When I'm Not On The Road
I'm Discovering Places To Visit.
I'm Discovering Places To Visit.
One of the downsides of living in the city and being a dog owner is the inability to let your dog run. This shows every time I go out to the country for a weekend, as Aria tries to spend most of her time outdoors, off-leash, in a large backyard that is filled with squirrels, birds and any other creature that happens to be "passing through". Then through my search of local parks to check out, I came across Battle Creek Regional Park, located in a suburban town called Maplewood, MN, about 20 minutes from the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport. Upon arrival, I quickly found out they also have a fenced-in dog park.
This is not Aria's first rodeo at a fenced-in dog park, once we are out of the car she quickly surveys the area and is immediately drawn to the fenced in area and the many dogs that are dragging their owners towards it. She dances around the car and whimpers with excitement and anticipation. We walk the paved path up to the first entrance.
Once we enter, there is a small holding area for the dogs, here is where you close and latch the door behind you before opening the second door that gives access to the park. This is to prevent any dogs from getting out and running off. The holding area is also where you remove the dog's leash upon arrival and then re-leash when leaving.
Aria's excitement can't be contained as she lets out several barks to let the other dogs know she is here and ready to meet them. The door is barely open before she squeezes through and begins running towards the other dogs barking with every stride. She is a talker but basically, that is all she is, all talk. Once a dog turns to come towards her she instantly zips her lips and stays still, then once they move on she's back to barking and running around them. I'm sure if she could talk she would explain this to me, but for now, I just shake my head and continue on the path.
A short distance from the entrance is a small stream that flows through the park and into the many ponds and swamps that are both within the park and surrounding it. To make it easier for everyone they have build two small bridges for you to cross over; one is made of metal and the other wood. I've seen dogs not enjoy the sound and feel of the metal bridge and either go through the water or over to the wooden one to cross over.
All the trails in the park are unpaved and mostly dirt with a range of easy to moderate depending on the hill and time of year you visit. The park is open year-round and there is enough of an incline that makes walking it very tricky once the snow has fallen. As you can see, there are a lot of trees in the park giving the feeling that you are walking through the woods and not a park. There are plenty of birds, squirrels, and chipmunks to help entertain your pooch with no worry that they are going to be hurt as the entire area is fenced in.
Aria remains close but not too close as we continue on the trails and break away from the dogs and do some walking on our own. Her barking becomes less and she takes in all the scents and sounds the park has to offer. Sounds of other dogs in the distance has her turning and running ahead further to see what is going on but stopping and looking back to make sure I'm still following. As we turn onto one path Aria quickly runs ahead knowing where the path is going to lead and the sounds of other dogs become louder with every step we take.
A lot of the trails in the park will lead you to a large area that has been cleared away to allow dogs room to play with each other as well as enjoy some fetch or Frisbee time. There are also picnic tables here for people to sit and relax while their dogs enjoy the open field and some much needed time off leash. Most of the dogs I have encountered here are well-behaved and the owners are never far away. This is not always the case, depending on location, but I'm happy to say this one does follow the rules and the park is kept very clean.
There are trash receptacles located throughout the park and on the trails. They also provide bags for you to use and water stations during the hot season are also located on the trails. It is near impossible to get lost especially in a fenced in area but if you feel you are unsure of your location there are maps of the park located on the main trails. I say main trails because there are plenty that goes off the main one, through the woods which gives Aria more of an opportunity to chase some squirrels up a few trees.
There are two entrances to the dog park, one that is located off of Upper Afton and the other is off of Lower Afton. The one off of Upper Afton seems to be the more popular one and once you enter the park the area allows more room for the dogs to greet each other, where it is basically woods that surrounds the other entrance and if there are a lot of dogs it may seem a little claustrophobic. The beauty of having two entrances is you can come in at one entrance and leave from the other.
Just outside the entrance there is a paved path that goes around the park and is a connector between the two parking lots; this path is also popular for bikers and joggers, I've done this routine once where I came in one, let Aria use the pet park, and then leave out of the other and walked her back on-leash back to the car on the paved trail. It is a nice walk that also includes water holes and is surrounded by large trees making you feel like you are still in the woods.
