“Disconnected” Destinations

“Disconnected” Destinations

(Manuel Gomez Flickr Photo)
(Manuel Gomez Flickr Photo)

I recently took a 10-day loop trip from my home in the San Francisco Bay Area with stops in Long Beach, Santa Catalina Island, Oxnard, and Morro Bay.

Before leaving home, I knew the hotels where I’d be bunking at during the first three stops on that road trip.

But what I didn’t know, but just had to know, was whether each would provide me with in-room WiFi service so I could remain “connected” to the “outside world.”

The first hotel on the itinerary is one I stayed at two years ago, and where I would be able to Facetime, e-mail, and Web surf with both my iPhone or iPad when I’m in my room.

But at the second stop, Catalina, I was only promised “high-speed Internet” connectivity, and that could have been an old-fashioned Ethernet port on the side of the room’s telephone.

(Aaron Logan Flickr Photo)
(Aaron Logan Flickr Photo)

This caused me to fret about whether before leaving home I should I rush out and buy a couple of adapters that would let me connect my mobile devices to an Ethernet cable and USB hub (both of which I own, but normally wouldn’t bother taking along on a trip).

While still fretting about that potential, “major” life-altering problem, I did a little on-line research and discovered that there are several WiFi hotspots on the island, plus service from my smartphone’s cellular carrier.

Thanks be to God for that!

I was told that the hotel at my third stop offers “complimentary WiFi,” but it was not clear whether that would be in-room or just in the hotel’s business center!

And the problem with my fourth and final destination was that because someone else handled the booking my accommodations, I didn’t even know where I would be staying, let alone if I’ll be able to “hook up” with anyone not within arms-reach! ().

While wringing my hands over the impending disaster of “no-Internet,” I came across Maciej Cegłowski‘s story for Wired.com: “I’m Going to Antarctica for the Penguins and to Hide From the Internet.”

What, no Internet on a ship full of 21st century tourists sailing to the Frozen South? Are they going to be aboard a vessel from the early 20th century captained by a recently-returned-from-the-dead Ernest Shackleton? What gives?

(Roderick Eime Flickr Photo)
(Roderick Eime Flickr Photo)

That piece reminded me of my July, 2013 visit to Lassen Volcanic National Park, in the “wilds” of northeastern California, where even making a cellphone call, let alone sending and receiving e-mail, finding my way through the remote landscape with Google Maps, or posting photos to Facebook and Instagram, was all but impossible.

Of course, I sheepishly admitted in the story I wrote about that trip, was that “[t]hirty years ago when I had a real ‘day job,’ I often vacationed in western U.S. national parks for a simple reason: It was difficult, if not impossible, to reach me by phone.”

Ceglowski echoed my thoughts about those long-gone days of heading off into the woods where I could commune with nature, but no one could communicate with me in real-time, when he said:

“Preparing for this trip has helped me remember the comfort I used to find in remoteness. Far from home, moody from jet lag, I could imagine the stacks of letters waiting for me in the mailbox or the friendly blinking light of the answering machine. I could picture myself walking into the office, surrounded by envious coworkers, and posing the traditional traveler’s question: ‘What did I miss?’

“Today I know I’m not missing anything. And no one is missing me. Remoteness has been neutered into distance, and wherever I go, my troubles will find me the moment I switch on my phone.”

(Miraculously, Tales Told From The Road editor, Dick Jordan, managed to stay “connected” during the entirety of his recent trip thorough Southern, Central, and Northern California.)

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