Blog

Back on the Grid

Spending five days “off the grid” was not as bad as I thought. I survived and even enjoyed it.

Well, truth to be told, it wasn’t five full days.

It was 90 hours and 43 minutes.

On the Road…

Lake George

Last Wednesday we drove five hours to Rogers Rock State Park  at Lake George NY.

DH drove and I navigated. I used Maps for directions and Waze for traffic hazards and police sightings. I texted friends, played a few games, and Googled. For example, DH wanted to know, “What’s the name of the mountain near Rogers Rock?” and “When is full moon?”

I knew I Was Losing It…

I read that there was no cell service at the campground but suddenly, about 20 miles south of the park, the signal disappeared. There was a little blip of service when we passed through a small town but after that, nothing. I checked for bars and my phone showed the words, “No Service.”

I felt a little queasy.

But then, as we entered the campground, I picked up a WiFi network!
Its name was, “Not Free WiFi.”
I chuckled in spite of my disappointment.

I kept hoping.

At check in I asked the ranger, “Do you have WiFi?”
He laughed. “Nope. And no cell tower either.”

Augh! This is real. I’m officially “off the grid.”

Socializing without Phones…

After we set up our tent, we walked around the campground. As was planned, my sister and her family were there. They were first-time campers but set up their site like pros.

My sister’s neighbors and friends had lakefront sites. That night we joined a group of them for a campfire and drinks by the lake. The only light was from the fire and flashlights – no phone screens.

I noticed how the sounds of the night creatures mingled with the human voices. The lake shimmered in the moonlight with a darkness and beauty that I might have missed if I had a signal.

Let’s Pretend…

When DH and I finally crawled into our tent, we were tired. But I must admit that before I went to sleep that first night, I plugged my iPhone into my portable charger and played Jelly Splash until I ran out of stars.

Coming Clean…

As it turned out, I had service twice during the trip. On Thursday, my sister and I drove to Ticonderoga (about 10 minutes north) for ice and beer. I used the opportunity to check messages and text my sons.

Family photoThen on Saturday, DH and I, with YS (who arrived on Friday night), went boating on Lake George with my sister’s family. As I took photos with my iPhone, I was surprised to find a signal in a few places. I used the blips to send a photo to my mom and to OS.

 

Pros and Cons…

The best things about being “off the grid” are having time to talk to family and friends in person without the dinging of cell phones, and to be away from the political “BS” in the news. I also had some uninterrupted writing time without Internet distractions.

The worst thing about being off the grid for a few days is not being able to check in with family members who are not with you.

Back on the Grid…

As we drove home on Sunday, I enjoyed the scenery of the Lake George area.

Then, as soon as I got the first decent cell signal, I checked messages and my Etsy shop.

Whew! I’m back on the grid.

 

Click here to subscribe to Life in General.
Key:
  • DH = Dear Husband
  • YS = Younger Son
  • OS = Older Son
In case you want to visit, click on the links in the post or below:

 

Off the Grid

DH and I are venturing into the Adirondack Mountains to camp, in a tent, for five days. We have prior camping experience, so this is not a big deal. The campground is on Lake George and has great views. I’m sure the change in scenery will be inspirational and I’ll be a better writer because of it. But… there will be NO cell service and NO WiFi.

What? NO cell service? NO WiFi?
Whatever will I do? GASP!

I haven’t been “off the grid” for more than a few hours… in years. I’m getting a wee bit nervous about it.

I’ll take my devices anyway. I’ll have my iPhone and iPad as well as battery back up chargers… just in case I can pick up a weak signal in some corner of the campground. Of course I’ll be able to use them while DH drives on the way there and then again on the way home (5+ hour drive each way).

I need to download several of my favorite podcasts, a few guided meditations, and a couple of books on the Kindle app. Maybe I’ll even find a yoga video to download. If I can find things I can use without a signal, maybe I won’t suffer too much. Then I’ll just have to keep the batteries charged. I’m sure the ladies’ room has an outlet that I can use if necessary.

To combat my anticipated technology withdrawal, I’ve packed a few notebooks, a sketchbook, a novel, and my new book of Hemmingway’s short stories (purchased after our recent trip to Key West). I’ll take my new camera with lenses so I can practice my photography skills. And I have a quilt square to embroider. Embroidering by candlelight should be fun! (I’m joking about the candlelight… I have a very bright battery operated lantern.)