I've only done this once because the look Aria gave me when I put her leash on and walked all the way back to the car was one I don't ever want to see again. So now our loop consists of staying inside the park and letting her run until her heart is content. It is a relaxing walk that anyone will enjoy and the park is always busy but if you're walking the trail you don't even realize it.
As far as dog parks go, this one has been my favorite. There are so many different trails to walk, areas to explore and it is well maintained. I can see why this is a popular place for people to bring their pets and best of all, it is free of charge.
For more information please visit http://www.battlecreekdogpark.org/. Enjoy
Welcome to the Minnesota and Wisconsin border that is divided by the St. Croix River. Here lies a park called Interstate State Park that has been divided between the two states.
Interstate State Park was established in 1895 and offers much of the same rustic beauty that attracted visitors back then. The Minnesota park is located next to Taylors Falls, MN, you then cross the Highway 8 bridge over the St. Croix River to the Wisconsin side of the park. The park's rocky cliffs are known as "the St. Croix Dalles" which is French for steep, rocky gorge. It describes the area perfectly and at that time the river would welcome the steamboats that would bring tourists to the area.
Trails range from easy to difficult due to steep inclines, rocky paths, and slippery rocks. There isn't much gravel once you are off the main trails and most of the side trails are made of rocks. Use extreme caution as it doesn't take much to lose your balance or misstep especially on wet surfaces.
Part of the trails will take you up to the highway that leads to the Minnesota entrance of the state park. Even though the trail is divided by guard rails use caution when walking along the highway. There are many blind turns and some areas get pretty close to the road. Due to the hills, car speeds will vary and be sure to keep your furry friend on a short leash.
Take a moment to enjoy the St. Croix River that is calm at one point and rapids the next. Riverboat tours are offered and can be seen docked outside the state parks. The river also welcomes canoes and kayaks to enjoy both the rapids and gentle glide along the river.
As you walk around the park you will notice different attractions along the way. This one is a stone, arch bridge that will take you down into a seating area and offer different sites and information about the rocks and formations that have developed over the years.
As always, dogs are welcome anywhere on the trails as long as they are on a leash and you clean up after them. They are not allowed in any public area such as the restrooms and tourist information center. If your dog isn't used to rocky trails, be sure to take it slow and check their paws when done with the hike. These rocks not only get slick but they are extremely sharp and can become very narrow. A dog that gets excited easily is liable to get injured on these trails or injure you as they pull you along. Caution and awareness are key when hiking these trails.
There are no guard rails along the trails with the views, which is true of every trail on both the Minnesota and Wisconsin side of the park. There is a lot of tree coverage and then trails open up and you are looking quite a ways down to the river and rocks below. Another reason to be cautious and know your dog if you are taking them on the trail. There are many things to grab their attention and very little recovery time if you are not on alert. I speak from experience with both my hiking dogs and have learned, the photo and view can wait, let me make sure my buddy is where they need to be to protect myself and them.
Time to head over to Wisconsin and look back at Minnesota, as pictured above. You get to see another side of the river and are able to see the many twists and turns it offers. If you wait long enough and look hard you'll be able to see the Minnesota visitors on the other side enjoying the view of Wisconsin. I've actually seen people call out to each other and wave when they spot other tourists.
The Wisconsin side of Interstate State Park is long and stretches out further than the Minnesota side. The trails on the Wisconsin side are not as clearly visible as they are on the Minnesota side. Although it is easy to find your way back to the trail be aware, it is even easier to get off of it. Wisconsin also offers camping and boat docks for families to enjoy their time here, either for the day on the river or several days camping, which is also dog-friendly.
The campground is located at the bottom of the park and this is the view you get to enjoy. Hard to believe the rapids are just around the corner of the rocks but it is very peaceful.
