We are gonna take a step back into the past to what I call my roaring 20’s. Today as I write this entry I am 37. In June of 2001, I took a step out of the ordinary and into the extraordinary. I took my first seasonal job at an Amusement Park in Ohio called Cedar Point. I remember the rush of stepping out in the world on a different path. That year, a seed was planted. It would slowly start to grow over the next few years. In 2006 I went back to Ohio for one more season at Cedar Point. That season, the seed had sprouted, and that’s when the desire to start traveling became my heart.
While in my 20’s, I was a prisoner of my own mind and body. I became addicted to alcohol, and with that addiction, my hopes and dreams began to vanish. I would go to work every day feeling horrible and hungover, wishing and wanting something more. I knew there was more out there, but I was paralyzed with fear and addiction to “tackle” this big dream. I was fortunate enough to work for a company that allowed me to transfer to a different state and try to tame the thirst for traveling and exploring. I slipped deeper and deeper into my depression and addiction. In 2011 after having a failed relationship and losing my job in Florida, I moved back home to Indiana to regroup. During this regrouping period, the addiction side of the story took a nosedive, which later ended with me in recovery. I spent the next four years of my life recovering. I took a high pressured sales job for a local phone company and sat in front of a computer, making decent money, but that desire to travel and see distant places began to grow more and more. I remember the feeling of dread coming to me EVERY SINGLE DAY. At this point in my life, I had no desire to do anything.
June of 2015 will always be a month I hold near and dear. I decided to take a leap of faith, get out of the ordinary, and live a different path. I cashed out my savings. EVERYTHING. Sold everything I had, packed my little Honda Civic, and headed west. I road-tripped out to Oregon. I spent 8 days getting there, veering off every exit, hitting every roadside stopping point, snapping photos, taking a detour to Yellowstone National Park, saw the Grand Tetons for the first time, and fell in love with the state of Montana. I remember seeing the towering mountains heading west from just outside Billings. My life at this point was in full swing, I was high on life, loving every minute, and living my best life possible.
That summer turned into an 18,000 mile road trip that would swing me from Oregon to Florida, to California, and back to Indiana and everywhere in between. Duty called, and I had to go back to Indiana for a few months. December 30th, 2015, I woke up, not really feeling the world. That day, something inside me was telling me something was going to change. I went to work as usual, and by 11:30 that morning I was on the road to Florida. I could not do the “normal life” society had placed me in anymore. I remember calling my cousin and telling her I was coming down to see her for a few days to clear my mind and figure out what my next move was.
By mid-Jan 2016, I was a Florida resident and everything in my apartment back in Indiana was cleaned out, sold, donated, or thrown away. I spent my first winter in Florida working a seasonal gig at a golf course in food and beverage. During this time frame, I got a job offer in Yellowstone. I jumped on the opportunity and headed west. During my stay there, my life took off. My eyes were opened up to different cultures, nature, and a love for other humans. The unfortunate side of this job was I went out on a drinking spree for three days. Coming to a few days later, it was notable I had to regroup myself, and I left the property and headed back to Indiana to get my life back in order. I placed my sobriety in front of EVERYTHING else. Because without my sobriety, I am no good to myself or anyone else.
I jumped back in the saddle of seasonal work and took a job at Big Sky Ski Resort. My first major winter. A Montana winter. Being from the Midwest, I was cocky when I went there – couldn’t be any worse than an Indiana winter. WRONG! That season I found friends that are now lifelong friends. I put skis on for the first time, I wiped out more than I stood up, and it was such an amazing experience.
That following summer, I landed a job working in Glacier National Park. There are only two times in my life where I’ve stood in front of something so beautiful that I was speechless, crying, and laughing all at the same time. Both times have happened when I was on Going To The Sun Road. That summer so far has been the best summer of my life. Money was made, miles were put on my poor little honda, and new friendships were made.
Over the course of the last few years, there have been stumbles along the way. But nothing has stood in my way to find the places I want to go to. In 2015 when I started to travel, I did not have a lot of experience under my belt. Today I am happy to say I have visited all 50 states and I am looking forward to starting international travel here very soon. I have maintained my sobriety with the help of connecting with other like-minded individuals who are in the National Parks, resorts, states, and traveling groups. We are out there – if you ever think you’re alone, you’re not!
I have an incredible life that the universe has given me. Lifelong friends, memories I can look back on, obstacles overcome, lessons learned, and growth beyond my wildest dreams. To this day I rely on CoolWorks.com to be my source of jobs and up to date information in the seasonal world. My story has been long and bumpy at times, but the lesson from all of my experiences is this: I am human and I have made mistakes. I hope going forward I can embrace love, tolerance, patience, and a willingness to be teachable in my next adventure. I hope to meet many of you on this path of life. We may be few, but we are many when we are together.