I came to the wilderness to live a simple life. When I first got here (in the early 80′s), correspondence was by snail mail. Care packages were still sent by my family once or twice a summer. There was no radio or TV reception and you had the choice of a party phone line, or if you were lucky a private phone line.
In the 90′s I remember trying to get TV reception with antennas, foil, forks, whatever might bring in a stronger signal. In the winter, on a cold clear day we could get a vague outline on a snowy screen of a couple of the major networks. But at least we could hear them. In 95 my father bought us a Direct TV dish for Christmas – so now we were connected to the outside world. Of course this meant spending more time in front of the TV and less time outdoors ( a very lazy habit). I wish we could just get the news for a couple hours each day then turn it off.
By the late 90′s we were introduced to internet via dial up. Now we could e-mail relatives (in the outside world) to keep closer contact. When I was pregnant with Jaret, Bob bought me a car phone (you know the big bag phone – pre-cell phones). We got an emergency responder plan, with 30 free minutes per month – since we were EMT’s and Fire Fighters. We hardly ever used the thing but it made us feel safer when I would travel alone, or later with one or both of the children to Duluth – especially in bad weather.
Faster, faster, bigger, better the world keeps spinning. I can’t decide if I can’t keep up or not, but when running the resort in a competitive, technological world it’s almost like Darwin’s Theory of evoloution – so I have to try to be fit to survive. If I just lived in the woods, I would most likely do without most of today’s gadgets and devices.
We have graduated from dial up to Satellite internet, but with everyone and their children coming with their computers, i-pods, i-pads, kindles smart phones etc, we are unable to keep up with the demand for instant gratification and connectivity. Most guests especially children, do not understand that we do not have broadband capability available to us (yet). We have provided a computer for guests to check e-mail, and keep in contact if necessary for business or family matters. For many that is enough. They came here to escape the pressure.and hectic pace of city life; but some rely on the gadgets to keep their children engaged and get angry that we don’t provide free internet to all. They don’t understand the limits of satellite bandwidths, and why we can’t allow downloading of movies, constant You Tube viewing, online gaming even like Farmville etc. One Apple Itunes Update can wipe out our service for the day.
Now cell phone service and broadband are moving into the area. Most likely cell service will be available this coming winter; broadband by next spring if not sooner. As a business owner, we need the service to compete. But it makes me wonder if it will interfer with kids truely learning to appreciate the wilderness; It’s quiet peace , beauty and wildlife.
The wilderness can teach you many things: patience, improvision, creativity, appreciation and survival.
Over the past couple years I’ve seen more children who are uncomfortable and fidgity if they can’t text or talk to their friends, play farmville, watch TV or movies. Kids who think rocks, sticks, mud, board games, crayfish and butterflies are not entertaining enough. I have been saddened by those children and the parents who shorten their vacations because their children can’t seem to adjust. But I have also seen parents who are thankful that we did not have TV, cell or internet, and who spend the days hiking, canoeing, fishing, watching birds, catching moths and catapillers and just being a family.
Since posting the news on facebook I’ve had many guest replies. Many concerned for the change, some promising to turn their cells off (or throw them in the lake), others promising not to waste their northwoods time online. In the end you will have to decide what you want from your Northwoods vacation – to come north and experience all the wilderness has to offer, or to do what you do now just another place.