The campground also offers hiking trails, fishing, and many other things to do while enjoying the State Park. Access to the parks does cost a fee that can be paid either for the day or you can get a year pass which offers unlimited access year-round, all can be purchased at the information center on the Minnesota side or the guard shack on the Wisconsin side.
I hope you will take the time to enjoy both sides of the park that offer great views and challenging trails. Be safe and enjoy!
Not all historical markers will be found off the main road. Fort Snelling State Park is located right next to the Minneapolis International Airport. However, once you enter the park there are areas where you forget how close to the city you truly are, an occasional airplane takeoff or landing is all that can be heard to remind you of your location.
The State Park offers day passes and is pet-friendly as long as you keep them on a leash and they are not welcome into the historical fort that is nestled in the park. The park does offer tours of the historical sites for a small fee and also include an interpretive exhibit, visitor center, and naturalist programs. They also offer a variety of trails for hiking/biking that can take you as little as a mile or as long as 5 miles depending on your route. Markings are minimal on the trails and the maps aren't the greatest but most of the trails are paved and you can easily turn around and head back towards the entrance or parking lot.
The Fort was completed in 1825 and served to protect the United State's interests in the booming fur trade. It also assisted in maintaining peace by deterring advances by the British in Canada and enforcing boundaries between the American Indian Nations until official treaties could be made and gain land from them.
Fort Snelling is also known for the largest U.S mass execution in history. After the US-Dakota war of 1862, many Dakota leaders were captured and imprisoned at the Fort. The first execution of two Dakota leaders was on November 11th, 1865 and as they climbed up the scaffold one of them said, “As the white man comes in, the Indian goes out.” This was followed by 303 Dakotas who were accused of killing men and were awaiting execution.
It wasn't until President Abraham Lincoln stepped in and reviewed the evidence and had the number reduced to 39. It served for 40 years until the U.S government had established forts further West and no longer needed Fort Snelling.
Buildings 17 and 18, also known as the double barracks of Fort Snelling were constructed in 1904-1905 to house the troops. By the mid-1940s it was used as a Military Intelligence School to teach American students to become interpreters and translators.
In 1946 the post was deactivated and the buildings were turned into an outpatient clinic that handled more than 60,000 patients each year. The buildings have been vacant since the mid-1980s and are currently being repaired and The Minnesota Historical Society is determining their best use. For now, it is another historical attraction when hiking through the Fort Snelling State Park.
This is such a great place to hike! Kinnickinnic State Park is located just outside of Hudson, WI with a River Falls address and it is only 45 minutes from the Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport. The convenience of having this Wisconsin state park so close to my location is nothing short of amazing. I find myself hiking here as often as I can because there is always a new trail to take and a new place to photograph.
There are a dozen trails that will, eventually, hook up with each other and lead you to some great views as well as back to your parking spot. I should mention that there are as many parking areas as there are entrances to the trails, be sure to make note of where you parked and the trail you started out on. If ever unsure, you can always walk back to the main driving road and take it back to your car.
Most of the trails are moderate to easy hiking, with a variety of walking surfaces to include paved, dirt and grass. The trails take you through the woods and open fields, however, in the summer the mosquitoes can be thick and even a thick layer of mosquito repellent won't keep them at bay. I've had to cut my walks short because of them so the best time to hike this park is early Fall to early Spring but if your like me, and enjoy a good summer hike, then stick to the open field trails. The open area and gentle breeze helps keep the mosquitoes away and will allow you to actually walk and enjoy the trails.
The best part of this park are the trail markings. There are quite a few parks out there that don't have the greatest markings or maps to offer guidance on where you are and where you would like to go. Kinnickinnic State Park has great markings and the maps are very readable. Like I mentioned earlier, all of the trails will meet up and the main road is never far from view making it hard to get lost.
Did I mention this park is open year round? Well, it is, and they will groom some of the trails for cross-country skiing as well as use some of the hills for downhill sledding. All trails and hills are marked as well as postings to ensure everyone is in the right area, parking is also located near the sledding hills for easy walking. This park is also dog-friendly and offers something for both the leisure and working dogs who visit the park. With the open fields, it offers a good training and testing area for working or show dogs that are doing scent work which is about finding trails by just using their nose.
