I am happy to report that after a long day of travel we made it safely back to the Houston Airport, where we found the Airstream and truck just as we had left them 9 days earlier. Phew! I’d be lying if I said we weren’t a tiny bit nervous about leaving our home in a parking lot for a week. All was well though, and I wouldn’t hesitate to use the Eco Park again. Not only did we have a safe spot to leave our home and truck, but we also got a free ride back and forth to our terminal. All for only six bucks a day! That’s right – 9 days of parking our 25′ trailer and truck for only $54! What a deal.
By the time we got back to the Airstream it was already 8pm, and since our next destination was about 4 hours away we considered spending the night in the parking lot. But the bright street lights combined with the near constant planes flying overhead, and the desire to avoid what was sure to be some annoying Monday morning traffic in Houston, cinched the decision to do a bit of driving that night. We didn’t go far, only about 40 minutes east to a Walmart on the outskirts of the city. It was far enough to ensure that we had a good night’s sleep, followed by a traffic free drive in the morning. It also put us right next to a Verizon store where Tim was able to zip in as soon as they opened to complete the final step of obtaining an unlimited data plan!
You heard me right, unlimited data!!!! Bring on the videos, streaming T.V. shows, and all that other stuff people who live in houses have enjoyed for years. The way we got the plan is a bit complicated, but for anyone out there looking for a bit more data, it’s worth the hassle. The basic premise is that we “Assumed Liability” of a someone else’s grandfathered unlimited line.
Right now there are a lot of these unlimited plans out there because Apple recently allowed people with current unlimited accounts to buy a subsidized iphone 6 via the Apple site and select unlimited data. These people then gave away (or sold) the subsidized unlimited plan, and re-sold the $199 iphone for full price. Since these unlimited plans are worth it for people like us, we were willing to take on a subsidized contract without the actual phone.
You can easily find one of these plans cheap on Ebay, or free on HowardForums. We got ours though Ebay for $5. The original owner of the plan called Verizon to say we were taking ownership, and then we called Verizon to have them switch ownership (while making sure they didn’t change the unlimited plan). The pain in the butt part was getting a sim card from Verizon. They won’t just give you a raw sim card, it has to leave the store in a phone. We ended up buying the cheapest 4g phone (with prime shipping) on Amazon for about $70. On Monday morning we brought it to the Verizon store, activated the phone and got a sim card.
That means we now have a sim card connected to a phone line with unlimited data under a 2 year contract. We can put that sim card in our MiFi Jetpack device and use that unlimited data exactly how we did when we had a data plan through Millenicom. The whole thing is a bit of a gamble considering that we’re now locked into a 2 year contract and things in the mobile internet world are constantly changing. Also there are lots of questions regarding how long the unlimited plan will truly remain unlimited. However, due to the recent AT&T suit over unlimited data, if Verizon decides to limit the bandwidth, or change the plan, that is considered a breach of contract and we don’t have to pay the early termination fee.
We also still have a 30G shared plan through AT&T hooked to our phones. We upped our plan at the beginning of October when they offered free doubled data, and may or may not keep it at that level. It’s always worked well for us to have both Verizon and AT&T data, because you never know which one will work best. So if the unlimited plan works as it should, then we should always have enough data wherever we go.
**** The word is out that Verizon Unlimited Plans will longer be transferrable as of 11/13/14 – check out this article from the Mobile Internet Aficionados for more details ****
Okay, back to our travel day. After our successful stop at the Verizon store we continued traveling east. Our destination for the week was Palmetto Island State Park near Abbeville, Louisiana. We could have jumped on I-10 and followed it all the way to Lafayette, then turned south toward the park – but that just sounded boring. Instead we got off I-10 in Winnie and followed a secondary road to Port Arthur and then south to the coast. On the map the route from Port Arthur to the Gulf coast looks like it’s filled with scenic lakes and canals. In reality those waterways play host to large ships and oil refineries.
Soon we were crossing the bridge into Louisiana. State number 22!
Highway 82, also called the Gulf Beach Hwy, is a flat, straight road with swampy grassland on one side and the Gulf of Mexico on the other. For most of the way we practically had the entire road to ourselves. Much better then traveling on the congested, semi truck-filled I-10.
I was keeping my eye out for a place to pull over for lunch, and when we came to a tiny town called Holly Beach we turned in to look for a spot. It ended up being a great choice since we were able to park right alongside the beach.
After a quick lunch we strolled along the deserted beach for a bit. It was very, very windy and the water was so stirred up that it looked like chocolate milk.
Holly Beach was filled with all kinds of shells, and we ended up with a hefty start to our gulf coast shell collection. I’m thinking it’s going to easily exceed our “western states” rock collection. Now we’re in search of a suitable container for displaying these beauties.
Holly beach is a very small beachside community some refer to as the “Cajun Riviera.” Over the years this tiny community where folks come to drive on the beach and try their hand at crabbing, has been devastated by several hurricanes. First in 1957 when Hurricane Audrey stirred up a 12 foot swell that crashed into the town, and again in 2005 when Hurricane Rita completely wiped out the entire town (some before and after pictures of the destruction caused by Rita). Only a few years later, in 2008, the town was flooded by both hurricanes Gustav and Ike. Much of the town still has a temporary look with lots RVs and trailers covered by metal shade canopies mixed in with empty lots. There are also some new permanent houses built on stilts to meet the strict building codes. Many of which had For Rent signs, which leads me to believe that this town doesn’t have many year-round residents.
It turns out that overnight parking is allowed on the beach in Holly, which tempted us to spend the night. But in the end we continued down the road while making a mental note to stop again the next time we come through here. We still had two hours left to drive, and while most of the journey was uneventful, we did get the pleasure of riding a ferry across a small canal.
This was our second time putting our house on a ferry. Unlike our first ferry crossing from Coupeville to Port Townsend, this one was short and free. The Cameron Ferry crosses the Calcasieu River/ship canal 24 hours a day at quarter of and quarter after the hour. We missed the quarter of ferry by a few minutes, which gave us a chance to look around the canal where they produce oil – not the kind you’re thinking of though. This area is known for fish oil, the non-edible kind that is used for cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.
The ferry holds 50 vehicles, but we didn’t need to worry about taking up several spaces since it was just us, one truck, and one motorcycle.
The ride only lasted a few minutes, and soon we were on the other side speeding along the Creole Nature Trail. It’s alway a pleasure to travel on these small side roads through tiny towns and long stretches of absolutely nothing. Much preferable to large highways and big cities with their endless twisting mazes of concrete overpasses and constantly merging traffic.
We arrived at Palmetto Island State Park just in time to settle in our spot before the early November dusk arrived. So far it’s been a very peaceful stay with hardly any other campers around, and lots of trails to explore. I’ll tell you more later in the week, and for now I leave you with a photo of our back yard.