Why do some people feel the need to bring their high-tech toys with them when visiting the great outdoors?
We all know that technology is taking over the world. But where do you draw the line? Where should we dig in and build that Maginot Line to prevent technology from taking over absolutely everything?
The other day, there was a discussion on the radio about bringing your high-tech toys with you during camping trips to the great outdoors. Imagine that: You canoe to some out-of-the-way lake in Algonquin Park, set up your tent, build a campfire, and then open up your laptop to check your email! Is there no one else who sees something wrong with this picture? But more and more people are doing just that. One person called in and described how excited his son was to climb the tallest peak in Killarney Provincial Park and, from there, immediately called his mom on the cell phone! Another caller complained about trying to relax at a campfire only to hear Dora the Explorer from one direction and Barney the purple dinosaur from another!
Now, we're not big outdoors people, but we do enjoy our breaks away from the hustle and bustle of the big city. This summer, we were able to poach on my sister-in-law's boyfriend, Peter, twice with visits to his cottage. His cottage is on a beautiful lake in the middle of a scenic nowhere some four hours from our home. Watching the water and the wildlife thereon is a great way to relax and escape the world of stress and anxiety.
I do enjoy our visits to Peter's cottage. And for days after our visits, my dear wife likes to read the real estate rags, looking for our dream cottage. I always have to explain that it's a lot less trouble, and ultimately a lot cheaper, to just rent a cottage for a week or so during the summer (or take advantage of friends or relatives!). With a rental, you get to enjoy the lake without all the hassles of maintenance and driving there every other weekend, battling all the cottage country traffic, which can be worse than the westbound 401 at dinner time.
Take Peter, for example: Over the past two years, he has spent a lot of time and money renovating his cottage. A big garage is understandable. You need one to hold your snowmobile and jet ski. But his dream cottage also included a humongous great room where he can watch his DVDs in luxurious comfort. Again, another fine example of someone missing the point of cottage life!
But back to that call-in show on the radio. There were indeed quite a few misguided souls who not only enjoy the use of Wi-Fi connections while camping, but actually seek out connected campgrounds. This may sound like the ultimate in silliness, but one person described how he was able to identify wildlife by doing a Google search. In the old days, we just opened up our Peterson Field Guide. What's next? Binoculars that can automatically identify the animal you're looking at?
Of course, one of the motivations for being connected during vacation is to be on call in case your boss needs you. Pshaw! You don't want to hear the expletives I'd use if my boss wanted me available during my vacation! Maybe I'm unusual, but I've always used all of my assigned vacation. And I've always enjoyed not being accessible. Perhaps there are people who think they're indispensable to their employer? Well, I for one would never want to be in that position. No salary would pay for the stress of being the most important worker in the IT department. Furthermore, having irreplaceable employees is a good recipe for trouble for any IT manager. Why then do IT workers delude themselves that they're indispensable? That too is a good subject for a rant. Maybe someone else will write that one.
And if you absolutely have to be connected, why bother at all with actually visiting the wilderness? Just go online and look at all the nice pictures of this world's wild and unexplored spaces. Heck, you can even see some nice photos of our trips to Peter's cottage—taken, of course, with the one high-tech toy I'd never go to cottage country without: my digital camera!
For that matter, many city dwellers may not even be aware of wild spots they can visit within their own city. Take my own burg, Toronto, as an example. Sure, squirrels, raccoons, and skunks are common pests. I even chased one incredibly huge raccoon out of my garage! But within mere blocks of our home, we've also seen fox and deer roaming the streets. Furthermore, there's a wooded area nearby where the white trilliums and jack-in-the-pulpits bloom in the spring. Sure, the urban wilderness areas have a few problems. You can never escape the noise from the streets, highways, and railroad lines. And unfortunately, you don't want to skinny dip in the streams and rivers flowing through those parks.
But getting back to the real wilderness parks. If the visitors to the woods can be connected, what about the animals who live there? Shouldn't the black bears be able to look at a Google map to see where the good garbage dumps are? A beaver could log in and look up the locations of the undammed streams. Animals such as moose and deer and turtles could use the online maps and forums to avoid the really busy highways and share the locations of hunters and trappers.
Bottom line: Please leave those high-tech toys at home during your wilderness outings. Enjoy the great outdoors as it was meant to be enjoyed, with all that nature has to offer, things like peace and quiet, beautiful sunsets, and majestic scenery, along with other pleasures such as mosquitoes, black flies, and poison ivy.