You'll know they're there when you see groups of people walking their dogs with extra long leashes. If you ever get a chance to observe this training, I recommend it, the dogs are amazing and to see them figure out where to go by just using their nose will amaze you. One more thing, this park doesn't offer trash receptacles so what you bring in, you have to take out with you and that includes anything your dog has left behind.
Kinnickinnic State Park sits on 1242 acres and offers a sandy dune and beach where the Kinnickinnic River meets up with the St. Croix River.
The beach is open from Memorial Day through Labor Day and dogs are not welcome on the beach or in any picnic area during the on season. The walk down to the beach is a nice, leisurely stroll, however, there is a steep hill to get down to it and you have to hike it back up to get back to the parking area. Enjoy! Makes for a great and yet tiring workout especially after you have been enjoying a day at the beach.
Fall is the best time to visit this park. You not only have the changing leaves to view but you also have a quiet park to hike through.
During this time, there are very few people out hiking and most of the mosquitoes have gone and it allows you to take in the surroundings and really enjoy everything the park has to offer. The few people you may run into are always friendly and eager to take a moment to talk.
I hope you take time to visit and enjoy Kinnickinnic State Park, I know I have and like any State Park there is a fee to enter and you can do a day pass or they offer a yearly pass that is good for any State Park in Wisconsin. Enjoy and be safe.
“If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there.”
If you want to get somewhere fast, take the main road. If you want to see something along the way, veer off and take the side/back roads. These are the roads I prefer when I'm out photographing. They take you away from the hustle, bustle, and congestion and depending on the road, it may even take you back in time where everything digital was a distant dream.
Pre-1900 barns located in Wisconsin.
Over a 100 years old, amazingly, they are still standing. However, due to the change in the farming industry and the cost of repair, most of the barns are being ready to be taken down. Thanks to the back roads, family knowledge and support I'm able to freeze their presence before they disappear.
Prior to the arrival of the European Settlers in the 19th century, Wisconsin was being farmed by the Native Americans. Things began to change in the 1830s as settlers moved in and started harvesting the cash crop wheat. From 1840-1880, 1/6th of the country's wheat was grown in Wisconsin.
In the late 1850s competition began to rise for wheat harvesting from Minnesota and Iowa, this was followed by a disease called wheat rust and tiny insects known as chinch bugs destroyed the crop. Wisconsin farmers were forced to figure out a way to manage crops and still stay profitable.
Depending on the location of the farm, this would determine the type of crop you were growing. If you were in the Southern part of the state you learned about specializing in a product and would find success in tobacco. Waushara County created the state's cranberry industry, while many of the farms turned to feed crop. This, of course, included corn, oats, and hay to feed the thousands of cows that were producing milk for Wisconsin's Dairy industry. To this day, Wisconsin still remains a leading agriculture state with one big change, a general decline in family farming and a rise in corporate farming.
Most of the barns pictured here were considered family farms. The family that lived together, worked together and would provide labor, management, and decision-making responsibilities. Once a way of life, not only in Wisconsin but throughout rural America it is now a thing of the past and almost extinct due to financial hardships and agriculture developments.
One-Room Schoolhouses found mostly in the Midwest.
Back in the 19th and early 20th centuries, one-room schoolhouses were what you would have attended when going to school. A single teacher with students from first to eighth grade ranging from 6-40 students in one school. The youngest would sit in front and the oldest in the back and the subjects taught would be reading, writing, arithmetic, history, and geography. It was considered a punishment to have to sit next to a girl.
Students were also given responsibilities outside of their schoolwork which would include cleaning the erasers, sweeping cobwebs and carrying in wood for the stove. The schools were not only used for teaching but were also considered a gathering area for the community. In Wisconsin, the school teacher was likely a farm girl from the community, about age 16, later the age would increase to 20. Her knowledge of school would be limited and she would need to pass a third-grade certificate which allowed her to teach six months of the year without reexaminations.
