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1 Jul


It’s Canada Day today. Most Canadians will be celebrating by drinking beer and watching fireworks and stalking the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Me, I’m celebrating by going off the grid.

Well, going mostly off the gird. As little off the grid as I can manage. I am going to be clinging to the grid with with my toes, if I have to.

Kyle and I are taking the kids on a little canoe-camping trip into the Canadian backcountry. My husband loves this stuff. I sorta love it, if I can have a soft pillow with me, and also my iPhone. But here’s the thing: when you take off into the backcountry on a canoe, you are not only leaving the comfort of reliable 3g cellular networks, you are leaving the world of electronic anything. There are no plugs in the backcountry. And do you really want to take your Sony Vaio onto a massive body of water in a tippy, splashy little boat?

It’s these latter issues that are of most concern to me. I don’t need access to the Internet. I can go 48 hours without Tweeting. I think that I can go that long without posting to Instagram. The absence of 3g or wireless aren’t that big a deal, not for the amount of time that we’re talking about here. It’s the inhospitability of the circumstances to any electronics, at all. I tend to never move more than three or four feet without something electronic on my person. Smartphone. Camera. Video. E-reader. Even without wireless, I still use these things. I listen to music on my iPhone. I read magazines and books on my iPhone. I take photographs and video with it. In an earlier time, I would have packed some disposable waterproof cameras and some paperbacks and be done with it. I could still do that. But it’s just so inconvenient, and even inefficient, when you’re traveling by canoe and doing portage and needing to really limit what you carry. A smartphone is many orders smaller than print reading matter and proper camera and video gear. It makes sense, but for two issues: the risk involved in carrying it on water, and the fact that once its battery runs down, there will be nothing with which to charge it.

My husband and I spent much time this week deliberating over this. The ‘carrying over water’ issue is actually easy to resolve: Kyle is a former white-water rafting guide, and he knows about things like waterproof throw bags and ‘dry bags.’ Hell, he owns such things. So you put your don’t-get-this-wet-dammit stuff in the waterproof bag and you’re good. (And for the record, even without the dry bag, I’d been prepared: after the SeaWorld trip of a couple of weeks ago, I invested in a waterproof digital camera and a waterproof Go Pro video camera. No WAY was I having more water-adjacent adventures without proper recording devices. More on these in a later post.)

So the only remaining issue was battery power and recharging capabilities. Which, as it turns out, are also pretty straightforward to resolve: PORTABLE SOLAR CHARGERS. Which will be transported in the dry bag, of course. Mama doesn’t need to leave her toys behind.

Here’s the thing, though: I’m going to try to limit my use of things, at least to a level that approximates what might have been reasonable in a pre-iPhone era. I will take pictures, and video, and that’s about it. And we’ll see how I do. I’ll consider it training for the Apocalypse, or whatever world-historical event brings down the grid for once and for all and sends us all running to build compounds in the hills. THE MORE YOU KNOW.

Would you be able to go fully off the grid and forswear technology entirely? Could you give up being able to even take pictures? Think about that.