Every few days lately we get an e-mail asking, “Did you know your webcam is down?” Our e-mailers are polite enough that they don’t say, “Did you know your webcam is down AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN?”
When it is working well, the webcam is a joy to behold. In the winter, we can watch skiers gracefully glide along the trail or the dog team excitedly greet a new guest. We view the snowstorms and the ice melting. In the summer we see canoeists paddling into the sunset and fishermen patiently awaiting the next big bite. People all over the country tune into our webcam to get a quick hit of the northwoods.
Nobody looks at our webcam hoping to watch a big black rectangle of nothingness. Unfortunately, that’s what they see a good percentage of the time. If we were rich, Bearskin could advertise to fill the job of “Full Time Webcam Babysitter.” That employee would be very, very busy. A camera on a tree in the woods is not an easy thing to keep going.
The main problem is that the webcam has a cord. A very long cord. It snakes along the ground through the woods, goes under the path behind the lodge units and then into the main lodge office. Lots of quirky things can go wrong with that camera, but most of the time the problem is this: many woodland animals feed on ethernet cords.
To get the camera going again, some patient employee has to creep along the ground peering at hundreds of feet of black cord, looking for tiny little chewed gaps. When, usually after several attempts, miniscule incisor marks are located on the cord, a quick piece of electrical tape will generally put the camera back online again. Until the next time it happens. The current problem is that some little winter glutton had the gall to gnaw on the cord under 2 feet of snow. It will be awhile before we can even see the cord again, much less repair it.
You wouldn’t need to be a technical genius to wonder, “Isn’t there a better way to do this?” A wireless camera seems like the obvious solution, especially to anyone who hasn’t experienced the trauma of trying to install a wireless peripheral. The camera could not be as close to the lake if we used a wireless webcam, but it might be worth the trade-off.
Or, duh, how about encasing the cord in something that is chew-proof? That was our plan last summer, but we couldn’t get anyone to be properly enthused about stringing bazillion feet of cord through a tube. A few hundred more trips out with the electrical tape searching for chew marks might persuade somebody of the value of this thankless project.
Meanwhile, you will know when the snow at Bearskin has melted enough that we can find the pitiful chewed cord — the big black rectangular blob will disappear from the webcam page and you will once again have a beautiful view of northwoods solitude and serenity. Based on our ample remaining snow, alas, don’t expect this to happen very soon.