A Tale of Two Campgrounds, aka the Dallas Wifi Quest

One bittersweet Monday morning, we packed up our things, hooked up our camper, and waved good bye to friends new and old in Houston. It was sad to leave but there were more good times to be had and more memories to be made. We were headed to the Dallas area, where we planned to explore a new city and visit with more friends that we hadn’t seen in far too long.

There are four Thousand Trails campgrounds that are considered to be in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, with varying distances to those cities. Since we were coming from the south and our friends live on the southern side of Dallas, we chose Lake Whitney which is south of Fort Worth off of Interstate 35.

Lake Whitney Thousand Trails

They say everything’s bigger in Texas. I don’t know if it’s true of everything, but in this case it definitely held true. The sites themselves were ok and the campground was relatively well-maintained, but it was all so spread out! Herb is a thirsty car, strong and ideal for towing, but not optimal for driving around campgrounds. We generally prefer to walk, but even parked in the closest set of campsites, it was hardly a convenient walk to the common areas and buildings.

We also had zero telephone or internet reception. We were working on expanding our opportunities for location independent jobs and had recently started some new initiatives. Spending two weeks (as we had reserved at Lake Whitney) without access to phone and needing to travel to the rec center for access to wifi just wasn’t reasonable for us. So we changed our plans. Instead of spending two weeks at Lake Whitney and then two days at Lake Tawakoni (east of Dallas) we would do the reverse. We changed our reservation and after two nights we packed up again and headed to Lake Tawakoni.

Lake Tawakoni Thousand Trails

Moving to Lake Tawakoni was only a slight improvement. We had a weak phone signal and no internet reception. We parked near a bathhouse that looked like it had a wifi router outside, but no connection. We talked to the receptionist, who confirmed there was no internet service available in the campground. Our frustration levels were high by this point, so we parked the trailer and headed to the nearest bigger town and a Chik-fil-A, for dinner but just as much the play area and the wifi. We talked to our friends in Dallas and after some back and forth, including taking pictures and driveway measurements, we decided that our best option was to move to their house and park in their driveway.

We drove back to Lake Tawakoni, changed our reservations again, and prepared to move yet again. When we returned to the campground, however, there was an internet signal coming from the suspected router. It reached easily to our campsite. But the decision was made and our reservations changed. And besides, parking at their house would give us a lot more time to visit with our friends. We had planned to be at the campground to give them space to go about their regular, middle-of-March routines of school and Boy Scouts and church and volunteer work. Our intentions were good, but in the end, with good communication and boundaries, spending 10 days living in their driveway was a great solution!

A bit of a squeeze in the driveway, but only after a neighbor complained and the township made us move the camper from the gravel driveway on the side onto an “improved surface”

In the end we went back to Lake Tawakoni Thousand Trails for a few days as we headed back east from Dallas. With the internet working well, we were able to catch up on school and work, enjoy a leisurely pace with lots of walks and a little bit of exploring the local area. The pool was closed, so no “school and pool” routine exactly, but along the same lines.

Thousand Trails
Spoiler alert: We were geocaching!

We chose not to try the other two Thousand Trails campgrounds in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. They didn’t look any better on our T-mobile coverage map than the other two, they were farther away from where we wanted to visit in the Dallas area, and they were out of the way of our overall route since we were starting to head back east after Dallas. We were tired of moving from campground to campground, and without knowing for sure if there would be coverage, it felt like too big of a gamble.

What did we learn?

If we were simply camping for a week or two as a vacation, being off the grid wouldn’t be a problem. It might even be a welcome break, forcing us to unplug for a while. When travel is our lifestyle and we are growing more and more dependent on internet and phone-based jobs, we need to look into expanding our connectivity. This probably means either a signal amplifier or adding another phone plan with another carrier. Perhaps both. We’re not eager to add to our expenses, but sometimes you have to spend money to be able to make money.

maslows hierarchy of needs
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, updated version. I saw this on Facebook and it made me laugh. But there’s a bit too much truth in it as well…

We haven’t generally checked the reviews that others write about campgrounds before we go. This is particularly true of the Thousand Trails network campgrounds, since we don’t pay to stay there. Our standards are not super high and we find that a lot of these reviews focus on issues that don’t matter so much to us. But in the future, before we plan an extended stay, we will check some reviews and hopefully find out about connectivity issues ahead of time. Coverage maps are not as reliable as one might wish, as it turns out.

If we return to the Dallas area and are unable to stay with our friends, we won’t hesitate to return to Lake Tawakoni. It is unlikely that we would return to Lake Whitney for more than a night or two.


By the way, we did actually do more in Dallas than move from campground to campground in search of wifi! Stay tuned for a more on that in our next post!



2 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Campgrounds, aka the Dallas Wifi Quest

    1. Thanks Karen! That’s the plan! Sometimes life gets in the way and causes some delays, but I’m working hard at being more consistent! Thanks for your patience and encouragement!!

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