Have laptop, will travel – as a sportsman, too

I’ve been scrambling a bit lately, cranking out some serious copy ahead of a vacation. And it’s a big one – a trip to Alaska, where Paula and I will rent a truck camper in Fairbanks and head north on the Dalton Highway, more accurately described by the locals as the “haul road.”

We did a similar trip a few years back, heading out of Whitehorse, Yukon, on the Dempster Highway all the way up to Inuvik, Northwest Territories. From there, we hopped in a De Havilland Otter for a flight to Tuktoyuktok, where we strolled around the Inuvialuit village, helped a couple local women haul in their fishing nets, and waded out into the Arctic Ocean for a ceremonial dip on a 38-degree day.

It’s the kind of adventure we long for, one that takes us to vast, breathtaking landscapes in the north, well above the Arctic Circle, places rarely visited, where you have a real chance of encountering symbols of the true north – a wolverine, caribou, even, on this trip, muskox. The grayling and Dolly Varden trout on a fly rod are a bonus.

As much as we’re looking forward to this excursion, it’s at the same time a little disconcerting. We will be “off the grid” for about a week, with no cell service or email availability.

It happens rarely these days. Even while on an elk hunting trip a few years ago high in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in Washington state I was able to use my cell phone and laptop, working emails and even listening to a high school football game in my tent one Friday night. And when I returned phone calls from readers while essentially on vacation, even when packing out an elk, they knew I was one of them.

Over the years, we’ve put the finishing touches on editions of New York Outdoor News in the unlikeliest of locations: in a laundromat in Inuvik during that Yukon-NWT trip; a motel room in Phillipsburg, Kan., during a spring gobbler hunt; another motel, this one in Douglas, Wyo., where I bowhunted for pronghorns; at various locations in Florida, Montana, Ontario, Nebraska; and, if all goes according to plan next year, Newfoundland.

For a guy who started in this business on an Underwood typewriter, it’s pretty incredible stuff. Today’s technology allows us to kickstart a vacation – I’ll actually be proofing pages during a lengthy layover in the Seattle airport – and jumpstart our return to the office (I’ll almost assuredly be working during our red-eye home from Alaska).

It also means we can be sportsmen, just like our readers. I think they like the fact that we’re out there doing it and not just writing about it. We experience the same highs and lows, the successes and failures, and understand exactly why our readers hunt, fish, trap and, in general, just enjoy the outdoors.

So technology has advanced not only in the sporting world, but the newspaper world as well.

That laptop is a lot easier to tote through an airport than one of those old Underwoods.

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