Friday, August 22, 2008

Time at the Cottage Ain't What it Used to Be

Although in my youth, I never really had the opportunity to hang out at a cottage, I was lucky enough to spend the first week of each summer at Pow Wow Point Lodge in Huntsville, Ontario. In recent years, my family has had numerous opportunities to enjoy at least parts of our summer at 'camp' on the shore of Lake Superior; at the cottages of friends along Lake Huron; and at Northern Edge Algonquin, in northern Ontario.

Upon return from our penultimate cottage visit of the summer, I've come to realize that our family getaways have lost the rustic charm that they once had. In just the last few days, I've taken note of many ways that technology is threatening to forever alter the classic cottage vacation.

At the outset, I found it difficult to unplug from my network. Even as we hit the road, my iPhone allowed me to keep tabs on a remote conference taking place in Windsor, Ontario. Once on the beach, I fought to resist the temptation to check Twitter for updates...

The landscape of crops is joined by dozens of wind turbines that dot the landcape of Lake Huron highlands. Even land surrounding the Bruce nuclear power plant is cluttered with a small army of snow white generators. Maybe they are less noticable in the winter time?

In a small scale reminder of "I Love Lucy", the use of plastic flowers at the 'Wha Happen' cabin,means the homeowner has only a few pots to water...

Time was, an antenna in a remote camp would only be able to get one channel... likely the CBC, which coincidentally, has always carried the Olympic games in Canada. One child preferred to 'play' Olympics on his handheld rather than watch the live satellite coverage.

Just a year ago, our cabin location would have been out of cell phone range, but network expansion meant that my friend Tony, was never completely away from work. Interestingly, expanding cell coverage likely makes it easier for many workaholics to join their families on retreat!

Whatever happened to crokinole or Monopoly? The Nintendo Wii was the main source of indoor entertainment for the kids.

After growing up sunburned, I find myself reminding the kids to lather up. Is SPF50 really necessary?!

Access to wireless networking in the cottage, ensured that iPods could be loaded for beach music, hikes, and bicycle rides. Doesn't anyone enjoy the white noise of surf?

I remember collecting nightcrawlers by flashlight, but at Sauble Beach, the vending machine is the easist way to collect a dozen live worms!

Even though the technology prevented us from truly 'getting away from it all', the highlights of our getaway were the swimming, campfires, sand sculptures, sunsets, beachcombing, barbecues and cold drinks on the deck... and I have the digital photos to prove it!