Review of Clear (or Clearwire) Internet Service

I have been using Clear for about a year in and around Portland, and my experience has been very up and down. There was a time when the service was terrible for a couple of months. Apparently they were experiencing capacity problems, but eventually they worked through it. Like any wireless service, it depends on where you are in relationship to the antenna(s).

I don’t have a phone with WiMax (which is what Clear is). Instead, my original intention was to use their WiFi hotspot puck to give me a signal for either my phone, my iPad or my laptop when I was away from my office. That experience was very disappointing. I almost never got a “green” signal on the puck, usually only “yellow” and most of the time “red.” Apparently the WiMax signal doesn’t penetrate indoors very well. I still carry the puck around in my bag, but almost never use it.

After a month or two of mostly bad experiences with the puck, I decided to try Clear as a replacement for my home internet service. I had been using DSL but wanted to move to something better. The Clear rep claimed that they could deliver home broadband speeds, so I bought their home router, which is made by Motorola. I’ve got it sitting up on a high shelf next to a window with line-of-site to the closest antenna about a quarter-mile away. I usually get a 4-bar signal (out of 5), which gives me about 2-2.5 MB/sec down and about 1 MB/sec up. That is slightly better than the DSL service that I had been using, but still just barely adequate to qualify as “broadband” in my book. I can do 1 high-speed thing at a time–watch a movie on Netflix, a baseball game on MLB.TV, a game of Starcraft on–but more than 1 at the same time is out of the question. And even that 1 thing is subject to frequent interrupts for buffering or dropouts.

For the last 6 months of so, the signal has been pretty dependable, but from time to time it will drop to 1-bar for no apparent reason. I suspect that it loses it’s lock on the nearby antenna, and falls back to a more distant antenna. When it does that, I have to reboot the router to get it back up to normal speeds. It will do it itself eventually, but it almost always happens when I’m in the middle of watching something so I don’t want to wait for it.

Overall, I would rate the service as no more than “adequate” most of the time, with it dropping down to “unsatisfactory” from time to time. Its good enough so that I don’t feel compelled to drop it and switch to another provider, but I expect that I will do that eventually. Every time my kids come over to visit, they complain about my internet speed. As a phone/4G service, its probably in the same ballpark as LTE, but I’d say that LTE has a brighter future than WiMax. As a home service, its “okay” especially if your choices are limited, but if you can get cable or fiber, you’ll be much happier.

I pay $57/month for two-device service on a month-to-month basis. I could save $5 by dropping the puck, but I do use it about once a month. I bought both the puck and the home router for $100 a piece in order to avoid the long-term contract, and with the expectation that I would sell them if I dropped the service.

Scott’s Big Adventure, Day Thirty One: Brookings to Florence

This was a travel day with no major stops. Probably be the same for the rest of the trip home. I’m back in Oregon now, and I’ve been pretty much everywhere on the coast that there is to go.

Since this is going to be the “Leisurely” portion of the trip, I slept in an extra hour, and took my time getting dressed and packed to go. I left the motel right at checkout time, then hit the road.

Gold Beach

I stopped for coffee and breakfast in Gold Beach, which is about 20 miles north of Brookings. The coffee shop was inside of a book store, but I didn’t bother looking around much. Just got a cappuccino and a bagel, found a table and got on the internet to write one of these trip reports, which took about an hour. Then back on the road again.

It was supposed to be sunny and in the 60’s today, but it there was heavy fog in Brookings that never lifted all day. Temperatures were in the mid-50’s the whole way. Nothing remarkable to report on this section of the ride. Just the standard beautiful scenery of the Southern Oregon Coast.


I was shooting for Florence and arrived there about 5:30pm, an hour before dark. I cruised up and down the “old town” strip right next to the river, and chose a motel just to the north of the bridge over the Suislaw River. It was low tide, so the river was low also. There was a great view of the dunes right across the river from my room, which lasted for an hour before it got dark.

I unloaded the Vespa, then walked up the street through “old town” Florence. Lots of touristy shops, but most were closed by the time I strolled by. No matter, since I was headed for Mo’s which was a couple of blocks away. They had a special, crab/shrimp/chedder melt sandwich on toasted garlic bread. Yummy! This is seriously the best thing that I’ve ever had at Mo’s. It’s not a regular menu item which is too bad because I would order it every single time!

Back at the motel, I flipped on the baseball game, which was rained out, then switched over the Monday Night Football and watched the rest of that game.

Tomorrow: Up the coast some more.

Scott’s Big Adventure, Day Twenty Eight: Chowchilla to San Francisco [feat. Monterey]

Once again, pretty much a travel day. The only real attraction on the agenda is Monterey, and even that is going to be a brief stopover. One thing that has become obvious to me is that I could easily have doubled the length of this trip in order to spend enough time at each of the stops. Take Monterey for example. I’ve been there before and seen the aquarium and cannery row and fisherman’s wharf. But if I hadn’t and I wanted to see that stuff, I’d need to allow at least a full day to see it all. Plus I’d want to go down to Carmel and go on the 17-mile drive (or whatever it is). Same with all these other places. I could easily have spent a week at the Grand Canyon, photographing it from all angles at all different times of the day. Oh well.

