“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. Explore. Dream. Discover.” - Mark Twain
I’ve always had an adventurous spirit and a soul built for exploring - endless weekends spent backpacking the Pacific NW wilderness, shredding mountain biking trails in the high alpine and trips to other parts of the world to learn about other cultures to enjoy different foods and to experience new landscapes. But, in this day and age of iPhones, e-mail and text messaging, I find myself planning adventures that include giving my gadgets a break - where “I’ll get back to you in 24 hours” is not possible. Activities which require me to delegate my daily tasks to someone else in the office. Places where I am unreachable – truly on vacation!
Three years ago was my first gadget free vacation – a 3-week rafting trip down the Grand Canyon. It was grand in every way: 21 days of no phones ringing or texts dinging, just the rustling winds of the canyon and the rush of water. I thought it would be impossible, frankly stressful, to go from being locked to my devices to totally off the grid. Would I struggle to disconnect from work and spend my days worrying about emails that weren’t getting answered or decisions being made without my input? Unexpectedly, I switched off with ease enjoying days filled with the stillness of the canyon and the excitement of some of the world’s gnarliest rapids. My fears of returning to a mess at work or falling behind were unfounded. My passionate, caring and thoughtful cube-mates had dotted every “i” and crossed every “t.” They even decorated my cube welcoming me “home.” First Story had survived without me and I had survived without my gadgets.
Last month, I unlocked again and ventured with my husband, Loren, into a remote and wild region with just our mountain bikes and 15-pound backpacks (Loren’s may have weighed more, but he’s 4x my size!). The goal was to ride from the high mountains near Telluride, Colorado to the slick rock of Moab, Utah via a network of single-track trails supported by 16 isolated mountain huts. We spent a week huffing and puffing at an average elevation of 9,500 feet, across the high alpine tundra to the warmth of the desert. We didn’t miss a sunrise or a sunset. We saw more wildlife in a week than some see in a lifetime. And for 215 miles there wasn’t a phone in sight!