Final Impressions

James Combs Unplugged

Written by James Combs

Do yourself a favor and take a hike

Imagine a world where the only Angry Birds you see are the ones swooping down on prey.

The only ringing you hear is the rat-tat-tat of woodpeckers.

And the only blackberry within miles is the kind that dangles from plants.

Yes, I’ve recently discovered that life can be enjoyed without technology. For me, taking weekly outdoor hikes in Lake County’s picturesque preserves has provided the ultimate unplugged experience. For a few hours each Saturday, I go cold turkey on technology.

The withdrawal symptoms are relatively mild. However, I did regret not being able to congratulate Bobby when he announced to the Facebook world that he is no longer constipated. Oh, well. I don’t believe much he says anyway since he’s so full of crap.

Why do I feel inclined to immerse myself in the outdoors? It’s a time for inner peace, tranquility, and even self-reflection. After spending countless hours on the computer each week and interacting with sources and co-workers, detaching from the outside world and enjoying the sound of nature’s silence is a beautiful thing.

Equally beautiful are the magnificent sights of wetlands, longleaf pine ecosystems, pristine lakes, and sawgrass marshes that dot the landscape of the seven preserves maintained by the Lake County Water Authority. All seven feature hiking trails, and several even offer opportunities for canoeing and camping.

Each has its own personality. Sabal Bluff Preserve, for instance, is very open and makes me feel as though I’m walking across an African savanna. In contrast, I feel like I’m in an enchanted forest thanks to the densely wooded trails at Flat Island Preserve, where it seems like Tarzan should be swinging wildly through the trees. The flowing streams, small waterfalls, and hilly terrain at Hidden Waters Preserve conjure up images of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail.

I’m tempted to write a book about my weekly excursions. “Luxury Without a Laptop,” “Playtime Without Pokémon,” and “Sightseeing Without Social Media” all would be apt titles.

But the point of my book would be this: When nature calls, technology enthusiasts should answer the call of the wild and enjoy the sights and sounds of Lake County’s beautiful preserves. Just leave your phone in the car.

Or, at the very least, resist the urge to tweet every step of your hike.


About the author

James Combs

Akers Media Group's James Combs has been a staff writer for several local publications since August 2000. He has had the privilege of interviewing some of Lake County’s many fascinating residents—from innovative business owners to heroic war veterans—and bringing their stories to life. A resident of Lake County since 1986, James recently embarked on a journey to lead a healthier lifestyle. He has lost 60 pounds and walks nearly five miles a day. In his spare time, he enjoys target shooting, skeet shooting and watching his beloved Kentucky Wildcats!

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