An I-phone, an I-pad and a laptop computer are woven into my daily routine. I am rarely if ever without one of them in my possession from the time I wake until I call it a day. That changed briefly at the end of July when I left the laptop and I-pad at home and flew to a location in Northern Ontario devoid of cell towers - a place where my I-phone was as useless as a cassette in an I-pod.
I was surprised at how easy it was to drop out of the digital age. I and three fishing partners climbed into a De Havilland "Beaver" float plane and were flown 170 miles north of Nestor Falls, Ontario to Keeper Lake. The "Beaver" had spent most of its useful life flying around Iceland but had somehow made its way back to Canada where it had been built decades earlier. An air speed of around 105 mph and a scruffy bearded bush pilot made it feel like we were chugging along at 3000 feet in an old pickup truck. Clear sunny weather provided a great aerial view of the terrain changing from one with a sparse population to one without roads or any population. As the plane's pontoons softly touched down and slide along the lake's crystal clear water our expectations, fueled by the fly-in service's marketing material, were that we were going to have an unbelievable fishing experience.
Teamwork driven by the desire to fish helped us quickly unload the plane and haul everything up a small hill to our home for the next four days - a solar and propane powered cabin. After unpacking our food and supplies we quickly gathered our fishing gear and headed down to the dock. We set up two boats with fishing equipment and bait and within minutes we were fishing. Being from Illinois, where the anticipation of catching fish always exceeds the actual catching, we were ready for a change.
Over the next four days the promises made in the marketing material became reality as we collectively hauled in hundreds of walleye pike. We were as giddy as teenage boys as we yelled out "fish on" each time we hooked, landed and then released most of the fish we caught. Keeping and filleting just enough each day for our evening meals we feasted on walleye dishes never before cooked and served in northern Ontario - walleye fish tacos with guacamole and mango salsa and Thai green curry walleye with basmati rice and baby bok-choy. From our propane powered oven the perfume of cinnamon rolls, chocolate brownies and an apple gallette drifted across Keeper Lake during our stay. We ate very well indeed.
Following each day of fishing and dining we gathered around a table, lit by lights powered by solar charged batteries, to pair up and play cards. Good natured ribbing fueled by a few beers was routine. One team would eventually win and we would all turn in feeling fortunate to be in this remote location having the time of our lives. As we slipped off to sleep we may have all had different thoughts but I can guarantee you that none of us were thinking about our cell phone or the internet. Our cell phones, which were turned off and stowed in our bags on the day we arrived, had been sound asleep for days.
Dropping out of the digital age was like a trip back in time - a time when people talked to each other and their thumbs were used for more than texting. We had the chance to laugh and joke like young boys enjoying summer days that seemed to last forever. Escaping from emails, Google searches, the latest world news, phone calls and the constant checking of a smart phone was not a hardship but a blessing. I hope each of you plans and enjoys an escape from your digital devices in the near future.