New Blog!

I'm switching blogs.

I never seem to stick with a blog for a long time.  I'll start one for myself, and later quit posting.  Then I'll start one my friends can read.  Then quit.  Then start one to keep relatives updated.  Then one to share about my van living.  Etc.

A few months ago I decided to commit to one blog and bought a domain name.  To keep it simple.  I used my name.

You can now find my updates at www.mollyvolz.com.

I have been working on moving most of my posts from a few of my more recent blogs over to that address, and from here on out will be posting there.

Please don't stalk me down and murder me now that you know my name.

I'll eventually delete this blog, since I've moved all the posts there.

Please subscribe!  Add your email to the little "Email" box on the right, and get updates when they come right to your in-box!

I hope to see you over there.



Two Down, One to Go


Great news!  I’ve officially paid off my second loan this year!  In March 2012 I paid off my smallest loan, a measly $3300-ish, and starting working hard towards the worst of my college loans. 

loan done

I set a goal of paying at least $1200 in loan payments per month ($200 minimum payments, plus $1000 extra).  I have succeeded every month in 2012 so far, except May.  I didn’t work at all in April, and I traveled across the country twice during the month, so with no paychecks coming in in May, I think I only paid about $400-500 extra (I did get a tax refund to help out).

Some months I managed to pay more.  For example, $2500 in February (thank-you filthy rich Aspenites with children), and $1600 in August (I wanted it gone!) I think I’ve done a great job.

loan done

It looks like two loans, they were dispersed at different dates, but I paid them together, without the option of paying one and not the other.  I also paid $0.26 extra accidentally.  How do I go about getting them to pay that back to me?

Now that my high-interest loans are gone, I have a mere $7,700 at 1.75% interest left to go. I could easily complete this in six to seven months going at my rate, but I’ve chosen not to.

What!?!?!  I know, I know, but read on.  It is actually a much better choice.  I’ve been researching a lot about retirement lately.  Up until now I have done squat with retirement.   I need to get my Roth IRA started. Tomorrow.  I could wait 6 months to do it, and pay the loan off, but then I’d miss out on 2012.  With the Roth IRA, you can only put in $5000 a year, and there is no making up for it if you miss a year.  I’ve already missed 12 years!  I’ve been making over $5000/year for over 12 years now, and could’ve already been rich!  I read that I have until April 2013 to get the $5000 in for 2012. 

So that’s where my next $5000 will be going.   When the time comes, I’ll have to consider whether to then pay my loan or continue with the $5000 for 2013. 

If I keep going like I am, I could have the first $5000 paid by end of December.  However, come November I don’t know if I’ll have a job.  I kind of want to spend the holidays with my friends in Ohio for once, and might not be able to make the payments for November and December.  I think having it in there by the end of March is a good enough goal though.

I was so excited about all this that I spent the afternoon searching for a part-time job to work on my three days off.  I did not have success.  I’ll have to make sure I do something while in Ohio though.  Even if it is a minimum wage burger flipper.


Jackson Rodeo

The town of Jackson has a rodeo every Saturday night. I had never been to a rodeo before, so I knew that is one thing I definitely wanted to do before leaving here. Ideally I would like to attend a rodeo up in Cody, WY. I hear that they are so much better up there, and a lot less touristy. But for tonight, Jackson will have to do. My roommate, Elaine, was going and invited me along.
Being a 'local,' it only ended up costing $9, which isn't a bad deal. We sat in uncovered, non-reserved seats in the end zones.
So, this being my first rodeo ever, I didn't know quite what to expect. I was pretty excited to watch some guys riding bulls though.
The first shoot opened, and out came a bull, with a cowboy on his back of course. He jumped around for one second, and then he stopped. The bull just dead stopped, right there about 5 feet out from the gate and stared out at the crowd. Not quite what I was expecting, and supposedly, according to the ladies I went with, this never happens. I don't know if I believe them since it is the first time I ever seen bull riding.
The rest of the bulls seemed to understand what their job duties include.  After that there was some cattle roping. I'm still amazed at how they get the little guys' back feet roped together. Then some girly barrel riding. Boring. Then they brought out the miniature children and sent them flying across the arena clinging onto a sheep's neck. That part was probably my favorite, and when I have a 6 year old, I want them to do it too.
I only took two pictures, and then decided that nothing was showing up on my iPod, so I quit. When I put them on my computer they turned out better than I thought, so here they are. Just a couple of cattle roping shots.


