Altitude and Attitude

I recently took my life to the next level – from sea level to 6,400 feet above that.

The view directly outside of the main gate of Pali.

I got a job up here in the mountains of California and it’s been a wild ride so far. I am going to be interacting with a younger kids than I’ve ever worked with, and much to my surprise, I am going to be not only teaching outdoor classes like orienteering and leading night hikes, but serious business science classes as well. It’s a different kind of pushing my comfort zone than I am used to, and I am very nervous and very excited. I have never even taken a physics class before, and this coming week I will be teaching one by myself. How crazy is that! My weekends and off time are going to be packed with studying and making lesson outlines, in addition to climbing, surfing, and general exploring.

The view of the San Bernadino range from one of the three challenge courses.

It’s gorgeous up here, my coworkers are awesome, and I am thrilled for what this season will bring me in terms of personal and professional growth. It may be chilly way up here, but my passion for the field of outdoor education is burning brighter than ever!

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Surfing through 2014, or Another Year in Review

The year 2014 is coming to a close, and, as it does with any year, it causes one to be a bit more reflective. This year has been a rollercoaster in the live of me, with many new experiences in many different places.

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I started the year off by studying abroad in Costa Rica. Among the relationships developed on that trip was the one with myself and the incredible froth that is brought on by surfing.

©2014 Katelyn Vancouver

©2014 Katelyn Vancouver

This experience, I feel, is highly relevant to how my year continued. I’ve found that surfing is a lot of waiting and a lot of paddling and a lot of wiping out, but the moments that you spend riding waves are what make the whole thing worth it. More on that later, though.

Not long after my adventure to Costa Rica, I joined my father on a voyage to Connecticut to visit our extended family who I, at least, hadn’t seen in a long time. It was awesome to hang out with my dad, aunt, and uncle as a fellow adult of legal drinking age…a different dynamic and a nice one. Reconnecting with family is always good, too. Speaking of family, I gained some (unofficially, I suppose) in my main squeeze’s family. Soon after the trip to see my own, I flew to Chicago to meet up with Q and meet his (enormous) extended family. Needless to say, they rule and I love them. Our Chicago adventures were extremely cold (it was the only bit of the great Polar Vortex that I experienced) but that resulted in some phenomenal Bean photos…because it was so cold that we were the only people in Millenium Park!

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After a week or so in Chi-town, we embarked on a road trip with the ultimate destination being the Florida Keys for the Spring Season at  Sea Base. Stops included Ohio, the Carolinas, and Jacksonville and boy did it rule. Off season touristing is amazing. We went to Jockey’s Ridge, and despite the wind and the lack of open restaurants, the solitude in the park was worth it.

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Between Spring and Summer in the Keys, I checked an item off of my bucket list – graduate college on time.

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And then another road trip to Florida for another Summer at Sea Base.

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This past summer, I also got the opportunity to mate on the sailboat at the fancy resort next door to our island and it was a unique opportunity. Not something that I could spend my life doing, but highly enjoyable and some way to make a week’s paycheck in a day.

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Upon the completion of the season, Q and I became real Floridians when we moved into our apartment (TOGETHER! An enormous commitment). Living with my significant someone has been great. Living on my own for the first time, and not even totally independently from my parents across the country, and being unemployed for several months was less great. I admittedly fell into the gaping rut that I will not-so-affectionately refer to as Netflix for hours…no, weeks, on end. We did fix up a trash picked surfboard that is too short for both of our surfing skill levels, which was the best thing I did for several months. Getting ‘real people jobs’ is not an easy thing and it takes a lot of time. It took a few months to score a seasonal retail position at the local mall, which I actually love, but the time between work at base and work here was long enough to put a serious strain on the bank account. It has gotten better and will continue to do so. The two of us only have a few friends here, and don’t go out often, but when we do it is an awesome time. We go fishing and surfing, more me than Q, but he has caught a few solid waves since moving here. We moved here to surf and even though we don’t do it as often as we would like to, we’ve made some improvements.

