My family visited a city where cell phones are not allowed. The lack of service made me a more present father.

Anna Rollin

  • My family visited Watoga State Park in West Virginia, where cell phones are not allowed.

  • When I try to send a text message to a friend, I find that there is no signal.

  • The park is close to a large telescope, so the area is considered a quiet zone for instruments.

We started the summer with a trip to the Quiet Zone. After a month of shift work, an intangible baby fever, and dog diarrhea, my husband rented a cabin in Watoga State Park, WV, for the holidays. We rode, fished and swam in the lake. Then we hiked the hiking trails through the Allegheny Mountains with our two young sons.

When I arrived at the park, I saw a message on my phone: A friend has just given birth to a little girl. I wrote my congratulations. When I pressed send, I received a notification: “Message delivery failed”.

“Oh,” my husband said casually as he walked down the wood-paneled highway. ‘There is no cell service here. It’s actually illegal. »

Although the area around Watoga is isolated forest, it is far from far behind. On the contrary: Cell service was blocked due to the area’s proximity to the Green Bank Observatory, home to the world’s largest fully controllable telescope.

No signal

The telescope can detect radio emissions light years away. To prevent our terrestrial instruments from disrupting scientific research, the government declared an area of ​​13,000 square miles – most of Pocahontas County, West Virginia – around the telescope as a National Radio Quiet District.

My first impulse, of course, was to take my phone to Google for more information. Instead, I found that I had a strange urge to tell other people about it in the park.

A person who grew up in the area described a teenage hobby of driving to certain peaks to reach cell towers in the surrounding counties. Another said how good it is to live at a slower pace without being distracted.

Like many people living outside the quiet zone, I struggled with my relationship with my devices. I have tried various tricks to reduce my consumption: usage alarms, deliberately “miss it” and self-censorship.

Although I would not have been ashamed of him for his reliance on technology, which has actually made the already daunting task of parenthood so much easier, I would have fantasized about bygone times.

Our trip to the Quiet Zone reminded me of how life would be with more attention.

Made my dad better

When we entered the cottage – clean and rustic with the luxury of modern conveniences – it was noon. When I started draining the water and boiling the water on the stove at the same time, my child accidentally came across the kitchen table.

“Mom, I peed,” he shouted.

I immediately pulled my phone out of my back pocket. I realized that I was conditioned to take a little spin – to get a dopamine hit – before I faced the chaos of life. But my phone could not offer that convenience, so I had to take care of the clutter.

After dinner we went for a little walk. We chose a random path that my son asked for. His reasoning: “Let’s go because it’s cooler. I realized this rating was better than anything else I could find in an internet search.

When we woke up in the morning, my son was lying next to me in his bed. Instead of reaching for my camera on the table, I turned to him. He was still asleep. I listened to the sound of his constant breathing. I looked intensely at her face – the hills in her cheeks, the valleys under her eyes – and studied how the light from the slatted curtains enveloped her skin.

In this silence, I returned to the experience of full presence. To be completely here on Earth, the others had to look at the stars.

Read the original article on Inside

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