The town community would determine who would teach in the school and most of the teachers only taught for one to two years. It was not uncommon for young girls to leave their homes to go teach in a country school. Wisconsin rural school teachers all shared common experiences which included loneliness, homesickness, uneasiness, worry over the board and even cleaning up the schoolhouse. The students came from various backgrounds to include German and Irish. Attendance was irregular due to illness, weather and work on the farm. However, in these little schoolhouses, the illiteracy rate began to drop from 9.3 to 4.2% in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Nebraska in early 1900.
These beauties are either abandoned and falling apart or have been reconstructed into homes or even town-halls. Those that still remain standing always send a chill down my spine as I think of the time when they were alive with the sounds of children in the background.
My new found love of museums was re-ignited when I was asked to tour a local town's museum. This was, by far, the tiniest museum I had ever visited but it was also new to the community. Plus it went beyond the artifacts of the town and showed how the town was started and all the people that were born, raised and help grow the community.
Keep reading and enjoy the article I wrote about this town's museum.
Welcome to the Turtle Lake Museum located in Turtle Lake, Wisconsin. In 2010 the census reported that 1,065 people lived in the village which is located between Polk and Barron county. The village's history dates back to 1875 when European descents first came to the area to settle. Known for its large hardwoods and pine forests about half the population was consisted of Native Americans.
The village was originally named Skowhagen by Stephen Richardson as the area reminded him of his home state of Maine. Richardson went on to open a saw mill that became the village's first and principle industry for years followed by a general store and eventually a post office where Richardson was the postmaster.
Logging camps were built around Upper and Lower Turtle Lake, which are still usable to this day by local swimmers and boaters. Government surveyors came up the name Turtle Lake because of all the turtles that used the areas to lay their eggs. Once a post office was established it only seemed right to carry on with the name Turtle Lake instead of Skowhagen.
As you walk through the museum you will learn more about the history of Turtle Lake. All items throughout the museum have been donated by locals who grew up in the village. These items include band uniforms, military uniforms, cookware, phones and a variety of other items that were used. In fact the main building of the museum was at one time the village's lumber mill which was closed years earlier. Repairs continue to help bring the building up to date and donations are always appreciated.
As you first walk in to the museum look around and into the glass casings that line the wall. Note the differences in band uniforms that the village used throughout the years. As well as the items donated by the local Cub Scout Troop, school year books and articles posted about local events. A variety of items used on a daily basis as well as events that took place.
Continue on and notice the Army uniforms as you continue on, one of them is a woman's uniform, from a local Turtle Lake resident who was in the service but not many people were aware until recently. Her papers and what she in the service can all be found on the display case next to her uniform. She is one of many women who served but wasn't recognized, take a moment to give thanks to all of the unspoken ones who served this country.
As the tour continues look to the walls and find old pictures of farm equipment, homes, buildings and what the town originally looked like. The photos continue to show the railroad tracks and station that use to go through the village. Moving on you'll find a map of what use to be the Turtle Lake School District Map and photos of the schools that use to operate in the area.
More display cases line the walls to include photography equipment, phones, sports memorabilia, toys, fishing equipment and military uniforms. All uniforms were used by local servicemen with one that has an interesting story to it. Upon donation, volunteers were going through the pockets and in one came across a pack of cigarettes and the airline ticket home. As if the person who used to wear it, took it off and never looked back.
In a display case next to the uniforms is a wooden object that was donated by a local family. This object, known as the Montagnard Crossbow, was used by a group of people during Vietnam known as the “Mountain People”. They were indigenous people of Central Highland Vietnam and considered to be “America's Most Loyal Aliens In Vietnam”.
Continue on to see the set-up of a home and items that were used. Next to hit hangs a large quilt with a little bit of a mystery. On it are the names of local business that date back to 1900-1902 which is when it is believed to have been made but the question remains; why? You are left to speculate and wonder why someone would make this and hold on to it for so long.
