20 Places to Pause: taking time to unplug

Beauty of Monhegan Island in Maine

Fresh back from Monhegan Island in Maine, I find myself ruminating about OTHER places to unplug.   Below is a short list – just a start really – but more importantly, maybe, here’s what I figured out makes for a good unplugging spot.   On Monhegan, for example…

There is virtually no access to internet.  Yes, Verizon just installed a tower but when the fog rolls in, which is often (come on, this IS Maine we are talking about!), it’s worthless.   This means that you have very little screen time.  And let me tell you… the difference that made to my blood pressure was astounding!

There is no (or minimal, at least) danger.  Monhegan is almost utopian.  With only a single constable on the island, no poisonous snakes, and only 2 or 3 vehicles (and those have no license plates), there are few threats.  So you’ll find yourself letting your guard down and breathing a bit more deeply, moving a bit less hurriedly.

There is lots of nature.  For good reason, Thoreau said “Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.”  Walking down soft footpaths under the shaded canopy of sun-baked cedars, sitting in the salt breeze and looking out at the far horizon, jumping off the dock into the bracing Maine sea… these sensory experiences do more for a body than fill your lungs with fresh air.

Simplicity. Whether I was making blueberry pancakes… or dreaming up the next Scrabble word… or pondering the last chapter of The Alchemist… or just wondering who the captain was on that passing sailboat…. life felt, and truly was, uncomplicated, if only for a few days.

Read. Write. Repeat.


So those are my rules.   And here are some spots – 20 of my favorites, all but 3 right here in North America!

  1. Snowmobile trip into Yellowstone National Park’s backcountry in wintertime
  2. Visit to Green Bank (that’s in West Virgina, in case you were wondering)
  3. Horse drive or pack trip into Yosemite’s backcountry in summertime
  4. An Uncruise boat trip in the hidden coves of Alaska’s Inside Passage
  5. Getaway to the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center in the Big Sur Valley
  6. Canadian Rockie’s overnight at Twin Falls Chalet
  7. A sailboat stay in the BVI
  8. A Houseboat beached deep in the buttes of Lake Powell
  9. IK (inflatable kayak) trip down the Lower Salmon River in Idaho
  10. Escape to Small Hope Bay in the Andros, Bahamas
  11. Sing-along, color war, and old-fashioned games at Camp Navarro (yes, you even write letters home on a vintage typewriter)
  12. Private island stay on rustic Cayos Cochins in Honduras
  13. Hike to LeConte Lodge in the backcountry of the Smokies
  14. In a tundra mobile outside of Churchill
  15. Hike along the Incan Trail
  16. Nordic ski to backcountry hut in biosphere behind Crested Butte
  17. Phantom Ranch stay in the bottom of the Grand Canyon
  18. On a train on the Rocky Mountaineer between Hells Gate and Jasper
  19. (any) Spa stay that prohibits electronics
  20. Benedictine monastery stay at New Camaldoli, in midcoast Cali

Take a moment.   Pause.  Stop doing, and simply be.

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