Tuesday, June 1
All last week I followed the same routine: camped overnight in State Parks/campgrounds, worked by day in public libraries, made my explorations by evening. Today was no exception. I left my tent at Devil's Lake State Park and went to Kilbourn Public Library-Wisconsin Dells to work. I ate my breakfast at my car while the library was opening. I made my way inside. Found a quiet spot with a desk. Started my laptop. Connected to the public wi-fi. The wi-fi was lousy. I turned to Plan B. I connected my Verizon air card. The wi-fi showed good signal/speed. Yay. I open my internet browser home page. It slowly loads. CRAP. I try to load a couple other pages. The pages load at a glacial pace. CRAP. I move to a different spot in the library. CRAP. I go to the local Starbucks. CRAP. I try a different library in Baraboo (close to Devil's Lake). CRAP.
I have to work! I think to myself, okay Wisconsin Dells is a dead zone. I need to get somewhere big. Logical place: Madison. The capital of Wisconsin, and lots of college kids. I go to Madison Public Library: Sequoya. CRAP. I go to a local Verizon store and we do some basic troubleshooting of the Verizon air card. After connecting my laptop and the Verizon rep's laptop to my air card, and find that both are slow to load internet pages, it's apparent the problem is not my computer. Wisconsin Dells - the Midwest's largest tourist attraction, and Madison - the CAPITAL of Wisconsin with over 200,000 people...is a dead zone. Oh, and did I mention you can forget about a reliable AT&T signal? YEP. I couldn't even MAKE or RECEIVE phone calls on that network. Again, dead zone. My worst work-while-travel NIGHTMARE came to life! Verizon said that they could not do anything in the way of a return or exchange of the air card. It was purchased not from Verizon, but rather from a reseller - and within the initial 30 days of purchase the reseller I bought it from was the only place I could get this resolved. GOODY!
So here it is Tuesday - with 3 more work days ahead of me and no reliable internet (or phone). I did the only thing I could do - get my butt out of the dead zone and back into Minnesota where I can hopefully get my issues resolved and get back on the road.
As soon as I got back to my dad's place (he lived in the middle of the woods in a town of 1000 people an hour North of Minneapolis mind you) the air card worked! My phone worked! I went to Verizon and replaced the air card anyway, because it was still giving me spontaneous errors here and there, and not working properly when wired via USB. I worked the rest of the work week at my dad's in the forest. We enjoyed each other's company over the next few days as I worked to get my technical issues resolved.
Saturday morning I stopped to see my mom. Then I braved Wisconsin once again - and with great determination I backtracked to every single place across Wisconsin Dells and Madison that gave me trouble before. Results: Libraries - still crappy. Starbucks - decent. new Verizon air card - CRAP. Phone - CRAP. Conclusion: My computer/air card hates Wisconsin. Grrr. Okay, so what next? I need to have internet around the clock for those occasions when I have to work evenings. Motels. Cheap motels - I'm on a budget people! And the cheapest motel will be double of what a State Park camground will cost me. But hey, I planned ahead and budgeted for that before I started my journey just in case such troubles should arise.
Name of motel: I don't remember. I've probably repressed the memory, because it was real run-down. Anyway, I read the little agreement they wanted me to sign upon check in - and I'm glad I did - because it said absolutely no refunds. So before signing I asked to try out internet signal in the room they would give me. I went up to my room - the room was spacious - but very crappy. It smelled bad, the floors were stained, and it was not a good place. But still, I turned on my computer - tried to connect to their  w-fi networks - each one requiring a code. A code I wasn't supplied with. I called down to the front desk. She said it shouldn't need a code. She texted (yes texted) her boss for the code. She gave me the code that she a moment ago said I didn't need - lol. I tried it. The internet signal was the worst! I couldn't load pages it was sooo slooooow... I got the heck out of that place!
I remembered that on roadtrips that Motel 6 had pretty reliable wi-fi. I went to the nearest Motel 6 (bought their stupid $2.99+tax 24 hour internet access card) and FINALLY - a good signal! It wasn't amazing but the pages were loading at an acceptable pace! I checked in for the whole week - 7 days special weekly rate that would give me a discount and keep me sheltered from all the rain and thunderstorms. I made it the whole week.
Gosh I hope the worst is behind me. If I can just stick with Motel 6 hopefully they will have reliable wi-fi across the country. Hopefully. Fingers crossed...
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