About Me

Hi, I’m Mandy! I have been traveling for work and for fun since I moved out of the house after high school. Let’s not talk about how long ago that was! Suffice it to say, I’ve been out on my own exploring for a while.

Working

van life florida keys
“Van life” parked in Key Largo

I have always worked outdoors (or at least in the outdoor industry, sometimes tethered to a desk or radio) as a wildland firefighter, wildlife biologist, naturalist, zoological docent, trails and recreation maintenance worker… theses jobs all brought with them lots of adventures, big and small.

I learned a lot at work which helped me get more savvy in my own travel world — becoming a certified boat operator on the ocean, running a chainsaw, miles of hiking, plant/animal/bird identification… These all became useful life skills.

Camping for work allowed me to really experience some of the wild and remote parts of the United States — I’ve fought fire in Alaska, California, Arizona, Colorado, Minnesota, and Oregon. Granted, much of the generally beautiful views were obscured by smoky skies and much of the time, I saw the areas best fairgrounds, gymnasiums, and open fields (where fire camps are typically set up.) But, it was still so rad.

Wandering

van rental excitement
Stoked on life.

You’ll find a lot of my expertise is centered around the Midwest. I’ve spent most of my time living and traveling in the Great Plains and Great Lakes States, it’s true. I’ve also spent a considerable amount of time living in Alaska and backpacking around Costa Rica. Only recently I’ve been micro-exploring (due to both the pandemic and work opportunities.) I spend time IN communities, not just driving through them. So, if you’re looking for detailed information about a trip or destination, I’m your gal!

I write about an eclectic mix of winter and sunshine, food and foraging, roughing it and luxury, it’s a mixed bag. Waterparks are a weird passion project of mine — I never pass up a trapdoor slide. I’m a PADI advanced open water diver, so there will be lots of ocean trips talked about in this space.

You can also find my work in several places, including:

TravelingMom

Trekaroo

Matador Travel Network

Midwest Living

Family Handyman

There’s copies of regional publication floating around out there as well, if you’re interested in more writing samples, just let me know!