Ann Arbor Area Business Monthly
Small Business and the Internet

Up North

November 2009

By Mike Gould

I spent the first week of October in a tent at the Lake Superior State Forest Campground.
With profound apologies to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, I present the following account of our Autumn camping trip and how we survived our lack of connectivity.

On the shores of Gitche Gumee,
Where we lived in tents and shivered,
Clutching heat packs close to bosoms,
Close to frostbite, far from comfy,
There we spent our Fall vacation
Far from home and far from email,
Cut off from the links to eBay,
Near the bays and waves unbounded,
Just like folks back in the Fifties.

Heading North to see the foliage
All on fire with leaves of scarlet,
Yellow oaks the tourists worship,
Golden forests all around us,
Mixed with endless green of fir trees
Crossed by rivers brown and swirling.
There we dared to seek the sunset
Freed of wires and phones and WiFi,
Back to nature, nuts to networks,
Just like cavemen, good to go.

But I waffled, took my iPhone,
Thinking maybe on the voyage,
We could check things out while driving,
Driving Northward past the great bridge,
Tried in vain to make connection,
But, alas, could not phone home.

Seeking cell towers, unsuccessful:
No reception, bars, or signal
Stains the great white North triumphant
In its state of naught but landlines,
Pure from spam and phishing madness.
Just the phone booth on the corner
Of the small town passing quickly,
Marks the spot where talk is broadcast
To the aether, down a wire.

Cell phone dead in camp we figured,
All expected, this is rustic,
But to find no joy while riding,
Riding in the Ford Explorer,
Off to see the leaves of Autumn;
Sorry, pal, no signal here.

Few and far between the signals,
Larger towns and lonely towers
Scattered through the Yooper's landscape -
Outposts of the future's fixtures:
Here we found our fix of digits,
Checked our email, guilty pleasures,
Called my sister, fixed my Visa
Card which broke with my last order,
Back in business, for a while.

This the cost of too few people;
Empty vistas, airwaves silent,
As for 3G, just forget it -
If you're lucky, near a tower
Slow as snails is all you find there,
Email maybe, surfing useless,
Two bars on a phone is gold.

So head you north to seek the freedom
Free from all communing modern,
Tweet-less, texting quite unheard of
Save in towns and rare if present.
Seek the woods and waters peaceful,
Find the timbered inn not linked to,
Ditch the laptop, lose the cell phone -
Rest up for the rest of living
Here online where we all dwell.

Burma Shave.

Mike Gould, is a mouse wrangler for the U of M, runs the MondoDyne Web Works/Macintosh Consulting/Digital Photography mega-mall, is a member of, and welcomes comments addressed to

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