The other day I was asked a question that stopped me in my tracks. It really got me to thinking. I was asked what I have accomplished. I began answering the question by simply stating that the greatest accomplishment I can think of in my life is raising two fantastic children. But, it seemed that my questioner wanted something other than that. What was wanted of me was more down the line of what I have done since I “retired.”
At that point I began to think. I’ve never really retired. I just changed the focus of my working life to working as little as possible throughout the year. I have traveled, that’s what I’ve been doing. I have been traveling when others have been working, and working when the rest of the world has been traveling. I suppose I could travel year round, but that would not allow me to experience how others live and think. By settling down for a few months at a time I’ve allowed myself the pleasure of making numerous acquaintances, and experiencing life in the many areas of this country I have visited.
So, I’m going to share with you what 13 years in the life of a wandering fool has been like. Well, maybe not what it’s been like, but the places I’ve been and what I’ve done. From that I’m sure you can draw your own conclusions.
In October, 2004 I stopped working and began my quest. From then until March, 2005 I traveled from the Central Valley of California through Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas before making my way to Utah, via Las Vegas. There I took a job in the human resources department at Bryce Canyon. I, also worked the front desk at the lodge for a couple of months.
I spent the winter back in the Central Valley of California doing pretty much nothing. Then it was back to Bryce Canyon for another season in the human resources department. The weather turned cold and I think there had been a little snow in the air a day or two before I got back on the road in November. From there it was straight to the Grand Canyon, working at the front desk at Bright Angel Lodge.
In early 2007 I took a job in the Environment, Health, and Safety department at the Grand Canyon. In September it was back to the Central Valley of California for reasons pertaining to family. That lasted all of about six months.
The spring of 2008 saw me heading off to Williams, AZ to work for the Grand Canyon Railway as their Risk Manager. Leaving there in the fall, I began my journey eastward. I was knocking around Northern Texas, making my way to the Dallas area, when I got a call from Amazon to go to work in their Coffeyville, KS fulfillment center as a warehouse associate. It was a mad dash across Oklahoma only to sit and wait a week before beginning work. After getting laid off at Christmas I spent a week in Amarillo. (There’s a story about getting from point A to point B, but that’s for another time.) I was on my way to California, but never made it. I took a left and never looked back.
I spent January, 2009 in Fredericksburg, TX exploring the Hill Country. I moseyed on down to Rockport (the same one that took the brunt of Hurricane Harvey) and spent a fantastic two months before journeying out to Midland to go to school. I had been hired by the Census Bureau as an assistant crew leader. This was during their address verification program prior to the actual 2010 census. After a weeklong training program it was back to Fredericksburg for a couple of months of steady work.
I left Texas in April and made it up to The Tetons in Wyoming. A stop in Ft. Collins, CO wound up being a couple of days longer than planned (another story here). I had been hired as a Health and Safety Manger and spent a great season while living in one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been.
In early October I left Wyoming and hot footed it down to West Texas where I began work in November as a dispatcher for the National Park Service at Big Bend National Park. I even spent a couple of weeks in Mescalero, NM working for the Bureau of Indian Affairs (on loan from NPS). I was at Big Ben about a year before hitch itch attacked. I was enjoying the Hill Country of Texas, and points east, for about a month when I got a call from Amazon to work as a warehouse associate in their Campbellsville, KY fulfillment center. That lasted until January, 2011.
It took about a month to get to Mesa, AZ. I had to spend a few days in parts of Tennessee before traveling slowly down through Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, and New Mexico dodging storms. I wasn’t in Mesa long before heading north again. It was back to Bryce Canyon as a Health and Safety Coordinator.
I spent a couple of months at Bryce Canyon before I got a job at the front desk of a small motel/RV park/gift shop/restaurant in Tropic, UT. I left there in November.
I spent November and December, 2011 traveling around Nevada and California before finally making my way through Arizona and New Mexico and settling down in the Hill Country of Texas again for a few months. It allowed me some time to explore the area, all they way to the coast and back, and meet some very nice people.
I found myself back at The Tetons in May, 2012. I was employed as a security supervisor. I left there in September and got settled in at the Grand Canyon South Rim before the cold weather hit.
I was at the Grand Canyon from late September, 2012 until June, 2015. It was the longest time I’ve spent in any one place in a very long time. While there I was employed as a front desk agent at the El Tovar Hotel, as a concierge, lead front desk agent, departmental trainer, and bellman before venturing on down to Livingston, TX. I even spent a great 16 days on the Colorado River with some magnificent people before leaving Arizona. (One day I might tell you that story). It’s hot in Livingston, TX in the summer. Did you know that? Humid, too. Some great storms, though.
Anyway, I was in the Livingston area for a month, where I published my first book, Passing Thoughts of A Wandering Fool. I traveled north to Fredericksburg for a month (I like the Hill Country). Around that time I signed up for a Facebook account so that I might easily stay in touch with family and friends. You see, for about four years I had a website where I would write about my travels around the country and post photos. I took that website down during the summer of 2011.
In August, 2015 I went to work for Amazon again as a warehouse associate in their Haslett, TX fulfillment center. I was there until February, 2016. While in the area I published my first fictional writings, Dead Man’s Bounty.
Between March and November, 2016 I worked in Marble Canyon, AZ as a front desk agent/retail clerk. It was a great summer. It was during that time I published Escape From Terlingua, Jackson: the untold story, and Blanche: a woman who tamed the west.
I made my way back to California and in February, 2017 I took a job in the California Delta region as a reservations clerk. I’m still here. While here I’ve published Johnny Did It: a children’s story, and A Day in Rio, and I’m still working on my humorous story about a man going through a midlife crisis.
As you can see I’ve worked in a few different professions, from warehouse associate to author, from dispatcher to bellman, in front of the public to behind the scenes. But what have I accomplished? I’ve saved lives, and watched the lights go out in others. I’ve met people from all walks of life, and from countries around the world. People I can now call friends, wherever they may live. I have open invitations to visit, all the way to South America, Europe, Asia, and beyond. I’ve seen the way people live, from the reservations to the Appalachians, from the homeless to the homes-a-plenty, from those that have to those that have-not, and those, many of those, that wish they had more. I’ve been introduced to the friendly and the not so friendly. Racists, religious fanatics, politicians, beggars, and thieves. But, more than anything I can say that I have met many great people across this great land of ours. People like me and you. People who are striving to make the best of their lives, regardless of where their life might take them.
My accomplishments are few, but my experiences are many. In some ways I feel as though I’ve not done enough. I’ve not spent enough time giving thanks, lending a helping hand, or saying I love you. I’ve not taken the time to speak up against injustice, whatever, and wherever, that injustice my be, raise my voice in protest, or sing praises for those that do. No, I have not accomplished near enough.
This look back through the past decade has been eye opening for me. From now on, wherever my life might lead me I am going to attempt to accomplish more, without experiencing less. Is it possible? I don’t know, but I’m going to try. How about you?