Thursday, August 24, 2006

What's next? An IPod?

Every now and again, I get slapped in the face by the confirmation that I'm changing; swept into a different dimension by technology. No better than the hordes of lemmings who latch onto the latest fad today, only to ditch it tomorrow. In this vein, I am reminded that I am not special.

These little "confirmations" come at odd times and places. The latest one -- and don't read any Brad Pittiness into this -- came on top of a mountain: Bald Mountain near Lake Willoughby in Vermont.

When Carolie and I arrived at the cabin a few weeks ago, I flopped on the couch and started leafing through some old copies of Vermont Life magazine, only to be intrigued by an article on the joys of climbing Bald Mountain, which as it turns out is only a few miles from the cabin. The article indicated the location of the easiest route up the mountain. Being not particularly adroit at mountain climbing or hiking (It's a flesh is weak thing. The spirit gets a pass on this point.), I dutifully recorded the directions and the next day Carolie and I set off on our excursion.

Carolie said her parents and her aunt and uncle made this climb a few years ago and as they're in their '70s, we felt confident that a couple of adroitless 50-somethings could handle the climb. We pranced through the first half mile or so, looking for the elusive pink, fuzzy somethingorother, but eventually the grade steepened and the spirit revealed its ugly side.

"Jesum Crow," I said with increasing frequency (it's a Vermont expression that, trust me, completely fools God when it comes to keeping score.), falling farther behind Carolie who, while huffing a bit, was suddenly reminding me of those mall walkers at the Maplewood Mall, usually featuring a handful of spry 80-year-olds in new jogging outfits, followed by their husbands, toting their oxygen tanks.

Many rest stops and Jesum Crows later -- about 2 hours later -- we emerged at the top of Bald Mountain and while Carolie climbed to the top of an abandoned fire tower, I -- and here comes the "confirmation" -- opened my cellphone to see how many "bars" I could get on the signal indicator.

"Wow," she said as she surveyed the view. "I can see Lake Willoughby from here."

"I've got 3 bars," I said back, desperately trying to think of someone I could call if only to say "I'm on a frickin' mountain in Vermont."

When did this happen? When did I become somehow spiritually connected to a cellphone? I don't use it much, and nobody ever calls me, so why am I suddenly flipping open my cellphone to see if I have a signal? Why am I so much like.... you know...them? I don't even like cellphones, which are only slightly higher on my stupid-o-meter than the people who use them. I vowed never to have one.

Of course, I vowed once -- 1986 if memory serves -- never to own a computer. Look at me now! Something special, eh?

Post script: it turns out that I read the magazine article wrong. The trail we took was not the easiest, according to the magazine. It was the easiest to find. And Carolie's parents and aunt and uncle never made the trek. It was another gentler journey.

I plan on finding that one next time I'm there. I'll call you when I get to the top.

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