Sunday, July 8
The crew and I wake up to the sound of truck engines at the Flying J “Travel Center” in Gillette, Wyoming. The task for today is to find a replacement battery for my Verizon air card. I call up Verizon and I’m told the battery cannot be obtained in Gillette. The Verizon rep refers me to one of their “indirect” stores in Buffalo, Wyoming, about 70 miles to the west. At least that’s in the direction of Yellowstone.
After buying propane at the Flying J, the crew and I motor westward on Interstate 90.
I try to call the store on the way, but their automated phone message says their store hours are 10 to 5 on Sundays.
By the time I take the Buffalo exit, it’s 10 o’clock. I call the store and get the same automated message. It includes a prompt to leave my name and number and “we’ll call you right back.” I do that and wait . . . and wait . . . and call again. Same automated message.
It’s getting hot in the PTV and the crew is restless.
I drive around until I find someone who can give me directions to the store. The traffic is heavy in this part of Buffalo. Finally I find the store and manage to park the PTV and BLT in its tiny parking lot. I go to the door of the store and notice a paper taped to it.
“New Summer Hours: Closed on Sundays”
I am absolutely livid. I can barely breathe I am so angry. I call the automated phone message and let Verizon know that since they are a PHONE COMPANY they ought to know how to change their phone’s recording to reflect their new summer hours. I also let them know I drove 70 miles to read their #%*@& “closed” sign.
I drive seven miles north of Buffalo on Interstate 25 so we can camp at Lake De Smet.
Lake De Smet Campground is a loosely run affair. A guy at the gate is more concerned with making sure the boats coming in don’t bring in bacteria or snails or something. I ask him where the campground is and he says to pick a spot anywhere along the water. It’s $10 a night.
The place is crowded all along the accessible water.
There isn’t any shade. It’s hot. I’m still irritated. The last thing I need is to camp next to people having fun. I’m outta here.
I drive about 35 more miles to Sheridan, Wyoming, because there’s no place to boondock in desolate, exposed prairie. Sheridan is not a tiny place. Surely it will have a battery for an air card. I call Verizon. The Verizon lady calls four Verizon outlets. One doesn’t stock that battery, two don’t have it in stock but they can order it and it’ll be here IN A WEEK, and the fourth store isn’t open.
I’m in a predicament.
I’m in a strange city on a hot afternoon. It’s Sunday. I don’t know where any public land is located, and I don’t have internet to find any. I can’t go wandering up these huge mountains. It’s too hot to leave the crew in the PTV while I use the library’s internet. Judging from the touristy billboards, any RV park around here charges top dollar. What am I going to do?
I drive around until I find a county park.
It’s comprised of a ball field, a skateboard rink, a playground, some grass, a few trees, and a parking lot. I park the BLT in the lot in the shade of a tree. I walk around with Bridget and Spike, trying to stay cool. Later I go to bed hoping the police don’t come by and kick us out. This has been one heckuva, unproductive day! Good night!
Monday, July 9
Well, the cops didn’t come for me in the night. So far, so good. The crew and I go through our usual morning routine: toileting walk, breakfast, coffee, regular morning walk, bath, etc. During crew naptime I call the one store in Sheridan that might possibly have a battery for my air card. I call. They don’t have it.
I call the main Verizon office again.
Of course every time I phone Verizon I go through several automated steps. One wrong move and I have to start over. Every time I get a different person so I have to retell my story each time, beginning to end.
The Verizon rep informs me that the battery I’ve just driven over 110 miles to obtain is no longer stocked. “I checked the warehouse and there aren’t any batteries of that type.”
“You mean to tell me that I’ve been driving around Wyoming in search of a battery that doesn’t exist?”
To make a long story not quite as long . . .
I end up driving from Sheridan, back to Buffalo, and from Buffalo to Casper, Wyoming. This adds another 148 miles to my battery quest. I find the Verizon store in a mall in the busy city of Casper. I take Bridget and Spike into the store with me because it’s awfully hot outside. At this point I dare anyone to object. I tell my story to the manager. He tries to make good as much as his corporate-controlled computer software will allow.
I walk out with a new air card that normally retails for $269.99. I pay $99.99. I also pay a $30 upgrade fee. I don’t have to pay the $95 contract cancellation charge. The total cost is $136.49 which includes $6.50 tax. Instead of 3 gigabytes a month, my new 2-year contract is for 6 gigabytes a month. Instead of $35 a month, now I pay $60 a month (My old deal is no longer offered.).
Bridget and Spike have been angels all day.
I’m amazed at their good behavior. Not a sound out of them on the road. When we stopped at a rest area, they did their business and hopped back in the PTV. In the Verizon store in the mall, they sat quietly at my feet. In fact, they were better behaved than the middle schoolers fooling around with the iPad display. Even the store manager was impressed.
I drive over to Wal-Mart and buy a rotisserie chicken.
Bridget and Spike get hefty portions as their reward for being such good travellers.
Sorry, only two photos with this post. I suppose I could have taken a self-portrait showing my red face and bulging eyes as I gave that Verizon store in Buffalo a piece of my mind …
At long last I have internet again. Tonight we sleep in the mall parking lot!