Denali stole my heart: wide open vistas, alpine tundra slopes, Dall Sheep grazing on rugged mountain peaks. Wilderness. Wolves. Grizzly bears. The challenge of it all. The freedom. The evolution of the short summer season, from an eager and intense spring to the snowflakes and stillness of fall. The hard work & the camaraderie. One season and I was hooked. I couldn’t get enough, and everything had changed.
My love affair with the American West began in 2009 with a cross country road trip after college. That summer, I traveled through 27 states and covered over 10,000 miles in six weeks with a friend in a car far too small for my 6’3″ frame. We visited seven national parks that summer and I was blown away.
Since that first season I have learned to ride horses working at a dude ranch in the Sonoran desert, learned to ski at a couple of resorts, sharpened my golf game in Vermont, salmon fished the Kenai River and Resurrection Bay, explored historic Mackinac Island, lived a couple hundred feet from the rim of the Grand Canyon, and enjoyed expansive Denali.
I was the first person to get a job from CoolWorks, and It definitely changed my life. A seasonal job blew my doors, my eyes, and my horizons wide open in the summer of ’72. That summer I found my home in Yellowstone as well as my belief in the life changing power of a seasonal job. I got the first inkling for what would become CoolWorks in January of 1995.
Looking back, I never thought seasonal jobs would play such a huge role in my life. When I set off for Colorado after college graduation, I imagined I would spend a year working as a ski bum before returning to the “real world.” What happened couldn’t be more different. One season quickly turned into three, and seasonal jobs became the lifeblood of my 20s.
I was 20 yrs old and hittin’ the road. Excited would be an understatement, though I won’t discount the nerves. The American journeyman, adventurer, and wanderer has usually followed some kind of internal compass which more often than not has pointed west. Growing up in Western Oregon, I had little option but to head east.