September brought no journeys to distant campgrounds, the whole month was spent in Central Texas. We did, however, make one major change of location.
A Place to call Home – A Home Away From Home?
When we sold our house in July, we decided to buy land, a ‘home base’, so we have somewhere to return to once we start traveling.
While we still wanted to be in the same area, an extensive search for available small lots (around an acre) was unsuccessful.
One evening, while talking with my neighbor, he suggested I bought one of his vacant lots. He owned four lots which were right by our old house.
I discussed the idea with Amber, we took a walk over the land and chose a lot which we felt would work best for our needs.
Now we were owners of land right next to the house that we just moved out of!
We Have no Address – How to get Mail?
Our land had a legal description, but no street address. The local post office told me I would need to contact the McLennan County 9-1-1 Emergency Assistance District to request one.
I had to provide information about the nearest intersection and nearest neighbors house. Also they required that I placed a marker at the position I wanted my address to be assigned. A ‘T’ post with brightly colored card and the words ‘911 Address’ sufficed.
I was told they would do a drive-by within the next 5 days and a street address would be assigned.
Armed with my new 911 address I set about constructing a post to hold a mailbox. We could now receive mail.
Aqua America – Water Supply
With no utilities on the land, I next visited the local water company that supplies our area. I was told that there was no supply line on my side of the road and that they would need to bore under the road. This sounded expensive!!
The price was actually quite reasonable, I only had to pay the standard charge for the meter and the road bore was done at no cost to me.
We had to wait a while for the installation, first the existing utilities were marked with flags so they were not damaged, and the road bore required a permit from the county before the work could be done.
Once the meter was installed, I ran 100 feet of 3/4 inch PEX which would later supply our RV. The PEX was buried when I rented a Ditch Witch for a weekend.
Access Point – Culvert Install
Next we needed a way to cross the shallow drainage ditch between the road and the land. For this we needed to visit another County department, this time Engineering, Development and Ordinances Office.
Again the land was flagged for utilities, before the culvert was installed. Installation included the metal culvert, fill gravel and labor for less than it would have cost me to buy just the metal culvert, well worth having it done by the County folks.
Power Needed – Electricity Supply
As with the water supply, the electricity supply lines run on the other side of the road. A site survey determined that it would take three poles to reach the location I requested for the main switch box, one on the other side of the road and two on the land.
As I didn’t have a building foundation I was told I would have to pay the whole cost. I would, however, get a full refund if I built a livable structure with 12 months.
Once again, utilities were flagged before the installation was done. The linemen left the switchbox ‘dead’ as I didn’t have anything attached to it. I installed an RV pedestal box with 50A, 30A and 20A outlets and wired it into the main switch box, and they returned within a day to set the electricity supply live.
A Place to Park – Driveway Construction
We still needed a place to park and a place for the RV to sit. A friend lent me a
dump trailer and a tractor and I spent the next two days moving gravel dumping it and leveling.
We were finally ready to say goodbye to Tonkawa Falls RV Park and move to our new home base. We’ll be here for a while before the travels begin.
How to get Online? – Internet on the Move
When we lived in the house next door we used a local internet service. Being in a rural area it was a wireless system and we received it through a dish. As we intend to start traveling, I didn’t want to have a home internet service that we can only use when we are at our home base.
Since we had been living in our RV I had gradually worked my way through my sizable T-Mobile data stash, using my phone’s mobile hotspot for all my internet needs. This included my computer and our biggest data hog, our Roku 3.
After three months all my data stash was gone and my data speed was capped, making it difficult to do anything online. I changed our phone service to the T-Mobile One unlimited plan. This is great for the phones, they are back up to speed, but T-Mobile One restricts mobile hotspots to 500kb/s.
As you can probably imagine, this data rate is not great for watching video, you either get low quality video, regular buffering or a combination of the two.
I have an Alcatel Idol 4S with Windows 10 phone, being a newer phone it has a type C USB port and I remembered it was compatible with Microsoft’s ‘Continuum’. Using a Microsoft Display Dock my phone could be connected to an external monitor or TV via HDMI for a PC-like experience. At $99 I thought the price was a little steep for what was essentially just a hub, so I decided to look for alternatives.
I found the Bambud USB C to HDMI adapter, available for $23.96 and decided to give it a try. On one side of this tiny box is a USB C cable which plugs into my phone. The other side has a USB A port which I use for a wireless mouse receiver, a HDMI port which is connected to the TV, and a USB C port which is used to keep my phone charged when it is in use (the Roku is not completely retired as I use it’s USB to provide the charging power!).
I can now watch video in HD again on my TV. It works great with YouTube, most of the time Netflix works too, but sometimes I need to log out and log back in before it will play. The addition of a keyboard would be useful (I have a combination keyboard / mouse in storage, I just need to find it). For now I use the phone screen as a keyboard. This works ok as I can navigate with the mouse from my recliner once I’m logged in.
The Bambud USB C to HDMI adapter is a generic device intended for projection of laptop PCs, Macbooks, Chromebooks to external monitors. As I’ve shown it also works with my phone, and from what I have read, it also works with other USB C equipped phones too.
I’m new to using cellular data while on the move, but this is my set up for the moment. My phone indicates that I’m using about 60GB per month. If anyone with more experience of what works best for internet on the road I’d love to hear your suggestions.