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News Blackout

On our recent trip to the Canadian Rockies, we were aware that there would be long periods of time that we would have no access to the outside world.  We would drive for hundreds of miles without any cell service, or gas service for that matter.  Half our hotels had no television, which was fine because we had no air-conditioning either.  

One hotel only had internet service within ten feet of the ATM machine.  It was almost comical to see the people mulling around this small space attempting to download any small shred of news from home.  However, the front desk obviously had internet service because they were only too happy to take your credit card without question.

For a trip like this, you plan for the isolation.  It is part of the attraction, part of the mystique, of traveling in the back country, though it does not really represent roughing it at all.  However, most would admit at the end of the trip that you are ready for some binge watching on television, and you look forward to reconnecting with the world.

After a very long day of airports, airplanes, buses, and cars, we arrived home after midnight to discover that a lightning strike had taken out a few things in our house.  To our dismay we realized we had no internet, no cable, and no television.  It is one thing to plan a vacation without news, but it is another to return to relative isolation in your own home.

 This past Tuesday, we began calling our various service providers.  We started with our cable company, which also provides our internet.  Spectrum, who has usually been reliable, informed us it would be the following Wednesday before they could even visit our home for a troubleshooting inspection.

Our electrician’s schedule was even further out, not being able to offer an appointment until the following Friday week.  That is important because they provide the modem for our internet.  We are not really sure when the outdoor lighting people will be able to come restore our landscape lighting.  As for the Geek Squad, we found out the television diagnosis would likely be more than two weeks!

So, after nearly two weeks of on and off communications, we found ourselves sitting at home with even less connection than we had in Western Canada.  

It is interesting how your life changes when some of the things you take for granted disappear.  Weeks ago, I wrote about no longer having a newspaper to read at breakfast when delivery was stopped.  I had replaced that morning ritual with eating my eggs in front of the morning news on the television.  No television now.  The only thing left are my eggs and reading the news on the small screen on my phone using my cellular minutes.

We have adjusted in some ways.  Oppenheimer, a three-hour movie on the building of the atomic bomb gave us some dialogue on a big screen.  We nearly froze in the mostly empty theater.  The small popcorn was enough to feed a family of six and the single bottled water price paid for at the concession stand would purchase a case at Walmart.

We have talked more to each other and that is a good thing.  However, in three weeks a couple can talk about almost everything that has occurred between them in 45 years of marriage.  We hate to admit it, but could we be running out of things to talk about?

The benefits of a news blackout are not insignificant.  Actually, it has been a great time to have limited news access.   After all, how much can you really listen to about indictments, wildfires, global warming, and debates minus one?  The world goes on without us having to hear the smallest details repeated every couple of hours.  The stock market goes up and goes down without me having to check it every day.  

When our connectivity withdrawal became the greatest upon our return home, we joked about checking into a hotel room.  A friend offered the use of their townhouse.  We even rode around town each day at 5:30 p.m. to catch 30 minutes of the news on the radio.  That was a pretty nice routine, actually.

Soon life will be back to normal.  After all, you must have cable or internet for the upcoming football season.  Other than that, I wonder if things might not be better just the way they are.


Dan Ponder can be reached at

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