Sunday, September 2, 2007

A Week Without the Internet

A complete lack of connectivity was one of several reasons we chose to spend a week in a cabin in the woods. We didn't print out any plans or directions from the 'net, deciding to wing it like we imagine our parents and grandparents did, back in the day. I felt a pang of anxiety when I shut down the laptop for the last time the day we left. I considered bringing the laptop, but stoically left it behind.

The drive took us over the first range of the Blue Ridge, through Shenandoah National Park. On the other side of the mountains, we skirted the tiny town of Luray and set off down a long rural road. After crossing a bridge over the Shenandoah River, we hung a right and drove north for seven more miles along the water, past cow herds and campsites, cabins and abandoned farmhouses.

When we arrived Saturday evening, we did an inventory of the cabin. I made a grocery list and prepped to go to the store. I looked around for a phone book. Nothing. No phone. No newspaper, and no local guidebooks. No map of Luray, either.

Crap. How would we find the grocery store? We hadn't noticed one in town. We sure hadn't passed one on the way out to the cabin.

Then I remembered the Google cell phone trick. I promptly abandoned our no-connectivity aspirations, texted "Grocery store luray va" to GOOGL and awaited the results.

They were:
610 E Main St

Bo's Belly Barn
925 E Main St
I had a hunch that Bo's Belly Barn was unlikely to have what we needed. (We later discovered that Bo's is a convenience store/gas station.) Seven-Eleven might be ok in a pinch, but we needed more.

We checked the cupboards. There was an unopened box of Sam's Choice crackers -- a clue that a Wal-Mart was nearby. I tried GOOGL again, texting with "Walmart luray va." This time, the answer was helpful. Not only was there a Wal-Mart nearby, but it was just past town on the main highway we'd taken between the mountain and Luray. We wouldn't even need a map to get there.

Meanwhile, a storm was coming in over the mountains (see picture above of the view from our deck, with the first clouds creeping around the highest peak). I headed out for food during the resulting thunderstorm while Steve hung out at the cabin with Wendy. The Wal-Mart appeared on highway 211 West like an oasis in the desert. I stocked up and headed back, successful.

The next day, after driving up and down Main Street several times, we located the Luray Visitor Information Center. We ransacked the place, walking out with at least a dozen pamphlets, maps, and guidebooks. It was information gathering, old school.

Next stop, Luray Caverns and the world-famous Luray Garden Maze.

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