The Mastec guys (contracted through Century Tel phone company) finished connecting every last phone on the Gunflint Trail. Hooray! A crew of them has been staying at Tuscarora—some in cabins and some in Bunkhouses 5 and 6. They eat breakfast at 6am, take bag lunches , and return to Tuscarora at 9 or 10pm.
We’ve grown fond of them—they are a hardworking bunch. The phones were supposed to be connected by July 15th—and they completed the entire task in the buggy wet ditches of June.
When you live this far out in the woods technology progress is limited—we are perhaps less inclined to take it all for granted–sometimes. A few weeks ago the phones were on the fritz—Mastec Marvin said there was too much “froggin’ of the lines” going on—adding folks on Iron Lake or other burned areas to existing systems— overloading them for a weekend. YIKES!!! What if somebody out there NEEDS us! We HAVE to have phones.
Later I was running errands in Duluth with my incredibly consistent cell phone. I was delighted that my list of contacts brought friends from far places to the touch of a button. Presto, I was talking to Kay and Joe in Seattle. Is that not remarkable when you think about it? Most astonishing to me still are all of those people sitting in airplanes, suspended in the air. I know how airplanes work, I just can’t believe that they really can get those heavy things off of the ground.
On a trip last week, I just barely got cell reception on Gillis Lake. I’m usually one that doesn’t have strong feelings AGAINST cell phones. I’m pro choice on that matter—I figure that people can say yea or nay, and they don’t bother me. It was comforting and convenient to bring the phone, yet when I actually used it for 30 seconds the connection made the wilderness feel less remote, and interfered with our ‘closed’ group. Were the convenience and safety worth bringing the outside world into our haven? I might have to say definitely not, but I think I’ll still stash the phone in the first aid kit next to the epi-pen next time—depending upon if and when Verizon takes the temporary cell tower down.
We now have wireless technology at Tuscarora. I listened to the staff at lunch discussing “ground rules” regarding the Internet—they don’t want to nag each other, but they also came here to get away from the technology scene—and don’t want it to interfere with relationships with each other. These free spirited young people don’t particularly like rules— this issue isn’t something that I ever considered at age 20. I admire them for the ways they are deliberately choosing to live and I’m reminded of the ways that the technological world creeps up on all of us when we’re not paying attention.

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