What to do this winter?

It is about that time of year. Time to land a winter job. I have a little over 3 months left here still, but that's about how early I always start looking.
I've already called the folks down in the Everglades to inquire about open positions. The director there seemed pretty interested in me, and told me they have a few opening to fill in the winter. I just sent him my resume today, so hopefully I hear back from him soon.
The Everglades folks also run Dry Tortugas National Park, which I think would be my absolute ideal place to work and live, but there is a very very .00001% chance of that. They only have one worker there, if any. Looking at the website, it seems like they would have one, in addition to the rangers. Dry Tortugas is a set of seven islands 70 miles west of Key West. You can only access them by sea plane, ferry or private boat. The ferry costs $160 round trip, so hopefully they let the workers out there ride it for free. Of all seven islands, not one has any type of supplies. No water, toilet, electricity, phone or internet service. Nothing. I would love it.
Everglades, on the other hand, does have water and electricity. The guy I talked to mentioned putting me down in Flamingo, which is the southern most tip of Florida, right on the bay. He said there is no cell phone or internet service down there, and it is either 30 or 60 miles from town, I forget which. They also have mosquitoes at the Everglades. Where the front of every brochure here in Grand Teton NP warns of bears, the front of their brochures seem to warn of mosquitoes. I was expecting it to be alligators, but maybe I just didn't read the right brochure, or they don't have many alligators down in Flamingo?
Either way, I would love a job anywhere down there in Florida, but if that doesn't work out, there are a million more options for me. Including bumming around Ohio visiting with friends and family for the holiday season, which wouldn't be bad, but also wouldn't help me save for next summers' journey!



One of my three flatmates is Elaine. She is older then the rest of us, in her 40's, but it doesn't really seem like it. She is a very young 45, I think she is much younger than my mom was when I was a teenager. I may or may not have mentioned it before, but one of my goals this summer was to learn to kayak and get some practice at it. Well, it turn out that in her home state of Maine, Elaine is a Ocean Kayak Guide during most summers.
The other day I was lucky enough to go out kayaking with her. Seven miles north of where we live is Jenny Lake. That is one of the main lakes in the park, and where my other two flatmates work. Just North of Jenny are String and then Leigh Lakes. Since Elaine is a ranger here, she has been trying to get to know the park, and I believe she was planning to include information on kayaking these two lakes in one of her future ranger programs. She decided to go check them out one evening and invited me along.
We parked at the South end of String Lake and dumped her kayak in the water. While she kayaked North up the lake, I hiked along the shore on a foot path. When we reached the top, we had the option of portaging to Leigh Lake or turning the kayak back. Since it was getting late, probably about 8:30, we decided to just walk over to Leigh Lake, she wanted to fish a few minutes, but not bother to explore via kayak.
Parked Kayak
Of course, right when I was taking off my shoes and socks to wade around in Leigh, she caught her fishing hook on a rock. I offered to wade over and free it after she was unsuccessful in doing it herself. It was farther out than I expected. When I couldn't roll my pants up any more I went back to shore and swapped them for a pair of shorts. Turns out my legs are just too short, and ended up saving the hook, but thoroughly soaking my underwear.
Saved it!
What an uncomfortable feeling. So upon returning to shore I retreated to the woods to swap my shorts and undies for my dry pants, and we headed back to the kayak.
For the return trip Elaine walked to shoreline trail, and I got to kayak! She gave me a basic 2 minute instruction and sent me on my way. Actually, the 2 minutes might have been too long. I've canoed many times, its basically the same thing, just with a different type of paddle.
Me kayaking
me kayaking 2
The water was very clear. This meant that you could see the boulders and logs sunken underwater very well. This creeped me out. I was startled every time I came upon a submerged boulder. I do much better when I cannot see underwater. I guess it'll just take some more kayaking to get used to the fact that the rocks are not going to jump out and eat me.
There were a couple paddle boarders out there on the lake. I had never seen or heard of this before. The first one I saw I just figured they were being resourceful, and a surf board happened to be what they owned, so they were making it work on the lake. After I saw a few more I asked Elaine what the deal was with all the people paddling around on surf boards. She told me about stand up paddleboards or SUPs. They are apparently the new cool thing, and if you live near water and haven't paddled around on one yet, you’ll find yourself on one soon.
I have shared with many people, but I don't think I've mentioned it online, my long term goal is to kayak from Lake Erie to The Gulf of Mexico. I plan to complete this within 5 years, hopefully next summer though! This is the reason that I wanted to start kayaking this summer, and it is looking like I might be getting lots of practice this winter too.



