Since I know everyone is waiting with bated breath, I figured I couldn't let 2011 slip away without telling our big news ... Santa brought us a job for Christmas. That's right, Internet, a real, paying J.O.B.
We will be living and working at this "castle on the hill" pictured above. It's an 8,000 square foot trail center and lodge (complete with stone structure and towers) built in 1933 and nestled on 66 acres in the woods of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia. It has been owned by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy for many years and they hire a manager to live and work in it. There are many great things about this job, but probably the best part is that it is 150 yards from the AT and we will meet many thru hikers in the class of 2012!
In order to fully explain the new job, I need to back it up a few months. Actually, it's all very serendipitous and makes for a lovely story, especially for the naysayers who chastised us for giving up our jobs and going wild (literally). Sit back, grab a cup of hot cocoa and read on.
If you checked the blog during our AT hike, you probably noticed we stayed at as many hostels as we could. Not only was the shower and bed appealing, we also wanted to get to explore the possibility of hostel ownership. Some were very nice, some downright nasty. We spent many days walking and talking about how we wanted to someday own our own hostel, but we knew we wouldn't be in the position to buy one after finishing our hike.
Fast forward to August 29, just after Hurricane Irene swept across the East coast. We met up with a bunch of friends in Harpers Ferry, WV, and stayed in a hostel the night before. We knew we would be reaching Fire Marshall's home in Front Royal, VA, to take a zero in the next day or 2. So we really didn't need another hostel stay. But we heard great things about this one—the very one we will now be working at—and knew we couldn't pass it up.
We arrived just after 5 and there were about 5 other hikers there. We took showers, ate dinner and chatted with the hikers. Then we started talking with the caretakers, a young couple who had been running the place for the last 4 years and were getting ready to move on at the end of the hiker season. After hearing about our interest in running a hostel, they encouraged us to apply.
We did just that about 2 days later from Fire Marshall's house. The ATC representative got back to us and said they wouldn't start the hiring process until October, which was fine by us. We kept in touch and when October rolled around, they scheduled a phone interview for us. The phone interview turned into an in-person interview in December, which turned into an offer right before Christmas. Thank you Santa!
Although Deal was interviewing for other jobs all over the country (including Alaska and New Hampshire!), we both knew in our hearts that this was the right fit for us. Fate, actually.
We are uber excited about this next "adventure." It will be new & different and take some adjustment with the schedule. Deal is the main caretaker, and I am his #1 volunteer, as usual. The trail center has a lodge, cottage, campground, but is so much more than just the lodging. We are there to educate people about the outdoors. I think we can do that.
Not that we needed anymore reason to take the job, but there is biking, paddling, rock climbing and hiking all in our backyard. This area is an unchartered territory for us. And we will be living close to some friends that we haven't lived near in years, plus 5 hours from our VA rental property, 5 hours from NJ, 10 hours from Chicago. Sorry New Hampshire friends, you are out of luck. But come visit please!
We've been traveling by foot and car for 8+ months and now we are ready to check out the grass on the settled side once again. No worries, having a good job does not mean we are done adventuring.
PS-I am interviewing for jobs too and have one very promising possibility in the works. In fact, my fortune cookie today said "You will have lots of luck in the next week." Fingers crossed, people. Twenty Twelve is looking very good so far.
PSPS-We are leaving bright and early Friday for a ski-to-hut NYE trip in the mountains of CO. You might remember I wimped out on a ski-to-hut trip last year because of my intense fear of avalanches and the fact that the trip sounded really hard to me. Well, this year I am ready. It's a different hut, but still requires some uphill skiing. I am taking meds to acclimate to the elevation here (I seem to get altitude sickness at a measly 8,000 feet) and am really hopeful I won't die on the trail.
Labels: AT, Outdoor Recreation