I like to go to places I do not know and learn what life is like there. I hang out with people. I ask questions. I take notes. I write stories. During seven years at The Boston Globe, I did that in more than 30 countries. I came back with these.
Now, after a break for some family adventure and finding a new home at The University of New Hampshire, I am heading back out on the road.
The first destination is the prairie of western North Dakota, where an oil boom has been gaining speed since 2006. I’ll set out from a place called Tobacco Garden and walk 70 miles or so across McKenzie County, the epicenter of the oil action this spring. I talked to a third-generation farmer on the phone the other day. He had finished planting canola that afternoon and is moving on to durum wheat. There is an oil rig drilling a quarter-mile down the road from his house.
I’ll have a lot more to say in the coming weeks, as I get out into the country. Today, I loaded up my Dana Designs backpack, which I bought in Idaho Falls, Idaho in 1993, the summer of my first reporting job. The full pack weighs in at 45 pounds. There’s a one-person tent, stove and a cooking pot. Some rain gear, and a big machete, just in case. There’s also room for notebooks. Some of them are old school Moleskines, like the photo above. But I’ll also be looking for sound, images, and video.