Lost in the Forest

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“Where do you live”? This is the fourth call from the satellite internet installer. He is always polite. He was due here at 9 AM. It is now past noon. He is lost!

Since we live in the middle of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest (1.5 million acres of forest in Northern Wisconsin) on a dead-end dirt road, we are not always so easy to find. The standing joke is ‘you can’t get from here to there.’ Of course, you can get from here to there, it just requires a good working knowledge of North, South, East and West.

GPS systems usually send a newbie (never been here before person) down some gravel or dirt road known only by a four digit fire lane number. The forest service uses these roads to check for forest fires. I too use these roads, but I know where I am going and I have a command of the compass. I also know which fire lanes dead-end and which are impassible. It is just a way of life for those of us who decide to live in Northern Wisconsin. We know our safe short-cuts.

So, Andy is lost. Once again I tell him how to get to us. “Yes, we are WEST of where you currently are.” I want to add West is the direction of sun set, but today is cloudy and there is no visible sun. Plus it is noon, so even if the sun was out, it would be straight up in the sky. The second time he calls I gave him the Country Road as C. “It is C. Just make sure you head WEST on C and not East, because you will end up right where you started an hour ago.”

Yup, he ends up right where he started, therefore facilitating another call. This time he is on W. So I asked what I thought was a logical question, “Where on W are you?”

He doesn’t know. Those of us who live up here know the land marks and can tell someone else our current location: I am on W just past Dirty Irene’s Store. I am on W by the stone pit. I just passed Johnny’s farm. I am on W by such-and-such bar.

There are a lot of bars in northern Wisconsin- more bars than churches and lots of local characters!

Another way to locate your position in the north woods is to cross over a river, pass a lake, or notice a small village. These villages are really small, so it is necessary to pay close attention to the cross-roads that we call ‘villages.’ It is usually where two street signs join. It is a good locator, because many roads do not have street signs.

Andy must be from a much bigger city- a city of over 20,000 people. I know he is having a dickens of a time finding us, but I hope he doesn’t give up because I really do want satellite internet. I am still on dial-up tethered through a cell phone. 2012 hasn’t made it this far north.

I continue waiting for Andy. He hasn’t called in twenty minutes now so a couple of possibilities are in play: He is lost and has no cell phone service (frequent problem), he is heading in an even bigger circle and will soon be calling from another state or Canada. He is headed in the right direction and no longer needs assistance finding us.

I hope he has a full tank of gas. It’s a survival skill here. Gas Stations are far and few between.

My husband and I have talked to Andy so many times now that he feels like one of the family. I will ask if he’s had lunch because we are an hour from any fast food establishments and most bars aren’t open this early in the day. Plus, it is Tuesday, and most bars in our area are closed on Tuesday. If you don’t live here, you don’t know these facts.

My husband announces that he is going outside to wait for Andy. He has the phone with him. If all else fails, he will jump in his truck to get to where Andy is. We do this frequently. It is a way of life. If we want service, WE have to find the service man- literally lost in the forest!

I am inside waiting for the phone to ring. My husband is outside looking for Andy. We both are hopeful that we can get our satellite internet service today. It will speed life up just a little and connect us to the rest of the world.

So far there is no sign of Andy and it is now past 1 PM. He should have been here by now. We’ll just have to wait and see. I already decide that he will install the service today even if I have to offer him the guest room for an over-night stay. Once he gets here he is not leaving until he completes the job.

The dog is barking. Hopefully this is good news and Andy has found us.

It’s Andy!

And in only two hours after this writing, I made my entrance onto the WWW of the north woods (the world wide web, not the County Highway!) I am now truly connected. I just hope Andy finds his way out of here. He still has two installs to make before he heads to Green Bay, Wisconsin and his home.







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