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.
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?
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.)