Crater Lake National Park



It’s absolutely possible to have roots and wings. I’m 35 now and have my “nest” near my family, but I also want to see the world! Not as a tourist – I want to live other places, see what it’s really like to be among people of a new place. But I also want to be able to come “home.” CoolWorks makes this possible. I’ll tell you my journey, which is still in process.

Thirteen years ago, shortly after college, I was working a job I LOVED at a wilderness therapeutic school (coincidentally this employer is posted on CoolWorks now and they’re great — Discovery School of Virginia). I had been there six years when my parents told me that my dad was diagnosed with lung cancer. I quit my job and moved home. Fortunately, the spots the doctor thought were cancerous were not.

We were overjoyed, yet this scare brought into sharp focus that my time with my parents was limited. I knew as they aged, I would want to live within minutes of them. So I thought, “Nikki, go somewhere – NOW. You won’t have this opportunity again where everyone’s in good health – so where’s the one place you’ve always wanted to visit?”

This thought, combined with having trouble finding a job in Richmond that didn’t make me fall asleep before reading the entire job description, led me to Google “seasonal work in Alaska.” CoolWorks popped up. Intrigued, I looked around, found a lodge, Tutka Bay Lodge, owned by the Within The Wild Adventure Company. A position for a Front of House Manager caught my eye and sounded interesting, so I applied. Not thirty minutes later the lodge owner was calling me for a phone interview. She offered me the job in the same conversation and just like that, I was scheduled to leave for Alaska the next month. ALASKA!

Don’t be mistaken. Seasonal work is vigorous, and you put in long hours.  However, the opportunity to live and work in such fantastic places is 100% worth it. Just read some of these other CoolWorker’s journals! Personally, I’ve never seen such grand nature – Alaska spring hits hard and everything is bigger there (sorry Texas!). There’s a wildness to the people and the air is so fresh. The heart just opens naturally to it. I met amazing and unusual coworkers and guests, and will absolutely make my way back when I can.

My advice to everyone out there, no matter your situation – keep CoolWorks close. If not now, look around soon. Do it! The experience is no doubt one of a kind. It’s been about 5 years since Alaska, and I’m back home near my parents now. But I’ll be back.  Even if it’s not until I’m retired, I’ll be back. Maybe Yellowstone this time, or Hawaii? Maybe Maine or New Mexico?….


That’s it! That’s the encouragement, and drive I need to hear rightnow Nikki. I’m currently in Lynchburg, Va working 2 jobs. I’m restless and want more out of my life. Hopefully, coolworks can give me some purpose and adventure 😉


Darlene Finley July 16, 2017


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