Family – unplugged and connected

Aerial of Bovina, NY (Pop 633)

Last week, my mother, my brother and his wife, my sister, her husband and their 2 kids, my wife and I and our daughter and our combined 4 dogs went on vacation to Bovina, NY.  We rented a large house on a small lake and spent the week unplugged.

The nearest mall was over an hour away in Oneonta.  The nearest grocery store was about 1/2 hour away in Delhi.  There was no cell service in a 10 mile radius of the house.  We did have a dish TV, internet connection, electricity, hot running water and just about every other modern convenience.  I know, “What happened to spending the week unplugged, Barry?”  Did you miss the part about no cell service?

OK, so we weren’t exactly on one of those back-to-nature, cooking-on-the-fire, bathing-in-the-brook camping trips.  The kids and several adults brought their electronic gadgets and several hours of on-line time were logged, especially on the rainy days.  And I did watch the US Women’s Soccer Team in that exquisitely agonizing 123 minute semifinal win over Canada which made the gold medal match with Japan almost anti-climactic.  That’s not the kind of unplugged I meant.

We spent the week unplugged from our routine.  Scheduled music lessons were cancelled and replaced with free-spirited singing and music playing.  Nights spent in front of the TV with our favorite recorded dramas were replaced with nights by the campfire filled with those wonderful stories that always start with, “Remember the time…”  Everyday, well-rehearsed chores and duties were replaced with spontaneous trots to the lake for fishing and boating, long walks past acres of farm land, chasing the dogs, being chased by the dogs, watching the dogs chase each other, or just hours of reading and gazing at the landscape.

And eating.  I think I gained 20 pounds that week.  My family can cook!

It seems like, at home, on a regular day, we wake up and hit that treadmill of our routine, scheduled life.  Sometimes it might feel like our life is running us.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love my life.  I love just about everything I do and just about everyone I do it with.  But there is something to be said for getting out of that routine for a little while.

Blizzard of ’78

When I was a kid, I used to love when a storm would knock the electricity out.  It would be out for hours (unless it was February 1978, then it was out for days).

A night without electricity meant no TV but it also meant the whole family playing board games by candle light.  For me, that was a great night.

I know not everyone is as fortunate as we are to be able to take a week off from work and stay in such a beautiful place.  I am profoundly grateful that we are able to do this together each year.  It’s so wonderful to be able to unplug from our routines and take time to re-connect with each other.

We’ve been back for a few days now and, for me at least, I am plugged back in to much of my routine.  Maybe there will be a storm soon.  I have some candles and a board game at the ready.

Leave a comment


  1. sounds nice and relaxing. I could use that.


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  • Barry Sanders

    Barry is the Director of Religious Education at First Parish Church. He is also a husband and father of two, a social worker, an avid soccer fan and an aspiring harmonica player.

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