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Abilene, Abilene … PingWi-Fi Makes Camp Near Diamond

June 9th, 2009 · Tags:Cities · Coffee Shops · Gadgets · Satire · Sports

If Rat Packer Dean Martin can sing about it, then I can blog about it.

“Abilene, Abilene.”

On the first day of my first Wi-Fi blog, I watched my son throw a no-hitter for his high school baseball team. A great day of baseball proved to be the perfect beginning for a wonderful trip.

This week, baseball is back on my radar. My younger son’s team played in the Regional Finals of the Texas high school playoffs. (He too has pitched a no-hitter, although he plays outfield these days.)

So, it was baseball that took me to Abilene, but Wi-Fi that kept me in contact with the rest of the world. First up, I Googled Abilene and found there is a state park that is new to me, although it dates back 80 years. Perfect. Like my trip to Santa Fe, I opted for alternative lodging … my Coleman tent. More on that later …

What Abilene lacks in size, it makes up for in supermarket cool. Why doesn’t my (larger) hometown have a cool United or Market Street grocery near me? Great stores .. And yes, there is a free Wi-Fi hotspot inside the Abilene United, compliments of Peet’s Coffee???

Great produce and a café with Wi-Fi, what’s not to love? — 6 pings.

Although my “landlord” for the week was Abilene State Park, my tent is pitched just a few miles West of the hamlet of Buffalo Gap … population 400+. (I hear there is a renown, Texas interior designer based here in BG. Wonder if they could makeover my tent …)

The park is a bit off the beaten path, and isn’t extraordinary as far as scenic drives go … but it has an awesome swimming pool and some cool buildings forged from the local sandstone by the CCC in 1930s.



Let’s just say the crowd at a state park pool is diverse, in every sense of the word.  All education levels, all income levels, some appreciation of modern fashion … and yes a few mullets … Ha … even a young boy with a fresh Mohawk do.  “Better put some SPF 30 on those sidewalls boy!”  By the way, he blew his tough guy, Mohawk style points when he backed out, and climbed the ladder down from the high dive.

Also, in between the shouts of “Marco?” and the the retorts of “Polo!” I am pretty sure I overheard this: “Momma, when will I be fat enough to get a tattoo?”

Although I have yet to find Wi-Fi in the BuffG. I did find deer — there were more deer than you could shake a stick at last night, near the campsite and one doe eating bark from a tree this morning for breakfast roughage. More “Wild Kingdom” updates — the morning roadkill near the park included a porcupine, quills all erect. When was the last time you saw roadkill appetizers complete with toothpicks?

Speaking of sticks … I fired up the T-Mobile webConnect laptop stick … nada … no broadband signal found in the park. Now that is remote. Best feature of the park? The eerie red lights blinking at night throughout the hills, marking the huge windmill turbines that dot this part of the world.
Alas, no broadband and no Wi-Fi signal. No score.

Next up, I hit old faithful. Yes, Abilene has two Starbucks and I have made one my unofficial headquarters because it is on the same road as my camp — Buffalo Gap Road. The Bux has AT&T Wi-Fi and a great cross section of cowboys and college kids. Yesterday, I eavesdropped on a professional photographer as he shared photos on his computer with his subject — apparently a fan of Gold’s Gym and fitness contestant. Good stuff.

The Bux crew is great during the slow part of the day, but when rush hour hits, they are a bit slave-to-the-drive-through-window-ish, and frankly, I crave attention from my baristas — 5 pings.

Monks Table Art

More local fare — I swung by the Abilene T&P Train Depot, which houses a visitor’s office for the local convention and visitors bureau. They recommended a coffee shop called Monks. Nice lead. Monks is a bit funkier than anything I expected to find in Abilene.

Megan At Monks

Megan At Monks

Monks has tiger skin carpet, custom painted, artsy table tops and a sense of humor. Their t-shirts — perhaps a cynical play on the Keep Austin Weird or Keep Boulder Weird t-shirts. Monks shirts say: “Keep Abilene Boring.” I laughed and bartered for one, unsuccessfully I might add. Probably not a popular campaign in the eyes of the local chamber.

Monks got Wi-Fi? It do … Xanadoo is the provider. See:

Steve At Monks

Steve At Monks

The provider is a nice little surprise … here in Texas frontier land — “The Big Country” as the locals say. Xanadoo Company is one of the first and only 4G wireless internet operators in the U.S. to bring WiMAX to America’s Heartland. Launched in 2006, Xanadoo provides innovative, mobile broadband solutions to multiple cities in Texas, Oklahoma and Illinois. In early 2009, Xanadoo launched its first 4G markets in Springfield and Decatur, IL, with plans to expand 4G into current and future markets.

You Been Monked

Monks is a cool place — one which is not afraid to poke fun at itself and its surroundings … a bit slow in the day for a downtown shop though — 5 pings.

So … the team won and we tamed the Wi-Fi frontier, all in one trip. I twisted my bed roll and saddled my little metro-ish SUV, and made it back to Fort Worth in record time.

Next up, Inks Lake near Austin, and the Texas 4A High School Baseball state tournament in Round Rock. FYI … yes, I am told Inks Lake is Wi-Fi friendly! Got my baseball radar gun and my PingWi-Fi meter ready.

Know what I sayin?