A Method to Their Madness . . .

or I’m not mad at Verizon anymore.

This just in . . . I now have 3G data service here at the Gate!

As I’ve mentioned before, our Verizon cell phone/data service comes from a tower a little over 19 miles away located along the I-37 corridor near Campbellton. Of course to get a signal this far I have to use a Wilson DB Pro 65 Antenna/Amplifier set up I brought on Amazon. The problem with this tower is that although I get 4-5 bars of cell service, I only got 1X data speeds.


At first I thought it might be a problem with my amplifier setup, but when I later drove down the Interstate near the tower, I found that the signal was indeed 1X only. There is a 3G tower in Pleasanton that’s actually about a mile closer, but because of some hills in between, I can’t get a signal from it. I might could if I went up another 10 feet on the directional antenna, but I’m already at 20 feet as it is, and really didn’t want to buy more antenna mast sections to have to haul around.

Besides being slow, the other thing that bugged me about the 1X speed is that it kept going away for hours at a time late at night before it would suddenly come back on. My cell phone signal was OK, just the data service kept going away. I do this blog around 2am, and several times I wasn’t able to post it until the next day because I had no data service.

In the back of my mind (Boy, it sure is dusty back here . . . and what’s that big black slimy thing in the corner . . . ah, never mind.), I was hoping that maybe they were upgrading the tower. But this off and on thing has been going on for the entire month we’ve been at this site, and I’d about given up hope. But right before I started this blog tonight, I checked the AccuWeather app on my cell phone and noticed something looked different.

Wait . . . there’s a big colorful 3G at the top of my phone screen, and not the pale dinky 1X that I usually see, and the cell signal is now a rock steady 5 bars. And even better the AccuWeather information just popped right in.

Checking with Speedtest.net I got 1.25 Mbps download and 700 Kbps upload, much better than the 200 Kbps / 150 Kbps I was getting with 1X.

Way to go Verizon. Now get to work on 4G. No resting on your laurels.


Several people asked for Jan’s Crockpot King Ranch Chicken recipe so here it is straight from Jan.

Here’s how I do my crockpot King Ranch: 

First I put a crock pot plastic liner in the pot (what a timesaver later), then I tear up 4 or 5 corn tortillas and place them in the bottom of the pot.

Add a can of black beans (I drain just a bit of the liquid that’s at the top),

1 chicken breast (one that has already been cooked and I cut it up into bite size pieces)

Grated cheese

1 can of Rotel tomatoes (I use the hotter Habanero kind) mixed with a can of diced tomatoes. 

I mix those together and add Cumin and Penzy spices plus Arizona Spice that has chipotle and other southwest spices in it.

Another layer of torn corn tortillas, another can of black beans, the rest of the tomato/Rotel spiced mix, then another chicken breast.  Oh, and grated cheese (the cheddar Mexican cheese mix) then top it all with single corn tortillas.  I cooked this for 7 hours on high in the crock pot

There you have it, and boy, is it good. Give it a try.


As I mentioned in the last blog, yesterday (Sunday) was our day off. We found a lady to work our gate from 1pm to 11pm while we spent the afternoon/evening San Antonio.

I think the best part was just being together, since although we eat our meals together, when one of us is on the gate, the other one is usually sleeping.

Anyway, we did some shopping and then just drove around for a while. Then about 4:30 we headed over to have dinner at the Magic Time Machine where we ate back in April before we got our first gate.

All the waiters and waitress dress up like cartoon, movie, or book characters. Last time our waitress was Wonder Woman, this time it was the Mad Hatter(ess). Jan had a New York Strip and I had my usual Ribeye, both very good and big enough to have leftovers to take home.

After a nice, leisurely meal we drove around some more, before ending up at Starbucks for an after-dinner coffee. Then it was time to head over to the movie theater where we saw The Avengers, the latest in the Marvel comic book series.

We both really enjoyed the movie, and of course we use RunPee to tell us when was a good time to take a bathroom break (especially needed since this movie was 2 hours and 22 minutes long) What was funny was that at the Run Pee time recommended as the best one, several people got up besides Jan. First time we’ve seen this happen. Guess it’s getting more popular. RunPee also tells you what’s going on while you’re gone, but even better, they tell you if there are any extra scenes after the credits. And in this case there were two.

The first one, which pops up about two minutes into the credits, sets up the next Avengers movie, and the last one, at the very end of the credits, is a hilarious take on what superheroes do after a hard day of fighting evil.

Jan and I couldn’t believe how many people left without seeing these scenes. We did tell a few people around us and they stayed, but Jan wouldn’t let me shout it out to the entire theater when we saw everyone leaving. Spoilsport.

And now a shameless plug.

For these of you who are going to be in Celina, OH for Nick Russell’s Gypsy Journal Rally early in September, and want to find out how you too can have an exciting career in the field of Oilrig Gate Guarding, Jan and I will be doing a seminar on the subject at Nick’s rally.

And one last tip before wrapping this post up. I’ve never had much trouble with allergies, but about three weeks ago, I started getting this tickle in the back of my throat that make me want to cough. No runny nose, no congestion, no cold or flu symptoms.

Just the tickle and the cough. And the cough got so bad sometimes it sounded like I had whooping cough. In fact I was coughing so hard it was hard to sleep and my chest muscles started to ache. So at Jan’s suggestion I decided to try Zyrtec

And boy did it work. By the next day the cough, and the tickle, were just gone. Being cheap, after I finished the 14 day supply of the name brand Zyrtec, I switched to the Wal-Mart house brand, which for a 90 supply was cheaper than my original 14 day supply. And the Wal-Mart brand seems to work just as well.

Check it out.


Thought for the Day:

For every action, there is an equal and opposite criticism.



4 Responses

  1. How do you find out what tower you are using for data and where it is located?

  2. Bobbie,

    There is an Android app (Free) called Open Signal Maps (don’t know about iPhone/iPad) that shows you the tower location in lat/long and how many meters away it is.

    It also gives you the signal strength and the speed of your data connection.

    Hope this helps and thanks for reading our blog.

  3. Your blog is informative and entertaining so I’m giving you “The Versatile Blogger” Award.

    You can pick it up at http://travelbug-susan.blogspot.com to pick up yours!

  4. Oops, sorry, there’s an extra “to pick up yours” at the end. Mea culpa.

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