Growing up, I never really left the southern United States. Sad, I know, but it is what it is. We did go on an Alaskan cruise and a Caribbean cruise, but that was pretty much it. I always had a passion for other cultures, traveling, and photography. These passions can't really be fulfilled living in Alabama.
So, once I graduated from high school, I packed it up and moved to beautiful eastern Tennessee at the base of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park to go to Maryville College. Four years of a small, liberal arts college set at the foothills of an amazing mountain was life-changing. We were pushed to travel and do things differently, but I never had the money to travel abroad.
So, after graduating, I packed it up once again and moved to Sacramento, California to spend a year in AmeriCorps NCCC. I spent a year traveling on the west coast spending anywhere from a week to 2 months in various cities on the western part of the country. We did service with non-profits and government agencies. So, in a span of 10 months, I planted trees for Sacramento Tree Foundation and led the Christmas program for Salvation Army in Sacramento. I painted houses at Commonweal Retreat Center in Bolinas, CA. I taught reading and worked at an after school program in Green River, Utah. I completely renovated a house and did fuel reduction at a camp in Polson, Montana. I shoveled snow for 3 weeks in July in Tahoe, CA. And lastly, I worked for the Mendocino National Forest Service doing trail work.
Upon finishing our 10 months of service, 3 friends and I road tripped from Sacramento all the way to Alaska for 3 weeks. After driving over 8000 miles to North Pole, Alaska and back we made our way back to our respective hometowns.