Geekward Bound

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What would it be like to live your life entirely connected, ready to work and surf anytime, anywhere? That's the future everyone talks about. So when TIME Digital asked me to hit the road and see how close I could come to wired bliss, I couldn't resist. Outfitted with everything I could persuade high-tech and outdoors companies to lend me, I loaded a van and set out to Chiriaco Summit, Southern California desert terrain 180 miles east of Los Angeles that General Patton once called "remote and desolate" and his troops cheerily dubbed "the place God forgot."

Well, maybe God forgot it, but just as long as AT&T remembered cellular coverage, I assumed I'd be all right. I meant to be a kind of anti-Crusoe, alone but fully equipped, with the world wirelessly in sync, keeping me company day and night. Is it really possible to set up shop along the banks of the digital data stream without having to heed such trifles as geography? Can I sit out here among the cactuses, lizards and coyotes and convince someone (if only myself) that I'm safely ensconced at home? Or is this the kind of hubris that gets ordinary mortals in more trouble than they can handle? That was the idea, anyway. And this is what happened.