Publisher’s Perspective

Chad Koenen

The Koenen family got in touch with our inner Chevy Chase (Clark Griswold from the movie National Lampoons Vacation) and recently made a cross country trek to the great southwest. We put close to 4,000 miles on our van as we traveled to Salt Lake City, several national parks like Zion and Arches National Parks, as well as the giant hole in the ground at the Grand Canyon. Best of all, we survived our trip, I didn’t lose any of our kids (those who know me will chalk up that comment as a victory), we didn’t drive off a cliff and the newspapers were still all put out on time. 

As much as I struggle with technology it can be nice to have the ability to work on the road a bit when necessary. For example, I am starting this column somewhere in the middle of Iowa and am finishing it a few days later in my office back in Henning.

When I first started in the newspaper business in 2004, my boss at the Pope County Tribune in Glenwood told me that his family would take alternating trips to Wyoming. For example, he would go with their children to Wyoming for a week to visit family members and his wife would stay back home to work for the week. Once the newspaper was completed for the week she would drive to Wyoming and essentially tag John Stone, who was my first boss in the newspaper world, to come home and work on the next issue. He would tell me that when you own a business you never really get to take a vacation as your work still needs to get done, and the news doesn’t stop just because you need a break. 

The internet wasn’t as prevalent back then and completing work remotely wasn’t possible (we would literally cut out the newspaper and paste it up on a board using wax before driving the pages the printer). In some ways, getting a hard break like that may have been nice, as we had built in days on our vacation where I was able to work remotely. Fortunately the internet was good enough at the Grand Canyon that I could send last week’s newspapers to the printer from half a country away. 

Technology has also made finding unique landmarks and points of interest a bit easier to locate. For example, Dani was able to find Monument Valley where the final clips of Forest Gump running across the country was filmed in the 1994 classic movie. We were also able to find where portions of the film Dumb and Dumber was filmed in Park City, Utah and quick internet searches found a number of other “points of interest” along the way. 

Once we got south of Salt Lake City there was a lot of nothing in terms of signs of life. Sure there were a few cars on the road, but in southern Utah and much of Arizona there was simply dirt, hills and some fencing along the road. Even when we got to the Great Salt Lake, which we both fondly remembered from our text books in school, the lake was essentially a shell of what we thought it would be. 

If you went to school more than 15 years ago, you likely learned about floating in the Great Salt Lake. When we got there we were shocked to see how dry the lake has become, the marina near Antelope Island was emptied and dried up, and you needed to walk almost a mile to simply wade in the lake water. 

The reason I share the story about the Great Salt Lake is this, even last year when people had challenges getting boats off of lakes due to our drought, you didn’t see lakes and marinas completely dry up into nothingness. Sure there was challenges getting larger boats off of the lakes, but you were still able to do so and utilize the lake for most of the year. 

Throughout our cross country trip Dani and I remarked about how much we enjoyed being on vacation, but how much nicer it is at home in Minnesota. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, or at least that is what I have been told.

Like everyone, it is definitely nice to get away and see different parts of the country. It helps us to realize what we like and dislike about our own community and gives us a different look at our own backyard. Even though it was nice to not have to swat at mosquitoes and deer flies on a daily basis on our trip, I would gladly keep those pests for not having to live in the desert and dry conditions each day. 

A few mosquito bites are worth living in this area and having the opportunity to have so many resources right in our own backyard.