Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Gold Country, Lake Tahoe, a custom shade, and cutting the final AT&T string

I couldn't believe it when I opened my cellular bill - another rate bump. Calling them rewarded me with a long wait and then with the usual run-around "we changed the plan structure and the plan you had now no longer exists so we put you in this new more expensive plan, tough cookies if you don't like it, blah blah blah". Ah, AT&T's well-earned reputation rears its ugly head yet again, no surprises there. Lance had been bugging me for some time to switch to Google Fi so we'd be global internet access-ready but I'd been resisting because AT&T's coverage in the US is fairly reliable, because I'm somewhat reluctant to accept change, and most of all because I had concerns that Google's coverage wouldn't be as good. Well, there's nothing like a little righteous anger to force me into change, so a few keystrokes later my Google Fi Pixel phone was winging its way to me. 

For about three weeks I had AT&T coverage on the iPad and coverage from Google Fi on the new phone and so I did daily speed comparisons while we moved around the Delta Loop and Gold Country of California, and was shocked to find that in EVERY single comparison the Google Fi internet was faster. So I let the iPad subscription expire too - goodbye and good riddance AT&T, you've darkened my door for the very last time. Best of all I'm spending almost $50/month less for superior speeds, even including the financed cost (at 0% interest) of the new phone. The phone they provided is a world-wide internet ready Pixel 3, and a happy surprise was the quality of the phone's camera.

Chloe at Nevada Beach (South Lake Tahoe), shot with Pixel phone on "portrait" setting.
This is a  fairly technical shot because she is in the shade on a very bright beach, and fading out the sunbathers in the background requires an aperture adjustment; I'm impressed this phone camera pulled it off so nicely.

We put the Subaru on Craigslist and within a couple of days it sold to a young lady from the foothills near Lincoln, another adventure girl who was looking for a car with AWD for skiing, a rack for her surfboard, and back seats that lay all the way flat so she can camp in the car on the coast. Perfect. I expect they will have many years of adventures together. We used some of the cash to make additional improvements to Mr. Toad, pickled the bikes and the trailer and headed off to Lake Tahoe, the next stop in our clockwise lap of America.

Kayakers on Lake Tahoe, it's 80 degrees today but was snowing just last weekend.
The skiing at Lake Tahoe is top-notch, both on the mountain and on the lake.

We're settling back into our roaming groove. 
Lance found some time to relax and catch up on some reading,
as usual Chloe is within arm's reach.

Our last sunset in the Gold Country, shot from Loretta's settee window at the Elks Lodge in Jackson, CA.
This lodge is a happenin' place, with food/drink events nearly every night we were there.
The Jackson Elks made us feel like part of the family and so we jumped right into the activities.

RhumbLine readers may recall about a year ago we were eyeballing some cool window shades covering a neighboring Class A in Massachusetts, back when we were in a center-of-the-park fishbowl site. The summer sun beating onto my desk last week reminded me it was time to finally finish that project, so we broke out the sewing machine and measurements and finished it up. The original quote to buy a finished one was $350 show special (usually $550), we bought the materials for about $90 and built it in a few hours. If this is a project you're interested in, it's an easy win if you have a sewing machine handy; we bought the rare earth magnets from Amazon and the shade material, edge binding, and UV resistant thread from SailRite. SailRite has a cool tutorial to make them for catamarans with twist connections. We didn't want to drill holes in the RV so the deviation I made was to sew pockets under the shade for magnets, and stick corresponding magnets to the inside of the window of the RV. The difference this shade has made in terms of heat and privacy is monumental, this has been our favorite RV improvement so far.

The first draft fit well but was difficult to deploy wrinkle-free without a ladder
Adding loops over each magnet pocket means we can install the shade flat-footed with a stick,
and poke at the corners until the shade is wrinkle-free

The view from the inside out, showing the magnets on the interior of the window, the magnet pockets sewn into the shade, and the difference in glare coming in through the shaded and unshaded windows
From here we are heading West and North through Shasta to the Oregon Coast and up to Vancouver BC. It will definitely be a different journey with both of us riding together, I expect we'll be able to cover a lot more ground by sharing the driving responsibilities on those days when we really, really want to be somewhere way over there. For now we're planning the jumps at 200-300 miles apart like usual but I expect big jumps are coming. (Texas we're looking at you!)


  1. The new phone sounds cool. Great idea to put the shade instructions here in case you want to easily share with ftrv or the like. Love the mesh of sail technology; genius to use sailrite thread. Look forward to stories of how traveling together changes the journey. Glad you’re on the move again. Fair winds my friends.

  2. They sell the thread in giant cones so I've got UV sailing thread for daaaaaays so it was a no-brainer decision, we sewed new canvas for the whole boat and still the cone looks brand new so it went in the project compartment with the sewing machine. Looking forward to catching up with you down the road, I'll bet you miss your sewing machine so you're welcome to borrow mine, stack up your projects and we'll knock 'em out on some picnic table somewhere in the MidWest or wherever we catch up :)


  3. glad you get to head back to your rudely interrupted journey but sad as only a parent can be to let you fly on your way. Many safe journeys are wished to you and your family. Love Mom.

    1. Awww shucks Mom. It was such a treat to spend all this time with you. Looking forward to catching up to you in Disney World.

  4. Internet Speed Comparison @ Thousand Trails South Lake Tahoe, CA
    Sampled 6/5/19 at 9:11pm
    MB down MB up
    Verizon phone tether 18.2 2.47
    Calyx (Sprint) 9.18 4.67
    Google Fi 19.0 5.92
    Park Wifi Not sampled Extra Charge ☹