I was lucky enough to (allegedly irresponsibly) venture down to NIcaragua to do some of this improving when I signed up for a Surf With Amigas surf retreat on a whim that was highly encouraged by Q. It was an amazing experience and I met a lot of very empowering women and rode some green waves and volcano boarded and galloped down a gorgeous, pristine beach on horseback. It was wild and a wonderful way to bring my year back up toward the top of the rollercoaster.

Coming up next, in 2015, I will be making a dash across the country to work in California for about six months. I am extremely excited for this new adventure on a new coast and with new people. I am going to miss the heck out of Q every day, but I believe that in the end, the distance will make us stronger both as individuals and as a team. I can’t help but think sappy thoughts when I think about him and I know that we will be more than alright.

The year 2014, like surfing, involved a lot of waiting, a lot of paddling hard, a LOT of wiping out, and more than enough excitement to make all of the really hard stuff worth it. I am frothing to drop into 2015 and all of the hard work, new friends, and new thrills that will come with it.

Blessed as Heck

I recently returned from a week long surf/yoga/adventure excursion in Chinandega, Nicaragua with Surf with Amigas. I signed up for this trip on a whim, and didn’t really have the money for it, but I did it anyway and I am glad that it happened. I learned a lot about surfing, did some really restorative yoga, and got away from the rut that I had been in here in Florida.

I had a lot of new experiences including volcano boarding, which is like sledding but on volcanic ash instead of snow, riding green waves, and galloping on a horse down the beach a la romance novel cover. I also learned that I can travel by myself and that I will plan the whole trip myself next time, that I need to learn how to speak Spanish, and that just because I have a shitty shortboard here doesn’t mean that I have to keep it.

We stayed in the nicest place I think I ever have, ate some of the best food that I think I ever have, and met some of the coolest and most empowering women that I think I ever have.

I don’t have a lot of photos, but I have a lot of memories and that is what truly matters.

Returning home has been nice, especially because I have a job here and a friend or two! A friend who wasn’t Q came and saw me at work today! Yay!  I do want to establish that I do like living here, and I love living with Q, but the months of unemployment did a number on my confidence and my bank account. Unfortunately/fortunately, I will only be here for another few weeks. In January, I am hopping across the country for a job! After that, I am not sure what I will do, but it will be back here in Florida with Q.

Well…

In not even two days, I will be boarding a plane at an ungodly hour to hop over to Nicaragua to spend a week surfing and adventuring with a group of women who I haven’t met yet.

I am excited as all get out.

Nine Thousand Miles

When I first dipped my toe into adulthood in August, it and I did not immediately get along. Certain aspects still have their negative parts (ahem, bills). However, what my friends and family reassured me in the beginning did prove to be very true – everything happens all at once.

Last week, I was still unemployed. Today, I have two part time jobs in the area, an adventure in Nicaragua in less than a month, and a job across the country that will begin in January.

That’s right, a real job in the field that my degree is in. Needless to say, I am thrilled! So now to maximize my time in the relative warmth of Florida and the real warmth of Nica  before heading to the mountains for twenty or so weeks.

a cabana in Nicaragua.

The mountains are calling and I must go!

EDIT: I just wanted to let everyone know that it’s really nice to work at the same places over and over because in this day and age, they still have all of my information stored and I just have to click like three buttons to be done with everything.

That being said, I am SO PUMPED for something TOTALLY NEW!

PUMPED!

Caution: This Gets Real

Job interviews have this way of making you think a little bit differently about yourself. After completing as many as I recently have (which in relation to the real world outside of my existence, has not actually been that many) and being rejected for most of them, I’ve fallen into a little bit of a rut. After so much rejection, it can become harder to speak positively about yourself, but the interviewer who I spoke to today (and I do feel that it went very well…but I don’t want to jinx myself prior to the second interview…) kind of reminded me that I am in a good spot. He said that some days, the long hours and hard work of the full season can get to you, which is a feeling that I know well, but you need to step back, look out over the beautiful view that is your life and remember where you are and appreciate how lucky you are to be seeing this beautiful view. I had forgotten that a little bit, in the past few weeks, and fallen into a veritable rut.

