Seasonal work has allowed us to let our dreams run wild! When Gabby decided that she wanted to catch-and-gut a salmon, we moved to Alaska. When we decided that we wanted to take up skiing, we moved to Colorado. When we saw the sun rise over the Grand Canyon we decided to apply for jobs at the South Rim. Life is full of incredible possibilities, you just have to be open to seize opportunity!
When strangers ask me how I came to work in Death Valley, I lie.
I’m not ashamed of the truth; I just know that it’s not what a family of bright-eyed tourists wants to hear over breakfast. Like a lot of parkies, my pilgrimage to the middle of nowhere wasn’t inspired by memories of a particularly pleasant family camping trip or a dog-eared copy of an Edward Abbey book. Here’s what really happened…
Since my journey began, I’ve watched the sun rise and set in some of the world’s most beautiful places. Every morning, I look out my window and see some of the most amazing mountains on the planet. I sometimes think about what my life might be like had I never found CoolWorks.com, and I’m thankful that’s something that I only wonder about.
Denali stole my heart: wide open vistas, alpine tundra slopes, Dall Sheep grazing on rugged mountain peaks. Wilderness. Wolves. Grizzly bears. The challenge of it all. The freedom. The evolution of the short summer season, from an eager and intense spring to the snowflakes and stillness of fall. The hard work & the camaraderie. One season and I was hooked. I couldn’t get enough, and everything had changed.
For many years, those dreams brewed restlessly within me. Eventually, I listened to my nagging inner voice and took the plunge to what would become one of the most significant experiences of my adult life. My journey led me from a small, quintessential New England town to Big Sky Country specifically; Glacier National Park.
Mother Nature smacked me in the face as I drove over the Galena summit and into the Sawtooth Valley. Snow-capped mountains replaced skyscrapers. Wide open spaces replaced sprawling suburbia. Meadows bursting with wildflowers replaced parking lots. Wildlife replaced people. That summer at the ranch changed me and the crew became my family.
My love affair with the American West began in 2009 with a cross country road trip after college. That summer, I traveled through 27 states and covered over 10,000 miles in six weeks with a friend in a car far too small for my 6’3″ frame. We visited seven national parks that summer and I was blown away.
Working at these two camps revealed my weaknesses to me more pointedly than I’d have cared for, but in the open I am able to eradicate them. They have made me a little slower to speak, a little quicker to listen, a little more appreciative. I leave this year with more experience, love, and some of the best friends a man can ask for.
Nightly bonfires, the absence of cellphone service, adventurous fellow millennials, and the hundreds of acres of trail and natural beauty had me showering less and living more. That rustic country experience further fueled the spirit of adventure that has me exploring the world and travel writing today.