Today: Greg Lais, executive director of Wilderness Inquiry, a Minneapolis-based nonprofit. Its mission is to get people into the outdoors regardless of financial, cultural and physical barriers — from canoe trips for Minnesota school kids and families to far-flung adventures into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
The biography of Ulysses S. Grant by Ron Chernow. Big read! The much-misunderstood Grant did so much to shape the United States, even today. He was a radical and a civil rights hero. I also am reading “The Hidden Life of Trees,” a fascinating book about how trees interact with each other and their environment.
The exploration of space has always intrigued me, and there is so much going on now, from China landing on the far side of the moon to our New Horizons spacecraft studying Ultima Thule — 4 billion miles away. As demonstrated by the Apollo 8 photo of “Earthrise,” I think the “wilderness” of space can bring us together unlike anything else. We need that now.
Like many others, my wife and I watch Netflix, Hulu, and Apple TV. “The Good Doctor,” “Killing Eve” and “Madame Secretary” are among our favorites. The only show I’d say I am hooked on is “Star Trek,” and lucky for me Patrick Stewart is coming back this year to reprise his role as Captain Picard! I like Gene Roddenberry’s utopian vision of the future. It’s all about escaping our day-to-day.
I listen to Minnesota Public Radio, and I still read the newspaper. I do follow stories and articles about connecting people to the outdoors. Of course, that’s been my passion for my entire career and I’ve never grown tired of it. I love nurturing that spark of curiosity that comes with discovery and exploration, whether that’s in your backyard or on the other side of the planet. Everyone has that spark somewhere inside of them.
We’ve just celebrated Wilderness Inquiry’s 40th year, and in celebration one of our staff came up with the idea of “exiling” me from the office for 40 days and 40 nights in the wilderness. I readily agreed and have been enjoying some spectacular trips in very special places. Last year we hiked Glacier National Park, kayaked in the Apostle Islands, climbed up to see Machu Picchu, explored Utah’s Capitol Reef National Park, and just returned from a fabulous trip to New Zealand’s South Island. This year I think I’ll ask to be banished for 50 days.