Based on my synopsis of Missoula '09 thus far, you might think that I traveled west for football and interesting scenery and micro-brews. Not so.Actually, I traveled west to further my education. See, I had spent two years in Washington, D.C. working for a large law firm. I was exploring my interests, trying to decide whether or not I wanted to be a lawyer. As it turns out, I did not want to be a lawyer and that's all I'm going to say about that.
And what better way to move on to the next phase of my life than to pursue a Master's degree at a northwestern public liberal arts university? The key word there is liberal. (One time, I woke up at 4:30 a.m. to stand in line in sub-freezing weather to wait for football tickets. This girl in front of me decided to keep herself warm by lighting up something that was distinctly not tobacco. Dope smokers. Waiting for football tickets. Think about that picture if you will.) And with that liberalism also came wonderful and memorable experiences like Wilco and Nickel Creek, before they became cool.
And then there was the watershed hydrology class where this dread-locked girl with that same distinctly non-tobacco smell sat next to me every day. However, when I saw past this culture shock, I discovered a fantastic school tucked away in the Rockies. I spent most of my time in the Forestry building learning about the proper management of our natural resources and the benefits of sustainable forestry.
Eventually though, I began to branch out in my studies and started making a trek across campus to the Environmental Studies building (aka the Greenies, the Enviros, and the Tree Huggers)
Named after the first female congresswoman, this building housed some of the craziest people I've come across yet. But guess what? I learned a whole bunch from them! And their fanatacism, though I tended to disagree with many of their beliefs, was inspiring! While I'm still a little disgusted with the class that promoted the idea of an anti-cattle west (now dominated by what they believe to be "welfare ranching"), I am thankful that they showed me the way of the written word (MY written word, that is) and standing up for your convictions. I have to admit: I learned more from them than I ever did from any old forester. But don't tell Danish Cowboy I said that.