Today was a long day of driving. Most of it was spent with Tara behind the wheel, piloting us across Manitoba. Meanwhile, I was stationed behind my computer screen, busily programming. Apart from the fact that I was sitting in a car instead of at the kitchen island, it wasn't so different than any other work day. The one key exception? I didn't have internet access.
Given that I make a living developing web-based software, one might assume that a lack of internet access would be a hindrance to getting things done. In actuality, I am pretty certain that I accomplished more this afternoon than I have during the last week at home. (Thanks to a self-contained software development environment on my laptop, I can work offline.)
Thinking about all of this reminded me of an email I received a few weeks ago from a reader in Ireland. Lenny, a work-from-home journalist and aspiring work-from-bicycle-ist, had some questions about what having a job on the road is like. I've paraphrased one of them below:
"How practical is it to work from a laptop while on the road? I'm mostly curious about how productive you found yourself, and where you normally worked from (ie cafes, tent etc)."
...to which I answered (also paraphrased):
I was hugely productive on the road—I might even go so far as to say I was more productive on the road than I am at home. It's a lot easier to stay on task when you have a limited amount of power/internet access! As for where, I'll let our photos do the talking.
It's no wonder. How many times do I have to learn this lesson? I get more done when I isolate myself from the endless distractions of the modern world. With no phone calls breaking my concentration (prohibitively expensive roaming in Canada), no fighting to keep an empty inbox, no iChat, gChat, x-y-or-zChat, no Skype, no IRC, no Google Reader, and no Hacker News... it's just me and the problem I'm trying to solve.
Tara drove for nearly ten hours while I worked, carrying us through Manitoba, into our second Canadian province: Saskatchewan. When I wasn't engrossed in programming la-la-land, we made photo stops and sang in the car with the windows down, blasting songs like Azealia Banks' 2011 hit, 212, with humongous grins plastered across our faces.
As is often the case when I'm working, time flew at an almost unbelievable rate; hours ticking away as though they were minutes. When Tara awoke me from my programming reverie, hopeful that I'd take the helm, I agreed. The drive was short, we were beginning our daily free camp hunt, and the horizon was already beginning its nightly race to meet the sun.
With my hands on the wheel, and the countryside stretching out like a sea around us, my thoughts turned fondly to our travels in Siberia. The vast stretches of rural Russia and the far-flung places we've had the pleasure of calling home there came streaming forth, evoking a vivid slideshow of happy memories.
Here in Saskatchewan, we found yet another free camp with little trouble. This time, it was in farmer's field, grey against the darkening sky. A stand of scrubby trees protected us from the road, and from a chill wind that came rushing across the prairie like a ravenous ghost.
It was a good spot to call home.