At 369.5 square acres Mt. Rainier National Park is not a quick drive through. So what do you do when all you have is three days? I spent three months working and living at Mt. Rainier. I’ve roamed the park at peak times and had miles completely to myself (and the critters). I know first hand what can make or break a vacation and your wallet. This guide is for the Southwest region of Mt. Rainier National Park and is designed to help you maximize your trip during the Spring, Summer, or beginning of Fall.
Working on an Orchard – Part One
An inside look on what it’s like to work as a seasonal agricultural worker.
A year ago I was desperate for seasonal work when a friend suggested I fly back to the East Coast to come pick apples with him. I didn’t want to leave Northwestern U.S. at the time so I said maybe next year. Every year he leaves his life in the city and spends the fall at Mack’s Apples. And every year he returns glowing so when I found myself back in New England working tirelessly to pay off previous debts I’d incurred and let’s face it, getting horribly out of shape I thought why not? I wasn’t ready for another big adventure far from my home base in Mass but New Hampshire would provide me with lots of new territory to explore while being close enough to visit my friends, but mostly my cat who’s been fighting off an infection for several months now. My mom has been graciously taking care of her in my absence and I have time off on the weekends to go check up on her.
I was driving up the 7 last week listening to the Twilight soundtrack the other day. Yes, I own a Twilight soundtrack. I was broke and homeless in Eugene and the used cd store, Skip’s Records, was selling them for than the new retail value at Target (thanks a lot hipsters). After searching around several St. Vinnie’s and Good Wills I was coming up short. By the way every thrift shop has a copy of Seal and Celine Dionne. Every. Single. One of them. Kind of makes you think about how movies influence the music industry and vice versa. Anyways, I found the Twilight soundtrack and “Blue Eyes on Fire” reminds me of good times with a partner of mine so I purchased it for $1 at Good Will. Oh and it has Muse on it. They’re alright when not associated with vampire movies.
Back to my drive. So I’m driving through these mountains listening to the soundtrack. I get the most wonderful feeling when I’m driving solo with nothing but the trees, the steep curves of the road, and the music playing on my stereo. It can’t be described as anything less than euphoric. But then this song comes on.
You know that feeling when a song sums up your feelings in a way that you can’t? It’s that aha moment. Well I had that. Funny cause I didn’t like this song at first and now it’s my favorite song on the cd. But that wasn’t my epiphany.
Its September 2nd and I’ve got a half an hour before I head into work. Why am I working? I’m supposed to be traveling? About a month ago I decided to buy a truck so I wouldn’t have to decide between hitching alone or spending a ton on buses every month. I wanted a place to be able to rest my head and feel a little safer at night. So I got Lucy. Lucy’s alright, she gets me where I’m going. For now. You see I sold my car, my last tie to my old life in Massachusetts to my mom when her transmission started to go last month. After purchasing Lucy, a 1996 Nissan Pathfinder for $1300 I found out that she needed new tire. New tire rods meant I needed an alignment. And oh what do you know she needed all new tires. Instantly I was out an additional $500 and there’s still a couple of things that I chose not to take care of. Soon after I developed a severe dental infection and I was off to Portland to get the care I needed. I went from three grand to about $200 in the course of two weeks. Did I mention that Lucy’s probably going to die? Oh yeah, her engine’s going and she’s going to die in the next couple months if not tomorrow. I was pretty heartbroken. I had plans for Lucy. I wanted to drive her across the country and back in October. I still might take her on a suicide mission but that’s all in the future.
Anyways, at that point I didn’t even have enough to afford gas money, insurance, and all those other expenses you get to deal with when you have a vehicle. So yeah, I needed some cash. In Eugene, Oregon I was able to get craigslist job after craigslist job. I shoveled dirt, cleaned up after construction crews, and bought pantyhose and underwear for a crossdresser who was too nervous to go into the store and make purchases for himself. He liked my style. The craigslist game takes a lot of energy. It’s a competitive market. You have to check and post several times a day and I soon tired of having to spend so much of my day on a website. I decided to suck it up and get a job. But I wasn’t about to settle down somewhere and get just any job. No, I was going to make this a damn adventure.