Looking at the Grand Canyon is Not as Cool as Watching TV on my Phone

A recent piece on NPR about hooking up to WIFI while camping prompted a few nostalgic thoughts (really imaginings) about cool summer nights next to a campfire, looking out across a lake, chatting with friends about everything. But I forgot to add my phone with an episode of True Blood to my reverie because, evidently, WIFI outdoors is the hot new thing. No one can be without their bragging/brain rot machine (i.e., a phone with access to Facebook, Twitter, and Hulu) for longer than five minutes, so campsites are now providing Internet access. At first, I thought this was a cool idea. If you see an animal or plant you don’t recognize, hop online to find out what it is; find a new hiking trail or check the weather. Then, the reporter interviewed a man who said that he was excited to use his iPhone to watch Big Brother when he got bored during his camping trip.

No doubt many people use this new technology for good rather than for evil, but I left this radio piece feeling a little sad. The great outdoors used to be a haven free of social pressure and a refuge to escape the maddening din. Now, you can hit a few buttons and be smack dab in the middle of it. Granted, this connectivity is elective, but it may be too difficult to say no. The ideal, it would seem to me, is to enjoy nature unimpeded by worldly cares, but if you have to do something out there in the wild, reach for a book.

Any one of the following will provide hours of discussion or deep thought. If it’s dark, use a flashlight. If you’re with others, read a loud. If you’re alone, you could even read one or two on your Kindle. :)

1. Thoreau’s Walden – No reason to explain the reason for this one.
2. Krakauer’s Into the Wild – Perhaps this could be read as a cautionary tale?
3. La Rochefoucauld’s Maxims – Food for thought
4. Cooper’s The Deerslayer – The first of the Leatherstocking Tales and America’s first frontier novel
5. The Journals of Lewis and Clark – Thoughts from the ultimate campers and explorers


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