He was unfazed. "Redneck savings account," he yelled. "If I had that money in the summer, I'd just spend it. Now I get it in the winter when I need it."
Like a large part of the wildland firefighting force, my buddy gets put in "non pay status" for six months out of the year, even though he is considered to be a permanent employee. Not surprisingly, most of these firefighters obsessively count their overtime hours, scrounge for off season work, and take any assignment they can get, to make ends meet. Money is something we all talk about a lot.
I'm starting to get itchy feet. The travel bug is biting. It's been almost three years since my last trip. I want to hike in Norway, go back to Iceland, climb a mountain in Russia. My miser side fights with my spontaneous side. I think about the retirees I know, still going on the road to fight fire as needed, even though some of them don't want to. And then I think of the others who saved every penny, stayed home, and retired at 50, never looking back. Then there are those who meant to travel and see the world, but they never did. They thought they could do it later, but an accident or a disease lurking in their body's cells took them first.
It's a delicate balance. I'd have more money for the future if I hadn't climbed in Nepal, hiked in Patagonia, or camped in Antarctica. But I can't imagine my life without those experiences. Maybe I'll have to follow the wildfires for a few more years because of them. But I've seen the sun rise over seven continents. It was a good choice.
|Antarctica, no filter. Cheap? No. Worth it? Yes.|