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Being Out of Touch - Big Bend, TX

Miles and Miles of Texas

Another story from the recent Terlingua, West Texas RV road trip……

I don’t spend the majority of my time in populated areas.  Just hasn’t worked out that way which suits me just fine.  When I got the Suburban a few years ago, one of the things I wanted to do was improve cell phone coverage in remote areas.  Not so much because I love to yap on the phone all the time but more for safety in case I broke down in  a remote area and for a way for people to reach me in a family emergency.

I was already familiar with cell phone signal amplifiers because I have had one in the Old Girl since about Day One.  They are entirely necessary if you want internet access and cell phone coverage when your RV is in a remote location.  Just stands to reason I would install one in the Suburban as well, right?

I chose the Wilson Cellular/PCS dual band wireless in-vehicle bi-directional amplifier that is specific for the AT&T Wireless Network.  Wilson makes different models to accommodate the different bands that the various providers like Sprint, Verizon and AT&T use.  I just plugged the cellular amplifier into the back of a cradle.  Now, when the phone is in the cradle, it gets boosted and charged at the same time.  I found I can go just about anywhere with that cellular booster fired up and I never drop a call –except for Big Bend.

Aerial View of Nine Point Mesa. Terlingua Ranch, TX

It is 80 miles down Highway 118 from Alpine, TX to Terlingua, TX.  No phones-no gas.  We plan on getting a sat phone when we settle out there permanently.  You lose coverage when you drop over the 5000′ hill leaving Alpine and you don’t get it again until you crest the last hill headed in to Terlingua/ Study Butte.  Every trip we have made out there previously; this was the case.  The day we were to get our dirt work done, Miss K and I arrived early.  We decided to do some exploring east of the property and headed toward Nine Point Mesa.  Somewhere on the back side of Nine Point with not another building in sight, my phone beeped to let me know I had just received a text.  Miss K and I both looked at each other in amazement.   We were in a significantly remote area of Terlingua Ranch and I had a good strong 4 bar signal!   This area borders the north west corner of Big Bend National Park and there is some cell phone coverage within the park and we were in a long broad valley that stretched south in to the Park itself.   The only thing I could figure out was the signal was reaching us because there were no mountains in the way.  Miss K had no problem making several calls from that location.  Saved us a trip to Terlingua that we had planned later in the day to take care of just that.

We headed west  back over to the property and I monitored the cell phone signal as we skirted the southern base of Nine Point Mesa.  As long as the line of sight to the south was not blocked, we had a signal.  I kept waiting for it to fade away –and it eventually did as we got closer to the property.  The good news is we were  within a half mile of the property when it finally faded to nothing.  Miss K drove down to that crossroads later in the day and completed another call.   I am hoping we can get a cell phone signal at the RV homebase we are constructing on the property.  I have a yagi antenna setup I use to pull in the very weakest of signals.  It may just do the trick!

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