JOURNAL

Crater Lake National Park

Oregon

CRYSTAL

I vividly remember the drab college classroom where I was sitting in a hard brown desk and somewhat listening to the professor ramble on about habitat fragmentation or predator-prey dynamics. My eyes would drift to the window and my mind would wander and lust for what was “out there”. Eventually, I graduated but I still needed to fulfill an internship within my course of study.

I discovered the website, CoolWorks.com, and sifted through all the amazing opportunities where I could make a dream a reality. It was 2006, I packed two bags and took a plane flight from Ohio to California for my first seasonal job with The Student Conservation Association as an Interpretation Ranger at Sequoia National Park. Finally, I was able to apply all my college textbook learning into a real life scenario. My days were filled with giving Brown Bear talks to visitors, leading guided Interpretive walks where we played in the stream looking for macro-invertebrates and leading weekly campfire programs to the public and children. I established friendships with people of all ages and from different backgrounds, got to spend time among the Giant Sequoias, and found myself learning how to backpack among the high Sierras on my days off. I was hooked.

Fast forward to 2019 and I’m still indulging in the seasonal lifestyle. I can’t seem to escape the joys of living a nontraditional lifestyle. I’m 36 years old now and have reached a point in my life where my friends are on baby number two, buying houses, and settling down.  My wanderlust and desire to be “out there” has evolved over the past decade. I have spent seasons in over 10 states, working mostly within our National Forests and National Parks as a Park Ranger during the Summer. The Winter months find me working in the ski resort/ski hospitality industry in some of the most picturesque mountain towns out West.

Over the years, I was able to fly in bush planes over the vast tundra in Alaska while looking for Brown Bears, seek out invasive plants in the Grand Tetons in Wyoming, scrambling and getting lost in the vast networks of canyons in the desert southwest near Moab, Utah, getting paid to raft down the Flathead River near Glacier National Park in Montana, and learned how to ski among the peaks in Northern New Mexico working at Taos Mountain Resort.

I have become an expert at packing only what I need for the next six month seasonal adventure. I take a few books I have been wanting to read, take a few of my favorite t-shirts, gear, and other necessities. One does not need much, because what I thrive on most is the friendships, the natural environment, and the new job challenges. I have not become stagnant. I have grown accustomed to the instability, to the unknown, awaiting for the next adventure in the future.

Seasonal life (especially living this way for 13 years) has become the normal for me. I can’t imagine living any other way.  I am often asked, “You live here? Where are you going next? How can you do it, it is so unstable?” However, how can I not do it? How can I not explore, live, work, and play in this diverse country of ours? How can I not meet some of the best people I have ever met in my life? How can I not escape the comfort bubble and challenge myself? How can I not live a life that is true to myself?

I highly suggest anyone needing a break from the rat race of the world, to take some time off if possible, and seek out a seasonal job. It’s a working vacation as I like to call it. Your life will never be the same again. Be bold. Think of the most daring thing you could do with your life, and go do it!

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Follow Crystal’s adventures on her blog at: www.crystalmuzik.blogspot.com

She was free in her wildness. She was a wanderess, a drop of free water. She belonged to no man and to no city.” ~ Roman Payne

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