It was the day before Easter Sunday in 2009 when my phone rang from an out of state number. Who would be calling me like this on the Saturday right before Easter and from an out of state number? I answered the phone to a very pleasant person on the other end. It was a human resources manager at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.
Since my journey began, I’ve watched the sun rise and set in some of the world’s most beautiful places. Every morning, I look out my window and see some of the most amazing mountains on the planet. I sometimes think about what my life might be like had I never found CoolWorks.com, and I’m thankful that’s something that I only wonder about.
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.
Working at these two camps revealed my weaknesses to me more pointedly than I’d have cared for, but in the open I am able to eradicate them. They have made me a little slower to speak, a little quicker to listen, a little more appreciative. I leave this year with more experience, love, and some of the best friends a man can ask for.
Nightly bonfires, the absence of cellphone service, adventurous fellow millennials, and the hundreds of acres of trail and natural beauty had me showering less and living more. That rustic country experience further fueled the spirit of adventure that has me exploring the world and travel writing today.
Before jumping straight into a career, invest in yourself first so you can enter the workforce as a person who knows themselves deeper, who can understand and love people better, and as someone who has stepped out of comfort to embrace the wonderful unknown. This could be the summer where everything changes.
The second I got home, I went online and played my own version of CoolWorks adventure roulette. Did I want a job in the national parks? Or maybe specifically a gig on the water? Did I want something in hospitality and service industry? Or did I want to return to my non-profit roots? If I hit the international job filter, things got REALLY exciting.
I am resolute that not much can beat the self-confidence, wonder, and fresh perspectives on life as a whole that only travel can bring about. Never will I be the one to say, “I wish I could have done that when I was younger”, because I’m doing it.
I fall more and more in love with my life every day and as I get older, I realize more and more what a true gift that is.