GET OUT OF TOUCH
Declare your independence from electronic gadgets! Here are six vacation spots where PDAs, internet connections, and even TVs are becoming a thing of the past.
Yes you koan
Run by the San Francisco Zen Center, the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center in Carmel Valley, Calif., lies roughly two hours inland from Monterey at the end of a steep, 14-mile dirt road. Admitting guests from early May through early September, the Center has only one public phone, no cell phone reception, and no Internet connection. In fact, don't plan on bringing any gadgets that require charging: Only a few of the cabins have the electricity you'll need to stay in touch. Even more discouraging for tech addicts, the center charges $10 an hour to recharge devices. So how will you fill up all the time you'll be saving by not answering emails? Take a relaxing soak in the bathhouse with water from a local hot spring, or sign up for a retreat covering such subjects as yoga, gardening, and cooking. Failing that, you can just hang out and do nothing: The Tassajara Zen Mountain Center is a functioning monastery for serious students of Buddhism, with free meditation instruction at 4 P.M. daily, but you're free to do as you please. Lodging-only options include plain dormitories for $90 to $110 per person and traditional Japanese tatami-mat cabins for $123 to $145 per person, based on double occupancy. There are some additional charges for workshops. Call the center for details. 415/865-1899, sfzc.org/tassajara.
Note: You might not be able to unplug just yet; recent wildfires have caused the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center to close down temporarily. Check out their website for updates.
The path to enlightenment (has no cell phone reception)
Up in the mountains above Helena, Mont., Feathered Pipe Ranch beckons yoga enthusiasts who want a little Out West beauty to go with their meditation. But don't plan on instantly sending friends a photo of any of your poses—or anything else, for that matter. Cell phone reception is nonexistent, and the Wi-Fi reception here is poor, making Internet connections painfully slow. Staff members at this tranquil lakeside retreat feel that a guest's non-yoga time is better spent offline: watching the deer graze or the clouds roll by, for example, or going for a swim or a nature hike. A few caveats: Retreats run one week at a minimum, with rates ranging from $1,300 to $1,900 per person, which includes room and board and yoga instruction. Guests have to be part of a "retreat," which means choosing a week-long specialized yoga program, such as "Yoga, Meditation & Pranayama" ($1,595).
A variety of yoga philosophies are represented; check the website for more details. The season at Feathered Pipe runs from May to mid-September, but some classes fill up as much as a year in advance. 406/442-8196, featheredpipe.com.