Sara Cardoza

8 Outdoor Office-Job Alternatives

If you’re tired of the desk-jockeying, 9-5 grind and find yourself longingly looking out the window (you know, the one that’s probably not near your desk), listen up. You have options! The call of the wild shouldn’t only have to be adhered to on weekends. Here are 8 jobs that’ll get you outside the office and back into nature while still earning you a paycheck.

OT_Blog_Featured_OfficeJobAlternatives_001Surf Instructor
This one’s for the water people with board skills. If you happen to live in a coastal, tourist destination city, this one’s easy to do (and even if you don’t, it’s not a bad excuse to pack up that car and finally cross off coast living from your bucket list). Learning to surf is a skill a lot of people dream of mastering or like to try for fun while on vacation, so if you live to surf and don’t mind teaching, this could be the gig for you. A lot of beachside cities have competitive surfing academies and camps, which tend to draw more residents and less tourists if you’re the type who would prefer teaching those with a bit more long-term dedication. Additionally, some coastal rental places combine instruction for multiple water sports including kayaking and paddle boarding, lending opportunities to lead a variety of activities and people who just want to get out and try something new.

OT_Blog_Featured_OfficeJobAlternatives_002Ski Resort Driver
Summer’s ending and cooler months are right around the corner, which means ski resorts around the country are looking for workers. If teaching isn’t your thing, resorts like those in Vail, Colorado are hiring bus drivers to caravan tourists up and down the mountain and around the area, with shifts between 5:30 am and 2:30 pm. Perks include a Resort Ski Pass for the season, so when you’re not getting paid, you can slice powder without putting a dent in your earnings.

OT_Blog_Featured_OfficeJobAlternatives_003Trail Builder
If you’ve got a heart for conservation and the soul of a backpacker, a career in trail building might be the place for you. Job responsibilities can vary between maintenance and restoration of heavily trafficked areas to building new structures such as bridges or throughways. Those who don’t like getting dirty or consider the occasional bout of poison ivy a badge of honor need not apply. Check out the Professional Trail Builders Association for openings across the country, or check in with your local ranger stations to see what kind of jobs may be available.

OT_Blog_Featured_OfficeJobAlternatives_004Gear Tester (Read: Extreme Snowboarders and Other Outdoor Warriors)
It’s not often, but from time to time job titles like Director of Toughness come along. Recently, Columbia Sportswear posted such a position, which would take applicants to some of the world’s most rugged locations to test out gear for snowboarding, mountain climbing and other various activities and document it via social media. If that doesn’t have “dream job” written all over it, I don’t know what does. As you can imagine, the two slots for Columbia’s gear testing toughness directors were filled pretty much instantly, but, don’t despair, there are plenty of other ways to try out a job like this. Hundreds of magazines, blogs and organizations such as Backpacking Magazine and Gear Institute offer opportunities to get out in nature, test out products and then write about it. The key is researching often and getting your foot in the door.

OT_Blog_Featured_OfficeJobAlternatives_005Sports Photographer/Filmmaker
Cover and attend pro-skating or winter sports events like the World Snowboard Tour Pro Series by becoming a sports photographer or filmmaker. This one may be a bit harder to break into, but one suggestion to get started is signing up for an adventure photography or filmmaking class like those found at Serac Adventure Film School. Another perhaps more financially attainable option is to start looking up professionals in your area and asking for some tips or the chance to shadow onsite. But, if you’re already involved in skating or another other extreme sports, investing in some good equipment and just going for it may be the way to go. Start submitting your work to outdoor blogs or outdoor film showings such as Boulder’s Adventure Film Festival.

OT_Blog_Featured_OfficeJobAlternatives_006Mountain Bike Adventure Guide
If you’re a seasoned outdoor cyclist or mountain biker you can become an adventure guide through REI’s Outdoor School, which features a range of sport-specific experiences for travellers. These REI Adventures feature destinations and outdoor experiences all over the world, from Machu Picchu and Costa Rica to Iceland and the Galapagos Islands. However, REI isn’t the only avenue. Travel and adventure companies all over are in need of experienced sports and outdoorsmen to help plan, coordinate and lead groups of adventurers.

