Livin’ the Dream

July 12th:  I love this job.  Here’s my backyard for the summer:

Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

The "Teets" Tetons!

It’s been another couple of weeks, two weeks and three days since my last report.  Please excuse the delay my loyal blog followers!…Hanna la Exploradora has been doing just that…exploring.  Activities falling under the “exploring” umbrella include, but are not limited to, dining amidst lake Yellowstone, creating gourmet picnic lunches in parking lots at 6:30 am, learning the differences between steam vents, fumaroles, mud pots and geysers,  pretending to care about all the different wild flower species, singing musicals out loud on solo hikes for hours to keep away bears (a large deer today did not appreciate my rendition of the Sound of Music soundtrack), but above everything, all this exploring makes me realize how much this job really is for me!

Winding back to my last post, post-Salt Lake City training.  I rapidly became this weird nostalgic night owl for two days, adjusting to eastern standard time, repeatedly wondering why two hours makes such an impact on travel and sleep, all while watching slide show after slide show of photos on my computer, knowing I should’ve gone to bed hours ago. No less than 8 hours later, I was grading finals, filling in teachers on how training went in Utah, cleaning up my classroom, saying good bye to my classroom (thank you to Alison for helping me clean it out on a 90 degree day), reading legendary and comical emails from my students, and then I probably went home and watched another slide show of life photos pass by on my computer screen accompanied by some sort of mellow music.  “Yikes, it’s 3 am! Time to sleep another night in this barren, off white room I called home for three years.”

Part of me wished I had just started leading trips immediately after training, but the friend and family time, and my memorable last night out in Boston, conveniently coinciding with my 26th birthday made me think twice about getting on that plane at 7 am the next morning.  Although I have to admit, in the moment, walking to the car to head to Logan Airport, with my two bags of life in rolling luggage on each side of me, I was a bit too hung over to process anything and realize that this time I really was leaving. Cue “Leaving on a Jet Plane”, Eva Cassidy cover.

In between training  and bidding adieu to city life as I knew it, I experienced a two week period that I have frozen in a special little memory box of my brain, hoping it will come out in dreams when I’m far away from home surrounded by unfamiliarity. A week in Popham with family with no infamous Maine fog to be seen, complete with incredible dinners and a new lobster hat that my parents saw fit for my lobster talk I gave at training, was the best way to bounce back from that nostalgic space I spiraled into while packing up my apartment.  If that wasn’t enough, a wild 2nd annual 4th of July weekend in Camden with absolute fire cracker (pun intended) girlfriends followed my heavenly family vacation. We went lobstering off the island of Matinicus, the eastern most inhabited island in the Atlantic, learned new “Mainah phrases” *Ayuh*, danced, did the worm in a white collared shirt on a filthy dance floor (thank you Andrea Manners), and mostly laughed at nothing. 

My final couple of days were spent catching up with friends over each meal in between packing and buying last minute things (head lamp! Fancy sun glasses!), and celebrated an early birthday/going away BBQ on the roof of an apartment in Somerville by the best hosts known to the greater Boston area, and for the grand finale, finished by birthday with a night at the Top of the Hub with Alison and Steph, soaking up my city by sunset, polished with jazz, champagne, organic cucumber vodka drinks, and surprise birthday desserts.  There may have also been another stop at Eastern Standard, to finish the night with a dozen oysters, rosé, and Pisco sours, my favorite drink from Peru.  Our waiter was Andres, who I stayed with in Madrid last summer and it was great to say “Hola y Adios” to another crazy connection that has spider webbed its way into Beantown.  The above list paired with a nauseating hangover bombarded me as I departed on my flight to Wyoming.  I will forever be thankful for all my friends and family who made it so hard to say good bye on Friday morning.  Thank you for my delicious birthday cake Mom

A perfect clear night for Top of the Hub good bye birthday!

