Slow Season

By , June 29, 2017

The summer tourist season is in full swing. Since Michelle works for a local tour company, you can imagine how the hectic pace bleeds into our homestead. It seems everyone has her cell number, so calls and texts usually begin as soon as she turns her phone on in the morning, and don’t end till evening. Her only respite comes during her hike commute, when she has no coverage on the trail. Add to this her need to process her work day, and Aly’s similar need after dealing with tourists at the museum all day, and the hustle and bustle of a tourist town comes home to the forest.

Ironically, I consider this a slow season. That’s because my jobs involve Internet connectivity.

A cruise ship heads south on Lynn Canal a few summers ago (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

We don’t have a lot of cell towers in our area. Counting Skagway’s, I think we have three. All of them are shared among the various carriers. Imagine, then, what it must be like to flood these areas with several thousand people per cruise ship on any given day!

We’re on the very edge of coverage. That lessens our connectivity to begin with. Add to it that the parade of cruise ships passing by in the evening. I don’t know if they announce to their passengers that they are about to pass beyond coverage until they approach Juneau, or if people just choose that time to send their selfies and other electronic communications to loved ones after a long, hard day of touring, or what. All I know is, if our Internet bogs down, we look for a ship.

We even keep the official docking schedule handy, so we can try to predict our outages, based on estimates of when a ship will likely pass us, shadowing our coverage.

Wednesdays are the default “ship day” in Haines. I try to avoid doing anything meaningful on line on Wednesdays, but I live out in the forest, where “scheduling” has much more to do with knowing the state of the tide than remembering what day it is.

So, here I sit, writing this post on the day it should be posted, Wednesday, with no Internet connectivity at all! I’m unlikely to get this posted this morning, nor will I get to send a handful of important emails, or download the audio book from the library. My dad just got released from the hospital after a bad fall, but any calls I try to make to him will likely drop. I’ll be lucky to receive the texts Michelle and Aly send me today, the last of which help me to get a hot meal on the table for them when they arrive home.

Internet and phone communications become similar to moving through molasses on these days. The faster life becomes in the tourist trade, the slower our links to the outside world become.

Forget it. I’m going fishing. I guess you’ll see this when I manage to post it.

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