Road Crew

Thursday, June 23, 2016

ET phone home

            Mount Rainier finally decided to take off its crown of clouds long enough to get a full view of it today.  Wildflowers added a nice dash of color.  I even watched a whole herd of mountain goats crawl over the rock face.  I was anxious to share this with everyone but Mount Rainier is a communication black hole.
            The trouble started in the North Cascades when my satellite radio seemed to sputter out.  This was frustrating for me as I have become quite addicted to flipping through channels as my mood changed and that can be two or three times during just one song.  I have very nearly worn out the buttons on the steering wheel changing stations and adjusting the sound and I am not yet 6 months into owning the car.  I am not so sure I bought a car as a $30,000 mobile sound system.  But now I hear a few words before long stretches of silence while the radio goes searching for a signal.  I am forced to fill in the lyrics making it one of those times that it is probably just as well that I am traveling alone. Initially I blamed the interruptions on the mountains, but even as I hit the coast, with nothing obviously in the way, the problem persisted.  I then blamed the weather.  Maybe the clouds were blocking a clear reception.  This was concerning to think about.  If Hollywood is right and nuclear bombs are triggered by satellites, we may need to rethink our defense strategy.
            Then the problem spread to my GPS watch in the Olympics.  My run was long delayed as I walked around waiting for my GPS to connect with my arm to the sky expecting those extra 18 inches to make all the difference to the satellite thousands of miles above my head. I watched the indicator as it processed the satellite signal.  The only thing slower was the line at the DMV.  As if sensing my impatience and risk of dismemberment with further delay, it finally said, close enough and beeped at me to proceed.  Still it lost signal as I ran. It seems Garmin is a product of the participation generation and was expecting some sort of trophy for effort as it settled for spitting out random numbers for my elevation and distance.  I would like to think it was because I was going so fast it couldn’t keep up, but in reality I was battling it out with the banana slugs.           
            Then like a disease, it spread to my Spot.  The Spot is a little device that allows me to send a signal when I am out running or have otherwise lost communication that I am alive and well.  It is also a back up in case I am not doing well and maybe even dying.  Given my recent mishap at Deception Pass, I decided that I would be a bit more vigilant about taking it with me, especially since I have zero reception in Rainier National Park.  So it was quite disappointing to discover that the Spot had apparently not located me and, thus, not bothered to tell anyone where I was.  It didn’t even try for the participation award and went straight to drop out status.  I guess that’s what you get for visiting a stoner state.

            This leaves me with no other option but to drive for 30 minutes outside the park to find a turnout where some radiowave manages to sneak through so I can download 50 junk emails, a modern comfort that makes me feel as though, yes, random faceless strangers still care about me enough to keep me on their mass email lists.  Complicating this ritual is that reception has not been consistent at any one spot.  I was that annoying car on the highway that slowed down at each turn off while I checked to see how many bars I had.  Clearly the Verizon man did not film his commercials in Rainier because no one can hear me now.  This seems one very small step above a payphone.  I am forced to consider that maybe the universe is trying to tell me something, like no one really wants to hear me.  If I am going to give up on civilized life, then it is going to give up on me.  Or maybe this tinfoil hat really is magic!

1 comment:

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