Heading out from Chowchilla more-or-less directly west towards the coast. In the Central Valley, all of the roads are pretty much straight. There are no geographical obstacles to go around. This valley is amazing when you think about it. A rich, fertile, intensively-cultivated area that’s bigger than a lot of entire countries. The midwest may be the nation’s breadbasket with all of the cereal crops, but everything else is grown here.

One thing that is surprising about California, if you’ve never been here before, is that even the “small” state highways are built to freeway standards. Highway 1, the winding coastal road, is a 6-lane freeway from Monterery up to Santa Cruz.


I took a short detour into Hollister, CA just to see what was there. I had a friend in college from Hollister, who always introduced the place as “The Earthquake Capital of the World.” Apparently, the are several major faults—including the San Andreas—which intersect right in the middle of town. You also see a lot of people walking around in “Hollister” t-shirts and sweatshirts. I didn’t see anything special about it. Just your typical medium-sized town.

There is an annual motorcycle rally that takes place here on July 4th. A “riot” that took place during the 1947 rally was the inspiration for the Marlon Brando movie The Wild One. But other than that, I can’t really see much here to make me want to come back.


I got into Monterey at about 1:30 in the afternoon. Like I said earlier, I’ve been here and done that. But I was hungry for some fresh seafood after spending a month east of the mountains, so I went to Fisherman’s Wharf. I stopped at the first stall and had a shrimp and crab sandwich. Yummy. Continuing on down the pier, there were about 4 or 5 places that were handing out samples of the clam chowder, so I had my fill of that too. I took a bunch of pictures and video which I’ll post someday.

Highway 1

Left Monterey at about 3pm, heading up the coast for San Francisco. As I said, Hwy 1 between Monterey and Santa Cruz is (mostly) now a 6-lane freeway. At Santa Cruz, it reverts to its 2-lane, windy coastal road. Not many people were on it as I traveled north. The weather was nice and sunny, but being on the coast, it was a little chilly.

My video camera’s battery was almost dead, so I didn’t shoot much of this leg of the trip. I only stopped once or twice to admire the view. There were a lot of roadside pullouts where surfers were congregated, but I didn’t stop at any of those. I wanted to get to SF before sundown so it would be easier to find my way around and find a motel.

San Francisco

Hwy 1 turns into a 12-lane (!) freeway as it enters The City and merges with I-280. Got there before sundown alright, but also right at rush hour on a Friday night. I cut across town and, mostly by accident, ended up cruising through the Castro District. Pretty colorful place. I’d never been here before and wanted to see it, so it was a happy accident.

I found a decent, fairly inexpensive motel near Civic Center, dumped off all my gear and headed to North Beach. This is an area in San Francisco where all of the Italian restaurants and shops are located. Just north of Chinatown. I parked the Vespa and wandered around taking pictures of the neon signs. Speaking of parking the Vespa, San Francisco has lots of motorcycle parking slots on the streets. Just about every block has a section of motorcycle parking slots, 8-10 in a row. And the parking meters only charge 10-cents an hour! Portland could take a lesson from this.

I had dinner at my favorite SF restaurant, The Stinking Rose. No vampires in this place. Everything is made with garlic. They say that they season their garlic with food, and they aren’t kidding. One of the standard appetizers is Bagna Carta, which is a pan of roasted garlic that you spread on bread. Yummy. I had spicy shrimp fettuccine for dinner. After eating at this place, you’ll smell like garlic for days.

Stopped at City Lights bookstore. Powell’s is better.

I also spotted a few places to have coffee tomorrow. Nothing like having a cappuccino at an Italian coffee shop.

I love San Francisco. So many cool places to eat and drink. A perfect place to ride a scooter. Other than the occasional killer earthquake, why live anywhere else?

Plan for the Rest of the Trip

I’ll start heading up the coast tomorrow. According to my GPS, its about 750 miles from here to Astoria. I could do that in about 3 days, but I think that I’m going to stretch it out into maybe 5 days and take it easy a bit. Before this trip grew into Scott’s Big Adventure, it was originally going to be just a nice, leisurely ride down the coast of Oregon, stopping for a night every 50 miles or so. It won’t be quite the same, but from here on up, I’m going to only ride for about 3 hours a day, then check into a motel and try to get caught up on these blog entries, and picture postings, and maybe a video or two, all before I get back.

If everything goes well, I should be back home sometime on Wednesday or next week. Ciao.

Scott’s Big Adventure, Day Twenty Seven: Yosemite to Chowchilla [feat. Yosemite Valley]

coming soon

Yosemite Valley

Out of the Mountains


I’m spending the night in Chowchilla, a medium-sized agricultural town just off of Hwy 99 in central California. The smell of organic fertilizer is in the air :-) I spotted a little espresso shop on the main drag, which I’m going to be checking out in the morning.

Tomorrow I should reach the coast. I’m aiming for Monterey, then up to coast on Hwy 1 to San Francisco.