I spent about an hour this morning meeting with a wildlands management advocate based here in Portland, Ore., during a relaxed, a get-to-know-you session. It was a chance to brush up on a variety of challenges and opportunities facing the forests, oceans, rivers and deserts of the Pacific Northwest.
I wasn't working on any particular story, so we took our time meandering around diverse topics. Our conversation reminded me of why I enjoy journalism so much: I constantly learn new things, explore them and inspect them and study them. In a way, journalism offers the best things about school, constantly.
My contact's vivid depictions of the natural landscape in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho left me daydreaming about the trip I'll take to get to Missoula. On one hand, I'll get to experience much of this landscape as I wander to the SEJ conference. But on the other, once I get to Montana it's not as if the landscape will be less interesting: I can't wait to experience Missoula, and Glacier National Park, and whatever else I see during the event.
After all this exploring, the conference will be where I get to dive in, ponder what I've seen, and how it's changing, with everyone who will be there to share their own reflections and expertise.
This morning's meeting was a reminder of how many important topics there are for just one region of this country. So I'm really giddy about what I'll learn about in October. I must admit, though, I'm equally enthusiastic about the adventure of traveling to Missoula, of crossing forests, paralleling rivers, climbing mountains, and stopping in small towns for lunch.
I'm ready to hit the road.