Today, I live a just north of the Tetons in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, working each day to protect the doorstep of Yellowstone National Park from industrial gold mining. My summers in Grand Teton instilled in me a great reverence for all it takes to create and maintain these public lands we cherish.
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.
We have fallen in love with wild nature. Taking a chance on a seasonal job introduced us to sides of ourselves that were tucked away. Taking a chance on a seasonal job introduced us to sides of ourselves that were tucked away. I have never felt so connected to nature and so comfortable among the wildest of creatures.
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.
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.
The road of life is full of ups, downs, and all-arounds. Most people tend to stick to the highway, flying past the exits, focused on getting quickly to the destination. And then there are those living the seasonal life. We tend to take the scenic route: enjoying the sights, meeting the locals, and embarking on adventures along the way.