It was so unexpected. On an otherwise beautiful day, I was checking into the Lake Yellowstone Hotel in the northeast corner of Yellowstone National Park when a stranger delivered the shocking news. No sir, there is no cell phone service in this area of the park, and no, the hotel has no Internet connection.
I was briefly disoriented. How can this be? What if someone needs to reach me? What if I miss something? What if the world ends?
I looked around. Other people seemed to be happily going about their business. Here was a family on their way to lunch, a couple headed out for a hike, people acting normally.
And I suppose there are people reading this who are thinking to themselves, what’s the big deal? Golis, you need to get a life.
I admit it. I find myself among the folks who have become dependent on cell and Internet connections.
In fact, an Internet connection can be a valuable tool for traveling. (CNET, the tech news service has a guy driving around the West this summer, reporting on how he is using technology in his travels.)
For our recent road trip, we used the Internet (available on smart phones) to check out and contact hotels and restaurants, to map distances, to keep up with the hometown news, to send photos to family, to post to Facebook and Twitter, to research hours that businesses are open, to monitor the weather, to arrange visits with friends, to send e-mail and text messages, and to search for the nearest restaurant or caffeine fix (using the terrific iPhone ap called Around Me).
In a word, the Internet was useful. It improved our vacation. It saved time.
When techies find themselves without Internet and cell service, they say they have gone “off the grid.” The term implies that they are getting relief from the incessant rush of information, but it also implies that they are living in a more primitive state. Roughing it, as it were. Like living without electricity in an earlier time. Say, 20 years ago.
We survived our stay at this beautiful old yellow hotel in America’s oldest national park, where they still have phones with wires connected to them. But I never got over the feeling that something was going on in the outside world, and I was missing it.
Am I a slave to technology? Probably. But friends who complain about all the new technology don’t seem to mind using it at the same time. Want to give up your cell phone, e-mail, the iPod, monitoring stocks or baseball scores online, digital photos?
Good luck with that.