Last month, we took one of our annual twin trips and decided to hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Judy had done this strenuous 8-mile hike before, while Dagy had not. The Grand Canyon is within easy driving distance of Vegas, where Judy lives and Dagy was spending a month, so this was one twin trip that was relatively easy to plan. The canyon is 277 miles long, and one of the few places where one can hike all the way to the bottom is just outside Grand Canyon National Park on the Havasupai Indian Reservation. It's quite remote, and the hike starts at Hualapai Hilltop, which is some 2 hours outside Kingman, Arizona (almost no services along the way). One can rent cute mules to carry stuff to the campground, but since we were only staying two nights, we carried everything we'd need ourselves. Plus, Dagy draws the line at camping, so we stayed at the somewhat shabby, yet clean and terribly overpriced lodge ($200/night).
The hike was tough, gorgeous, breathtaking and definitely a very unique experience. The best part? Spending quality time together with no distraction other than our blisters. Judy, thanks to her spotty T-Mobile service, had no Android reception whatsoever (other hikers were using their cell phones just fine), and Dagy had her European data package turned off because of the outrageous charges. We didn't take a laptop, and the lodge did not have a TV, so for two blissful days, we were completely unaware of what was happening in the world (and yes, the presidential election). We were a bit afraid of being so disconnected, but something wonderful happened: we did not work at all! We did nothing even remotely work-related beyond talking about our business and discussing some teaching strategies for Judy's Introduction to Translation class at UC San Diego. We had been concerned that being in a black hole in terms of information would be really strange, but turns out it was not. It was wonderful. We hiked, we talked, we laughed, we swam in one of the gorgeous waterfalls, we read, told stories, and just enjoyed each other's company. No Facebook or Twitter needed.
We realized how beneficial this brief period of being fully disconnected really was. We focused on the essential: spending time together and getting a brief rest from the virtual hustle and bustle. We've been so trained and conditioned to be available and wired all the time that it's nice to know we can do just without any sort of gadgets Now, the camera is another matter: we need the camera. Enjoy the pictures.
What about you, dear colleagues? Do you ever truly disconnect? And does it stress you out or does it relax you? We would love to hear your experiences.