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Since I was 8 years old I’ve always been fascinated by technology.  I probably was before that as well but I didn’t get a computer until I was 8 and then I think I felt like I now belonged to a “club” and started to keep an eye on technology even more (hey, I lived in central Nebraska and, in terms of computer owners in my town, I was a club of 1).

When I say I like technology I’m talking about all the software and hardware that has become commonplace in our lives and we have slowly began to rely on without thinking.  For example, my car (actually a Jeep Liberty) has a 5” touch screen computer in it with a 20gig HD, Bluetooth, and a very nice GPS navigation system.  I can stick a CD into this thing and it will automatically download the track-listing via satellite and then rip all songs to the HD as MP3’s.  I literally bought the vehicle for these features and didn’t pay too much attention to the un-important things like MPG, etc… I owned it for 2 weeks before a neighbor pointed it that it had remote start capabilities (I never bothered to push that button on my keychain)  I also have an iPhone 3GS which is probably one of the coolest technical devices I’ve ever owned.  Between the compass/map/navigational features to the functionality of the countless applications I’ve bought or downloaded free, this is an amazingly powerful and functional device that goes with me wherever I go.  If you own one of these you know what I’m talking about.  Also, every week I get the ad’s in the Sunday paper and I dig through them to get to the technology stores and check out what’s new (and what it costs).  It’s a geeky thing to do but it’s like my own little stock market.  I have 3TB of HD space sitting around on my home network just due to deals I’ve found on HD’s over the years (do I need this much HD space? Not at all)   Thanks to Twitter and Facebook and others I now know when friends are online/offline/happy/sad/at the barber/having plumbing problems/etc.  We are so connected and interactive with all this technology it begins to be an accepted part of our day to day lives and we sometimes forget what life was like prior to us getting “plugged in”.  I’ve met/reconnected with friends and family from around the world that I haven’t seen in many years and now I feel like I “know” them and their families again.

I’m pretty proud to have made a career out of helping people take advantage of things like this…but sometimes you have to stop, step away, and remember what it is like without all these things.  Technology is a fascinating field where there is always something new to tickle your fancy and keeping up is a constant (and expensive) battle.  I have crates of old computer equipment in my basement which is totally worthless now but was cutting edge a year or so ago (ignoring the “relics” I keep around that are over 5 years old).  I just packed away over 30 programming books because they were .NET 2.0 or older (which is legacy when it comes to making space on my bookshelf).

Like any career-minded individual should, I’ve always had hobbies outside of my “day job”.  I still consider computers/technology a hobby but I’ve always tried to find hobbies where it wasn’t always a race and the items I buy and skills I learn don’t change as fast as they do in technology.  

For the last 15 years I’ve been a hack guitar player (and am currently in a few more bands than my wife would like).  I study songs and techniques mastered in the 60’s and 70’s (and, yes, the 80’s :)  I’m also proud of the 20 year old amps and vintage effects I own.  Musical equipment is a rare field in which vintage is still better.  It’s a generally accepted fact that the older stuff is always better.  Then eBay and Craigslist had to come along and ruin it for me by giving me visibility into what is for sale and feeding a vintage gear habit :( 

My other (and more recent) hobby was to take up fly fishing (and tying).  I’ve always been a fisherman to some extent but for the last 3-4 years have really gotten into fly fishing.  Here is another hobby where 20 year old equipment still works fine and the same basic skills have been honed over decades.  There is definitely a science to fly fishing but it’s also a tradition dating back 100’s of years without the radical changes technology see’s in a matter of months.  New technology still accounts for advances in equipment, lines, etc…but overall change is slow in this sport.  It’s kind of fun to learn from the “old guys” instead of being in an industry where the rapid change oftentimes causes the “old guys” to be left by the wayside sooner than they should be.  Plus it’s quieter and more relaxing than playing a guitar turned to 11.

Where is all this going?  Last night was the first episode of “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea” (   You might not know this but I am a big supporter of our National Parks and a frequent visitor to many.  One of my many trips to Yellowstone was the spark that got me to pick up a fly rod.  My daughters would rather go hike a national park (specifically Yellowstone) than to Disney World.   This series (of which only the first episode has aired at the time of this post) describes the history and the people behind our park system and has some stunning cinematography.   Regardless of the technological advances our country has made over the last few centuries, we have done a good job at preserving some of the greatest scenery on our planet from those advances.   No matter how much we think technology or other modern advancements can improve or enhance something, sometimes you just have to leave it alone and let it evolve naturally.

In mid August of this year, myself and 3 friends spent 8 days in Montana and Yellowstone.  We spent 5 of those days in the backcountry hiking and bushwhacking to alpine lakes where we camped and lived off wild trout.  We took absolutely no technology and instead used topo maps and an “old fashioned” compass to get where we needed to go.  We carried everything we needed on our backs and lived off the land for awhile.   I don’t want to make us sound too “hardcore”, some of our equipment was pretty slick and revolutionary and I’m sure they didn’t have stuff like this in the “old days”.  For 4 days we saw only 2 other people (and from a distance of nearly a mile).  We were totally alone in the wild.

At one point we hit a dead end near a lake (called Canyon Lake) and we couldn’t find a trail onward to our destination (or at least one that didn’t go over a mountain).  We ultimately ended up making a boat out of logs and boating nearly a mile through a canyon (with a few of us swimming to push/pull the boat).  There was no technology to help (and we didn’t even have a saw).  Our boat might not have been pretty (see picture below) but it held two 200lb men plus 200lb’s in equipment and kept everything dry.  It was one of the greatest adventures of my life (and, yes, we sang “I’M ON A BOAT!" with a little T-Pain effect)

It was a fascinating trip which we didn’t take for any really deeply profound religious purposes but, basically, we just wanted to get away from all our “gadgets” for awhile.  If any of you get a chance, I encourage you to do the same sometimes and get outside (if you don’t already).  If possible, hit up a national park.  If not, just hit the local parks.  Hike, run, boat, fish or do whatever you do without technology.   I’ll always be chasing the newest ideas, sites, technologies…but sometimes I’ll be chasing some wild trout in the mountains too. 

The moral of this story: don’t let the greatest scenery you’ve ever seen be on your desktop wallpaper. 


ps. If you get a chance check out “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea” on PBS this week. Also, if there are any fly fishermen out there please drop me a email.  We need to get together and “stick some fatties” as my friends would say :)


Backcountry 2009 147 Clarks Fork Hike 056

Backcountry 2009 072 Greg Pictures 583

Posted on Monday, September 28, 2009 9:09 AM | Back to top

Comments on this post: Chasing Technology, Our Best Idea, and Fly Fishing

# re: Chasing Technology, Our Best Idea, and Fly Fishing
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# re: Chasing Technology, Our Best Idea, and Fly Fishing
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The pictures look great and make me wish I was there right now fishing.
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# re: Chasing Technology, Our Best Idea, and Fly Fishing
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