Friday, September 11, 2009

The dreaded "FAP"

We are at the Wal-Mart in Poplar Bluff, Missouri (map), along US-160/US-67. We arrived after 5pm, and I was again pretty worn out from the drive -- US-162 west of here is another winding roller coaster of a road, the sort of thing that is perfect on (and makes us yearn for) motorcycles, but a lot of work in the bus. Still, it was beautiful.

We rolled out of Mountain Home sometime after 1pm. I've been working pretty hard on getting moved completely over to the new computer, and this morning's project involved straightening out some problems with email, which I installed last night. Because of the way the email program interacts with the server, I needed to get to a good stopping point before we put the dish down to head out.

We decided to forego the stop at the Mountain Home Wal-Mart, realizing there would be at least two more on today's route. We generally prefer not to spend money in towns that do not allow overnight parking, if we can avoid it. Instead we headed directly out of town on US-62 to Salem, where we picked up Arkansas 9 that took us all the way to the Missouri state line at Mammoth Springs.

Right there at the turn onto US-63 is Mammoth Springs State Park, home to the tenth largest spring in the world, with a continuous output of 9.7 million gallons an hour, at a brisk but constant 58°. We stopped for about an hour, visiting the century-old dam that once powered a nearby mill, and the powerhouse added in 1927 that is now a museum. It was really quite a lovely and interesting stop.

US-63 took us across the state line to Thayer, MO, where Missouri 19 then carried us northeast to Alton and US-162. I expected AR-9 and MO-19 to be narrow, hilly, and winding, but I was surprised that US-162 was not wider, with better grade and alignment. Before Alton we had entertained thoughts of possibly making it all the way to Sikeston tonight, where we had a choice of a Wal-Mart, an Elks lodge, or an empty lot for parking, and of course Lambert's Cafe and the famous Throwed Rolls. But 162 wore me down, and we opted to just stop here. Maybe Lambert's will be in the cards for lunch tomorrow, but only if we are really hungry, based on past experience.

Normally I would be reporting to you here much later this morning (it's 2am right now). However, when we got home from dinner at Maya's Mexican Restaurant about half a mile from here, we found ourselves off line. It turns out we are "FAPped" -- subjected to the dreaded HughesNet "Fair Access Policy" which throttles bandwidth back to below dial-up speeds if you exceed your daily aliquot of allowable usage. We're very good at avoiding this, having tailored our usage habits around the policy, and even installed a bandwidth monitoring tool to keep tabs on how much we're using and what's left before we hit the FAP.

Apparently, as part of installing my email program on this computer last night, some 300+ megebytes got downloaded in an hour. I'm not sure how, since the program is only supposed to download headers and not message bodies unless commanded to do so, and I may never know, but clearly the damage was done between 8 and 9 last night. Setting up another download just as we walked off to dinner tonight was enough to put us over; had I just waited another couple of hours, all would have been fine. And, of course, the bandwidth monitor is one of the items I have not yet ported from the old computer, so we were blindsided.

HughesNet has a "free" window each night from 2am-7am Eastern Time (1-6 here in Central), where usage does not count towards the FAP limit, and, fortunately, full speed is restored even if your account is subject to FAP. So naturally I logged right back on a little after 1 to wrap up what I was working on when the hammer dropped, and to post this quick update. When I get up in the morning, we will once again be effectively shut down until our FAP is lifted at 9pm. By which time, we'll be in another state, possibly Illinois or Kentucky. So it was post now, or wait until the next stop.

Tomorrow morning we'll be raiding the store for groceries, and I spotted a great deal on a USB hard drive as well. We had to run in this evening to pick up some breakfast items, but neither of us was in the mood to run the whole list. With no Internet to keep us occupied, I expect we will make a fairly early start, and should be crossing the river by early afternoon, depending on just how much sorghum molasses gets into our bloodstreams at lunch...


  1. One of the nice things about Lamberts is they will give you as many To Go boxes as you need to take all that food out to your RV. I ate leftovers for 3 days after our first visit there.

    Linda Sand

  2. Hi there ... tried to send you email earlier today, both addresses come back as not deliverable! I had some questions after viewing your wonderful videos! If you can please email me at! Thanks! Wonderful site.


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