I cleared out my desk yesterday, had a beer at the Fort Collins Brewery, said my goodbyes, and now for the first time since the day after I graduated from college, I'm a part-time employee about to take a massive cross-country road trip. Beginning today and over the next month, Jacob and I will be driving more than 5,000 miles to Miami and back — via Pennsylvania, Atlanta and various other east coast and Texas cities. The destination: The Society of Environmental Journalists conference at the University of Miami.
This will be the third SEJ I've attended, first in Palo Alto in 2007 and then again last year in Missoula. This year's conference will be the most interesting not because it's being held in a place that has 80 degree balmy weather in late October, or that we'll be taking an airboat trip through Everglades National Park, but because I and a dozen or so other journos will be hopping a charter flight to Havana for an eight day reporting trip about the environmental challenges facing Cuba.
The mission: To answer the question, What may be the fate of Cuba's pristine nature reserves once the eventual floodgate of American tourism opens to the island when the embargo is dropped? It's anybody's guess when the embargo will disappear, but there seems to be some optimism that it will happen in the foreseeable future depending, of course, on the political winds in D.C. and Raúl Castro's disposition toward the U.S.
There's also the possibility of Cuban deep water oil development off the coast of Havana between Cuba and Key West. There are questions of climate change and its impact on Cuba's most pristine beaches, and the island's ability to maintain an environmentally sustainable economy. Clearly, there's much to write about. I'll be filing stories for Gannett, so keep an eye out in its various regional and national newspapers.
While in Cuba, I'll have no internet or telephone access whatsoever, at least none that's affordable. So, while I'll be blogging and tweeting during the trip, I'll be silent during the week in Cuba. Be sure to check back here around November 1, when I plan to publish my Cuba blog entries and photos here after we return.
So, in a few hours, we'll be heading east, beginning the 5,000 mile-plus car trip through 19 states and, after short flight on a 737, one Communist country with no diplomatic relations with the United States.
Check back here often!