Welcome to the Dead Zone

So here I am, jollily making my way through several new counties (Ozaukee, Sheboygan, and Washington, to be precise), and racking up geocaches (admittedly, fewer than I would have wanted; I left too late and spent too long looking for a few). Most of the time, I have no problems with the geocaching app on my phone, or my phone in general.

Driving home, however, something happened around Horicon that I noticed on the way over, too.

I had entered…The Dead Zone.


A dead zone is an area where even though calls and texts may go through and the maps function may still work, other apps requiring GPS/network (Facebook, Email, Weather, Safari, Geocaching) are completely unusable.

And that sucks.

Since I’ve had a cell phone, I don’t recall ever being in an area without any service. On the East Coast, you’re never far from a large city, and in Texas, there are so many people and cell phone towers that even in nowheresvilles like Schulenberg and Flatonia, service is usually pretty top-notch. This is not the case, however, here in Wisconsin.


I first noticed it when I went to Perrot State Park. I can’t remember when I lost it, but I went through entire counties with no service at all. I got it sporadically across the border in Minnesota, but once we reentered Wisconsin, nothing until La Crosse. I didn’t stop in Horicon, but I checked online and there are plenty of geocaches in all of those places, and I wonder how people get to them without bars. I have AT&T; it’s quite possible that U.S. Cellular and Verizon are better, but probably not by much. Still…do geocachers in those places still do old-school geocaching with GPS units and packets of paper? Or is there something I’m missing?

Further research through att.com resulted in this lovely map:



Above is the map of Wisconsin. You can see that there is, indeed, a humongous dead zone that stretches across the southwestern part of the state and into Iowa and Minnesota. That’s a lot of dead air space; several counties’ worth. Oddly, even when I zoomed in on Horicon, there was no dead zone.

Call me a First-World-er, but being somewhere without cell phone service is scary. Suppose your car were to break down or veer off the road outside Richland Center or Prairie du Chien; how would you get help? Would you wait for someone to come find you? Would you hitchhike somewhere? Would you just walk somewhere? There are good reasons for being without cell phone service; if you’re camping, for instance, in a national park or something and want to be left alone, or if you’re with other people, but to be alone, in an unfamiliar place, without cell phone service is kind of freaky.

The 21st century may have crippled society, but cell phone service is a crutch that could potentially be life-saving.

I promise I’ll have a real entry about something relevant and not superficial tomorrow.

I hope.

3 thoughts on “Welcome to the Dead Zone

  1. Oh my God! Okay. First of all, there is an app for finding geodes?????
    Second, welcome to my homeland! I was born in the land of cheese waaaaay before cell service. I transplanted to Colorado 26 years ago.

    It is hilarious to hear how fearful you are of being out of service. Cell phones haven’t been around that long. In Colorado, there are many places where service is sketchy or there is no service at all. I actually think they should ban them in state parks. Can you imagine how annoying it would be to hear your neighbor in the tent next to you, get notifications all night long? Or if you’re hiking on a pristine trail and someone catches up to you and has a loud conversation on their phone? It takes the fun out of “getting away from it all.”
    I’m guessing you are a lot younger than me and grew up with Friday the 13th and other scary slasher movies. Granted, camping out can be risky, but I never hear about anyone getting attacked. Maybe there’s a cover up and it never makes the papers!! That would be scary!

    Very nice to meet you!

    • Susie:

      Thanks so much for the comment and the retweet! I was actually born around the same time as your big move, so I do remember life before cell phones. I’m not that young 🙂 I think that I was in high school when cell phones started becoming mainstream, and they didn’t even become banned in my high school until after I graduated.

      • Its an interesting subject!
        Next Saturday, I’m having a Use Me and Abuse Me Day where my followers can leave a link to their blog and click a few to meet other bloggers! It’s always a fun virtual party.

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