Just about a year ago, I set out on a journey that would change my life. I had discovered Coolworks, and seasonal work, a year before, and had given it a shot during the summer of 2016, at a small fishing resort in northern Minnesota. There I made many great memories, but it was a small operation with only a few employees other than myself, and I left unsure of my next steps in my life, and ultimately settled on getting back to ‘real’ life. I moved back to Iowa, got a good paying union job, and bought my first brand new car. Wanderlust and the desire to travel still smoldered deep within me, but I suppressed it, telling myself in a few years I would ‘figure something out’, and maybe even try another seasonal job. My fall back down to reality happened quicker than I expected, however, and I found myself only 6 months into my job, deeply unhappy and generally depressed with my job and my life. I knew this is not the life I wanted.
Home had grown to represent a prison for me. Everything that I had worked to escape, slowly closed back in around me. I was homeschooled, and raised in a sheltered, religious, ultra-conservative family. I had never developed much of a social life here at home, or really felt like a normal person. I spent more time during this period at home with ghosts of the past than I did with any human companionship. I had all the money I needed, a new car, boat, numerous other possessions, but none of it brought me any real happiness. I longed for wilderness, for mountains, for wide open spaces – just to feel the solace and the oneness with nature. I needed to get away from the obstacles that held me back at home. I needed to get back out on my own, and meet new people, people different than me, and yet alike in spirit.
Fears and anxiety held me back however. What if I was unable to make my car payment? How was I going to survive going to a place where I don’t know anyone, and leaving my family? Eventually, I reached a place of a deep lasting depression. I have always struggled with depression, but rarely to the level that I was experiencing. I knew a change had to be made. No matter the risks, no matter what I was leaving behind. I had to start moving towards the light, towards my dreams. I accepted a job in Death Valley National Park, and so begun a year that I wouldn’t have traded for anything.
Last year, as I prepared to drive across the country and into the desert, I again told myself that I wouldn’t work more than a couple of seasons, while working on a long-term plan of figuring out what I ‘really’ wanted to do. But, after a year, I have become more and more convinced that this is what I really want to do. I have met amazing people from all over this country and the world, and from every walk of life, who have forever shaped my life. I get to work and explore in places where people plan to take their vacations. There’s always a vibrant social life, and you get to live and work with like-minded people who want to explore and experience nature. I don’t make a lot of money, but enough to get by, and I am happy. And in the end, that’s all what we’re after, right? Peace and love to all, and happy travels!