Tag Archives: technology

Embracing Summer on the Road

Summertime is popular time for travel: no school for kids, no packing heavy coats and boots, no denying that the iced-coffee in your cup holder will be consumed faster than your go-to cappuccino. It’s a great feeling to pack up the car, hit the road, and breathe in the warm, flowing air of the day ahead. Depending on where you’re headed, you could be in the car for quite some time.
To prepare you for all the best, somewhat-spontaneous and impromptu road trips this season, I’ve compiled a short list of my gotta-have-em’s for the road (or the air, or the train, or the camping trail).

Portable phone charger
When you’re on the go, especially in the car, it’s easy to find yourself scrolling through the day’s latest tweets and posts on your smart phone to pass the time. With music, maps, and camera all accessible at your fingertips–it’s understandably enticing–and arguably necessary for some. That battery will drain fast if you’re not careful, leaving you phoneless upon arriving to your destination, out and about.
To avoid any miscommunication with friends and family, I pack a portable phone charger: light, easy-to-store in a bag or purse, and at times, a total lifesaver.

No-mess snacks (high in protein and, of course, water)
If you’ve ever found yourself in the seat of a car for multiple hours, you’re probably familiar with the pains of ‘road munchies.’ Always hitting when you least expect them, cravings of salty, vending machine chips and chocolate-covered-something’s from the gas station checkout lines will wash over you like a wave of mini-vans on the way to Myrtle Beach.
To avoid unnecessary stops and overpriced filler-foods, try packing a few protein bars, nuts, or other non-messy snacks that are high in protein to get you through your trip. You’ll save money, time and feel more alert as you chug along to your next destination. Don’t forget to hydrate too, always keeping water on hand.

IMG_8205Upbeat music
I’m all too familiar with the car slump that comes from static conversations and repetitive, rolling window scenery. Wake yourself up, get excited for the trip ahead and laugh with friends and family over some classic, throwback tunes.
The high-energy music puts anxious travelers in a good mood, passes the time, and leaves the car feeling more energized and happy – because yes, we all know the collective, previous state of forehead-pressed-against-window wasn’t doing much for the car’s energy.

A pillow
We are human, and when in the car for extended periods of time, we will sleep. Be sure to pack a small travel pillow or blanket to rest your head against in the tight space. This will prevent any neck pains of headaches from unexpected bumps and unnatural positions of rest.
Your neck will thank you later and friends will dub you ‘pro-traveler’ of the group when you show up prepared, relaxed, and excited for the trip ahead!

Written by Emily McCaul

A Lesson From Long Lake

A year ago, I was given a gray t-shirt depicting two bears, a mother and baby, across the chest. They were printed in white, and the words “Long Lake” stretched beneath them like a path. It was a gift from my boyfriend, Robby, who visited me where I worked as a camp counselor. He had just returned from a trip to his family’s cabin on Long Lake’s shore. The lake is tucked safely away in Adirondack State Preserve, located in upstate New York.
As I unfolded the t-shirt, stories began to fly.
“You would love it there, Hannah,” he said. “My sisters and I went there all the time as kids. We used to pick blueberries from the bushes outside and my dad would make incredible pancakes.”
Long Lake sounded like something out of a fairy tale. Water so still that you could hear a far-off whisper, tiny islands with names like Pancake and Feather, chipmunks eating popcorn kernels right out of your hand.
“Next summer, we’ll go,” he said.
This past July, his statement came to fruition. We made the twelve-hour haul up to Long Lake with Robby’s three roommates. Toward the end of the drive, the air got cooler, the sky got brighter, and the tiny service bars on our phones began to drop.

IMG_0656“The cabin’s pretty isolated,” said Robby. “There’s no cell service or electricity.” He had said it before, but as buildings turned to houses and houses gave way to trees, the word “isolated” began to crystallize around us. I looked at my increasingly useless phone, realizing with a twinge of shame just how much time I let my world shrink to a five-and-a-half inch screen. Scrolling through Twitter and Youtube had become a go-to activity in between daily events. While I once painted or wrote or did yoga at random times during the day, I now found myself increasingly complacent, drawn into the hypnotic, humorous worlds behind the square-shaped apps. My battery was nearly dead, my laptop was back in Virginia, and I smiled calmly at the thought of being unplugged. Every few minutes, another phone would lose service and its owner would join the growing conversation.
A grocery trip and a boat ride later, we were floating up to the cabin in the suddenly-pouring rain. Two people jumped out of the boat and secured it to the dock with ropes, and the five of us ferried in backpacks, hiking boots, and cases of beer. When we were done, I walked back outside to look at where I would be living for a week. It was exactly as Robby had described. Wide planks of dark brown pinewood formed the walls of the cabin, and a green roof the color of aged copper stood in a high triangle. Simple, unadorned windows lined the sides of every wall, and a small deck wrapped around a corner. The entire thing was hidden shyly behind pine trees and blueberry bushes.
“What do you think?” Robby asked when I went back inside.
I smiled and said, “This place is perfect.”

IMG_0671And so began the delightful withdrawal from civilization. This particular group, excluding myself, was made up of video game enthusiasts. Gaming is used to bond and entertain, but also to fill the time in a way similar to what my iPhone had become. With zero access to anything electronic, the hours were filled with cooking, fishing, boat rides, and swinging in hammocks. It wasn’t until the fourth day there that I realized how much my lack of a cell phone had impacted me. It was the first time since our arrival that the weather had been anything but clear and sunny, and someone dusted off the board game “Risk.” I had never played Risk due to a deep and genuine loathing for strategic board games. I was handed dozens of tiny red pieces and told to learn as we went.
Playing a board game on a rainy day is an instance where I may frequently check out of the game and into my Twitter account, but I was left with no other option but fully engaging. I loved the game and almost won. Each person spent the whole time laughing and strategizing and pleading and making bets, as opposed to wasting significant chunks of attention on cell phone screens.

IMG_0657Conversations throughout that week were more meaningful, not split between a person and a device. With no alternative for distraction, we learned to really listen to each other, and creative outdoor activities replaced what would certainly be a Netflix binge for some. In a way, it was heartbreaking to see how different things could be without the widespread addiction to technology. It does not take a genius to distinguish between cyberspace and real life, but I required a brief withdrawal to observe the sheer power that my phone has over me.
Since that week of quiet water and leaping fish, stunning sunsets and group cooking efforts, I have tried to be less attached to my phone. My goal is to only go to it when I truly need to communicate with another person. When I find my eyes roaming automatically toward it, I try to catch myself. I breathe and picture a birch tree surrounded by blueberry bushes. It’s not always successful. It’s tough when I’m alone or when others around me are absorbed in screens of their own. However, my prayer is that people will collectively rediscover the value of human interaction, the value of silence, even boredom. Flicking off the screens gives me an incentive and venue for reflection, creativity, and friendship building. With this in mind, I pull on my Long Lake t-shirt and leave the phone at home.

 

Written by Hannah Bridges