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Each season I try to narrow the choices and look at all the options. Every time I see more places that I would like to add to my list, but frankly, if I could go everywhere that is on that list right now, I’ll be working until I’m 90. Then on top of that, I have a tendency to want to return to most of the places that I have been. I also want to take a few seasons off to make some major me time.

So I have been thinking about this for a couple of months and have come up with a 7-year plan. If I include places from the start, I can repeat the seven years four times before I plan to retire. The last session I will make a couple of changes at the end.

I’m treating summer and winter seasons differently, I’ll start first with the summer season. Some places may fit in more than one category, but once I’m done, I can return maybe on the return year.

Year 1) A park. Inside or just outside of it’s borders. I was going to call this a national park, but there are some state parks that I’m interested in also. My first locale was Signal Mountain Lodge in the Grand Tetons.

Year 2) Not a park. Just the opposite of the first year. My second locale was the Tamarack Resort in Donnelly, Idaho.

Year 3) Geographical change. A little more ambiguous. It also includes winter seasons. Inside or outside of a park does not matter. My first four seasons were all in the west, so I decided to go east this year. But I could have also said all of them were inland, and I might have looked for an island. This is where I’m at right now, in New England, at the Basin Harbor Club.

Year 4) A park. Not the same park as the first year. I am leaning towards the parks in Alaska next season, but I won’t make that decision until the beginning of the year.

Year 5) Go remote. Most of the places call themselves remote. They are. I’m thinking of the more extreme for this year, usually deep in Alaska. Deadhorse and Coldfoot, Bettles and the various fly-in fishing lodges.

Year 6) Repeat. I get to choose one of the previous five seasons to return...if they want me I guess. This is actually going to be my toughest decision. For those of you that have been in the Tetons know what a great place that is to explore. Tamarack is growing every year. Seeing all the new things would be interesting. I like the people here at Basin Harbor, and the job is pretty interesting too.... I’m sure the next two seasons will add their own reasons. It probably won’t be easier the next rounds either.

Year 7) Mine. There are three long hikes I want to take. I have been planning for awhile to hike the Appalachian Trail in 2012. It’s my 50th year. This also gives me a set goal for further explorations. I also want to try the Pacific Coast Trail and then there is a trail in Australia called the Bicentennial National Trail. The last round I’m treating different. It will be my last season and I want to make it a return year, not for that round, but for the entirety.

The winter seasons.

I’m not a good skier. I probably will not become a good skier. For that reason I’m not too thrilled with the idea of most ski resorts. There are a couple in cities with some other possible activities so I’m not ruling them out totally. There are slightly fewer choices overall. For those reasons I’m going to stay up to three seasons at the same place if they don’t begin to feel like a real job. But everything is open. Possible returns after three other opportunities, whether those three are one year or three does not matter.

Some places are open both seasons. I’m treating them as separate places.

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Comment by Jim on February 7, 2009 at 10:38pm
Just checked out the Sheep Mountain Lodge web page. It does look absolutely gorgeous. Probably a little too isolated for me as far as spending a summer working there. Everyone looks a little too "normal" ;)
Comment by akscootr on February 7, 2009 at 10:33pm
Sheep Mountain is beautiful.. New trails added last summer. Very remote... bighorn sheep everywhere. same for berries... it is a great spot. I don't know what it is like to work there, but it is in an awesome place...
Comment by Jim on February 7, 2009 at 10:13pm
Don't be a slave to your plans. Plans, like rules, were made to be broken ;)

Sheep Mountain? Wow. I have to look that one up. Keep us posted. Jim
Comment by Keith Larson on February 7, 2009 at 8:45pm
In my life I tend to make lists. Then plans from those lists. But to be more accurate, I should call them rough guidelines. There is some definite flexibility in them. The biggest factor in actually choosing a place is a strong gut feeling, and I'm never quite sure how that is going to go. This summer that gut feeling directed me to Sheep Mountain Lodge. That actually fits more in next summer's category, but adjustments can be made.
Comment by Jim on February 7, 2009 at 2:04pm
Oh good. I thought you might be going next door with DNC at the store (not good). The Inn is a zoo--loads of people filing through daily. You'll have a good time. My favorite spot in the Inn was the tiny upstairs bar in the corner. There was a great little view out the windows. Great people watching spot.
Comment by Kimberly Barnes on February 7, 2009 at 12:15pm
Old Faithful Inn. I'm counting the days .. ready to leave my current job!
Comment by Jim on February 7, 2009 at 11:31am
So true Kimberly, things happen. I'm not a planner. One summer at a time is fine. Good luck in Yellowstone. Where will you be? I spent a summer at Old Faithful.
Comment by Kimberly Barnes on February 7, 2009 at 9:16am
Hi Keith,
Plans are great but in recent years I have discovered how fast life can change. Five years ago I was happily married, two kids, managing a non-profit organization. Now I'm a widow, two grown sons, leaving my job to go work at Yellowstone for the summer. Things change and the best laid plans are at the mercy of fate.

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