Saturday, July 27, 2013

Mobile Internet and Connectivity Setup

As I prepare to travel to the southwest this winter, I have been purchasing Internet and WIFI boosting hardware.  Following are descriptions and links of how it all works:

Cell and Internet Service via AT&T

I currently have a contract with AT&T that has a family data plan of 6 gigs per month.  Our phones are Galaxy S III Samsung cell phones.  They have the ability to tether or hot spot, allowing us to connect our internet devices (tablets and laptops) to the internet.

I purchased  a 4G booster cradle from Amazon made by Wilson Electronics.  It is designed to boost 2G, 3G or 4G cell phone signals when the connection is poor.  It comes with an antenna and a cable that attaches to the cradle.  It has a magnet to place on the top of your car and a cigarette plug power supply.

I purchased a Noisehush bluetooth headphones from Amazon so that I can keep my hands free for phone calls as I travel in the MH and jeep.

I purchased a larger indoor Wilson Omni directional antenna  from Amazon to provide stronger signal support within the MH.  It also has a magnet base and came with a metal base with suction cups for attaching to a window.

I purchased the Wilson Home/Office kit from Amazon.  It includes:
  •  an adjustable suction cup desk mount for the cradle
  • window-mount antenna bracket   
  • 13" zippered carrying pouch 
  • AC/DC power supply 
I also purchased an outside large Wilson Trucker/RV antenna from Amazon for use in very remote areas where I will need an antenna on top of the RV to reach greater distances to a cell tower.

So that I can hook the antenna to the ladder at the rear of the MH, I bought a 30' extension RG58u coax cable.  To connect this to my Sleek 4 cradle I needed a connector since the coax cable on the Trucker/RV antenna and my Sleek 4 cradle are different sizes.  Bought this Wilson connector through Amazon.  It is a FME male to SME male connector.

With this hardware I will be ready for phone and Internet service from my MH or jeep almost anywhere in the southwest.  I hope.  We will see when I get to a remote area.

WIFI Booster

We experienced first-hand last year how poor the WIFI service can be in the RV parks that offer this service.  If you are not close to the signal then your signal is weak and Internet is very slow.  To help with this I purchased a WIFIRanger Go from WIFIRanger.  This is a router that provides  indoor hot spot for use by my tablets and laptops.  It also provides 4 Ethernet ports for direct links to my laptop for faster speed when necessary.  It does a great job of boosting a weak signal.  We will be testing this on our next trip to an RV park that has WIFI.  If we need more signal strength I will purchase the WIFIRanger Mobile.  This will be placed on top of the RV to pull sinals from great distances.

Back-up System

I purchased a back-up system from TadiBrothers.  It includes:
  • 10.5 inch color mirror mount monitor
  • dual HD cameras

Dish Satellite

I purchased a Dish Tailgater and Vip211K receiver from Amazon.  Now we have digital TV as long as we have a clear view of the southern sky.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Laning family

We have grown into a family of 15 over the nearly 47 years of marriage.

BL - Tyler,Scott, Ben, Steve, Doug with Fergie, Evan, Jim 
FL - Tracie, Margie, Nick, Erin, Dolly, Lane, Kristi, Sarah

  • Doug and Dolly
    • Ben and Margie
    • Evan and Kristi
      • Lane
      • Erin
    • Steve and Tracie
      • Nick
    • Tracie (step sons)
      • Scott
      • Tyler
    • Jim and Sarah
All our kids live in the Bloomington/Normal area except for Ben and Margie.  They live in Lebanon, Indiana, about three hours east of here.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


Our family lives in the Bloomington/Normal area.  Now known as uptown Normal and downtown Bloomington.  Population estimate is 77,773 for Bloomington  and 52,570 for Normal.

This area is flat farmland best known for growing corn and soybeans.

Spraying corn

We do have some some highlights.  Old route 66 runs right through here.

Old route 66 - Carlock, Illinois

Two large insurance companies, State Farm and Country Financial Companies have their home offices here and we have four colleges/universities: 
  1. Heartland College
  2. Lincoln College
  3. Illinois State University
  4. Wesleyan University
We also are known for having the Beer Nuts company and Beich Candy company.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Who is Miss Adventure?

In November, 2011 Dolly and I bought our first trailer and we still own it.  It is a 1973 Ratcliff tow low camper.  We named it Miss Adventure.

Miss Adventure
Seventies style
Bunk beds

It wasn't till the following year that we went on our first trip.

Starved Rock

In April, 2012 Dolly, Fergie and I headed for Starved Rock State Park about 60 miles north of Bloomington/Normal in our 18 foot (14 feet of living space) trailer.

Illinois River


It is a beautiful park just outside Utica, Illinois along the Illinois River.  There is a path along the river with many canyons and some have waterfalls at this time of the year.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Why did I buy an RV?

I was born in San Bernadino, California and left when only a few months old. For many years I have wanted to return to the Southwest.  Now I am retired and the urge to go is strong.  In fact it is a "bucket list" item now.

I did make a trip out west in 2007 when I first retired, but did not do it right.  I was in a sports car, stayed at motels and ate out every night.  I made it to the Grand Canyon and spent a week taking in the sights with my wife Dolly.  She flew out to join me for the week.  After that I drove to Carlsbad Caverns, NM and on to Pensacola, FL to visit my brother for a week. I didn't really see the Southwest as it should be seen.

03 Mustang Cobra

Since then I have researched the Internet and have a much better idea of all the things there are to see just off the freeways. I am also following several blogs of those that travel the Southwest by RV.

The Bayfield Bunch is a link to Al and Kelly, a couple from Bayfield, Ontario.  They recently bought a home in Congress, AZ and spend the winters traveling the area.  He has many beautiful pictures of southern Arizona.

Another interesting blog is RVSue and her Crew . Sue and her two dogs are full-timers.  Her blog gives an interesting view of travels throughout the Southwest, including Colorado, Utah and Montana as the weather warms. 

So I bought an RV and a jeep to follow a path similar to what Al, Kelly and Sue do. This time I plan to spend three months this winter slowly traveling the western part of Arizona.  

My goal is to take my time, do a little research and really see the state parks, Federal parks and areas of interest the right way.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

First camping trip

Dolly, Fergie (our small poodle) and I went a short 16 miles to Comlara Park campground in McLean County for our first shakedown trip. 
Dolly and Fergie

Our 2003 Holiday Rambler Classic is new to us and our first RV. 

The park is located on Evergreen Lake. 

Thistle flower
Spent two of the hottest days of the year at the campground.  Fortunately, my goal for this adventure was to learn how to:
  • connect water
  • connect electricity
  • turn on hot water heater
  • connect to local tv channels
  • connect to Dish HD with my tailgater
  • create a WIFI hotspot with my smartphone
  • boost my cell signal using my new Wilson Sleek 4 cradle
  • and dump tanks
Luckily most of this was indoor related so I did not have to be out in the stifling heat.

My goal was met and I learned a lot!  I am sure Dolly and I will learn and have many great experiences as we travel in Miss Adventure.