Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Zen and the Internet

As some of you know, Barrie and I spent a long weekend in Florida looking for a house.  We managed to find one that we truly love and took the necessary steps to acquire it.  Finding our house was the easy part.  Being without the internet for three days was tough!
We stayed in an inexpensive motel in Crystal River, Florida, to save some money.  It wasn’t a dump by any means, far from it.  It was an Econolodge but very clean and nice, newly remodeled and they took dogs, which was a plus.  I had stayed there a few years ago when I moved to Crystal River for a short time so knew it was a decent place.  They even still had my name in their computer system.
The sign said “Free Internet” and underneath “High Speed Wireless.”  That was a plus as well.  Since both of us have Facebook accounts and I usually post something on my blog every day, having the internet was important.  After we got settled, fed the kids, had our own dinner and cleaned up, we got out the computers.  (We both brought our laptops.)
We fired them up and attempted the steps to log in to a different, local network.  It didn’t work.  Both computers showed we were logged in but neither of us could access the internet. 
We tried again and again to no avail.  I called the front desk and asked about the system and was told that it “comes and goes” and that they have problems with it all the time.  The desk clerk said she would reset the modem and to try it again later.  Once again we met with failure.  So here we were in Florida, hoping to find a house, take pictures, send them to our loved ones, and talk about our trip on Facebook and in my blog, and we had no internet access.  That sucked.
We waited until the next morning and tried again.  There was still no signal and we couldn’t get online.  Since we had an appointment (and had to go to the Cooter Festival) we again turned off the computers and headed out.  (Although I did tell the front desk once again that we couldn’t get online.  It was the same woman and her response was the same.)
By this time we were wondering if the free internet was false advertizing and they didn’t really offer it.  We were gone most of the day, had a great time at the Cooter Festival, went to the beach in Clearwater, then returned to the room at about 7pm.  Once again, no internet.   I went to the office and talked to the clerk, a different woman, who also told me they “have trouble with it.”  She said she’d go reset the system and to try it again later.  I started to follow he into the back room when she said “You can’t come back here sir!”  I had to laugh because I’d been in there earlier that morning when I went to get an iron and board.
We went to dinner and ate some raw oysters, just the thing after a Cooter Festival.  When we returned to the room again and found no internet access, we got the bright idea to take our laptops to the office and try it over there.  The same woman was sitting on the sofa in the lobby this time, texting on her cell phone.  Did I mention it wasn’t very crowded?  Anyway, we told her our idea and she said “Sure.  Give it a try.”  She then went back into the other room to reset the modem and router again.  Still no luck.  It didn’t work in the lobby either.
We finally resigned ourselves to the fact that we weren’t going to have internet access for the duration of our trip.  We discussed moving to a different hotel for the last night but since we had a 9am appointment on Monday and wouldn’t be back to the room before noon, we knew it would be more trouble than it was worth.  The desk clerk suggested we go to McDonalds, Burger King or any of the other fast food joints in town (they don’t have a Starbucks here yet) and we could get internet access there.  So we took our laptops with us the next morning.
After our tour of Barrie’s new workplace we headed back toward Crystal River and stopped at a McDonalds to get something to eat, but more to try the internet.  We left the computers in the truck initially until I asked if they had WIFI.  I certainly didn’t want to carry a computer into McDonalds for no reason.  The woman took or order and said “Yes, we do have WIFI.”  So I went out and retrieved Barrie’s computer.  Finally, we were going to get online.
I turned on her computer and went through the steps to get connected.  Finally, we connected to the McDonalds network and clicked on the button that said “Free Internet Access.”  It was on now.  We were finally going to get to Facebook, post some pictures, I was going to post a blog for today and one for tomorrow…
The “Free Internet Access” button took us to another page that said “You can connect to the internet here for only $2.95 for two hours.  Or, if you already belong to the McDonalds network, enter your PIN to continue.”  So once again we were told that we had free internet access but in truth we had nothing.
Now, I realize $2.95 isn’t a lot of money and you’d think, since we were rather desperate to get online, we’d have just paid the money for the access.  But by now it was principle.  I’m truly tired of being told I can get a service for free, only to be told later that I have to pay for that free service.  So we simply said forget it and resigned ourselves to the fact that we wouldn’t have internet access until we returned to Kentucky.
We had a really great time overall.  The lack of internet certainly didn’t stop us from enjoying ourselves.  But you know – it’s funny how much not having it can interrupt what we do on a daily basis.  We’ve been in touch with family and friends and wanted to show them various aspects of our trip, but just couldn’t do it.  We couldn’t share the funny things either, such s the Cooter Festival, the old man walking the streets in Clearwater wearing nothing but silk shorts, black socks and tennis shoes, or the sign on a local bar that says “Beer, Spirits and Tattoos.”    Those will just have to wait until we get home.
This is a great place and a great part of Florida.  We’re very much looking forward to moving back and getting our house set up, complete with cable and internet service.  We can sit on the patio by the pool and blog, get on Facebook, and get acquainted with our new home, online as well as exploring in person.   Stand by for updates….


  1. Okay first, Cooter Festival? Almost afraid to ask, 'cause up here in WV, that is not something they celebrate in public.
    The McDonald's here is free Wi-Fi. I think eventually, they will all be free. It's really a small cost for a business, but can bring a steady clientele back.

  2. You read it correctly - the Cooter Festival. It's better explained in my new blog today.