Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Simple Life; or, Looking for Wireless in Whitehorse

It was about 6 months ago that I returned to Saskatoon after a 12,000-mile driving/camping trip to Alaska and Michigan and back. I loved that trip.

It was the simple life.

My friend Brenda and I slept in a tent when we didn’t have the opportunity of crashing on someone’s floor or, sometimes, slightly better conditions. (I dimly remember a bed every once in awhile. That was lovely.)

We bought a few groceries every so often and sometimes cooked over a fire. We ate out a few times, but not very often.

We stopped on almost every long driving day to get at least one walk or hike in. We stopped for bears and herds of bison crossing the road and took detours down gravel roads to see waterfalls. We experienced many beautiful things firsthand.

That is to say, in many ways, it was a very simple, physical, elemental time. And yet, besides the wonderful people we spent time with and the natural beauties we experienced, some of the things I’m most thankful for from the trip were technology-related. I’ll just list a few of them:

  • An iPod with FM transmitter: Since I was moving to Saskatoon, we had a U-Haul truck for about 30 hours of the trip. With only a radio in a vehicle to help the driver stay awake, an iPod with an 8-hour mix made just for the trip—and with audio books on it for the occasional change of pace—was just the thing. And if the other person was asleep, it was safer for the driver to not have to change CDs all the time.
  • A digital camera: I’d used a digital camera at work before, but this was my first vacation with one. We borrowed a digital camera from some of Brenda’s friends, and it was lovely to look at our pictures right away—and not have to worry about wasting film.
  • A laptop and wireless: I’d had a laptop before, but I’d mostly used it at home and had only gotten a wireless card a few months before, but I hadn't tried out the wireless away from home much. It was lovely—and sort of amusing—how excited we’d get when we found a coffee shop, ice cream shop, or restaurant with free wireless so we could send emails and get online.
  • A travel blog: Lots of people we knew wanted to hear about our adventures. But we didn’t necessarily want the rest of the world to hear. So I hunted up, which for a small fee would let us have a password-protected blog complete with 120 photos, maps to show where we were going and where we’d been, a guest book, and unlimited entries for two months. It was just the right way to tell our friends and families about our adventures without sharing them with the whole world. We could have just kept personal journals and told stories, but it wouldn't have been the same.

I’m definitely not the sort of person who likes camping with a TV and all the other conveniences. But I can’t deny that these items—made out of complex technology—enhanced the trip. For that matter, they give me an easy way to look back at it when I’m feeling nostalgic, as I am today. All I have to do is simply turn on my Sask-Alaskan Adventure mix on my iPod, open up my album in iPhoto and read my archived version of the blog on my laptop.

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