Back to basics


Such an innocuous term. I think that a lot of people believe they can unplug themselves any time they want to. It’s a lovely thought, to turn off ones phone for the day and go “off the radar”. I do think that it’s something everyone should do, from time-to-time.

I actually recently read an article about a CEO deciding to work off an uninhabited island for 40 days or something. The thing about that is, even though the thought is appealing – Robinson Crusoe your way through a scorpion and snake inhabited wilderness and rough it – even he isn’t really unplugging. His intention is to telecommute while he’s on the island. In my mind, that sort of destroys the whole intention.

A few weeks ago the boyfriend and I decided to go to a place in WI called Baxter’s Hollow, which is the Nature Conservancy’s largest preserve in Wisconsin. We were going to take a hike and he was going to shoot for some pictures of the little creek that runs through the preserve.

Here’s the thing about trekking through a place like that – no reception. We were hardly surprised though, and ended up being glad of the walkies, handheld GPS, and hydrapak we brought with us.

First we decided to leave the phones in the truck – no use dragging them around with us, because inside the preserve they were literally no more useful than a snazzy-looking game-boy. After a quick lunch (Pb&J’s, chips, and soda), we threw on our packs and hit the woods. At first, the boyfriend wasn’t having much luck with pictures. We saw some songbirds, but they were flitting around too fast. So were all the honeybees in the meadow, and even a giant green caterpillar slowly crawling across the quartzite trails wasn’t feeling very photogenic. We wandered around a bit more, I became annoyed at myself for not moving efishly-quietly through the woods. (When I’m walking through nature I like to pretend I’m an elf. Don’t judge.)  I kept stepping on sticks and I was trying super hard not to scare off any wildlife, so I decided I needed a walking stick (because in my head this would help me be quiet for some reason). We even found some apple trees, where I picked an apple and tried to get Boyfriend to take the first test-bite, but he wouldn’t, so I did and it was actually pretty good. Take that, sense of adventure.

Then, Boyfriend found a nifty spot at the wood-edge to get a good view of the meadow, and started setting up the tripod to get some shots. I went back into the woods to find a suitable walking stick, and maybe a spot to sit so I could do some reading. I didn’t find a good sitting spot, but I found a walking stick and even remembered to turn on my walkie in case I wandered too far away from him and got lost.

Eventually he got his shots, so we wandered back to the truck to make our way to the creek – which was to be the cherry on our trip.

The first part of the creek was neat, but I broke my walking stick and there were no good shots for the boyfriend, so we headed to another part of the creek. I did see some fish though, and got to prance around on the pebble-banks of the creek and pretend to be a fairy or an elf or something, I don’t know. Boyfriend found me another walking stick. It wasn’t as ideally shaped as the first had been, but it would have to do. It needed work, so I set to surreptitiously shaping it as we walked.

The second part of the creek was much better. No pebble-banks there, just big ol’ quartzite boulders and neat little waterfalls that Boyfriend was really excited about. His excitement turned pretty quickly to disappointment when he realized that the tripod connector thing (let’s get technical with our equipment terminology here) had apparently fallen off his camera somewhere along the walk,  and he had no way to stabilize his camera to get the long-exposure shots he wanted of the little waterfalls. HUGE bummer. I did my duty as supportive girlfriend and tried to find good perches for him to set his camera on instead, and came up with a bunch of bupkis. He did end up being able to set up on his backpack and get a few shots, but not at the angle I think he wanted, although the shots turned out pretty well, so I’ll chalk it up as a “did what we could with what we had” win. After that though, he sort of lost his interest in taking more shots, and we kept going down the creek to see if there was anything interesting further down.

I pranced around some more, and fell on my butt in the creek, which was really funny even though I soaked my jeans and I’m pretty sure it looked like I peed myself (boyfriend said it didn’t look much like I peed myself, which I suspect is nice for “it certainly does, sweetie, but I’m not going to laugh at you about it”).  On the plus side, my fall didn’t destroy any of our equipment, so I didn’t have to beat myself up about that sort of thing on the 2-hour long drive home.

Anyway, after my fall we decided that it was time to skee-daddle and get some dinner (luckily by the time we found a restaurant my pants were mostly dry, except for my socks/shoes/bottom of my jeans area) at a little family restaurant we found on the way home. It was decent, and much appreciated after a day of roughing it, but nothing to write home about.

So we spent the day unplugged, and it was a pretty amazing day, pitfalls included. It was pretty refreshing to be connected in a very human way with no phones. It’s something I would like to do way more often that I currently do.

Maybe this weekend could be time for another adventure!


Sneaky? (The Room of Requirement)

So the Daily Prompt today says this:

Screen Shot 2013-08-30 at 9.27.26 AM

My answer, which I had to think about for a while, because I was slightly confused by the stipulation that it had to be sneaky, is (sneakily)Yes, and (mysteriously) Yes.

So I’m going to take this prompt to mean I should tell a story which involves being sneaky.

A while back one of my friends rented an apartment, the kind that sits directly on top of a business, in one of those extremely aged downtown buildings.


Haha, not that old, silly. Besides, that place probably has lots of spiders. Ugh, spiders….

More like this:

Old downtown building

Yeah, it had the huge open floor plan and the impossibly high ceilings and the big windows, and the cool, but kind of creepy, shady, barely-held-together metal staircase coming out the backdoor leading to the creepy alleyway in back. I swear, walking (or in my case, crawling carefully) up and down those stairs was like a 10 on the terrifying things to do scale. Right up there with bungee jumping and skydiving, neither of which have I ever done, but believe me, I know those stairs were comparable.

It was an awesome place. And I haven’t even gotten to the most awesome part. The mystery door:


Doesn’t a door like that just make you need to see what’s behind it? The possibilities are endless. It could be the lair of an eccentric inventor, or the door to Narnia, or a Saw style room (Yikes), or the home of the Fraggles. Who knows?

So, naturally, after much debate, and my friend saying that the landlord doesn’t want us in there because it’s dangerous (which is only going to make me want to go in there more, duh), we decided to go in, albeit sneakily.

And to our intense (quietly exclaimed) delight, we had just walked into a real-life freaking Room of Requirement.

Yeah, like that, except without the magical fire.

There was a little bit of everything in there. Random books, paintings, furniture, tools, you name it, this room probably had it. It was hard to contain my joy. I began (as quietly and sneaky as I could) to sift through the incredible contents of the room. It looked like a room where someone just kept storing random things so they would be out of the way, but what magnificent things! There was an encyclopedia of types of birds, and some truly awful acrylic/canvas paintings. There was an old desk, a box of yellowed postcards, random nails laying everywhere (It truly wasn’t safe to walk around in), unidentifiable broken things, and more.

I felt like Indiana Jones, poring through ancient artifacts. I was in heaven. My friend scolded me for turning on the lights, saying that someone would know were in there. I turned off the lights, not because she told me to, but because I didn’t want to have to use my suddenly acquired Indie skills (including the bullwhip, which was undoubtedly around somewhere) to lay out anyone who might try to stop me. I’m above that sort of thing.

I explored until getting to the red zone of irritating my friend. We went back to her apartment, talked about that room, HP, and a lot of other things that I’m sure got more deep and insightful as time went on, and then I went home.

But I never forgot my adventure that night, the night I stepped into the real-life Room of Requirement.