Call it a mid-life career crisis. You see, I got my start in the gov't a couple of hundred miles to the north in the deserts of eastern Oregon. Back in the late 80's I wanted to work for the Park Service. I had a vision of becoming a ranger giving talks about geology and such. I was offered a volunteer position for the Bureau of Land Management after I graduated in 1987 and I had an absolute blast! I really liked that agency. They were the Park Service's ugly sister. I used to drive all over the desert. I would frequently be so far out that I was probably the only person in 20 miles. I came back the next year as a geologist and had just as great a time, even better because I was actually being paid. I was then asked to come back the next Summer and do some hydrology work. I loved that work as well. I would walk miles of streams recording their biologic and hydrologic health. I found a calling. This is what I wanted to do! The problem was that it was pretty difficult to get a fed job if you were on the outside. I got my name on the register and I waited. And waited. And waited. I ended up with the Forest Service for a short stint but I kept struggling to get that first permanent job that would get me into the federal clubhouse. Finally I was offered another temporary position. At the same time I was offered a different temp. job with an Indian tribe. I really wanted to work for the BLM, but I wanted to do hydrologic work that the Indian job would afford me. I made my decision in a room at the Motel 6 in Yakima Washington. If the last apartment complex I called didn't have a vacancy, I would take the BLM job. If I found a room, I would work for the Indians. It turned out they had one apartment open up that day. My career path was chosen on that day.
I worked for the Indians for a couple of years and was finally offered a fed job. It wasn't for the BLM like I had hoped but with the Bureau of Reclamation. I jumped at the chance because a permanent job was a permanent job. I ended up doing ground water work which is not what I had wanted to do, but I gained a hell of a lot of experience. I moved to river operations and was very happy there. I liked being in control of rivers. I'm still doing the same thing, and that's where the fear of stagnation kicks in. I have 15 years to go before retirement. Do I want to be doing this in 15 years? The short answer is that, yes, I think I could do this as long as there was a lot of variety to keep things interesting. The long answer is that yes, I could do this but am I selling out a longtime dream in the name of comfort? I miss the days of spending all day out in the field looking at streams or rocks. I have become a desk jockey. I have my Internets, but I feel like this desk is chained to my leg. I used to spend a lot of weekends visiting old mine sites. Wouldn't t be great to be able to do that and get paid for it?
I'm still very much in the air about all of this. I worried about changing jobs in the past I was not even contacted fot an interview. I have to evaluate what I want to do for the next few years. Do I want the amenities of the big city, or do I want the slower pace of a po-dunk town. Can a blue state guy like me survive in the heart of a red state? Is it worth it to give up the bright lights of the big city so that I can see the stars at night again?