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Towing & WiFi: Check

April 4, 2012

Tuesday:  It’s pretty easy to be incognito when you’re in an RV park or a campground, but when you pull into a gas station in a 36 foot motorhome with a jeep in tow, you can’t exactly blend in.  And since you take up the space in front of two gas pumps, and even overlap a little at both ends, you try to be a good citizen and not take too long.

But for us, it was good experience.  We had just driven away from Master Hitch in Spring, Texas.where Bob Pinkley and Zach Otto hooked us up.  Literally.  They had to make some modifications to the front of our 2004 Jeep Wrangler, but did a great job of it.  They removed the existing big bumper,  built a new front steel brace, relocated the fog lights, and built a wiring harness for the lights.  It took about three hours, but we have complete confidence in the work.

They showed us how the towbar folds down and out of the way when we’re not towing, gave advice on what to do with cables and how to lock the whole thing down to avoid theft.

We went with the StowMaster, which is a car-mounted unit by Roadmaster.  If we had bought a regular car, we would probably have gone with a unit that mounts on the back of the motorhome, but with the industrial vibe of the jeep, we think it looks fine this way.  There are other, more sophisticated and more expensive towbar units, but for the money, this will do the job for us.  It’s really easy to hook up and disconnect.

The Jeep tows beautifully.  There is no noticeable difference in feel with it behind the motorhome.  In fact, we’ll have to work at keeping an eye on the rear-view camera monitor and remembering that the Jeep is back there.  And before someone says it, we know the cardinal rule:  Never Back Up.

The towing setup was one of the last big items on our To-Do List.

Wednesday:  Today we checked off the last really big item.  We spent some time at Verizon, getting input from a very patient and knowledgeable fellow who helped us figure out our internet and phone solutions.  After much discussion and waffling back and forth, we finally concluded that the most practical and economic approach was to get a new phone for me (Nell’s is fairly new, but my AT&T contract had run out), and gain our internet access by using a Verizon MiFi Mobile Hotspot.

We had been given the MiFi, so all we had on it was an activation fee, and we have month-to-month service on it.  There were lots of options and different ways we could have gone, but after talking our way through all of them, this felt like the best solution for now.  As long as we keep the MiFi charged, we will be able to carry a laptop to shows and enter credit card sales directly.  If we lose service for some reason, we’ll carry the old knucklebuster as backup.  If we find we really need (and can justify) something more sophisticated, we’ll take a look at the smart phone or an ipad with an Intuit attachment.

As far as the MiFi is concerned, I logged on with it when we got back home, and it is sooooo much faster than what the RV park had to offer.  This will now give us internet access in state parks and other campgrounds that don’t have wifi available.

*  *  *

We also stopped by Vic’s Precision Automotive just up the street from the RV park.  They are the folks who installed a new rear view mirror and fixed the sticking door handle on the jeep last week.  Tomorrow morning we will drive the RV down to Vic’s and let them do an oil change and give everything a general once over, just to make sure engine belts and other things are in good shape before we hit the road.  And… while we have it there, they will drive it up the street to a place they trust to get the Texas State Inspection done.  The State Inspection isn’t due until June, but we want to get it on a time cycle that won’t require us to return to Texas in the middle of the summer to get it done.

It’s a good thing we decided to stay over this week after Nell’s retirement.  We’re getting a lot of things done without any last minute panic.

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