Unplugging: One family puts away technology
No Twitter, no cell phones – one family was without gadgets for six days and, says Dad, was better for it.
(Page 2 of 2)
Alongside our tent, sleeping bags and fishing poles, we made sure to make room for a collection of gadgets, cords and chargers.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
We brought along two digital cameras to document our trip. I took an e-reader pre-loaded with books, figuring it was lighter than a clutch of paperbacks. And I dug up an old iPod to play music on our drive.
Our car doesn’t have a built-in navigation system, so I planned to use one in one of the Samsung phones. I also wanted to be able to supplement the music on our iPod with music streamed from the Internet. And we wanted to be able to call our parents to let them know we were OK and to receive messages from our pet sitters in case they had trouble.
I took the two loaner phones because I assumed they were most likely to get signals in the remote area of Lassen in which we planned to camp. Coverage maps suggested we would be able to get service from AT&T but not from Verizon. Since I had phones that connected to both networks, I took one for each, figuring I would hedge my bets.
Things were fine until we got close to the eastern entrance to the park. From then on, we were basically out of cellphone range. Except for the two days that we ventured back to the more visited areas of the park, where service was available in some spots, we didn’t have wireless access.
There were some downsides to being off the grid. Google Maps will work without cellphone service — as long as the app already has downloaded the maps you want — but it’s not as accurate. Whether that was the problem or just plain bad data, as we approached the entrance to our campground, it misdirected us down a dirt forest road that grew less navigable with every yard we traveled. Our family sedan, weighed down with all our stuff, almost certainly would have gotten stuck if my wife hadn’t wisely prompted us to turn around.
Thanks to being disconnected, I missed some text message updates on our cat, didn’t see an email from a source, and caused my parents to worry because I couldn’t check in to let them know we were safe.
All in all, though, I enjoyed being off the grid. I was more relaxed and spent more quality time with my wife and kids. Heck, I was even able to smell the flowers, in this case a wonderfully fragrant field of lupine. I can’t wait to do it again.