Take a look at this picture:
It's a pretty famous shot, as everyone who approaches the Yosemite Valley takes it. It's called the Tunnel View. (This particular photo is from Yen-Wen Lu; see the rest of his Yosemite photos here.) I've taken a picture from this perspective myself twice, once in 1995 and once in 2008. That's Bridalveil Falls on the right, and Half Dome is almost exactly in the middle.
When you look over this scene of the apparent wilderness, what's the first thing you think about? Probably not wi-fi access for your computer. But that was what jumped out at me in thinking about my two adventures in Yosemite, 13 years apart.
It's gotten pretty difficult to get away from it all these days.
In this case, the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite has wi-fi in the common areas. When I walked through the common rooms, adults and children were on computers, typing away. And if the adults weren't doing work, or something, they were on their cell phones. The signal wasn't too great, but Yosemite Village has cell service.
Obviously, the Internet and cellular phones weren't everywhere in 1995. For comparison's sake, Yosemite Lodge didn't even have televisions in every room back then. (The Ahwahnee does now, although the ESPN outlets weren't on the dial, which made it tough to follow the hockey playoffs.)
There's something a little sad about this. I felt like telling the others, "Get off of the computers and go take a walk. You're in one of the world's great places. Why don't you spend the afternoon looking around?" Apparently some couldn't bring themselves to do that.
I like being connected as much as the next person, but sometimes it's nice to know that e-mail is just going to have to wait.