NY Prop Maker Quits to Pursue Dog Sledding in Alaska

One of the coolest things about travelling is the people we meet along the way. Often we meet people who have the most amazing stories to tell. Their adventures totally inspire us, so we thought it would be awesome to bring some of these people into your lives too…allow us to introduce a new addition to our site…Featured Freedom Travellers!

Our first Featured Freedom Traveller is an awesome chick we met on our recent trip to New Zealand. Her list of adventures had us totally envious and planning our first trip to Alaska!

So without further ado, prepare to get inspired..

I grew up in Connecticut, near New York City. I definitely didn’t fit in, it was very preppy which just wasn’t me. I decided I didn’t want to stay in the States for university so started looking at where I could go. I was in the arts and did a lot of work in prop making and costume. I found an art foundation course in England, took that and went for it. I ended up studying specialty prop making working on large-scale props, sculptures, fabrication, molding, casting and woodwork, I was always using my hands. When I got to my last year it was really hard because I knew I had to leave. I so badly wanted to stay in England but it just didn’t work out as the visa laws had changed.

After university in England I moved back to the States. I lived in Brooklyn and got job as a freelancer working for a company that specialised in advertising. We worked on large-scale ad campaign props for clients like Marc Jacobs and Tiffany & Co. It may sound really cool but it was horribly monotonous and boring work. It was just not fun and I wasn’t happy.

When a couple of my friends from London came to visit me, I started talking to them about how I wanted to look for other things. I’d met some people when I was on a trip with my mom in Acadia National Park in Maine and they’d put the idea of seasonal work in my mind. I started looking for opportunities and stumbled upon Coolworks.com, a website geared towards seasonal work. You can search by season, National Park, location or activity. You can do all sorts of different stuff, be a bartender, a park ranger, work in a shop, be a tour guide – so many different jobs are posted on there!

When I was searching the site I saw a job advertised for running sled dogs in Alaska. I was reading it thinking, I’ve never run sled dogs before, but I applied anyway thinking there was no way I’d get the job but it seemed like fun. I ended up getting an interview and got the job!  In no time I was on my way to Skagway, Alaska. It was a very quick process because they really needed someone so I dropped everything. I sublet my apartment, I moved a bunch of my stuff to my mom’s house and packed up and left. It was only going to be a four month endeavor so I knew if I hated it I could suck it up. 10 days later I was in Alaska.

It was a bit scary at first but the people were really nice to me, especially seeing as I didn’t know a thing about sled dogs! They taught me everything and that first summer was really awesome. Not only did I learn a completely new skill but I met bunch of cool people who were doing seasonal work as well. I discovered there are so many different things that you can do. You meet people who’ve done totally random things that you didn’t even know existed. I have a friend who used to do tours across the country, basically road trips that people would pay for. She was the driver and would take people on tours to all different cities and towns across the States. That was her job; driving around the country with different groups of people taking them camping.

Alaska was an eye opener, in a good way, so I decided I wanted to run dogs for the winter. I went to work at Togwotee Mountain Lodge in Wyoming which is in the middle of nowhere, about an hour from Jackson Hole which is a big ski town. I was working there for the winter but it wasn’t the place for me so I left earlier than expected and headed to Israel for 10 days on a Birth Right which is a trip designed for young Jews to learn more about their heritage. It was perfectly timed. After that I headed back to Alaska for a second summer except this time I drove up which was really fun. An awesome road trip across the country!

Around that time I was planning on moving to New Zealand with my boyfriend. We ended up in Franz Josef on the West Coast of New Zealand but when it wasn’t working out between us so I left. I was looking for a job and I was very lucky that Black Cat Cruises were looking for someone. I fit the bill as I had a lot of experience with cruise ship passengers.

At Black Cat Cruises we run tours that take people out in Akaroa Harbour to look for and swim with the Hectors Dolphin. This involves getting people into wetsuits, taking them out into the harbour and looking for dolphins. My guests get a two hour window into the world of the Hectors Dolphin, but I’m out on the water everyday which gives me the opportunity to see a huge range of behaviors.

When I finish up in New Zealand in August I’m planning on going to Sweden for eight months to run sled dogs in the Arctic Circle. Lapland in the north of Sweden is my favourite place in the world. It’s very mountainous and it was the first place I ever saw extreme light in the summer time. It was really cool watching the sun swoop down along the skyline and then right back up into the sky. Sweden has very beautiful countryside and there’s awesome hiking there. My first trip to Sweden was a big part of the inspiration for me to get back into the wilderness and be outside after spending years inside working in art studios so I can’t wait to get back there.

My short-term goal is always to try anything. In the past year or so I’ve started to realise what I really want to do next as far as my career is concerned. Ever since I started working with dogs I’ve been in absolute awe of them. I’ve always loved dogs so it wasn’t surprising that I ended up working with them. Eventually I want to work in animal behavior and psychology and help form studies on how to prove animal cognition and how to define it. Until then I’d like to work in a similar field as much as I can before I end up back at university for my masters.

I believe no matter what your age or what interests you have, there’s always something different you can do. I live a very transient life and do dream of having a home that’s mine where I have land and own animals. I dream of a stationary life eventually but it’s not for me right now. If you choose a transient lifestyle you have to make sacrifices. You have to decide if those are worth it for you. For me right now, it’s necessary I make those sacrifices. I don’t see my family very often; I only go home once or twice a year. I can’t make big commitments, for example I can’t have a dog right now, not only because I’m travelling all around the country but all around the world.

It’s not always easy but anything is possible if you can think outside of the box with what you want to do.

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