July 8, 2016 | Lifestyle
It’s August in Northern Ontario. Baby rock bass are schooling between my feet. The water is cold, the sun is enjoyably hot without a trace of humidity and the sky is blue with marshmallow clouds. Our tethered pontoon boat creaks against the floating dock as the cool wind calls it out into the rippling lake. A loon’s song is carried along the water, music to my ears. Chipmunks scurry about. Hummingbirds and dragonflies buzz. This is Trout Lake. I am at peace.
Rather, I’d be at peace if it weren’t for the nagging need to check my email and Facebook. Doing that isn’t easy at the cottage. One spot offers service. By that I mean you have to hold your phone up to the living room window for one weak bar. Sometimes there’s a signal down at the dock, but I don’t dare bring my phone on that holy ground. The dock is sacred.
View from the dock at Trout Lake, Ontario taken by my husband Evan Fitzpatrick.
It’s an eight hour drive up to the cottage from Windsor. Past Barrie, a little before Sudbury and with one gas station which hopefully hasn’t closed, my husband Evan and I visit every year. A small town by the French River, Alban is just off of the Trans-Canada Highway. There’s an LCBO, a small market, and the road which delivers us to our destination.
I mark the anticipated arrival at camp in stages. As we barrel down the empty road, pavement shifts to gravel. Houses become sparse, cars are rare, moose and bears probably lurk in the thick brush flanking the path. Dust kicks up behind our Matrix with clear skies ahead. We lose our phone signals, we lose ourselves to the beauty of nature. Twenty minutes of driving down that path and we arrive in heaven.
Photogenic nature from Trout Lake, Ontario taken by Evan.
Priorities first. Stretch, unpack, get cameras, grab a beer, get down to the dock, chill. Think about emails. Think about work. Panic. Focus, I tell myself. You can’t do any of that here. My brain and my heart are conflicted.
I’m too used to being at a screen, be it my phone or computer. Keeping busy, following schedules, answering emails, and designing things in Photoshop are routines which propel me through the day. I’m at the cottage about a week a year. It’s difficult to switch work mode off, especially when you love your career. But I also love nature and being free of responsibility for a week. It’s a complicated relationship. Go on, tell yourself to quit worrying about that thing. Thought about it more, didn’t you? Brains are annoying organs.
I had heard it takes three days to feel fully unplugged, to enjoy a vacation. The problem is I want to experience it all instantly and magically. I guess I picture being in a canoe with animals frolicking on shore, a huge bass on my fishing line, CBC Radio 3 playing in the forest, a bag of jerky, a beer, and zero thoughts of life inside my skull. I want to be a Canadian stereotype. But the thoughts of work come effortlessly, making relaxing a struggle.
Relaxing, I’ve learned, takes work too. My love of having things to do is exactly the reason I never feel totally at peace. Epiphany! Stay “busy” at the cottage. I can ignore my phone and email thoughts because I have something else to do! Nothingness is something, even relaxing on the pontoon has its purpose. It’s easy to forget what a vacation is all about, canoeing, sunbathing, swimming, hiking and campfires. My new job for the week is to vacation. My schedule is full. Worrying about things I can’t change like checking emails without a signal will just have to wait.
So how about it, eh? Could you survive a wilderness vacation without your phone? Lucky for you, if your social media pages need to be managed, Generator is here to help! Give us a shout and let us help you relax on your vacation.