Today, though, I had to stop and remind myself of who I am, where I’m at, and what I’m doing.

It is so easy, when faced with more free time than you ever thought existed, to fall into the gaping maw of Netflix, and I had fallen victim. I would wake up, apply for a few more jobs or call a few that I had already applied for, juggle finances, and wash dishes, all with some mindless television show auto-playing in the background. I made an effort to get outside every day and do something cool like surf or talk to somebody new or skydive, but I still blasted through full seasons of shows I never would have otherwise watched and feel sorry for my unemployed self.

That makes me sad. I never wanted to be that person, yet there I was and here I am

After my interview today, I got off my butt and went to the beach.

I swam in the perfectly temperatured water and walked through the perfectly temperatured air on the perfectly soft sand.

I watched the sun set over the Banana River and talked to a lady with dogs and a paddleboard.

I live in stinking Florida, for heck’s sake, and I don’t know how long I will be in this spot. As my 7th grade summer school pre-algebra teacher always said, “if you’re always wanting to be somewhere else, you’ll never be anywhere.”

I have been nowhere for a few weeks.

It is time to be somewhere.

That somewhere is going to be an island in the Carolinas for a weekend, then later Nicaragua, and after that I don’t know, but what this blog post is really about is the in-between. The every day life and the neighbors with dogs who I haven’t met yet. Let this post be both a confession and a promise to you, anonymous readers of the internet and friends and family whom I love dearly. From this moment forward,I will be where I am.

The Grind

This real life thing and I have had quite a rollercoaster of a relationship so far.

Cocoa Beach welcomes me!

I don’t have a job yet…still…and I range from being enormously okay with it to restless and grumpy. The fact that I saved a good amount of dollars in the past few seasons at base help, but I still want to focus my energy on contributing to something. I like working. A lot. I’ve felt hopeful about every job application I have submitted and have still heard more or less nothing at all.

That being said, I really like surfing and riding my bike and fishing, which I am able to do whenever and wherever I want to. This freedom to do anything at anytime is almost overwhelming. I currently have almost no obligations – work, school, friends (eep…) – it’s unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. It’s been a little bit of a struggle to not sink into the cavernous depths of Netflix and create goals for myself, but with help from my dude, I’ve (we’ve) decided to focus on tackling my bucket list. I had to create a physical copy for a class with the one and only Giles Lee last fall, and since printing it, I have been able to check five of the many dreams off. Some are a little bit less impressive seeming than others, like “own a waffle maker,” and “graduate on time,” (check and check 😛 ) but it is a kind of cool thing to do. The act of picking up a pen and cross something off that you’ve talked about doing ever since you found out what it was is incredible.

I'm flying!

I can’t remember the first time I learned what skydiving was, but I have remembered talking about it and wanting to do it since whenever that first discovery was. At the very least since I turned 18. I’ve always had a little bit of a tendency to say that I am going to do things, and then just not, but this past Wednesday, I followed through. I found a Groupon for a location near me that also included a free tshirt (can’t say no to that!), and did it and boy am I glad I did. The view of the Indian River from 18,000 feet was breathtaking, and the parachute ride was the most comfortable I have ever been without my feet touching the ground. I cannot wait to go again. I know that I will go again. I have to take Q, haha.

Up next on the list? Master surfing. I have been twice since getting here, and now that we have our own board (soon to be boards!), it is a lot easier to go. I also am thinking about trying something new, like pole dancing fitness or kite boarding.

I am also going to head home for homecoming in a couple of weeks. I have never been more excited to be in Ohio in my whole life. I like it here, and I love the state of Florida, but I’ve never been homesick like this before. I need to get out of here for a little while. But I’ll come back, for now. Shoot, if I have a surfboard, a bike, a fishing pole, and cool people, what else do I need?

Unemployed.

Applying for jobs has been a strange experience here in Cocoa. I will look at listings and turn down options that are more than a 30 minute drive from my apartment, and then turn around and apply for a job in Hawaii or Oregon or something like that.

I’m not sure what else I had to say about this. I just think that it’s kind of funny.