The condo clearly had wireless network since all our devices were happily connecting, but we could not find anything resembling an access point. Normally we would not even bother, but the Internet seemed sluggish and we were hoping some magic wave and dance (reboot, technically speaking) may help. We spent 30 minutes walking around the apartment watching minute changes on the wireless signal strength heat map, checking all possible boxes connected to electrical outlets. And it was a small flat.
Recently I’ve spent six months without TV. I didn’t think I was depriving myself. Watching TV was never high on my to do list. Besides travelling feels a bit like TV. The difference is that instead of watching the moving pictures firmly planted on a couch, one observes mostly stationary world through the windows of a moving car. That of course does not change the fact that I crave mindless entertainment just as much as the next gal. Point in case: I managed to subject myself to 2 seasons of Prison Break. It’s not TV in its classic sense. Our slightly dusty set serves as a dumb add-on to a streaming Roku box connected to a temporarily unfrozen Netflix account. We get HD (which excites Damian and leaves me unfazed) and no commercial breaks. And of course we can watch it on our own schedule. Assuming the schedule calls for watching couple of years after the show has been aired.
What’s in Toronto?, the Canadian custom officer is either really curious or just wants to catch us off guard: preferably lost in an elaborate lie involving some mischief towards Her Majesty Queen of Canada Elisabeth II. I am tempted to say that I don’t know and that’s why we are going there. But the Canadian border cerberus clearly learned obnoxiousness from his American counterpart and I am not sure my sense of humor is appreciated here. For better or worse Canadians try to compete with their southern neighbors in everything. So I try to explain that nothing in particular and that we just want to do some sightseeing. Our hotel is there, I add to make sure he knows we are going to spent some of hard earned American dollars north of 45 parallel. You have a hotel in Toronto?, he seems to be honestly surprised. Reserved, I rush to explain. We have reserved a hotel room.
You might think presenting space travel is attractive and thrilling in itself. Images of the blue planet from the orbit, the famous first words on the Moon, the first docking in space, the first space walk, exploring one of the few remaining frontiers should be enough to hold everybody’s attention for couple of hours. NASA Space Center by definition should be one of the most exciting places to visit. But the company that manages Houston’s NASA Center does not think it is good enough. They proceed to turn the center into a second grade theme park full of rides, screaming kids and outdated computer games.
Thomas Alva Edison was one of the original hackers but you would not know it if you toured Edison and Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers. And I use the term hacker in its initial, not subverted, meaning: someone who tinkers with stuff to makes things better. Incidentally I stopped telling people that I am a hacker some time ago. Since no one can tell crackers and hackers apart, such admission is greeted with an awkward silence at best and nervous reach for a cell phone to notify authorities in other cases.
If wrecks and reefs and fish don’t make your diving exciting enough there are always gadgets: knife, torch, safety sausage (really) and the biggest toy of all: underwater scooter. Which of course is not a scooter but a diver propulsion vehicle or, in PADI speak, DPV. By the way, diving argot is full of acronyms. Starting from SCUBA of course, which stands for Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus, through BCD, BWRAF, CESA, DAN, DIR, PADI and VENTID. Pretty much each and every word is an acronym for something else. No wonder computer geeks were left with GNU.
Next step in a preparation for the trip is to make sure we can play our painstakingly put together selection of music 24/7. Because once you get used to carrying your entire music library with you there is no going back to playing CD or, heaven forbid, searching for a station that doesn’t play country. And since we will be living out of our truck for a foreseeable future (or so is Damian telling me) we need to be able to connect it to our iPod. The factory radio was lacking that capability; or rather it was reserved to people on the West Coast - the only Nissan Frontier with short cab, V6 engine and iPod connection was in Washington state. Now you know why we want to go there.
When we planned our trip we resigned ourselves to getting by without some of the perks of civilization (regular meals, hot showers, morning coffee or morning commute). There are however things on which I simply refuse to compromise. One of them is the access to printed word. I am very much so a Gutenberg junkie. In an hour of despair I have been known to plunge for a fix into a flowery language of washing detergents’ blurbs. Which, for uninitiated, is quite similar to Ewan McGregor’s plunge in Trainspotting. Let’s just say it’s not mentioned in polite society.
Droid really does many things. Quite frankly I am not sure what it doesn’t do. Well, to be honest I am not 100% sure it actually does the whole phone thing. I live in a near perfect cell phone wilderness. As far as cell phone companies are concerned, some parts of Vermont didn’t quite make it into 21st century. There are cell towers somewhere in the neighborhood, at least according to droid, and - during skiing seasons - there are plenty of people who annoy the rest of us babbling in the gondolas and on the lifts. But they might be just showing off their latest phones to the captive audience, not actually talking to anyone.