The Road Provides the Best Lessons of All

A crew faces audio challenges on the beach at Seaside, OR.

A crew faces audio challenges on the beach at Seaside, OR.

We just returned from a 10-day road trip with the HTV staff that started with a flight from KC to Portland, where we spent two days checking out the city, before hopping on our NW Navigator motor coach.

The goal was to shoot and upload three stories every day, plus other short clips, photos, and anything else we felt like sharing.  Those three stories a day actually had a 48 hour turnaround--shoot today, have it edited and ready for upload the next night.  Still, that's a lot of pressure when you are in a strange location, and forced to "get off the bus and find a story."  We asked our kids to find the story the old fashioned way, avoiding Google as much as possible, and just walking up and talking to folks.

It was the fourth such journey I have taken with my HTV students, and definitely the most challenging.  We had to save up for almost a year.  The cost was $1,358 per student, which included airfare, lodging, and their seat on the motor coach.  They had to cover food and fun on their own.

We had more issues finding stories in the larger cities of Portland and San Francisco, probably because we were overwhelmed with the possibilities.  The smaller locales were the best.  Maybe less intimidating?

The temptation is to take the easiest route to a story--talk to the man or woman on the street selling something, or performing.  They obviously want attention.  We called those "the guy on the street doing a thing" stories.  Last resorts usually.  In the cities, those really tend to look alike.  Digging deeper is preferred, but you have a couple of hours, so your shovel better work fast.

The HTV staff driving along the oregon pacific coast.

The HTV staff driving along the oregon pacific coast.

Equipment challenges happen at home, and on the road.  I take along college kids, all HTV alums, to be our field producers and to provide technical expertise that really helps.  They teach along the way by making suggestions, trouble-shooting, and insuring the kids do not fail.

Our segments, good and bad, are online:  We made it back without too much drama, if you don't count the bug that was working its way through a few kids by the end.  We saw so many great sites in Oregon and northern California that it is truly hard to name a favorite.  The fog rolling over the Golden Gate Bridge, the breath-taking views along the coastal highway, or late in the trip the wonder of Crater Lake.

As a veteran teacher who has tried a little bit of everything to bring a staff together and build their story-gathering and story-telling skills, I think the bus tours have been the most effective thing ever.  But they require a huge effort, and if you think it's a cool idea, I would be happy to share some tips.  The first one might be, try one closer to home, and for just four or five days.

Ten days on the road in a motor coach?  You better love what you are doing, and like the people you are with.