It’s been quite the journey getting here to my new home. On the eve of my 4th week in the Eastern Sierras, I figure it’s hi-time I reflect on the past couple months. After I left Arizona, I hid out in Colorado Springs with my family as I bought time, searching for an apartment in California. I almost ended up in Colorado working for a Rocky Mountain National Park affiliate, but I had to turn down the job for my current gig. It wasn’t an easy decision but now that I’m here, I can’t believe I deliberated and agonized as much as I did. I knew I’d go where the next JOB (not internship) took me and I had over 25 applications out all over the west. Although I cherish my experiences in Montana and Arizona, I am ready to be in one place, for a while at least. I am not an intern anymore, rather I’m coordinating an entire interagency visitor center for the Mono Basin. No, I don’t get to wear a USFS uniform, nor a NPS one, nope not a State Parks uniform either… I’m in the private sector which is where I feel I belong anyways. We are changing our name soon, so it’s barely even worth mentioning that I work for the Eastern Sierra Interpretive Association. The past 9 months of interning, not to mention my entire design career, led me to the conclusion that I need a job with variety. Building and implementing an interpretive program schedule (including campfire talks!), maintaining exhibits, conducting tours, working the busy front desk and all kinds of random admin are just a few of my many tasks. My commute to work is like a dream, I pass maybe 10 cars and get to see mountains all around me – I sometimes forget where I am or where I’m going, it’s so mesmerizing. I’m happy, 24-7. Of course some things set me off (like the gas prices), I’m only human, but I have never felt this happy and at peace and at home (so quickly) before in my life.
The town I live in has a population of maybe 625 people, there are wooden street signs, bear proof garbage bins, no stop lights and this gorgeous, shimmering Gull Lake that I get to wake up to every single morning. I’d say that it is always peacefully, blissfully quiet but honestly, I’ve never lived in a noisier building before in my life. I can even hear the people cough down below. But I have a killer view and hard wood floors and a powerful shower head. You can’t have it all. I live 30 miles from the east gate to Yosemite and 20 miles from Mammoth. There is so much to do here that I can barely decide how to spend my days off. Just today I went to Yosemite for the first time and did a day hike, BECAUSE I CAN! I’ve been to hot springs, alpine lakes, a haunted lodge, the best pizza place ever, the brewery (my other home), a crater and tufa groves. Getting out of Los Angeles was the best thing for me, but I didn’t know it at the time. I was stuck there in so many ways. Guiltily, I would glorify it, find excuses to stay and constantly stick up for it in my mind. ‘It’s not so bad, but my friends are here, just look at my cute little house, I can’t possibly leave’… But it had been ten years and time for a change, not just a career but a life change. I don’t miss LA at all, just my friends I miss. And a palm tree every now and then. And sometimes the accessibility of it all, everything is so easy and much cheaper.
I’ve made a lot of friends here already, compared to the two I made in Arizona, and know so many people in passing. The summer is just getting going so all the businesses are opening up. I meet someone new nearly every day and just randomly introduce myself to people that work in the shops, post office, bars, gas station, yoga class, you name it. But I don’t know where I’d be without Richie, he has shown me so much in such a short period of time and I met the entire town, it seems, because of him. He’s like the unofficial town mayor and welcome committee, all in one. The kindest, most generous person and he has an awesome dog.
I am madly in love with California again and so happy to be here to share the love with visitors! Everyday is an adventure, not because I’m doing some epic hike or getting naked in a hot spring. I just go to work and come home and that is an adventure in itself. The visitors, my co-workers and the job I do – it doesn’t feel like work, it’s like a mini-adventure. For example, I got an off-road tour of the basin the other day. We just got in the truck and went nearly all around Mono Lake. Just checking things out, making sure no one was up to any Santeria or that the wild horses were behaving. I have a ton to learn still, so that helps the adventure quotient too. I not only need to know about this area, but Yosemite, Bodie ghost town, Death Valley, Mt Whitney/Lone Pine, Bristlecone Pine and everything in between. A hard job but an absolute joy!