Off the Grid

How much trouble do you have pulling the plug?

I spent the long weekend on Wolfe Island, Ontario, a place better known for cows, shoreline cottages, and wind turbines than lightning fast Internet. Where we were staying, they didn’t even have a phone, so from the time we left Friday evening through Monday night when we returned home there was no internet. No email, no blog comments, no Facebook, no Twitter.

I looked across the water in the evening to the lights of Kingston, a city with free wi-fi on every corner and didn’t care. There was no shaking, moaning, or sweating. Unlike caffeine withdrawal, there was no nausea or vomiting.

There were, unfortunately, lots of cell phones. For my money, mobile phones are the most disruptive devices on the face of the earth –in fact I’d rather sit next to someone blowing on a vuvuzela than a person talking on the phone. That’s really saying something.

At one point over the weekend, someone needed to talk to a person sunbathing out on the rocks. “Does she have her cell phone?” We could see her from where we stood. It wasn’t that long ago that you’d just have to walk over there and speak to them — or better yet, leave them alone with their moment of peace.

Do yourself a favor this Summer and unplug, even for a few days at a time. It’s not as painful as you think. Who knows? It might suit you. For example, I even managed to avoid the free wi-fi at the Thruway rest stops all the way home. I did stop to use the bathroom, but no Internet.

16 thoughts on “Off the Grid

  1. The person laying on the rocks would have been left alone by me. I’m not a fan of calling someone X amout of feet from me. I either get up and walk my butt over there or I just leave them alone.

    When I am at my parents house my mother likes to call people in the house (she’s downstairs and calls someone upstairs and vice versa). When she does it to me I don’t answer or I pick up and then hang up immediately.

    She gets mad because I don’t answer. I tell her that I refuse to answer a phone call from someone I am in THE SAME HOUSE WITH!

  2. We once spent a weekend in a room with no TV..after 15 minutes of opening every closet and trying to figure out where they hid the tv, it hit me….we may have to TALK to eachother…..oh the horror.
    Turned out to be one of our best weekends ever.

  3. Wolfe Island. Gee, it’s been a while, but I spent a few summer days there doing the same kind of unwinding. A great visit, made somewhat less favorably memorable by a slight contretemps with the U.S. Customs and Immigration folks when I got off the ferry at Cape Vincent.
    …but that was in another lifetime. Wolfe Island itself was quaint and charming. Great off-grid choice.

  4. Donald: That’s interesting. Before 9-11 the US Border Patrol at Cape Vincent was a very (very) low key presence. Now they have computers, serious looks on their faces, and some sort of radiation detectors that scan each car getting off the ferry.

  5. I’m in China right now, and I still use the internet a lot. To read my news, to read your blog and others, to update mine, to download movies for night on the train, to talk to my boyfriend and family on Skype.. it’s hard for me to detach, even this far away. I also have a cell phone that works here, although it’s only for emergencies. I try to keep these activities to just before and after bed, although right now, I’m quarantined in my hotel room by my uncle due to illness.

    I am an internet addict, in the sense that I cannot just leave it alone for two months.

  6. I spent three days camping without cell service and instead of leaving my phone on and drain the battery searching for bars, I turned it off. When I turned it on, I had around 2 voice mails and roughly 12 texts. My friends and family knew I was going out of town… but they still tried to contact me for no reason at all. Escaping technology was great, but as my friends and I pointed out, the moment we passed into cell service, we all were glued to our screens and the car ride was silent for awhile, while we all “caught” up.

    I think we’re all quite addicted! So I agree, it’s nice to be off the map for awhile!

  7. Great one PaulD, that’s funny!

    Is it a symbol of our freedom that we actually get to leave the country anytime we want to? Imagine living in communist countries where they didn’t/don’t let you out without good reason. Like in East Berlin?

    We used to go camping with a pop-up trailer when I was a kid and we stayed at those campgrounds with all the comforts of home, but I always wanted to go to a rather secluded place in the mountains with a lake. I could survive without electricity for a few days but I would definately need someplace to go to the bathroom in relative comfort.

  8. I don’t do camping but every now and then, as internet addicted as I am, I have a down day where I just unwind from checking blogs and FB. Pull out a book or watch a good movie (but the book will do as well so the TV isn’t necessary), maybe write a poem or two.

    Enjoy some scenery. Well, that’s one I used to do. Not so much any more now that walking’s become so difficult and I don’t much walk for pleasure any more. Used to — big time. Head out the door and roam around. Explore and see what I can find. Miss that.

    Going to Teri Conroy’s farm was great and though I knew about it from her blog must say it beat the electronic stuff hands down. Especially watching my grandson with the animals and being awed at what a natural he was with them.

    I went to a cell phone instead of a landline years ago because it got so the cell was cheaper (and I was fed up with Verizon and their s***ty attitude that I had to put up with them because they were a monopoly, this was just after their takeover of the landlines) and am still on my first Virgin Mobile. But here’s the thing. That cell not only can you turn it off, you don’t even have to bring it with you.

    Yes, I was just as bad with landlines. Whenever I felt the need for a little me time, I’ve never felt that I had to answer that ringing phone or the knock on the door. Let them think I’m not home.

    Yeah, I know. I’m so sociable and friendly.

  9. Funny. I was on Wolfe Island about two weeks ago for a bike ride during a camping trip. The American border guards at Cape Vincent are as stern as the Canadian guards on Wolfe Island are friendly. We were only on bicycles, and while the Canadians couldn’t have been nicer, the Americans had a whole slew of questions for us.

  10. I just got back from a week of camping… in a tent… at Lake Eaton Campground in Long Lake. No cell service in Long Lake and certainly no tv whil camping and I didn’t miss either, read several good books, relaxed and spent some time on the trails.
    And I lived to tell the tale!

  11. Friends and I go to Kingston every Sept to go wreck diving. TONS of wrecks out there, some really great diving!

    Did you notice the old fort in Kingston? That was built to protect the Canadians from US! Way back then, we weren’t on such good terms and they felt the need to keep an eye on those expansionist Americans.
    With good cause, too, as we tried to invade Canada at the start of the War of 1812 and got our butts kicked.

    Took the Cape Vincent ferry once and they loaded a huge RV on board with our convoy of 5 trucks and cars. The RV had the rear end sticking out over the water and the loading ramp was left half down during the trip to accommodate it. Scary ride…..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *