October 31, 2016, was the day I said good-bye to the airline industry and commercial work and was officially setting out on my own to become a travel writer for a major travel company. I only had one month left on my lease, which was a good thing, because the neighbors were getting to be a bit questionable. Actually, there had been a break-in attempt at a neighbor three doors down, garages were being broken into and gas tanks were being drained. I was happy to have Aria with me to alert me of anyone getting to close but even so, it was time to leave.
My visions and hopes were to visit a bunch of local places, send them off to a bunch of companies, who of course would love the articles, be offered a gig and be able to dive right into the travel writing gig. Well, as the title goes, it seemed so easy. Well, I quickly found out that not only is travel writing a popular gig, there is also a ton of people who have written about what you are writing and a lot of companies want experience or have you give your writing away for free; the same thing for my photos.
It's like applying for a regular job, how can I get experience if you won't give me a chance? Even in the private sector things don't make sense. Needless to say, that month left on my lease went really fast and before I knew it, I was moving out on Black Friday and back into my parent's home. Not what I was hoping for but then again, rent was cheaper and the debt was going to go down. Well, that is, if only I find work. It wasn't long after the move that my savings was quickly drained and still, no offers or money was coming in.
Now I have to really swallow my pride and begin looking for work back in the commercial sector. What seemed like weeks and weeks of job hunting was only about a week or so before I offered a position at a tax office as a customer service professional for a seasonal tax office. Work would start at the end of December. One little hitch, the position was in Minnesota and I was in Wisconsin, which meant a little over an hour drive, one-way. Pay was low and even with an economical car, a lot of my paychecks went to filling the car and monthly oil changes.
Thankfully, it was a mild winter which didn't make the commute all that bad and it gave me time to just prepare for the day and unwind when it was over. I also figured it would get me ready for the West Coast road trip that would be taking place as soon as the tax season was over. I was looking forward to being out on the road, taking photos, writing about the trip and visiting states I'd never been to before or hadn't been to in a really long time.
I was also looking to relocate to a different area, perhaps Nevada so I could get away from the cold weather. The National Parks instantly came to mind as well as a different type of position with the tax company I was working for at the time. The energy was high and I was looking forward to all of it. Finally, after long hours and days, the tax season came to an end but and two days later I packed up the car and Aria and headed West.
(Read all about it under the 'Road Trips' Tab)
When I returned I received a call from the Las Vegas tax office about an administrative seasonal position that I had applied for, however, I thought 'seasonal' meant during the off-season and would end in December. Almost like a six-month gig; wrong! The position was only guaranteed for a year, then there was an eight-week break and it would then be determined whether or not it would be renewed. A sneaky way of not having to pay for insurance BUT I digress.
The problem was, I wanted to come back to the office I had worked at for the tax season plus cost of living out there and pay didn't match up. I'd be back where I was, making more debt than money. So I passed and kept looking. Then came a second call from Wyoming for a National Park position. Pay was a little better and it was a seasonal position for about 4-5 months. Great!
Well.... this park's closest city was an hour away, not a big deal except that I was going to have Aria with me. Which meant I could only work a six to seven hour day to allow time for the commute and get back to take care of her and since I didn't know anyone out there I was the one who was going to have to take care of her. Plus, the idea of leaving her behind with my parents was non-negotiable, where I go she goes and since the park only offered non-pet housing for their seasonal workers I had to give it up too.
Thankfully, I had unemployment coming in from the seasonal work I had done during the tax season but we all know that is barely enough to get by and there were little hits coming in on the travel writing. This is about the time I sat back on my couch, closed my eyes and thought, "It seemed so easy..."
You don't have to go far to have fun. Here are a few places I visit when I'm not driving across country or exploring the Rustic Roads.