Thanks to all for your comments and advice!
Answering some of the questions & comments:
Steve: Most -- hopefully all -- of the time I'm hoping my big omni-directional WiFi antenna will do the trick. Its size will pull down more signal than a stock unit and, by sticking it on the roof of my trailer I'm hoping it'll get the best possible sight-line to a campground transmitter.
Problem is many campgrounds use cheap-cheap-cheap little WiFi routers with stubby little antennas that aren't nearly as good at pulling in a signal. Adding a parabolic reflector should help focus my outbound signal on the cheap antenna so it can hear my signal better. The hard part, as Orlen points out, is gettng the reflector pointing the right way. A few degrees off and you get nada. It's a tricky business.
Which is why I'm making a reflector thatis easily removed or installed. I'll slide it down over the antenna and point it in the right direction when all else fails. It's an experiment.
Terry: A reflector made out of 1/4" mesh won't catch the wind, which would knock the reflector out of alignment.
Darwin: My setup will be the same kind of thing, except I'm using a router that'll allow us to connect two (or more) laptops to our "access point." The router itself will use "open source" software that'll allow me to monitor signal strength and tune my antenna position.
Orlen: I was hoping you'd pop in. I am not an antenna expert, and your comments are much appreciated!
I have no clue how accurate the vendor literature for the antenna I bought is. I've seen comparable antennas advertized for 9, 10, and 14dBi. Chances are the marketing materials are overly opimistic and it's actual performance is much less, but it should be a big improvement over the 10cm antenna the router came with. I'm hoping that, by tripling my antenna size and optimizing its location (on the roof outside our Reflectix-aluminum-Mylar-sheilded trailer) will be enough, but some campground signals are so weak . . .
The design I picked up on is a simple 11" wide parabolic trough. Easy to build and easy to point with no verticle orientation. I picked 11" because it's compact and the parabolic curve I'm using for making a plywood former will fit on a single piece of printer paper.
Why I'm spending time on this right now when I'm already swamped I'm not really sure. I'll post pics and results when I (eventally) get this thing up and working sometime this summer.