Tuesday, August 21, 2018

What's Glamping Without Cellphone Receptivity?

Let's see how this goes. . . . We camp to get back to nature. A cellphone is human-produced, so it is not a part of the natural world, like a trout or a stream-polished stone. Therefore, when we camp, we all turn off our cellphones, right? Not exactly, especially for folks who want a slice of nature but still have to work--and can work--online, such as my wife.

So what I'm doing right now is sitting at the table inside the Green Goddess, parked in Oakland Mills County Park, Southern Shore Area, working on the internet to see if the signal strength is adequate. It was not until I connected my WeBoost signal booster. Even then, I could not connect until I went into my settings for "Cellular" and then under Cellular Data Options selected Data Only instead of Voice & Data. I was told this used 3G, which travels farther than higher number G's. I'm not sure if that's necessary, though, because I just switched back to Voice & Data, and there seemed to be no difference.

The quickest backing I've ever done!

The South Shore Area is a nice little spot. This time I've chosen a site with afternoon shade. It's not right next to the river. Later in the season when it cools, I'll camp by the river and in the direct sun, which will be dandy in the fall. There's a bridge across the river, a newer campground up the bluff, a nature center, an old dam (for the old mill?) and some good shade.

(Right now as I write, a 40-foot fifth wheeler is pulling in and getting set up to back into a site. A humbling moment--but mostly, I'm really glad I don't have to pull and park such a behemoth! The wife's getting out to guide the process, but I think I'm going to take a walk and see if there's a playground for the grandkids. I wish the campers with their Crusader luck and success.)

Well, I'm back, and the Crusaders are successfully ensconced in site #2. (I'm in #4.) I walked a bit up the hiking trail to the Top-of-the-Hill Area, the newer campground. I crossed the swinging bridge on the way back, which was fun. It is 90 degrees today, but there is a bit of a breeze, and since it hasn't rained for a while, it wasn't too humid. As I came back, both campsites 1 and 2 came out to chat.
Camp #1: "You gotta shower in your rig?"
Me: "Well, I've got a water bottle and a sponge."
Mostly we talked fishing, though. The family will spend all night fishing for catfish. Bait: nightcrawlers, stink bait, chicken, and a couple of other things I don't remember. Nice guy, and I wished him luck.
 Me: (to Camp # 2) "Wow! I see you parked that baby!"
Camp #2: "Actually, it's got a dual axle and because of it's length, it's easier. Your little trailer is more tricky, really." (And I believe him . . . but . . .)
I'm back on the internet writing this post on Blogger to see how fast the iPhone Hotspot is. I have mostly one bar, but I can work. Photos emailed and uploaded process more slowly. I Facetimed my wife, and the result was that she could hear me but my image lagged or froze. Conclusion? This campground doesn't have enough signal for reliable work for a business.

It's the next morning. Last night I didn't unhook the teardrop because I was perfectly level, and I was also planning on leaving this morning. After dinner, I cleaned up camp, put things away, got out food for breakfast--in other words, I had 90% broken camp. I changed my plan this morning. Oakland Mills is about 20 miles southeast of my home; I had been planning on checking out Lake Darling State Park, which is about 20 miles northwest of my home. I decided to revisit two campgrounds more close by: Wilson Lake and Bentonsport. About twenty miles to each, I'd loop my way to home, catching each campground at twenty, then forty, and then another twenty or so home.
Wilson Lake, taken on my bicycle tour
Wilson Lake Campground I already knew had good reception, but I wanted to double check and also make a video of the campground for my wife. Yes, I was right--three bars even without the signal booster. This would be a good site for the mobile office. The lake isn't visible from the camp, but it's close by.
Bentonsport is an old, tiny town on the Des Moines with a lot of history. Now it's one of the "Villages of Van Buren" County, and a nice, quiet place to stop. I've camped there when bike camping, and on weekends during the summer, there's a little ice cream/sandwich shop, which I took advantage of during my pedaling adventure. I pull in on this Monday morning, and the campground is empty except for the camp hosts and one small (not tiny!) trailer. My phone has one bar of signal strength, but when I hook up the booster, I have two bars. I decide to go right to the acid test and Facetime my wife--great interchange, no lagging or freezing. OK, now we have another site for the mobile office!

Bentonsport campsites right on the river
So what's camping without cellphone receptivity? It's fishing for flatheads all night, sitting by the muddy waters of the Skunk River. It's hiking the nature trail just after lunch, climbing the steep trail out of the river bottom and onto the bluff, the sedimentary rock of the trail angular yet firm to foot. It's walking around a cold water, spring fed lake, or it's sitting beside the river and watching time flow by.

Glamping, now, is returning to my air conditioned Polar Bear teardrop, turning on my signal boosting device, and writing this post while connected to internet. Out my window, I can see the muddy waters roll on by, this time the Des Moines River. It's a good day. Is this glamorous camping? I'm not sure, but it sure is cozy. If I'm glamping, I'm doing it with a lower case "g," and you know what, that's perfectly fine with me.

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