Saturday, September 19, 2015

Donuts or Beer - searching for free internet in Canada

The title was suggested to me by my friend Tom after reading my email complaints about the difficulty of getting internet access. Technically I'm on vacation, at least for the start of this trip I'm completely on vacation, and the last thing that anyone should be looking for while on vacation is a way to get on the internet. However, since this trip is quite a bit longer than a typical vacation, both Kathy and I need to work. Along with work, there are the little things in life that need to be taken care of like paying bills, and when you're living life as a transient you need the internet to take care of these things. Also, I think that because we are new to the transient life, there is still a bit of paranoia that we will miss something, forget to pay some important bill or forget to respond to some important email. These are fears that are easily put asside during the two weeks of a typical summer vacation, but when you are going to be gone for over 9 months, you can't just ignore these things until you get home. 

Before I started this trip I added a little bit of very expensive international roaming data to my AT&T plan, and added some roaming data to our Verizon cellular data modem. The AT&T has worked well where there was cell coverage, which as we travelled north (especially Stewart, BC and Hyder, AK) we found absolutely no cell coverage of any kind. Most of the paid RV parks we have stayed at had free (albeit slow) wifi. However many of the RV parks we have stayed in required you to sit yourself near a wifi access point that was never placed close to where they decided to have you park your vehicle. Along with the often inconvenient locations for wifi, the start of our trip was pretty much constant rain (unless we were somewhere where the internet was completely unavailable like the ferry from Port Hardy to Prince Rupert, then the weather was spectacular). I found myself, more than once, sitting under a tree with the rain coming down waiting for my email to finally download.

The first place where we spent any real length of time was Jasper. Originally we had only planned to spend 4 nights in Jasper, but with the weather being so wet we opted to abandon the Southeastern corner of Alaska and the western half of British Columbia head to Jasper early with the hopes that the weather to the east would be drier. In the end we lived in the town Jasper for 8 days. In Jasper National Park there aren't RV parks, it's National Park campgrounds which are clean, and very nice, but not set up for people to come and get work done on the internet. So one of the first things Kathy and I needed to find was a place with wifi so that we could get occasionally work done and pay some bills that had not been taken care of prior due to our travelling and general lack of internet access. The best options that we found were Tim Hortons (excellent donuts and coffee), Jasper Brewing Company, and a laundromat/coffee shop in Jasper. The first two had free wifi, and the later charged a few bucks an hour for wifi. The problem is that if you want to get any REAL work done you need at least a couple hours. I did this at Tim Hortons on a couple occasions, but I was not the only person attempting to get work done there, and the place was usually full of people with their laptops open. At the Jasper Brewing Company where we ate lunch a couple times, I tried to respond to emails, but it didn't feel right to be the only person working away on a laptop in what I would describe as a sports bar. Besides, the Jasper Brewing Company was the first place I had found in Canada with a good IPA, and drinking beer(s) is not always conducive to getting any real work done.

Eventually I suspect Kathy and I will get into the grove of subjecting ourselves to the internet only when necessary (such as posting this), and scheduling that time appropriately around all the other activities that are so much more important (like finding the ultimate Canadian IPA). Canada has been difficult, because cellular internet is so much more expensive for us here, and we are avoiding the large cities where internet access is everywhere and motels where it is provided free with your room. Once we are back in the US, the internet will be a little bit easier to access. For now at least there we are still recovering from the addiction for the need of constant internet access that we had become so used to.

P.S. This blog post is being completed via wifi at Starbucks in Banff. The ONLY place with functioning wifi in this town on a busy weekend. 

1 comment:

  1. I like that title :)
    It is interesting how your life habits change while you travel and patterns get broken. We lived a long time without the internet and now we can't live without it.
    Great Blog. Keep the stories coming. Safe Travels.