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Verizon Creates a New Camping Mecca

I don't talk about specific dispersed campsite locations and resent it when other people do. Why this should be so might be the subject of a later post. Today I want to tell you about a large area of dispersed camping that is now attractive, thanks to it finally getting Verizon cell coverage. How many times does a huge block of high quality public land open up? Actually it isn't all that often that Verizon adds a whole new tower in a rural area. This is news, folks.

For years it has been a pleasant drive through southwestern New Mexico, going from Silver City to Springerville AZ on US-180. There were many dirt roads heading off into interesting public lands, but I seldom stopped for long, because there was no Verizon cellphone/internet coverage. What a pity.

From the Catwalk, near Glenwood, NM.
This year I was delighted to pick up a strong signal near Glenwood, NM. I pulled over to scan the horizon for a new tower. The only one visible was on a tall mountain three miles west of Glenwood. The tower wasn't new; previously it offered signals for the forest service or microwave repeaters or something other than Verizon. But after driving into holes and coming out, and watching the bars on the cellphone, that is where the signal must have been coming from.

This was almost too good to be true. There is no better cell tower than one that is on a tall mountain, with a huge viewscape of a general area.

Old house with mountain stream in front, in the semi-ghost-town of Mogollon, NM

I felt like celebrating, so I actually went to a small cafe and ordered a complete meal, with dessert. (I only do that about four times a year.) I made quite a nuisance of myself interrogating locals about the location of the tower, when they got it, etc. It is usually a mistake for a traveler to ask informational questions of any kind. It is astonishing how ignorant most people are of just about everything, except the daily drudgery of their jobs, the drive to work, and what TV programs are on tonight. Even worse is how little people care about where the necessities of life come from, and how they are created.

The waitress said that the forest service had been blocking Verizon from adding the new service for years, because of "signal interference." I suspect the real reason issue was cost-sharing on that mountain: road maintenance, electricity, backup generators, etc.

The result of forest mismanagement in the Gila National Forest, last year.

One of the charms of the Glenwood area is how old-fashioned and under-populated it is. There are few places like that left in the West. Most of the dispersed camping is 5000 to 7000 feet in altitude, so the area is best during the shoulder seasons. 

If you visit this area, you'd better not expect a cutesie-quaintsie tourist town, full of coffee shops and art galleries. And you'd better stock up the pantry before showing up. There are few groceries available, and no automobile repair shops -- not even a place to fix a flat tire. You'll have to be towed 70 miles to Silver City. But there are a couple restaurants and gas stations, and a surprisingly good public library that is generous to visitors.


Anonymous said…
That's very good news, Boonie. Thanks for letting us know.

Verizon's stated goal is to convert their entire system to LTE by the end of this year, so that tower is probably high-speed. Wouldn't make sense for them to have to upgrade a new installation within the same year. Unless they're short on parts and using an old unit temporarily.
Now now, Ted, don't get greedy for 4G in Glenwood NM! I was celebrating having any "G" in that area. Last year I had a car breakdown with no way to call my towing service.

I won't vouch for the speed of the new Verizon service in Glenwood since I only have a 3G mi-fi.

But 4G is still of interest to non-video people in the sense that it uses low frequency (800 MHz) carrier bands, and these travel further than higher frequency bands.