The last two days have been cold for this part of Florida. The temps have struggled to get into the 50s. It rained most of the day Wednesday, and was off and on on Thursday.
And added to the lack of desire to go outside, I've got a minor cold.
But it was a good time to get some things done. I did most of our financial work for January and updated our Frequently Asked Questions page.
Also, I can't remember if I ever posted a link to our 2014 Budget, but if not, there it is. It includes $9,000 above our usual budget levels for re-painting our fifth wheel and replacing our flooring during the year.
Because we won't be traveling as much in 2014, I was able to lower some expense categories (Fuel), but I conservatively increased others (a little bit in Campground Fees, Entertainment, Dining Out). Knock on wood, as long as we can keep away from the major blips of the last two years, I fully expect to be under budget this year ... and I hope by quite a bit. :)
One thing we will likely do, that isn't reflected in the budget because it will just be a transfer of funds from one account to another, is max out our IRA contributions. We haven't been able to do that since we started on the road, so that will be a bonus.
A surprise for Thursday was that the installer from Mobilsat was coming. We didn't think he would be here until next week. I wasn't sure about him working on our roof in the rain, but the rain let up just in time for Wayne to get the job done.
He removed the 80-pound Datastorm satellite internet dish from the roof, and I helped him lower it to the ground.
Then he prepared the much smaller and lighter Winegard Trav'ler SK-SWM3 Slimline dish for installation.
The whole process took a couple of hours, but eventually it was all done and it works like a champ.
It's certainly a lot more user-friendly than the Datastorm. But we'll always be grateful that we had satellite internet in those wonderful remote locations we like to park. It may be awhile, but we're probably going to miss that aspect.
So, for internet, we'll be relying on our Verizon JetPack (coupled with our Wilson Trucker Antenna and Wilson Sleek 4G-V cradle booster in the more remote locations). We rarely use Wi-Fi, but have the capability.
Currently, we are sticking with cellular data through Verizon, but I'm really close to making the switch to Millenicom's no contract Hotspot Plan. Millenicom is a reseller of data services, and the Hotspot Plan is 20G per month for $69.99 on Verizon's network (although they can't advertise that fact due to their contract with Verizon).
My hesitancy in going with Millenicom has simply been whether or not we would get the same cellular data service as with Verizon direct. I have seen conflicting info on that, but it doesn't seem that any difference is significant enough for most of us to tell. And the cost difference for that level of data is certainly worth taking a chance.
The 20G shared data plan on Verizon is $150 a month plus $20 a month for the JetPack access (plus taxes). So, $70 a month for 20G through Millenicom sure looks a lot better. :)
As for our satellite TV decision, there has been and still is an ongoing debate among RVers about DirecTV vs DISH network. We've been DirecTV customers since we started and we can't complain about the programming and service. Our only complaint is the ever-increasing pricing for features we don't need.
We have an HD DirecTV DVR and "Whole Home" service so that we can record shows on one DVR and watch recorded shows on either TV. There are currently no dome-type dishes that allow you to get DirecTV high definition programming.
So, if you have a dome-type rooftop dish or one of the really cool, lower cost portable dishes that automatically find the signals, you can only get HD if you have DISH. They will work with DirecTV, but you can only get standard definition.
We considered just going with one of the portable dishes and even switching to DISH, but we're so used to what we have, we just didn't want to switch. Plus we have Distant Network Service (DNS) which allows RVers to get east coast or west coast network channels (ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX). Actually, we are "grandfathered" in and get both east and west coast feeds which we love.
DISH used to offer Distant Network Service, and then they lost the privilege. They were re-instated and offered Distant Network Service through All American Direct. However, All American Direct is, according to their website, ceasing operations as of February 25.
Now, I don't know from personal experience, but I've heard that DISH has been good about allowing RVers to call in and change their location information so that they can get local network channels as they move around the country. If that's the case, then DNS isn't really necessary.
Basically, it came down to not wanting the switch from DirecTV, wanting to be able to get HD, and wanting to have an automatic dish. And that's how we decided to get the highly recommended Winegard Trav'ler. I think we'll be quite glad we made that decision over the long term.
While the new dish was being installed, Linda went to do laundry and then she hung out with Bill & Nancy for a little while. It's always best that she's not in the rig when people are putting holes in the roof and working inside. :)
There's not much more to tell about those last couple of days. Plus I'm a little fuzzy. :)
Hopefully, tomorrow I'll be feeling better and the sun will come out. :)