I had been thinking of doing this for some time, had discussed it with folks at the dogpark in my Toronto neighbourhood, but until the very end of July just hadn't been able to bring myself to do it.
For many years I have had a "Pay and Talk" phone, a very simple cell phone that I only paid ten dollars a month for and that did most everything I wanted a phone to do: I could call people up and they could call me. No texting or taking photos or browsing the internet or downloading my email, just a simple cheap cell phone.
Our resident geek at the dogpark had advised against an iPhone, he disapproved of Apple because they censor the software apps you can download (upload?) onto your phone. He recommended another brand of smart phone, one just like his that had one of those slide-out keyboards for texting. But for a number of reasons I decided to go with the iPhone, not least of which was the fact that Isaac has one and he could help me get started on it.
So I got my brand new iPhone, and my brand new 3-year contract at $50 a month, in July just before I left Nova Scotia. It worked just fine on the trip back to Toronto. I exchanged text messages with Isaac all the way, checked my email while on the road, and everything was just fine. I didn't know how to use most of its functionality but what the hey. I felt like I had joined the 21st century.
In Toronto Isaac ripped a bunch of my music CDs and uploaded them to my iPhone so I would have music on the road. I learned a few things about how to operate the phone, and Isaac got me a neat little attachment that allows me to recharge the phone battery in the truck and play my music over the truck stereo system. Good idea for a long road trip.
Then I set out for BC.
Somewhere past Sault Ste Marie in northern Ontario my iPhone stopped working as a phone. I could still use it as an iPod, but it didn't work as a phone, I couldn't send or receive text messages, and I couldn't download email or check the internet or use the map and GPS function. I thought my phone was broken.
It took me two days to get from the Soo to the Manitoba border. No phone. At the tourist info centre there the lady told me this was common and I should find that my cell phone works again a few kilometers down the road in Manitoba. But it didn't.
In Winnipeg it suddenly started working again, and I was able to use the map function to find my niece Tara's place. There I called the phone company and gave them hell for the lack of phone coverage in northern Ontario. The fellow I talked to informed me that that was only half the bad news. That aside from Winnipeg, I could expect my lack of phone coverage to continue all the way through Manitoba and Saskatchewan, and I would not see my phone working properly again until I got to Alberta!
What an unpleasant joke. My old $10-a-month phone had always worked just fine through these parts, now I was paying $50-a-month for no coverage over 3 days worth of highway.
Sure enough, the phone kicked in again when I crossed the border into Alberta a couple of days later. And all the way through the mountains of BC it worked just fine. Except in D'arcy, but I knew that about D'arcy, no cell phones work there.
On Gambier Island I told my friends there about this highly annoying problem with my new phone. Dave is recently retired from the phone company that I have my contract with, and he explained the background to why my phone didn't work. It turns out to be all politics, there is no technical reason for it, just politics. And unfortunately the politics involved are not under the control of the phone company, so I can't really blame them for the problem. Although I sure wish someone had told me before I set out on this trip.
Coincidentally Johanna had gotten a smartphone about the same time I got my iPhone, but she got a different brand name, a Motorola phone. We've been comparing phones. Her phone seems to have more features than mine, but the features that I do have seem to be better quality. For example, her camera has a flash and various options for manipulating the image, but mine has no flash and no options. However the resulting photo seems to be better quality and the picture taking action is faster on my phone.
I don't have the slide-out keyboard which looks quite nifty on her phone. Also, we both have bluetooth, but the bluetooth functionality on the iPhone is only good for headphones (apparently) whereas she can use hers for sending photos to another cell phone. She tried to send me a photo but couldn't because my bluetooth wouldn't accept it.
I debated reactivating my old "Pay and Talk" phone for the trip back east, I still haven't decided about that. It will cost me an extra $50 to reactivate and I just don't know whether it is worth it. In the past I have travelled through the USA without a phone and relied on the kindness of strangers when I ran into truck-trouble. I think the kindness of strangers probably works in Canada as well.
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So here are a few of the photos of my trip from my iPhone. Not very exciting, but better than nothing!
Lunch at a rest area somewhere in northern Ontario:
View of Lake Superior, a small inland sea! It was a windy day with breakers on the water:
The Terry Fox monument, just east of Thunder Bay on Lake Superior. Can't not stop there. He's my hero.
The Sleeping Giant as seen from the Terry Fox monument.
Crocheted cobwebs in a tree at The Forks in Winnipeg:
Bathroom stop somewhere in Manitoba.
A river in the city of North Vancouver. Where else do you get a river like this right in the city?
Leia hunting rocks in the river.
I took no photos in Alberta or BC on the trip because there was no point, it was too smokey. I probably should have taken photos of Saskatchewan grain fields or oil wells in Alberta (actually the first oil well I saw in operation was in southwestern Manitoba) or other picturesque stuff like that, I am just not very good at whipping out the camera when there's something interesting to catch.