OT_Blog_Featured_OfficeJobAlternatives_007“Fill In This Blank With Your Passion” Freelance Writer
Whatever your pleasure, passion or expertise, with the right set of skills and can’t-stop-won’t-stop attitude you can turn your interests into a lucrative freelance career. However, like most things worthy, this takes time to develop. Outdoor writer and photographer Aaron Teasdale was initially just a 24-year-old mountain bike adventurer who would write novella-length letters to his friends about his trips. Eventually he began submitting his stories to magazines and his freelance career began. Of the pursuit of passion Teasdale says, “Keep it up long enough, and you might even get asked to write about it.” I’d say don’t wait for the ask, just do it (but don’t forget to spellcheck).

OT_Blog_Featured_OfficeJobAlternatives_008BASE Jump Lead
This one’s for the dare devils and adrenaline junkies. Those looking to become BASE jump instructors can make up to $70,000, which isn’t too shabby when you consider you get to free fall for a living. There are academies and schools around the country that lead and instruct jumps. Maybe you’re already one of these fearless gravity-dancers, but if not, you can watch the National Geographic documentary on American mountaineer, wingsuit flyer and BASE jumper, Joby Ogwyn and his training to become a BASE jump athlete in just 60 days.

5 Jobs That Are Too Extreme For You

You may be the king of dark sliding and bull-flipping on the neighborhood half pipe or a weekend warrior queen on the waves, but for some, extreme is a 9 to 5 reality. From storm chasing to venom milking, if you think you’re extreme, these five occupations may make you rethink your definition of “living on the edge.”

Storm Chaser
Popularized by the Discovery Channel’s series Storm Chasers, the job actually falls under the broader, more accurate category of “Atmospheric and Space Scientist.” A few job requirements for these radical scientists include investigating atmospheric phenomena, interpreting meteorological data and developing equipment for collecting data. That’s just the backend bit; the exciting stuff involves tracking storms, traveling around in a van with a few other thrill-seeking scientists to find the storms at their source and then getting into the thick of their atmospheric insanity.

It most likely goes without saying that this job’s not for the faint of heart. In 2013, veteran storm chaser Tim Samaras, who previously hosted the Discovery Channel’s Storm Chaser series, along with his son Paul, died pursuing a massive Oklahoma tornado. Oklahoma patrollers heard them screaming over the radio scanner moments before the 165 mph tornado slammed into their vehicle, sucking Paul Samaras and colleague Paul Young out of the car. Tim Samaras was later found in the annihilated truck, still strapped in, but unfortunately not alive.

These are the guys in the movies who make the impossible seem totally probable and somehow survivable. Yet, this is one of the most dangerous professions out there. Most Hollywood actors and actresses have stunt doubles doing the crazy stuff, but Jackie Chan is known for performing almost all of his own stunts. In one 1985 flick, Chan is filmed in a mall chase scene leaping off a top floor to a pole and sliding down all while wrapped in Christmas lights, before finally crashing through a glass ceiling. The actor suffered first and second degree burns.

In 1977, stuntman Rick Sylvester almost didn’t make it out alive of his ski jump stunt for the James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me. After a downhill, high-speed chase, Sylvester took an insane leap; however, his parachute failed to engage due to a malfunction with one of  his skis. Somehow Sylvester survived the crash, much to the surprise—and relief—of the cast and crew.

Venom Milker
Replace udders with fangs and cows with snakes, and you pretty much get the idea of what this job entails. Snake milkers expertly remove venom from the fangs of a variety of snake species in order to create the anti-venom that saves people and pets from deadly bites. The procedures involves holding the snakes head and then encouraging it to bite into a latex “skin” over a container that collects the venom as it’s injected. A secondary assistant will hold the snake’s mouth open while a teammate places electrode stimulation on the snake’s head, forcing the venom glands to react.

Zoological institutes, research centers and hospitals all need venom milkers in order to keep anti-venom stocked for both study and life-saving applications; however, it does require a specialized degree in Herpetology (study of reptiles and amphibians) and means doing the tango with some of the most world’s most poisonous creatures. The well-known showman and milker Bill Haast (and owner of the Miami Serpentarium) survived around 172 snake bites, and in the process of his 60+ year career “only” lost his right index finger. Professional handlers Jamie Coots and George Hensley weren’t so lucky. Although, combined, they received about 409 bites before finally succumbing to one.

Everest Guide
Avalanches, altitude, sub-freezing temperatures and extreme weather are just a few of the reasons Everest is one of the most deadly ventures on the planet. The world’s tallest peak has been climbed by about 4,000 people since Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay reached the summit in 1953, and more than 250 people have died in the process. Mount Everest Guide Norbu Sherpa was interviewed by the New York Times about his work as a guide: “Twenty years is the maximum time you can work in the high mountains. The work is very tough; it is only meant for the young.”

