Some Reflections on Very Big Trees and an Involuntary Internet Fast

by | Oct 15, 2013 | Pop Culture, Things I Think, Travel | 7 comments

We are big fans of the National Park System. Each year, we head out on a different National Park trip, to appreciate God’s majesty and Teddy Roosevelt’s foresight, and to meet some Germans (who are usually the only other people we see in the National Parks).

This year, we decided to go see the giant redwoods. Then a few days before our trip, our government began its little temper tantrum and we had to adjust our plans a bit. But, fortunately, we were already set to stay in a state park. In a cute little cabin. With wi-fi.

When we arrived, the cabin was just as cute as advertised, and the redwoods were just as impressive. But the wi-fi was “down” and there wasn’t even cell-phone service. So I went the better part of four days without being able to check my or anyone else’s blog, or Facebook, or email, or text, or phone, or anything.

Our first trip in the new van! Our first stop was Columbia, CA, a restored goldrush town. We took a stagecoach ride and, you’re not going to believe this, but we were held up! There was also candle dipping, old-timey bowling, and an excellent sweet shop!

I probably should have learned something profound. Hmmmm, let’s see if I did.

1. Life is better when every grown-up you see is not looking down at his or her phone.
I’m as internet-dependent as the next gal, but I don’t have a smart phone, so I get to see what all the rest of y’all look like walking through the grocery store and standing at soccer practice and sitting at the playground staring at your phones. All the grown ups. All the time. Staring at the phones.
Getting to have a family vacation with hikes and board games and volleyball and chats and zero phone-staring was great. Really great. I just wish it hadn’t been paired with anxiety over whether my combox was filling up with insults and swear words while I was powerless to stop it.
Redcrest Resort in the Humbolt Redwoods State Park
2. Maybe phones are actually nice for talking on.
I usually really don’t like talking on the phone. I’d much rather talk to a person via email or text or in person. The phone always seems to interrupt something I was in the middle of.
However, on this vacation, I learned that if you decide to stay back at the cabin with the two pre-schoolers so you can nap while they nap, then instead of napping, there’s a lot of, “Wake UP! Uh-ni-ni. Get Frankie UP! No nigh-nigh. Wake UP!”, you will really wish you had cell phone service. 
However big you think redwoods are — they are way, way bigger.
Because if only you could make one tiny little phone call, the rest of the group would come back to the cabin and take you and the little guys along on all their distracting adventures. You might even take back all the bad things you ever said about talking on phones.
But, alas, despite your mental apologies, the grown ups and the big kids will not come back until dinner-time, and you will be tired of playing Candyland, even if you DID win — twice.
Well-played, phone. Well-played.
Eating s’mores and playing with fire.
3. It’s warm-fuzzy to be missed.
While I was gone, Haley wrote a really lovely post about how forgiving her priest and fellow Mass-goers have been of her sometimes noisy little ones in Mass. It’s really a very sweet and encouraging piece. And, as happens to all who dare to write on this topic (including me) the combox crazies came after her.
Since I have become an unofficial spokesperson on the topic (go ahead, google “cry room,” I’ll wait) and Haley and I have a fabulous history of blog comments and posts and counter-posts and post-counter-posts there were actually people who wondered where I was in all of it. People I wasn’t even related to.
On day 3 we headed for the coast. We visited Shelter Cove to see tidepools, a lighthouse, and harbor seals.
It made me feel happy that all my middle of the night blog-post-typing is actually getting noticed, but also sad that I couldn’t be there until terribly late to stick up for a gal who is not only very sweet, but also totally right (on this, not on . . . no wait, I won’t).
But, of course, there were tons of other people sticking up for her. And for our (little c) catholic (big C) Catholic Church. “Universal” includes wiggly toddlers and frazzled parents and even glare-y old church ladies. All are welcome in this place. 
Comments are closed on the original post, but you can still go here to give Haley and Daniel some love.
We went to Blacksand Beach and saw black sand, of course, but also powered hang gliders and powerful waves. We also repatriated a LOT of sea stars.
4. It’s even warm-fuzzier to give your friends a minute to get your back.
And speaking of Haley’s combox catastrophes and my combox anxieties . . . I wrote my 7 Quick Takes and set them to post for Friday, but didn’t know I wouldn’t be able to get online to link them up as I usually do, or monitor or respond to the comments.
It wasn’t a super-controversial post or anything, just me sharing some ideas about Halloween and All Saints’ Day costumes, but somebody did have a bone to (pleasantly) pick with me on a costume my son is working on for this year.
Normally, I would have been there to engage in the discussion with her, but since I wasn’t, someone else came to my defense. Which is way better than me doing it myself. Thanks Bonnie!
Day 4 found us back on the road again. We were turned away from a federal parking lot by a ranger, but managed to jump out and grab a family photo.
So, did I learn anything? Yes and no. I really enjoyed getting to have family time, uninterrupted by the temptation of social media. 
But once the kids were in bed and the campfire was out and it was too dark to look at the big trees, I did miss my blog, and other people’s blogs, and Facebook and all that. 

We stopped for Mass at Misson San Carlos Borromeo del Rio Carmelo in Carmel. It was the second of the 21 California Missions and is the final resting place of Blessed Junipero Serra, founder of the Missions. We usually attend Mission San Fernando Rey, the 17th mission.
I very much doubt you’ll ever find me giving up social media for Lent. It’s been a source of good in my life. I feel useful and helpful and supported and challenged and helped and I value the relationships I’ve formed through social media. I wouldn’t consider cutting off my friends in the neighborhood for Lent, so I can’t imagine cutting off you guys for Lent either. 
But I could absolutely see another wi-fi-less vacation. Or a day-light ban on phones and iPads on family vacations. It’s amazing how much else there is to do and how much in-person interaction there is to be had when your phone’s not even a phone, let alone a window to the world.
those trees were very, very tall

and very, very wide
I just don’t think I’ll set things to post in my absence. And I’ll give Haley the heads-up to write about something less controversial than bringing your kids with you to Mass. Like maybe Bigfoot. Everyone likes Bigfoot.
Betty and Bigfoot


  1. Cam Wollner

    I love the pictures! You visited some of my favorite places (I lived Humbolt County when I was little and my Dad's family is from Carmel so we'd visit a lot!) and now I'm feeling a little homesick! And thank goodness for state parks during all this craziness!

  2. Kim

    pretty pics. we also used to live near there and got to experience those amazing places. For some reason I thought you were going to end this by saying…"and then they asked us to leave the park"…since I had seen some news stories of ppl having to leave the state parks last week.

  3. Kate

    Thanks for the link to Haley's post. It was a very nice post and I am glad that she is in such a loving parish!

  4. Cristina

    Those trees are gorgeous! I want to do a stint stationed on the west coast solely for the purpose of seeing the giant redwoods….and also the chance to hit the grand canyon on the drive over, because the chance of us taking our minions on a pleasure ride cross country is pretty slim 🙂

    I'm so glad the government temper tantrum didn't disrupt your vacation too much!

  5. Kris

    We go camping to the same place in NC every year – no Wi-Fi, no cell phone service, no electricity. It's lovely – and an awesome way for our family to reconnect. Especially my electronically attached teenagers! It's 5 days, which is just enough to enjoy, but to also be ready to catch back up with the world.

  6. Haley @ Carrots for Michaelmas

    We definitely missed you, Kendra 🙂 So glad you had a wonderful time, though. I'm already excited about having bigger kids to take globetrotting. It looks so fun.

    "go ahead, google 'cryroom,' I'll wait"


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Hi! I’m Kendra.

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