Or perhaps I should just concentrate on the camping experience. The hiking, the canoeing, the campfires, and sitting by the lake enjoying the sounds and scenery. I could be inspired to write my best short story ever, a fabulous essay, or another great blog post.

Being “Off the Grid” could be the best thing that ever happened to me… or not.

To find out how I survive five days in the “wilderness” (without technology), check back next week. Better yet, subscribe to my blog.

Rain, Rain, Go Away…

On second thought, don’t. It’s a dreary, cloudy, damp day. It’s a good day for cooking soup (I am), sipping lots of hot coffee (I did), reading (does the newspaper count?), and writing (doing that now). It’s also the first day of NaPiBoWriWee, so the drearier it is, the less likely I will be distracted from my task of writing seven picture books (first drafts) in seven days.

National Picture Book Writing Week was initiated in 2009 by Paula Yoo. I participated several times. One time I won one of Paula’s giveaways (a picture book). I don’t remember ever finishing seven first drafts in seven days, but Paula says it’s okay. It’s only important that you write everyday.

I had no intention of participating this year, however, yesterday, when I was reading Paula’s blog and checking out her new NaPiBoWriWee website, I reconsidered.

I think this will be good for me. I have to learn to be a consistent writer anyway. That’s one of my biggest downfalls.

Brainstorming for Fiction

Who will my main characters be this week?

Boys and girls, of course. They can be of any age, size, shape, race, or nationality. They can be pretty or not, they can be smart or not, they can be rich, poor, disabled, athletic, clutsy, or even dead (a ghost character?).

OR my main characters could be animals.

Dogs, cats, mice, and elephants make good main characters. So do giraffes, tigers, guinea pigs, chickens, various bugs, butterflies, ladybugs, birds, pigs, whales, dolphins, fish, crabs, and shrimp. Then there are polar bears, brown bears, maybe even a grizzly bear, squirrels, chipmunks, monkeys, chimpanzees, hamsters, gerbils, lizards, snakes, frogs, and toads. How about worms, water bugs, mosquitos, ticks, and fleas? I’ll consider lions, zebras, horses, ponies, rabbits, groundhogs, prairie dogs, hedgehogs, penguins, seals, walruses, and maybe even plankton, as possible characters.

I guess plants could also be my main characters.

Daisies, roses, trees (including Christmas trees), bushes, wild flowers, poinsettias, tulips, daffodils, carnations, tomato plants, pepper plants, corn, and other vegetable plants. Avocados, pineapples, apple trees, peach trees, blueberry bushes, and many more.

How about inanimate objects?

A house, a car, a train, an airplane, a rock or stone, a chair, a table, a stool, a pencil, and what about a book? (A book about a book? Hmmm. That’s a possibility.) Or maybe Christmas tree ornaments? (I think I already wrote one of those.) Toys would be good characters. Remember Toy Story? Dolls are good, but could be scary, too. Glasses, cups, forks and spoons, pictures and paintings. And food: pizza, spaghetti, salad, bread.

For me, brainstorming of possible characters can go on and on. But before I write, I need to also consider the plot.

Main Character’s Problem or Goal

What happens to my main character in this story that I’m about to write? It should be downright awful but should be something that the character can fix or overcome without adult assistance (even if that’s not probable).

Main characters can be lost, kidnapped (might be too scary), bullied, punished. They can be forced to do chores they don’t want to do, or be confronted with animals or bugs that they are afraid of. They can get in trouble at school or be scapegoated by another troubled character. They can lose something or find something that they can’t or don’t want to give back to the rightful owner. They can worry about an older relative or neighbor, be forced to take care of a sibling, or to stay home alone or travel alone. Main characters can fall, break things, hurt people, or see ghosts!

Write the Story

Brainstorming is fun and gets my creative juices flowing, but it’s time for me to start writing. My goal is to finish the first draft of whatever story I’m going to write by dinner… or at least by midnight.

See you tomorrow!

 

Click here to subscribe to Life in General.

 

 

Starting Fresh…again.

I started a great blog four years ago, when I left teaching. After a few posts, I stopped.

Recently, GoDaddy send me a notice that they are retiring the server hosting my site, so I had to move it to a new server. Rather than move it, I decided to reinvent it so here I am.

As soon as this new blog lets me know where it wants to go, I’ll share that information with you. For now, I’ll just write.

See you tomorrow.