The guides are not only responsible for their safety, but the safety of those they are leading, as well as fixing gear and climbing ladders, guiding climbers through high altitude and cooking at base camps. Based on one annual fatality chart by Outside Online, Everest Guides had the highest mortality rate of any profession: 4,053 per 100,000 full-time equivalents. As a comparison, the death rate for miners was 25 per 100,000.

Commercial Fisherman
Unlike the leisurely type of fishing done on a Sunday afternoon, commercial fishing has long topped the charts as the most dangerous job on the planet. Think Perfect Storm with George Clooney. If you’ve ever seen Discovery’s Channel’s “Deadliest Catch,” you’ve had a bit of an inside look at what commercial fishermen are up against. The unpredictability of the ocean, malfunctioning equipment and even the risk of the catch itself (imagine wrangling a swordfish weighing over 800 pounds) are just a few reason why commercial fishing is one of the most extreme professions out there. Alaska’s commercial fishing is so deadly, the government has enacted a series of targeted regulations aimed at increasing safety.

Is The Consumer Aspect of “Vanlife” Motivating Your Lifestyle?

You know the type—the one who quits their job, buys a Westfalia and rides off into the pine-tree outlined sunset. Does this person sounds like you? While thousands have quit their jobs, taken to Craigslist, found a van, and hit the road in order to find meaning and a simpler way of living, the romanticism of this new-age beatnik lifestyle isn’t necessarily as much about “solitude” and “simplicity” as advertised.

There’s a fine line between motivation to seek the outdoors versus pursuing a glamorized representation of a lifestyle. Here’s a few signs you may be another victim of vanlife consumerism.

Social Media Addiction
While we can thank the likes of Pinterest for helping us build those bucket-list travel boards and Instagram for satisfying our craving for adventure porn, social media is also responsible for obsessive idealization. If you’re spending more time Instagramming your adventures than living them, or if you’re constantly scanning the horizon for the perfect image for your blog, this is a tell-tale sign you’ve become a cog in the consumer machine, which leads me to my next point.

“Humble” Bragging
The humble brag is probably one of the most hated social transgressions of all time. Have you ever caught yourself posting a picture of yourself, looking out into a valley or a morning lit range of mountains, drinking a cup of coffee and writing something like “Just soaking this all in #justanotherweekendadventure #getoutside”?  Do you casually tell friends you run into how you’ve just only been on the road for two years and been to all 50 states—twice? Being more motivated by the reactions you’re getting via Facebook comments, Instagram likes and good old fashioned pats on the back than the call of wild might suggest you’ve fallen prey to the vanlife consumer trap.

Image Slave (Read: Beards and All Things Vintage)
If, in the pursuit of vanlife, you one day look in the mirror and find yourself wearing a non-seasonal beanie and facial hair gnarly enough to nest some squirrels, it might be time to consider if you’re more focused on an aesthetic than a lifestyle. The same goes for finding “the perfect” vintage van. Sure, they’re cool, and they look especially cool overlooking an oceanside cliff or in the middle of a Pacific Northwest forest in the filter of Valencia, but if it’s nature and solitude you’re looking for, you can probably find it in a Honda Civic if you really wanted to. Granted, you probably couldn’t build out a bed in a Civic, but the point is, if it seems like you’re more in search of a uniform than a way of life, it might be time to reconsider what’s motivating your interests.

“Trustafarian” Syndrome
Vanlife, traditionally, is about minimalism: living with less but experiencing more. But if drinking craft beer, brewing organic, $5-per-bean coffee and blogging on your Macbook Pro while navigating the wild is minimalism, we’re all in trouble.

A Guide To Helping The Non-Outdoorsy Get Outside (And Enjoy It)

There are outdoorsy people and then there are people who like to drink on outdoor patios. These are not one in the same. Most individuals who love outside adventures tend to gravitate towards like-minded folk, although, more often than not, there’s at least one person in the group that doesn’t share the same level of comfort with camping, hiking and skipping showers. That’s fine, not everyone has the same interests, but when it comes to significant others and loved ones, there’s something to be said about getting outside, getting a little dirty and experiencing what’s out there—together. Here are a few suggestions for a painless (well, nearly painless) outdoors introduction to a hesitant, could-be wilderness enthusiast.

