Return to Alaska

Mar 31, 2021 | 0 comments

Three weeks ago, I put in my resignation at my wonderful, full-time museum job (much to the surprise of pretty much everyone I work with). It felt crazy. Society tells us this is a crazy thing to do: to leave the safe harbor of a full-time job with benefits, for something less conventional, far away, risky.

But that’s exactly what I did.

I left the National Park Service 6 years ago to attend grad school at the University of Oregon, planning to return when I was finished. As it happened though, I found other work, meaningful relationships, and community here that kept me around. But I could never quite shake that desire to return to Alaska, to blaze my own trail in this world the way I want. And hard as I tried, I simply couldn’t get the fulfillment I needed out of working a 40 hour a week desk job.

I finally pulled the trigger on it this year when I saw an opportunity at Katmai National Park and Preserve, a park I’ve been pining over for eons. When I was offered the position, I couldn’t say no.

This is, of course, the Cliff Notes version of the story. What you don’t see behind the scenes are the lengthy discussions my partner and I had about long distance relationships, about long-term and short-term plans, about careers, family, the meaning of life. You know, casual stuff.

Ultimately though, I knew what was in my heart, and he did, too. And I am so grateful to be with someone who understands and supports that.

So three weeks later, here I am: finishing out my last week of work at my current job, and trying to figure out how to bush order my groceries to King Salmon next month. 

I couldn’t be more grateful for these two in my life.

Starting in May, I’ll be serving as an Interpretive Park Ranger in Katmai National Park and Preserve in southern Alaska. If you’re not familiar, it’s particularly known for its large population of brown bears and the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, an area filled with ash from the 1912 Novarupta eruption. Although this year will surely be a little unusual for park operations and ranger duties due to COVID, I am so excited to get to be there.

Rumor has it there’s no cell service out there, and almost no internet, so I’ll be off of social media most of the summer. Instead, I’m hoping to keep this blog as a journal of my experiences. I plan to spend a bit of my free time writing in the evenings, and then upload those notes periodically whenever I get the chance. So if you want to stay up to date, subscribe! Or just check back here periodically. Whatever, you do you.

Anyhow, I would love to hear from anyone reading this blog throughout the summer. Leave me a comment, ask questions, make me laugh! What are you curious to know?  What do you hope to see or learn? I’ll try to provide some behind-the-scenes insights about what it’s like being a park ranger, how I’m getting ready for this summer, and all the cool stuff I’m learning as I go.

So, say hi and don’t be a stranger! More updates very soon.


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