Roughing it: The electronic version

Within a split second, our connection to the outside world was severed.

Within a split second, our connection to the outside world was severed. Our satellite internet is a tenuous link at the best of times, prone to mysterious error messages about control centre problems, the transmit path and being locked to an alien network. Which always makes me nervous – shouldn’t NASA know about this? Or maybe they do know and that’s what the problem is.

But this was different. The whole system appeared to be dead with only the modem’s power light still giving off a feeble glow. I swallowed. As much as having satellite internet out in the bush feels weird, especially considering it’s cheek to cheek with oil lamps and outside plumbing, it does add more freedom to the lifestyle. The hassle of shopping trips is somewhat diminished thanks to online stores, phone calls work via Skype and it’s even possible to earn a living thanks to it.

Only now, none of this worked and the trusty old HF radio rose to its former glory as our only means of communication again. A lump formed in my throat at the thought of possibly having to bring in an installer – an expensive option that never fails to raise its ugly head when things go on strike but which so far, we’ve been able to avoid. I’d like to be able to say that that’s due to our uncommonly thorough know-how of computers in general and satellite systems in particular, but usually it just fixes itself. Though there might be a correlation to the level of anxiety and nail biting on our side. Rarely does the system fire up again without any gnashing of teeth.

The dogs have remained happily ignorant of this latest crisis and only greet me with the briefest of tail wags as I go to look at the satellite dish in the hopes of discovering what happened. “Looking for mice?” I ask sourly, envious that my life is not so simple. Bloody internet. What happened to the simple life out in the bush, anyway? It’s mutated into geek’s paradise, bristling with all sorts of antennas and data chips. GPS, emergency locator transmitters, laptops and modems. Roughing it in the bush: the electronic version.

I stare at the satellite dish. It stares back at me with its usual bland expression, looking no different usual. “Hm.” I fiddle with the cables, can’t think of what else to do and trudge back around the cabin, where our mutts are still busy putting the fear of dog into the local mouse population. Maybe Sam will have an idea when he comes back from fishing.

To improve my mood, I decide to help with the mouse-catching efforts and lift up a board that the three dog noses are trying to nudge out of the way. Tails wag furiously, front paws pounce – and the mouse scuttles past me out of harm’s way. “Over there, you idiots,” I scold the dogs and then notice the frayed cables lying in the dirt. The cables that go from the modem to the satellite dish.

“Oh, no!” I sink to my knees and pick up the cables, their wire guts spilling out of the black insulation. “Hey! Who did this?” I yell at the dogs who put on an apologetic look to pacify me, or so they hope. Ears fold back, heads and tails go down. It must have happened during their mouse hunt when they were pulling the mess underneath the cabin apart. Only the puppy comes running to me, half expecting that wire waving will turn into a new game. Or did he chew on it? “This is no. No.”

What to do? We have one extra set of very short cables which doesn’t reach inside the cabin. Still, the system would work again – it would only be a matter of setting the modem and laptop up outside and getting the generator going. Crouched right behind the dish, we’ll be able to fire off emails and make phone calls. Obviously not a permanent solution, but better than none.

Relieved, I add “new modem cables” to Sam’s shopping list and suddenly realize that for the time being, due to the awkwardness of using the internet now, we’ll be roughing it in a less electronic way. What a blessing.

Lisa Hasselbring is a writer who lives at the headwaters of the Yukon River south of Whitehorse.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Connie Peggy Thorn, 52, pleaded guilty Jan. 27 to manslaughter in the 2017 death of Greg Dawson. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Whitehorse woman pleads guilty to manslaughter in death of Greg Dawson

Connie Thorn, 52, was arrested in October 2019 and pleaded guilty in Supreme Court on Jan. 27.

Abigail Jirousek, left, is tailed by Brian Horton while climbing a hill during the Cross Country Yukon January Classic in Whitehorse on Jan. 23. Jirousek finished second in the U16 girls category. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Cross Country Yukon hosts classic race

Cross Country Yukon hosted a classic technique cross-country ski race on Jan.… Continue reading

Yukon Premier Sandy Silver talks to media on March 5, 2020. The Yukon government said Jan. 25 that it is disappointed in a decision by the federal government to send the Kudz Ze Kayah mining project back to the drawing board. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Territorial and federal governments at odds over Kudz Ze Kayah mine project

The federal government, backed by Liard First Nation, sent the proposal back to the screening stage


Wyatt’s World for Jan. 27, 2021

Yukon RCMP said in a press release that they are seeing an increase in tinted front passenger windows and are reminding people that it is illegal and potentially dangerous. (RCMP handout)
RCMP warn against upward trend of tinted windows

Yukon RCMP are seeing more vehicles with tinted front passenger windows, prompting… Continue reading

An arrest warrant has been issued for a 22-year-old man facing two tickets violating the <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em>. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Arrest warrant issued for CEMA violation

An arrest warrant has been issued for Ansh Dhawan over two tickets for violating CEMA

The office space at 151 Industrial Road in Marwell. At Whitehorse city council’s Jan. 25 meeting, members voted to sign off on the conditional use approval so Unit 6 at 151 Industrial Rd. can be used for office space. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
Marwell move set for land and building services staff

Conditional use, lease approved for office space

The bus stop at the corner of Industrial and Jasper Road in Whitehorse on Jan. 25. The stop will be moved approximately 80 metres closer to Quartz Road. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
UPDATED: Industrial Road bus stop to be relocated

The city has postponed the move indefinitely

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment in Faro photgraphed in 2016. Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old building currently accommodating officers. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Faro RCMP tagged for new detachment

Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old… Continue reading

In a Jan. 18 announcement, the Yukon government said the shingles vaccine is now being publicly funded for Yukoners between age 65 and 70, while the HPV vaccine program has been expanded to all Yukoners up to and including age 26. (
Changes made to shingles, HPV vaccine programs

Pharmacists in the Yukon can now provide the shingles vaccine and the… Continue reading

Parking attendant Const. Ouellet puts a parking ticket on the windshield of a vehicle in downtown Whitehorse on Dec. 6, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is hoping to write of nearly $300,000 in outstanding fees, bylaw fines and court fees, $20,225 of which is attributed to parking fines issued to non-Yukon license plates. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City of Whitehorse could write off nearly $300,000

The City of Whitehorse could write off $294,345 in outstanding fees, bylaw… Continue reading

Grants available to address gender-based violence

Organizations could receive up to $200,000

Most Read