Take Day Trips
While you may be one of those endurance types that have the Pacific Crest Trail or El Camino in your back pocket, when it comes to acclimating an outdoor newbie, it’s best to start slow. Day trips are a great way to experience something new, enjoy nature and then hit a good brewery or grab a slice on the way back home to your own bed. Research some hikes or natural attractions nearby, pack a lunch and take the scenic route. If your travel partner is starting off with a slightly more adventurous foundation, a one-night camping trip or cabin rental might be alright. However, for those who are tentative about the outdoor lifestyle, planning an excursion within a 2-3 hour driving range is a great way to safely test the waters.

Experienced outdoorsmen and women know the importance of traveling light and understand the art to economical packing. However, when novice adventure-seekers graduate to overnight or weekend-long trips, overpacking for the first few treks might not be a bad idea. Everyone has different comfort levels when it comes to temperature and climate changes. Being too hot, and especially too cold is a surefire way to ensure a miserable outdoor experience. Make sure your travel companions pack plenty of layering options and don’t forget to either supplement their gear or recommend the type of equipment they’ll need. Regardless of experience level, unpreparedness can make or break a trip. Also, confirm whether they have a sleeping bag with an appropriate temperature rating, good shoes and other weather-necessary accessories.

For those who don’t like being too far from the comforts of home, bring along the tech stuff. Outdoor Tech makes a rugged Turtle Shell speaker that syncs with your phone, and also has pretty great range, so if the night-time creature calls get too creepy, you’ve got tunes on hand (you may want to check out their portable charger, too). And for those who can’t deal with being dirty, RinseKit has designed a fantastic, portable pressurized shower. However, quality gear is pricey. If you’re really trying to encourage someone to get outside with you, there’s no better deterrent than a hefty price tag, so share the love as well as the goods.

Understand Limits
Everyone has different physical limitations, and different activities require different types of fitness. Some people thrive on doing new or difficult things, while others require a longer warm-up period. Use discretion when it comes to physical activities. You’ll avoid injuries—and unnecessary trauma—if you’re able to properly gauge both ability and comfort level. For example, if hiking is your thing and there are multiple trails, start with the shorter or medium grade option—the same goes for rock climbing, biking or any other activity. Combining strenuous physical activity with sleeping outside, carrying heavy gear and acclimating to temperature can be hard on the body. If there was ever a time to bust out your inner mom, it’s now. Be kind, check in and go slow. Also, encourage hydration and bring first aid supplies.

Go Big
This one is kinda like going on a first date with someone who may or may not be all that interested in your advances: in your attempts to trump the hesitation, you pull out all the stops. The same applies for wooing the would-be nature enthusiast: sometimes you gotta aim high. Most have only experienced the world’s natural wonders through photos, and as most of us know, photos rarely do anything much justice, especially destinations as perspective-changing as the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls or Yosemite’s Half Dome. If you really want to encourage a love of the outdoors, go big.

Throw Out The Guide Book
Sometimes, when all else fails, you gotta trash the guidelines and make your own blueprint. As long as you keep health and safety in mind, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to enticing a love of the outdoors. But hopefully, when all’s said and done, you’ll have recruited a trail mate or fellow outdoor adventure-seeker.

6 California Hot Spring Destinations To Try This Fall

There are few things that make a cam​​ping trip better than a drunken, midnight trek to a natural hot spring, and now that summer is beginning to fade into the rearview, it’s a whole lot more appealing to hunt down a toasty wilderness tub to warm up in. From the Sespe Hot Springs in the Los Padres National Forest to Esalen in Big Sur, these six natural Californian springs are spots you’ll definitely want to check out this fall.

Crowley (Wild Willy’s Hot Springs) Mammoth—For the partier
Located just a few miles from Mammoth Lakes in the Eastern Sierras, Wild Willy’s (or formally known as Crowley Springs) features a large pond with a smaller, adjoining pool, ranging in temps from 95 to 100 degrees. Fed from several different Sierra mountain sources, Wild Willy’s is one of the more natural springs and is slightly less spacious than some of the state’s more commercialized options … so be prepared to get cozy on busier nights. If the name is any indication, Wild Willy’s has become a popular “pool party” destination, but close quarters and aquatic members aside, the springs offer uninterrupted views of the Sierras by day and on clear nights, miles of stars.

