When you work in a national park, you have to be willing to share your office with all kinds of wild creatures–moose, bears, possibly even people from Idaho. (Don’t worry: they are more afraid of you than you are of them.) But you quickly learn to adapt to your new surroundings. You learn to stop what you’re doing and look up at the mountains at least once every half hour. You learn to breathe, and it doesn’t stop there. When you work forty miles from the nearest town, every day is a learning experience.
I learned a lot during my first seasonal job. I learned that Mother Nature is one hell of a landscape architect. I learned that you can go camping on weeknights. Actually, I learned that there really is no such thing as a weeknight when you are doing what you love. In a few short months I went hiking, camping, hunting, fishing, swimming, canoeing, rafting, and all sorts of other –ing verbs. I learned that people from all walks of life can come together and create a community of their own in the middle of nowhere. In a few short months, I met people from Vietnam, Argentina, China, and Russia and those were just my coworkers. I experienced an amazing amount of personal growth. I am over nine feet tall now*. I learned not to take myself so seriously. I learned that I’d rather live in the woods than just about anywhere else. I learned that there is no better way to pack a lifetime into a summer, or to enjoy one summer for a lifetime.