Thursday, November 27, 2008

Jobs I want: Everglades backcountry volunteer

I just saw a program on the National Geographic Channel about the Everglades. There was a brief segment on a couple who lives on a houseboat in the middle of the Everglades backcountry for six months of the year, rescuing lost paddlers (and getting lost themselves: they said the key was to get lost first thing in the morning so you have all day to find your way back). For a number of reasons, this lands high on the list of Jobs I Would Love To Have, Though Perhaps Only For A Short Time, for the following reasons:
  • Critters. Birds with fun names like "roseate spoonbill". Turtles. Gators. Fish. Manatees.
  • Isolation, with a twist: any people you meet are likely to be really happy to see you. I bet the wilderness houseboat volunteers have some great stories about the people they meet and the circumstances in which they meet them.
  • Man skills. If it breaks, you better fix it: ain't no callin' a plumber or electrician. If it can't be fixed with hose clamps and duct tape, you probably didn't need it.
  • Clarity of purpose. Every morning, there are clear-cut reasons to get out of bed: first, to take necessary measures to avoid being eaten by alligators, and second, to rescue disoriented wilderness paddlers from a similar fate.
  • Science. I don't know if the volunteers are specifically asked to make scientific observations (weather & water levels, critter counts, or other surveys), but it would be cool to contribute to the understanding of the area.
  • The enveloping beauty and weirdness of the whole Everglades environment. I can't help be fascinated by a place where flowing water is disguised as a prairie. I don't think I can adequately describe how totally weird the 'Glades are.
More descriptions of south Florida weirdness at

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