Directions: To get there from the US 395, take Benton Crossing Road/Green Church Road. Travel east about 2.5 miles until you cross two, large gates. Turn right just past the second gate and follow the road, keeping left consistently. After about a mile you’ll reach a parking area with a wooden boardwalk and about a 200-yard walk to the pools.

Esalen, Big Sur—For magic seekers
While Esalen Institute itself is a luxury resort spa, the retreat destination opens its cliff-side bathes to the public between 1 am and 3 am in the morning. It costs $25 per person and their public openings fill up quickly. Phone service is shaky in Big Sur, so it’s best to register online ahead of time, or if staying in the state park, to drive directly to the resort (and early!) The Esalen baths are definitely not as “natural” feeling as many other public pools, but it’s hard to deny the lure of a midnight bath beneath a pine tree awning overlooking the Pacific coast. It’s a little bit magic.

Tip: For the adventurous rule-breakers, befriend a local and learn how to bypass the reservation system by finding the hidden trail to the bathes.

Sykes, Big Sur—For those who like to walk
Big Sur is so big it gets two entries, but this one, unlike the first, is f-r-e-e. The catch is there’s a 10-mile trek involved before being able to get your fanny cooking in one of these pools. But, hey, the hike is half the adventure. The trailhead starts at the Pine Ridge Trail about a half mile from the entrance to Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. The distance may seem daunting, but hiking through the Ventana Wilderness has its treats too, including rolling hills, waterfalls and wild flowers, but it also requires crossing over the Big Sur River, which can be dangerous depending on the season. Sykes’ two main pools are surrounded by green forest and feature natural stone-lined tubs connecting with several smaller ones that fit between four and five people at a time. Temps range around 102 degrees. Soaking in hot water can be an energy-zap, so if 10-mile back seems a bit daunting, there are a few rustic campsites after the river where you can set up for the night.

Sespe Hot Springs, Los Padres National Forest—For the thick-skinned animal lover
If you like your baths pipin’ hot, then these pools have your name on it. At a blistering 194 degrees, the Sespe Hot Springs are considered the hottest in the state, so unsurprisingly, the best time to visit is during the spring and the fall when the air temps are cooler. But don’t worry, the Sespe springs are really only that steamy at the origin points and get cooler in the pools further down the creek, so there’s several temperature options to choose from. The area is also known for some major big-critter sightings, including bears, mountain lions, bighorn sheep and rattlers, so caution is definitely a must.

Directions: The hike to this one, is well, quite a hike. Clocking in at 18 miles one way, the trailhead is situated at the Piedra Blanca parking lot and continues east. There are two creeks that require hopping, especially when the water is high during the spring season. Hikers and backpackers can stop over at the Willet Creek Hot Springs (8.5 miles), take a dip there and snag the first-come-first-serve cabin or tent spaces before continuing on to Sespe.

Keough, Bishop—For the people-person
While the Keough Hot Springs wouldn’t win any major awards for scenery, they’re an especially nice destination for Bishop’s rock climbers and hikers who need a place to loosen up aching muscles after a long day of activity. The Keough hot springs have two options: one is free, one is not. The gratis option is comprised of two, rustic, brush-lined pools overlooking Owen’s Valley and attracts an eclectic bunch of hikers, campers, climbers and exhibitionists. Note: nudity is often rampant, and there is no camping allowed at the public site.

Directions: Between Bishop and Big Pine, California, turn off on the Keough Hot Springs Road and head uphill until you reach the second dirt road. Turn right and the public hot springs will be on the left.

Buckeye Hot Springs, Bridgeport—For some peace and quiet
There are few places on earth more beautiful than Yosemite National Park, and the Buckeye Hot Springs, while officially located in Bridgeport, California, edges into the territory of one of the United States’ most scenic destinations. While the Buckeye springs themselves are not as picturesque as its popular Travertine Hot Springs neighbor, it’s secluded location makes for a quiet, more private experience. The Buckeye hot mineral springs are located in the Toiyabe National Forest next to fresh water brook and even feature a cave. Temps range from 95-110 degrees, depending on the amount of creek water flowing into the pools.

Directions: Turn South on Twin Lakes Road and follow for seven miles before turning in at Doc and Al’s resort. After passing the Buckeye Campground, stay left for three miles and continue uphill until you reach the parking lot. Head downtrail towards the creek and hillside to the springs.