Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Love to Hate the Shoulder Seasons

Finding a job for the summer this year has been more difficult than ever before. As of last summer, I thought my coaching job at Mt. Hood was in the bag. I never doubted I’d be at Hood all summer working with CWSC aka Party Beach Camp with my best friends. However, a completely different summer was in store for me that I didn’t realize until the final hour.

June was rapidly approaching and I still didn’t have anything lined up. My main goal is to make as much money as possible with as few expenses as possible. Realizing that Hood was pretty much not happening, I frantically applied everywhere from nannying in Santa Barbara, waitressing at the Los Angeles Country Club, to literally 20-30 stewardess/deckhand positions on boats from Ft. Lauderdale to Newport, RI.
Which path will open up for me? (Photo at Snowbird in January - note the horrible inversion)
My coaching job at Snowbird ended April 15 after the Loveland Derby. After that I didn’t have much going on in Utah at all. I was able to referee some high school girls lacrosse games, which was fun and brought in some minor cash to my pocket. Finally after a few weeks it was time for my bi-annual friends and family visits across the country.

I love and hate this time of year because my busy days of working on the mountain come to a screeching halt. But then I have the opportunity to travel and visit my family that I haven’t seen since last fall. I started the reunion tour in California, where I flew to Los Angeles to visit my roommate from college, Sarah. Then I headed up to Santa Barbara to visit my Aunt, Uncle and cousins who are like my surrogate parents and sisters. We had a blast walking on the beach, SUP’ing, eating good food and relaxing. Back to Salt Lake I went for a few days to pack up my life and then off to DC, Philly and New York to see my parents and brother. While back in Salt Lake I had to move all my stuff out of my bedroom for our summer subletters to come in. Luckily we set it up to be able to keep Keely’s room for storage, so I didn’t have to move it very far. The challenge, however, was packing for the rest of the summer.
Karaoke night in Korea Town with Sarah - photo bomb by Alex, her Aussie roommate. Total Eclipse of the Heart may have been performed twice that night... 
Delicious salmon sashimi in Pasadena 

Bloody Mary's in Pasadena for Cinco de Mayo

Aunt Maura & Uncle Ed's house backs up to a nature preserve in Goleta, CA. 

My badass surfer chick cousin, Erica, showing me how it's done. 

Erica riding it in

We love each other!

How do I pack and prepare for my summer when I had no clue what I’d be doing? I might need my skis and other toys, I might just need regular summer stuff. So I packed up all my skis, gear and toys like golf clubs and wakeboard into the basement along with bags of clothes for Mt. Hood weather to beach weather. Always be prepared right?

Woody at the beach!
So again, off I flew, back east to the solace of my dad’s house in Northern Virginia. We had an action packed week planned that started with a camping trip to Assateague Island. He has an Airstream camper van that’s so perfect for road trips and camping. We named it “Woodstock,” or “Woody” for short as my dad says, “it’s what you would’ve wanted at Woodstock,” the ultimate concert festival machine.
So we did a little research on campsites and headed east toward the beach. It took about 4 hours drive from the DC area, crossing the Chesapeake Bay, to just south of Ocean City. We pulled in and got a prime campsite right away. The campsites were literally right on the beach. The whole island itself is probably 1/8th of a mile wide, flanked by the Atlantic ocean and the Sinepuxent Bay. Before we left we rented a kayak and a paddleboard to take along with us from Eastern Mountain Sports - such an easy process. We just showed up at EMS and were able to score a sweet 10 ft sit-on-top kayak for my dad and a Surftech 9.5 ft paddleboard for me complete with life jackets and paddles for $45 each per day. We chucked the toys into the back of “Woody” and of we went.

Sunset over the bay on Assateague Island

Our timing couldn’t have been more perfect. We camped at Assateague the week before Memorial Day, so no one was there, and more importantly, the wild horses were still there. We gathered that often times people visit Assateague and never see wild horses due to migration south to Chincoteague Island where there are fewer people during summer. Not only did we have lovely weather and no bugs (we saw bumper stickers that said “I gave blood at Assateague Island with a picture of a mosquito), but we also saw a whole herd of horses all over the island. The first morning I woke up to horses just outside of the camper grazing around the sites. I could’ve reached out and touched them.
Woke up to this view out my window!

                                            Empty beach, watching kite surfers rip around

That morning we took the kayak and paddleboard over to the bay side to test the waters and see how my dad would fare in his first kayak experience ever. It was pretty windy and choppy out there so it was a bit rough to put in, but he ended up taking to it like a duck to water. We made our way north toward where I had spotted some horses grazing on our way to launch.  This way was around the corner from the point where we launched, creating nice calm waters throughout marshy inlets and channels. I was able to paddle right up to a couple horses – such an amazing experience to witness, especially on a paddleboard. So not only were we lucky enough to actually see a ton of wild horses around the campsites and park area, but we even got to paddle right up to them from the water. Needless to say my dad and I had a fantastic time out on the water and went back totally satisfied with our day’s activity.

Being there before the summer season kicked off was the best way to do it - no one around, empty beaches, nice weather and horses and wildlife everywhere. Completely unspoiled by tourist season.  I highly recommend checking this place out! 

When my dad and I got back home we were so stoked on kayaking and we wanted to get our money's worth from EMS. So we drove straight to the put in behind my dad's house at Algonkian Regional Park and paddled around for another hour or so. We returned the boards and planned on getting them back plus 2 tandems and another kayak for my brother, and aunt, uncle, and little cousins to get out for Memorial Day weekend. 

It was so fun to enjoy this easy outdoor activity as a family. We've never really done anything like it before. Usually we just barbeque and hang out or possibly go see one of my little cousin's soccer or lacrosse games. It was definitely a great memory to make as a family and for the kids in their first kayaking experience. Once we headed back for lunch I was able to take out my cousins on my paddle board. They took to it so well and had a blast. It was so special to be able to share my new obsession with them. Next time, we're all paddle boarding!

My next stop was Philadelphia on my way to Upstate New York to see my mom. I thought I'd stop through Philly to stay with my brother to break up the trip. While I was there I got a phone call from a boat Captain that wanted me to come for an interview. He explained that they were docked in Newport, RI currently and had a tentative plan of crossing the Atlantic to spend the summer in the Mediterranean.  This peaked my interest so I spent the rest of the evening figuring out how I'd be able to swing through Newport on my way to see my mom in the same day. Finally I decided to take the train from Philly to Kingston, RI, then rent a car, meet the boat and Captain and then drive all the way up to Lake George. Renting the car would give me an out if I decided not to take the job and still allow me to get up to NY on my own schedule.

I boarded the train in Philly at 6:30 am on Friday, May 31 and arrived in Kingston at 11:30. Enterprise picked me up and off I went to meet the boat. Within a matter of about 30 minutes I was hired and prepared to move in that day. The suddenness of it all made me a bit anxious - ahhh! am I really doing this? So luckily I finagled my way out of moving onto the boat straight away and got to go visit my mom for the rest of the weekend. The captain and chef (husband and wife) were planning on having the weekend off anyway, so said it was OK for me to meet back up with them on Sunday.

The boat is breathtakingly beautiful and massive. 140' sailing yacht - Islandia. There was no way I could pass up an opportunity like this, even if there were still a ton of unknowns. The unknowns are part of what makes adventures exciting. So here I go, Islandia's newest crew member!

Islandia in Newport Harbor