason I’m orbiting the area instead of continuing west is to attend the PNW Motovlogger Meetup this Saturday. They’re meeting in Packwood, which is only 45 minutes from where I was camped until the internet died at my last camp. One of the hosts is Amanda Zito of As the Magpie Flies, who I was going to meet up with in Portland but our schedules never matched. At least one other biker I know will be there as well, Circus Bear Moto, whose sticker I have on my headliner from a sticker swap. There’s a good amount of National Forest camping in the Packwood area, so I’m hoping to find a place to hang out there for the weekend. Cell signal is optional since I won’t be working, and I can plan to be offline, or at least zip back into Packwood for WiFi at the library.
Of course, if I had Starlink, none of this would be an issue. I’m watching it very carefully to see if, and probably when, I should splurge for it. My main issue with Starlink right now isn’t the price, but its power consumption, which is something I never designed my electrical system to handle. I may have to reconsider the idea of adding more permanent solar panels to my roof to power it and keep the batteries charged at night. Last night’s experience really drove home to me how dependent I am on the internet, and how the places I seem to enjoy camping often have rather poor cellular coverage. It would be a different story if I was retired and just getting online for fun, but I’ll still be working for years to come, so it’s a requirement for me.