Uncharged!

List of what I forgot on a trip to my Aunt Nan’s cabin in Northern Wisconsin:

  1. Computer charger. Apparently my forgetfulness was also an affront to Axel, who planned to use my computer for more than I did (writing this blog post and streaming a couple Lynx games)
  2. Fitbit charger. Some of you may know I am trying to get 10,000 steps a day – if not 15,000! – in an effort to earn free stuff through my work. In trying to stay true to my stepping (easier in the city than on vacation), I decided to make walking a mile to the lake with Little L part of my daily routine. Imagine me with a miniature travel stroller using a tote bag as a makeshift backpack.
  3. Forgetting to put my Fitbit back on upon leaving the beach. Carrying it in my bag for a good 1,000 wasted steps! 

But on the third morning at the beach, I set the Ziplock with my Fitbit on my beach chair and I remembered to put it back on before carrying Little L into the “Barn House” for lunch.

Midlunch I tapped on it, feeling somewhat giddy at the large number of steps I expected to see, and – nothing.

“It died!” I announced, searching for the Ziplock and verifying that no water had snuck in. 

“Oh, the battery died?” my dad asked. 

“Must be the battery,” Axel seconded.

But both Axel and I had charged our Fitbits the night before we left — so that we wouldn’t need to bring the charger with us — and his was still going strong. 

“Maybe you check it more than I do,” he suggested. “That might drain the battery.”

If you know how obsessed I am with data, that does seem just the tiniest bit plausible.

There was hope for procuring a charger. My stepmom, who has a Fitbit, was coming in from Madison that day (not on foot, though that would have been a lot of steps). It seemed likely that she would have her charger.

But alas, I hesitated, and by the time she got my text requesting that she bring it along, she had left, without her charger. She, like Axel and I, had charged it the night before her departure, in order to avoid carrying her charger along. 

When I lamented to my cousin Junie and her girlfriend Basel about all the things I couldn’t do without my chargers, Basel suggested that I use a good old-fashioned pen and paper to do my writing. “Sometimes it’s really nice to be tech-free at the cabin,” she said. Then she found me an empty notebook because I had forgotten my journal at home. 

“Have another piece of cobbler,” said Junie, opening up a pan of last night’s dessert. She had made it from scratch – blueberries and baseball-sized biscuits, instead of the standard granola crumble on top. 

“I shouldn’t,” I said. I had eaten two pieces the night before.

“You’re on vacation!” Junie said, which technically was true for the next hour and forty-five minutes that I hoped Little L would be napping. 

“It’s not like you need to worry about getting your steps anyway,” Axel pointed out. Just the night before, when the Fitbit was still in service, Axel and I had been walking back in forth through the living room to rack up steps. This is similar to our at-home routine of walking the halls of the condo to increase our numbers. 

“Cobbler-eating can be your new workout,” he said. If only I had some way to track it.

The lack of Fitbit provided me with a comforting lackadaisical attitude toward my physical activity. Without the fear of fewer steps, I would stop walking to the lake and instead make the much simpler and more rational decision to drive. We’d get there sooner and I could go for a swim instead. Who cares that my feet wouldn’t be striking the ground as I paddled through the waves?

I was distressed, though, because of the Million Step Challenge that I was participating in for work over the summer. How would I ever earn my extra points if I got zero steps for five days in a row? 

“There may be one last-ditch effort,” Axel said on the day he was set to ride back to the Cities with Junie. Little L and I would be staying for another three days – unplugged, it would seem.

“Aunt Nan is driving in to the Cities tomorrow morning to pick up her friend who’s flying in,” Axel explained, “and then coming back up.” 

“Wait, what?” That was a two and a half-hour drive each way!

“Do you think our place is on the way back from the airport?” Axel wondered. 

It was, actually. I envisioned Aunt Nan existing 35W, Axel waiting at a stoplight and throwing the charger in her open window, and her accelerating straight back onto the on-ramp. 

But it turned out that Aunt Nan would be picking something up from Basel’s house in the morning. 

Could this actually work?

“Junie, are you going over to Basel’s tonight after you’re both back home from the cabin?” 

She was.

“Axel, can Junie just drop you off at home?” He had been hoping that she’d drive him right to his work happy hour. But if she took him home, then Junie could wait in the car while he ran inside and procured my charger – wait, BOTH of my chargers! She’d then bring them to Basel, who would hand them off to Aunt Nan the next morning. 

I didn’t know if they would do it. “You don’t have to,” I said, both because it seemed like a hassle, and because – well, Basel had a point. I was starting to enjoy my untracked, uncharged freedom.

After they departed, I sat looking at the blueberry cobbler Junie had made. Basel had set an empty bowl and spoon in front of me before she’d gone.

I served up a double helping and began writing in my new notebook. I was on vacation after all.

That evening, with some Introvert Time before me, I went back to the notebook at the counter, this time with some cantaloupe and fizzy water to keep me company.

And then I got a text from Axel who had arrived home. “Fitbit charger and computer charger will be arriving tomorrow! I’m walking to my happy hour to get some steps!”

I should have been overjoyed. But, to Basel’s point, a part of me was growing accustomed to my low-tech existence. Especially the part of me that wanted to spend nap time eating blueberry cobbler rather than jogging down the road. Right at that moment, my stepmom was walking laps around the Barn House while I was sitting on a stool eating fruit.

“Any news on the Great Charger Exchange?” Aunt Nan asked me that evening when she returned home from dinner. I filled her in – tomorrow she would receive the package and bring it North.

So here I sit, writing this blog post on 23% battery, waiting for the last leg of the Great Charger Exchange to come to fruition. My dad wanted me to walk a lemon over to the Barn House during Little L’s naptime, but I had insisted he come pick it up. “I don’t have my Fitbit yet,” I’d explained. “So I really don’t need the steps.”

“Sounds like the incentive program hasn’t exactly translated to intrinsic motivation,” he said. “You don’t want to walk just for the exercise?”

He has a point. Maybe I should take a walk, just because.

But then again, I am on vacation.