The sunsets here are beautiful. It doesn't happen every night, and it doesn't last very long, but if you happen to catch a sunset over Grand Teton, you're in for a treat. Unfortunately, as with most of my pictures this summer, all the goods ones are on my iPod, which actually means that they are not 'the good ones.’ An iPod does not do justice to the brilliant colors of a sky at dusk.
I do have a much better view living in Beaver Creek, than I did when I lived up in Colter Bay. In CB I was always trying to rush down to the beach on my bicycle around 9pm to get the view. This first photo is the view from my front porch, followed by a few others taken down the road.


My Newest Home

“In the end we will conserve only what we love.  We will love only what we understand.  We will understand only what we are taught.”  Baba Dioum

Well, I'm sorry to announce, I have moved out of my van. An opportunity came available that I just had to take.

Living in my van, I was living in Colter Bay, 33 miles from work. It took me between 45 and 60 minutes to get to and from work everyday. I was spending up to $200 in gas a month, and wasting a lot of time.

Around mid-June, a room became available to me in employee housing. It would only cost me $200 a month, which is what I had been paying in gas, and it is only 5 miles to work. I could bike to work if I was a motivated person. I now live in Beaver Creek, an employee only area inside Grand Teton National Park.

I decided to move in for many reasons, the top three being:

  • I wouldn't really be paying much more money on expenses.
  • I would have a refrigerator to store food!!
  • I would have an extra 1.5 to 2 hours free each evening after work

It seemed like a pretty good deal, and it turns out that it has been. I live with three people, one is a roommate. (2 bedrooms, 4 women) They are all super nice. This is the first time I haven't had a really annoying roommate that everyone hates, or lots of general roommate problems. I'm sure I just jinxed myself and they'll all start tomorrow. It is amazing though, because I was convinced that being in such a small space (I've never shared a room before) it would be worse.

I think it is just the type of people you get for the type of job. All three are park rangers. Rangers are people who enjoy the outdoors, the environment, animals, and nature. They typically are not very vain and high maintenance. They are able to get dirty. They're just good people, who care about the planet and all the things that encompass it. That type of person is a good person to have as a roommate.

I share my room with Monica. She is a 25 year old from Wisconsin (lives 2 hours south in Wyoming for 2 years now). She is a teacher-ranger-teacher (TRT). She teaches elementary music during the school year. In the other room is Elaine. She is 45 and from Maine. We were all weary of a 45-year-old moving in, but it has turned out great! She is also a TRT. She teaches high school..umm...I don't know what subject...during the school year, and usually is a Ocean Kayak Guide most summers up in Maine. The last roommate is Erica. She is a 23 year old from California. She grew up near the Red Wood trees, and is a geologist ranger who loves dinosaurs.

The TRTs both have short seasons. I think just 10 weeks. Their last day is August 6th already, and they were the last to come! Erica is here through the end of September, and then it is just me until the end of October.

I’m sure you’ll hear more about them from me over the rest of the season.