I recently returned from a two-week trip with my wife and partner of 25 years, and decided in advance to forego electronic communication with the outside world. This is how it was when we met in 1995, cell phones mostly unknown. When we left our houses, we were adrift, not having news, email or text messages. I wanted to revisit that atmosphere. I did not once in those two weeks turn on any device to communicate with the outside world.
It was cleansing, and difficult.
I took the above photo from our ‘front yard,’ the area between us and the Gallatin River near Big Sky, Montana. We stayed in an AIRBNB advertised as a “tiny house on the Gallatin.” It was just that. It had amenities such as fridge, microwave and stove, and comfortable beds in a loft. It was really just a trailer worked over to generate some revenue by the clever man who owns this property. We paid too much, happily.
We spent two days. On the first, we visited the nearby Flying D Ranch, now owned by Ted Turner and used to raise bison. Turner, by prior established right-of-way, is forced to allow traffic through his land to the nearby Spanish Peaks Wilderness. There is an assumption about that he does this due to being a public-spirited man, but I doubt it. Once established, a property easement cannot be voided by a new owner. I imagine Ted resents every one of us trespassing on his land. There are signs warning passers-through not to stray off the road.
On the second day, we merely stayed on the river, reading, relaxing, napping and sitting and watching the water. I had trouble trying to figure out the birds that were busy catching bugs. I am not a skilled birder, and so was surprised to learn that the odd-colored birds that I thought must be flycatchers were really Cedar Waxwings. I thought these birds, which I’ve only rarely seen, lived on berries. Not so. They were all about and acting like swallows grabbing bugs out of midair.
The fisherman above and his son passed through. He was a nice man who actually asked permission to fish on the public river that happened to pass by our waterfront. I cannot imagine a father-son bonding experience that exceeds the harmony that must result from fly fishing with one’s son.
That day went by slowly. We had hammocks, chairs, and as the evening cooled, a fire pit. I had no distractions, no emails to answer (I don’t get texts). I did not access the Internet at all, not even to check weather in our home town. I finished my books and my wife offered me hers, Mountain Time: A Yellowstone Memoir, by Paul Schullery, Bozeman resident. He tells tales about being a ranger in Yellowstone in the 70s and 80s, delightful. Funny how it grabbed my attention then, but not now, back in cyber world.
I wish I could say it was totally enjoyable, but it was tedious. Just as with Frodo, who had to leave at the end of the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy because the ring had affected him, I am jaded by access to the cyber-world. I now expect it, and living without it is a new experience. It was not easy.
I want to do it again, and soon.