Sunday, June 13, 2010

Satellite tribulations

We are at the Elks lodge in Glasgow, Montana. More precisely, we are in a parking lot across the street from the lodge (map), with which the lodge has some sort of lease. When we arrived, they suggested this might be easier for us to access than the diminutive lot behind the lodge; nevertheless we tried that first, because there was 15 amp power available there. While we would have fit without trouble after just some minor jockeying in tight quarters, as soon as I started backing in Louise noticed that Odyssey's 24 tons were damaging the asphalt, and we abandoned the effort. This lot is solid concrete.

Our UPS package was waiting for us and I was relieved to find the satellite electronics, which are hard to pack and ship, undamaged. It was too late in the day to work on the system, because I knew once I had it installed I would need to call in to tech support, which is only open until 7pm our time. We ended up walking to dinner at local icon Sam's Supper Club across the tracks, where both the walleye and the prime rib were excellent.

Yesterday I decided to tackle the satellite project. I had some concerns because of reports I had read that the newer style electronics I now had in my hand had various compatibility problems with our older dish hardware; I won't bore you with all the gory details of the issues, but the die-hard geeks (or RVers with HughesNet systems) can read about them in this thread I started. The bottom line, though, is that I spent six solid hours working on it, between physically replacing hardware and working with Mobil Satellite on the phone, and our problem is still with us.

At least now the ball is back in play between Mobil Satellite and HughesNet. We purchased and installed this hardware because we were basically told that what we had was so old and obsolete, they would not even troubleshoot the problem further until we upgraded, and now that we have, that excuse can no longer be used. The good news is that I bought this stuff used on eBay and spent a grand total of $85, shipping included, for it (they had wanted to sell me new parts for upwards of $350, plus shipping).

It was past 5:30 when I wrapped up, and even though we had planned to move on yesterday, we decided to just spend another night here. We had to drive back over to the lodge to put water in, and while we were out we swung by the Albertsons for provisions before parking back here. There is a nice restaurant inside the Elks lodge, Durum, open to the public, and we just stumbled over there for dinner, where Louise had walleye for the second night in a row (walleye is really fresh in Montana).

While this is a nice spot, right in the quaint little downtown and near the train station, we don't want to overstay our welcome and will be moving on today. Besides, the mosquitoes here are so big they have to file flight plans with air traffic control. We enjoy the sound, but those who are bothered by loud diesel chimes should probably not stay here; Glasgow appears to be a crew change stop on the Hi-Line, so every freight (and the Empire Builder) stops here. In addition to whistling for the lone grade crossing, they all whistle when they start up, too, just a few hundred feet from us.

Today we will head due north, leaving US-2 and the Hi-Line behind, to cross the rest of the state and much of North Dakota on an even more northerly route, in keeping with our "outermost route" theme that we have now nearly completed. We'd done all of US-2 between here and Minot, ND previously anyway, and it's always good to try a new alternative.

Image uploaded by anna!, used under a Creative Commons license.


  1. I have dreamed of touring the Hi-Line for some time, now. I have enjoyed your account of the bit you traveled in this part of your journey, and look forward to further accounts as you travel and write.

    Thanks again for sharing your adventures.

  2. You are way over my paygrade in your Datastorm troubles but I am enjoying following the adventure nevertheless. The responses you are receiving on Datastormusers are confirming the opinions I previously held of some of the most prolific contributors over there and not all of those opinions were positive. I've envied your automatic system on nights when we are sitting on a parking lot but my tripod system has been relatively robust with less electro-mechanical gadgetry to fail so maybe it isn't all bad to be offline one or two nights a month.


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