A year and a half ago my boyfriend, our cat, and I left New York City after 10 years and hit the road in an RV. It has been an exciting and challenging lifestyle. Much of the challenge has come in the form of seeking work that we can do on the road or while living in an RV. One of the best resources we discovered to counteract this challenge was Coolworks. We often browsed the site in our quest for the perfect alternative job. One day, we came across a job posting to work in Yellowstone National Park for a company called Xanterra. We decided to give work-camping a try and accepted a seasonal job at the Madison Campground.
The best part of the job was living in the park. Existing among some of the most magical wildlife and beautiful landscapes could not be beat. We found ourselves often saying, “I can’t believe we live here.” By the time we left 6 months later, Yellowstone had become our home and saying goodbye was not easy.
Working at Madison Campground was a very real and sometimes even stressful job. Going in, we were unsure what to expect, and I don’t think either of us was prepared for the reality of what working in a campground like Madison was. Despite how I felt about the challenges, the experience of living in Yellowstone made every stressful second worth it. If you find yourself with this opportunity, take advantage of where you are. Go outside and stay there as much as possible!
Being able to call Wonderland home for 6 months is not something everyone gets to do. I fell in love with the wildlife. Seeing a bison or getting caught in a bison jam never got old or common. Having an elk pass through our campsite and watching out cats reaction to such a large creature was priceless. Living there cleared my head and calmed my usually overactive mind. The campground staff evolved into a big family. There were campfires, laughs, and shared experiences that will forever bond us together.
Kameron and I hiked over 300 miles in the park. Almost every one of our days off we were out in the woods exploring. We loved hiking before going to Yellowstone, but while we were there we became obsessed. We learned how to safely hike in bear country, and encountered both black bears and grizzly bears while on trails. We learned how to backpack in the backcountry of Yellowstone, far off from the crowds. We learned the importance of good hiking shoes and gear. We spent the whole week planning our weekend adventures. We left the park much more wilderness savvy and we discovered a side of us that had been hidden away, because prior, we lived in New York City, where nature is nonexistent. We got so into hiking that we are planning on doing a through trail this year. Things that once seemed unattainable, like walking the 211 miles of the JMT, now seem attainable.
Before taking this job we thought if we didn’t discover anywhere we wanted to settle down on our adventures, we could always return to New York City. I think after our experience in Yellowstone, that would now be very difficult. 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. I have never felt so connected to nature and so comfortable among the wildest of creatures. Life is to be lived. I now prefer to live it wild.