Scott Franz: A job so nice, I quit it twice
It’s not often you get to quit a job twice.
But a desk in the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s newsroom is a very hard thing to walk away from.
I quit my job as the paper’s government reporter for the first time about two years ago when I thought I needed to move to the state of Washington to get a change of scenery at a different paper. But, I changed course at the last minute after I was hit with an intense sinking feeling that comes from leaving a place as amazing as Steamboat and all the friends I’ve made here.
I didn’t have a good enough reason to leave at the time, and the newsroom I was heading to didn’t even have a Tom Ross.
I typed up a resignation letter that chronicled how each member of our newsroom had become a friend of mine and helped me become a better reporter in some way. Then I thought, “Why the heck am I leaving this place?”
No offense to that city in Washington, but I also didn’t get hit with the same “this is home” feeling there that I got in the Yampa Valley seven years ago when I descended Rabbit Ears Pass on July 3 and cracked open a Sol on the deck at Sunpie’s Bistro.
I quit the newspaper a second time earlier this month to pursue a longtime dream that I think is worthy of succeeding my tenure here.
On May 8, I’ll arrive at a trailhead in the hot Southern Californian desert near the Mexican border and attempt to backpack more than 2,600 miles through our great country on the Pacific Crest Trail.
If I succeed, I’ll reach the Canadian border sometime in early October before snowstorms make traveling in the North Cascades too dangerous.
I’m trading my bedroom view of the oldest ski area in America for a rotating view of jaw-dropping landscapes in California, Oregon and Washington. And my biggest worries each day will be getting to the next water source and taking photos of incredible landscapes.
The blogs of hikers who have already hit the trail this year are already full of exciting tales of personal triumphs and challenges. But, I have to admit, their stories of mountain lions stalking them at night in Southern California, their trending photos of rattlesnakes and their tales of aggressive feral bulls do give me just a bit of pause. But sometimes, you have to do things that scare you a little bit.
My camping and backpacking trips in Colorado, Washington and the Canadian Rockies have been a source of tremendous inspiration to me in recent years. The best beers I’ve had so far in my life were the Red Hook Long Hammer IPAs I carried 15 miles and drank with my younger brother, Nick, last spring on the front porch of an 87-year-old chalet situated deep in the heart of Olympic wilderness in Washington.
The best food I’ve had was everything my dad and I cooked on a cast iron skillet on the banks of Mosquito Creek, deep in the Canadian Rockies.
To me, everything seems better in the wilderness. It’s where I go to fend off stress, find inspiration and practice my favorite hobby: photography.
I can’t wait to meet people from all across the country — and the world — as I embark on my new adventure. I’m also looking forward to sharing my photos and stories I pick up along the trail with my parents, friends and our newspaper readers.
My stories and amazing memories from seven years in Steamboat Springs will be among the most important things I’ll carry with me when I hit the trail next week.
I was cleaning out my desk in the newsroom last week when I came across reminders of why this has been the best job I’ve had in my life and why it’s so hard to leave.
There were the handwritten letters from the Arnold family in Grand Junction, reminders of the great story I stumbled on about a neglected barn that got a second lease on life.
Then there was the piece of notebook paper I hung up on my cabinet keeping track of the number of times the Steamboat Springs City Council has had to do a “revote” during my tenure. At the time of this column, the tally stood at four. I don’t take credit for these course corrections, but I am proud to have been a part of sparking the public outcries that spurred them.
When our residents learned the council was going to keep VIP passes and concert tickets for themselves, our community wouldn’t have it and prompted a redo.
When our residents learned the council wasn’t going to release a summary of an internal police investigation that found evidence of a hostile work environment, our residents wouldn’t have it, and that, too, got a second vote.
I’ve learned that in Steamboat, an engaged citizenry really can make a difference. Keep it up.
As I continued cleaning, I threw away the hangar rental records I spent days trying to get that showed our city was giving out handshake deals to wealthy pilots without the knowledge of taxpayers who fund the facility.
I also threw away several pounds of emails that revealed what former council members thought about important topics when they wouldn’t say it publicly.
When I told my parents seven years ago I was moving to Steamboat to become a newspaper reporter, they cheered so loud the windows in our living room in Austin, Texas shook. This job has lived up to those cheers.
I want to thank everyone who has been willing to tell me their stories over the years.
I want to thank the community members who reached out with story ideas or tips that led to stories that led to change.
I’m leaving the best job I’ve ever had to take the greatest adventure I’ll likely ever go on.
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In an effort to connect better with their voters, Steamboat Springs City Council members will begin tabling at Ski Free Sundays, which are every Sunday at Howelsen Hill.