Here’s an idea on how my start as a Backroads Trip leader has been in less than a week:

Within 24 hours of leaving Boston, I exchanged:

  • Taxis and my Camry for large white Backroads vans. 
  • My own room with a comfortable bed for a room with 4 beds, bunk bed style, no mirror, no dresser, or bedside reading lamps (upgraded new headlamp: smart investment).
  • A kitchen I know where everything is for one with a carpet and labels for personal food cabinets vs. communal food, and fridges with the same indicators.
  • The streets of Allston and Brookline for a gated 200 storage unit area with a leader house watching over a field and those 200 storage units.
  • My apartment for two, for a leader house that I spent one night in before leaving for Yellowstone.  I dub this new residence as a hybrid of a hostel and college dorm.
  • City mice and rats for bison, coyote, elk, and quite possibly bear…
  • Thus, my Chanel perfume, for bear spray
  • Buying groceries to eating at national park hotels for five days straight.  Huckleberry Ice Cream anyone? Alaskan Halibut with pistachio pesto?
  • An annual salary for cash tips
  • Buying teaching supplies and materials with all my own money, for a company credit card…really? I can swipe this? That’s legal?  (I still get nervous using it!)
  • A summer teaching schedule sans alarm clock for 5:45 am wake up calls. So far each day has been more than worth the early rising.

Holy transitions! And that’s the tip of the ice berg!  The only striking similarity between my teaching profession and being a Backroads leader:  two professions where a whole day can go by and there’s barely any time to go to the bathroom!  I may have left my mark on some greenery behind Old Faithful yesterday.  Gotta go, gotta go!

I am on day three of a walking and hiking trip, as a shadow, which means exactly that: I shadow two expert leaders and try as much as I can to stay behind the scenes.  I am extremely lucky to watch a trip from beginning to end, as many other new leaders only have a few days of familiarization in a new area.  The guests are a bit confused about my role, and continue to ask my questions when I have explained that I know as much as them at this point, but overall it has been day after day of hiking all over Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons (Mountain range).  Today I hiked 9.5 miles and all I did was think of my cousin Dan who hikes 20 and 30 mile days on the Appalachian Trail.  I talk about Dan to all the guests and all the neat quirks and vocabulary I have learned by reading his blog and trying to understand AT speech.  I have been hiking all week, maximum 10 miles, tomorrow will be a 14 mile day, and I can’t imagine doing that day after day for 4 months, somewhat solo.  I hike and have hotel breakfast, picnic lunches, water/Gatorade refills, and a suitcase waiting in my next hotel room so I can put on something clean.  Go Dan, go!  I have already been duct taping my heels and the bottoms of my feet are really starting to feel it!

Remember that Christmas like feeling I described in a previous post about the sheer anticipation of receiving a new schedule assignment?  On July 1st, after stalking my computer hourly, I found out I will be leading biking/inn trips for the fall season in MAINE!  I will be picking guests up in Portland and leading in Bar Harbor and Camden until mid October, when I then drive a van and trailer from Maine to the Salt Lake City warehouse for 5 days!

I am exhausted and fighting off the inklings of a cold and sore throat.  I finish shadowing on Thursday and head out for my first real trip (re: cash tips), on Sunday.  Going back to where I began (I wrote this over two nights), this shadowing process has mostly been a confidence booster in how this job is really going to work for me.  In training we never worked with real guests and things all just kind of fell in to place after day 1 of the shadow.  I am happy to observe how much my teaching skills will be used day in and day out of this job and that even if I am tired in the morning, I seem to find bursts of energy from the outdoors and in conversations with guests.  I knew this job was for me ever since I laid eyes on the job description, but I had yet to feel it.  I can assure you I can go to bed tonight 100% feelin’ it.

Peace and Love from middle America. Enjoy the extra pics below! 


Bison, so pre-historic looking

Picnic lunches every day

Girl time in Maine (and prepping for my fall schedule!)


