A mosquito bite almost ended my life at sixteen years old. It transferred a virus that infected the fluid surrounding my brain, causing it to swell and squeeze it, leaving me in a coma for four days and with the complications of a brain-damaging stroke. It mainly affected my speech, which took about two years to fully recover from. And when I felt that I’d made it back to “the old me,” one major difference persisted: I no longer believed that I was guaranteed a full life. I understood that life could end at any time.
I had never spent much time in mountainous states. I came from Iowa, and I felt I had been dropped from the sky into an unbelievable scene. I still can’t believe my first sight of Glacier National Park; I couldn’t stop smiling!
I felt a desire to get out and not only see things, but to go and do things.
To get things done in the name of Conservation, and I found my passion in life. Sometimes you have to take the chance on something. And you never know how many doors will open after that.
I am a tour guide and driver in a National Park. PINCH ME!
This astounding place that the rest of the world dreams of visiting for just a blink? It can be your backyard. You get to not only visit, but wake up and be home there – everyday.
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.
For many years, those dreams brewed restlessly within me. Eventually, I listened to my nagging inner voice and took the plunge to what would become one of the most significant experiences of my adult life. My journey led me from a small, quintessential New England town to Big Sky Country specifically; Glacier National Park.
Mother Nature smacked me in the face as I drove over the Galena summit and into the Sawtooth Valley. Snow-capped mountains replaced skyscrapers. Wide open spaces replaced sprawling suburbia. Meadows bursting with wildflowers replaced parking lots. Wildlife replaced people. That summer at the ranch changed me and the crew became my family.
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.
It was March 18th, 2014. I was sitting at my desk, pretending to be working on a spreadsheet, counting down the hours until 5:00. I was longingly staring at pictures of the mountains on my computer and applying for jobs on CoolWorks.com when I received a phone call from an unknown number. Relieved to have a chance to walk outside for a moment, I answered.