I grew up attracted to the water and to wilderness like most no one else in my family. I would drag my little brother along whenever I could so of course he was doing the same things too. I started SCUBA diving when I was 13 with my first check out dive with a Killer Whale at the Coronodo Islands in Mexico. I started backpacking at age 11.
I started working when I was 11 years old. My first job was digging ditches for water and sewer lines. The first thing I learned to drive was a back-hoe. I worked laying water, sewer and cable TV lines. I worked on concrete crews pouring slabs and walls for tilt-up buildings all the way up to pouring the concrete footings, walls, and containments for Nuclear Power Plants. I've done commercials electrical work. I've done some framing and drywall. I can do plumbing. Most of my teens through early 30's were spent doing hard labor or on adventures in the wilderness.
I became a mountain guide, taught Rock Climbing, Ice Climbing, Orienteering, Survival Classes, Wilderness photography and Backpacking. I worked for the Forest Service as a Wilderness Ranger in the Hoover Wilderness in the Toiyabe National Forest. I packed horses for the Forest Service, did Search and Rescue, fought fires and maintained trails. I lived alone in a 149,000 acre (75 square mile) area of the wilderness. I have climbed many peaks and monoliths such as El Capitan and Half Dome. I have been face to face with bears in the wild. I ran a sucessful program for Orange County which was modeled after Outward Bound" in which we took up to 10 inner-city youths (in trouble with the juvenile justice system) and put them through a high mountain, 100-120 mile course teaching personal and group coping skills, orienteering skills, rock climbing skills, and survival skills. Their coping skills improved and their trouble with law enforcement vanished.
I also went to a protestant university and majored in Psychology, Biblical Studies and Outdoor Education. I volunteered as a counselor at a suicide prevention hot-line nights while going to school. I was very involved in the Southern Baptist Church and then the Dutch Reform Church before giving up on religion all together. I did not give up my faith, just my faith in religion. I was a volunteer fireman in Temecula while living and working there.
If all this sounds normal, that's exactly what I thought. But people keep telling me this is not normal, that this is some how brave or exemplary. It all just seems normal to me.