13 responses to “Livin’ the Dream

  1. Ah…I knew it when I sent you that link that it had Hanna Brewer written all over it! Destiny calls! Take good care of yourself w/ that cold. Oil of oregano! I should send you some. Do you have a mailing address while there? Can we send you stuff or no? I know you don’t want stuff dragging you down, but a card or something?

  2. hannnnnnaaaa im totally obsessed with your blog and your pictures look like screensavers…and YOU look gorgeous in that pic of you and Alison. Keep on livin that dream sistaaa MUAHH xoxox

  3. Amazing Hunz… What an incredible experience and you’re just beginning. 🙂 Wonderful news about being in Maine this fall! Hysterical that you’ll be touring through familiar stomping grounds of the Camden area. Missed you so much on your bday, but so glad you had such a blast! We’re 2 weeks away from our due date, hoping Emma will arrive any day now. We’ll be in touch as soon as things get moving. We think about you every day and send you happy thoughts. Lots of love to you!! xoxoxo Love the McMahon Clan

  4. Hanna, you’re new life sounds fantastic. You will treasure this adventure forever. My memories of Yellowstone go back 32 years ago when Mike and I made our 11000 mile trek across the U.S. and Canada camping everywhere we went. Yellowstone was our favorite. You will need to sign up for treks in Banff and Jasper National Parks in Canada also. Absoluetly beautiful there too. Anyway, have a wonderful time and thanks so much for your great blog. Looking forward to seeing you back in Maine in the fall. Love, Aunt Ruth

  5. Hanna!!!! I’m so glad you have come to a place where you know this job is for you. It’s hard in those transition periods of being back in Boston after receiving the job to really fully understand and know what you want. Now that you can truly see what the job entails with actual guests, I am so happy to know you had that same feeling of want and excitement as when you were writing your resume for the job itself! We all miss you dearly, keep writing as it makes me feel that I am still talking with you on our couch with a cup of Kaui coffee in hand. =) Love you girl!

  6. Hanna, great stuff. What a great experience. Soon you will be an expert on Yellowstone and the Tetons! Have fun, and I’m always looking forward to the next post. Great whites continue to be spotted off ME/NH/MA !! Take care.
    Love, Dad

  7. I expect a photo of the shredded heels 🙂

    Rest up, girl. Can’t wait to talk to you after El Trippo Uno!!!!! Break a leg (not literally, okay?)

    Just about 3 months till Espana!!!! OLE!

  8. Hi Hanna ! I’m jealous!

  9. Wow! Thanks fam and friends! Your responses are my favorite kind of emails to receive! Thinking about everyone back home like CRAZY!! xoxoxox

  10. Love your update ,hope you are not getting sick before you have to lead on Sunday. Kari is right you lookded gorgeous at the top of the hub in your new outfit. So many good memories to treasure.
    Yellowstone /mt range pics are breathtaking.!! Maybe Dad and I WILL take that trip with the BEST Backroads leader ever!
    Whats the musical you did in 5th grade ? I was just hinking about that when you said you were comming down with “Grip ” like symptoms . Maybe you can sing that one to the bears.
    Love you tons ,take care and get some sleep. 0x0x0x Mom

  11. So proud of you, sister…. I never had a doubt in my mind that this was the job for you. Don’t worry, I’m still bragging about you to my friends and colleagues, and thus, racking up my street cred as a result. I almost made my mark on my office chair after reading this blog entry. Keep em coming! xoxo

  12. It’s nice to catch up on the adventures of Hanna! So glad your job is turning out to be such a perfect fit for you. It sure seemed like it would be, but you never know till you experience it. How funny that with all the possible trips for you to guide next, you get Maine. Hopefully we will get achance to see you in the fall. Much love, Susan

  13. Wow! Hanna what an update! I love reading your blog and hearing about all of your adventures. I hope that you are doing well; sorry for the late-night texting about haha well you know what 🙂 We miss you here and I can’t imagine the fall without you, but your photos are AMAZING and I know you’re living it up 🙂

    Thanks for making me do raw oysters by the way, I will always remember with you, Al and Andres, claro que si!

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