Roughing It Means Week Without Phone - Life & Leisure columnist Rob Jenkin

Roughing it means week without phone

Gwinnett (Georgia) Daily Post Life & Leisure columnist Rob JenkinsBy Rob Jenkins

Gwinnett (Georgia) Daily Post Life & Leisure column, Sunday, August 5, 2007
Reprinted by permission

If you tried e-mailing me last week and didn't receive a reply, that's because I was in the only place in North America that still doesn't have access to modern technology: Moultrie.

Just kidding, all you Moultrie readers. I actually spent the week in the Canadian wilderness, which is distinguishable from the rest of Canada by the fact that there are no hockey rinks.

OK, OK, my good Canadian friends, I'm kidding again, eh? We all know Canada is a highly developed nation, home to many large, modern cities complete with tract housing, skyscrapers, shopping malls and the occasional moose wandering around in a parking lot.

But the part of Canada I was in, known as the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, is true wilderness, in the most up-to-date sense of that term: there is no cell phone coverage.

This is actually a trip I take with my sons every few years. It begins with the long drive from Lawrenceville to Ely, Minn., which lasts approximately three-and-a-half millennia, give or take a traffic accident in Nashville.

Admittedly, we didn't find the trip quite as tiresome this year. By sharing the driving, my two older sons and I were all able to finish the new Harry Potter book, which, if you haven't read it yet, let me just say: Ron dies.

Once in Ely, we spend the night at Canadian Border Outfitters (note to Mark at CBO: free plug equals discount on next trip, right?) before setting out the next morning with our gear and canoes loaded onto a couple of power boats. That's horse power, as distinguished from arm power.

From the outfitters we cross Moose Lake to the Canadian customs "office" - actually a log cabin - where we must produce the proper documentation, swear we're not bringing anything illegal into the country and promise for the duration of the trip to use a long "o" in words such as "process."

Then we paddle off into the wilderness, with the promise that the outfitters will be back to pick us up in six days, provided there's not a hockey game on television or a beer fest in Ely. (There goes my discount.)

Those six days we spend canoeing around a succession of pristine Canadian lakes, catching many, many large fish, and lying in our tents at night listening to the plaintive cry of the loons.

At the end we re-emerge into civilization with priceless memories, sore backs, pictures of the many, many large fish we caught (did I mention that there are many of them, and that they're large?), and a plastic bag full of wet socks, ready to embrace once again the thing we cherish most:

Cell phone coverage.

Lawrenceville resident Rob Jenkins is associate professor of English and director of the Writers Institute at Georgia Perimeter College.

BWCA and Quetico Park Canoe Trip Stories