The tour concludes with more display cases of medical equipment for both doctor, vision and dentist, as well as school and newspaper equipment and finally railroad memorabilia. After a short stroll through the museum you will have learned all about the history of the village of Turtle Lake, Wisconsin. But before you leave be sure to take a stroll outdoors to view the different farm equipment and buggy that was used in the area which also includes a fire truck.
If your passing through be sure to take a moment to stop by and check it out. Volunteers are on sight to answer any questions you may have about the village or any of the items on display. The Turtle Lake Museum is open from June – September, 2nd & 3rd weekends from 10a-4p. There is no fee to visit the museum but donations are always appreciated.
My first official travel write was for a local museum that my sister-in-law was working at. I didn't ask for any money, just wanted the chance to write and post it on my website as well as submit it to a few magazines. I've always had a love for museums but after this gig, I was in love and slightly obsessed with them. Even though, it was never picked up the pictures I took while there, were, and were published in the online Wisconsin magazine website. Again, no money but plenty of exposure and views happened because of it, for that, I was happy to add it to my resume.
The article I wrote can be read below. Enjoy!!
Everyone knows the names and history of the big cities like Minneapolis, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston and New York. Have you ever travelled outside of these cities and into the country only to discover small town after small town? Things are quieter and easier; did you ever look at them and wonder what their history is?
A good way to find out is to visit their local historical museum. Approximately two hours east of the Twin Cities, Minneapolis and St. Paul Minnesota, there are such towns located in Wisconsin. This journey takes us to the 1880 Pioneer Village Musuem of Barron County located between Barron and Cameron, Wisconsin.
The area was established in 1860 and before then was home to thousands of Native Americans. It was home to a vast wilderness; a logging camp was set up, and the building of the towns began in 1874. This area was known by a wealthy Chippewa Falls lumberman who knew the Northern Railway would pass through the settlement. It has since grown and along with it came the Village Museum which recently celebrated its 50 year anniversary.
There are approximately 40 buildings that make up this museum and allow you to take a stroll back in time to the days when things were done by hand and one-room classrooms with multiple grade levels were a common sight. Here a single teacher would be in charge of students in grades first through eighth grade. There could be as few as six or as many as 40 in each school; the younger ones sat in front in the smaller desks while the older students were in back in the larger desks. Teachings were usually of reading, writing, arithmetic, history, and geography.
Another stop in the museum would be a place not loved by many, the Dentist Office. The dentist chairs didn't even become comfortable until 1958 when they were able to be reclined. Nitrous Oxide (laughing gas) wasn't used until the mid-1800s and Novocain wasn't created until 1903. After World War II the push to brush and floss became more persistent, and the biggest improvements to dental hygiene didn't occur until after soft drinks became popular; one of the biggest offenders of our time.
Continue walking through the village to see one-room homes, a blacksmith, farmhouses, post office and a jail just to name a few. The museum also has large sheds that hold a collection of items that include phones, farm equipment and house hold items that were used during the 1880s.
Lastly, no museum is complete without a Gift Shop. Here you will find many souvenirs, such as hand crafted items, woven rugs, and clothes, to help remember the past as well as your present experience at the Pioneer Village Museum.
As you walk down Pioneer Street of the Village Museum be sure to slow down and enjoy the past as it speaks to you with the unexplained cool breeze, a flicker out of the corner of your eye or an extra creek on the wooden floor. Let the sights and sounds of the past remind us of how we got to our present day...
The Museum also has an entertainment pavilion for public use, picnic and rest areas. The Cultural Arts Building serves food during special events and has seating inside and outside. They are open to private tours, weddings, family reunions, company picnics, class reunions and tour groups during non-public hours. They are a Blue Star Museum that offers free admission to active military and their families. Tour buses are welcome!
The Pioneer Village Museum is open to the public from June 2 – September 10; Friday & Sunday, 1-5p and Saturday 10-5p. Special arrangements for visits outside regular business hours can often be made by calling the Museum in advance.
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..."