Spendin A Season On The Wisconsin River

dallasholdingcanoeI spent the last 5 1/2 months in Sauk City, WI at a company called WI River Outings. I moved up there right before spring and I was on my way out as soon as the cold air came howling back.  It was great because I got to spend all of my time outside on the river and there was a few other perks too.  I received my WFR (Wilderness First Responder) medical certificate from NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School), all of my customers were extremely happy and stoked to get on the water, plus I’ve only been 2 hours away from home, so I was able to see my family a lot more than I’m used to.

I spend most days moving boats around, driving buses and vans filled with happy, exhausted, sweaty, drunk people from all over the world.  Rounding up and giving safety talks to groups of sometimes over 80, excited, distracted people. And on top of all that I also did our multi-day guided trips on the Wisconsin River and the Mississippi River. All of my trips I had consisted of a big bunch of kids (8 – 15 years old) and one or two counselors.  Luckily the only injuries I saw with all those kids were a case of Lyme’s Disease (from an old tick bite before the trip) and one mild case of dehydration (which was actually one of the counselors…of course).  I was in charge of cooking all the meals, setting up camp, starting fires, telling stories, leading hikes, rescuing kids/boats, and educating everyone about the river and surrounding areas.

Since I moved to Wisconsin I’ve lived in my tent, an old bait shop, a suburban, my tent again, and finally a cabin on the river (which is where I spent the last of my Wisconsin days)….all in 5 1/2 months!  And of course now that I’ve served my term here, I realize how much fun I actually had spending a summer back in the mid west. The people have been extremely nice to me, the river and the hills have been soothing for my soul, and being closer to my family for a while was exactly what I needed. The weather was a little colder than I would have liked, but I’m sure I’ll miss it when I arrive to the hot weather of Phoenix.

I found the job when I was doing research on prices of canoes, and I stumbled upon the advertisement for WI River Outings selling over 100 old canoes from a business they just bought out.  I read that and I figured “well hell, maybe he needs some help since he just bought out another business.”  So I shot the owner an email, attached my resume, and told him about all my outdoor experience.  Next thing I know, I’m spending the next 5 1/2 months paddling, hiking, and biking back in the mid west.

Most paddling associated business revenue dropped dramatically this year in Wisconsin because of low water levels, cold weather, and a poor economy.  Our shop made a 27% increase in revenue from 2008, though.  A lot of it had to do with our great boats, amazing location, and awesome customer service.   So if you’re ever around Wisconsin….go paddle the Wisconsin River.

I was in the Wisconsin State Journal when I was working this job. Check it out here!

Coming Back Home





Beautiful emerald green waters, peaceful white sand beaches, dangerous mountains, and raging waterfalls….are all amazing scenery that you won’t get a glimpse of around my hometown in DeKalb, IL.  I have been traveling for four years now and this is my first time spending more than 3 days back at home!  I think mainly the reason for this is because I always thought of coming home as a kind of defeat.

A lot of travelers that I talk to have some of the same worries about coming home.  We feel like if we come home that we will be stuck there; in our old, boring lifestyles that we are all so desperately running from.  We don’t want to be forced to work mundane jobs in boring places, with people who have never left their hometown for even a day of their life.  We have seen a different way of life and now we have that taste in our mouth.  Which makes it hard to come home even for a short spell, because you want to live a different life.

I’m just want to remind you not to wait too long to come back home for a visit.  People take it personally, and it’s hard for them to understand why you can’t be back every free day of the year.  Now that I’m home I realize that I’m not actually stuck here.  My family supports my travels and there is always “next season”.  But one of the most difficult parts about coming back to Illinois was trying to live my active outdoors lifestyle,  in a not-so-active city environment.  It is hard to do, but not impossible.  I have been taking hikes through all of the city parks and taking every side path I see.   People will also take their bikes through the parks too.  Another fun thing to do is to take a canoe, kayak, or just an inflatable raft down any river or creek by your town.  Just remember that you take what you learn on the road everywhere you go.

Home might be a lot different than the road, but you have to embrace that and remember “it’s a great place to visit!”