Everyone has a story, history or herstory.

I was born and raised in the western Chicago suburbs.  Trouble was my middle name for wandering off through the neighborhood leaving my bicycle in one front yard while headed out the back door to another house and then down the street.  Wandering is in my blood.

Grow up?  Never!

As part of the work-study program in high school I was given a job dusting shelves in a local mall store.  Boring.  I Hate Housework, so dusting was not high on my motivational list. (Today I call the dust velvet and just live with it.)  Instead I found a job as a go-go girl, dancing for two hours a day at lunch time, four days a week at $10/hour cash, plus tips.  Unfortunately, the school principle insisted “quit the job or quit the program.”  I danced on and off for almost a year.

Upon graduation I was asked “what do you want to be when you grow up?”  My flippant reply, “a gypsy.”  I just knew that National Geographic would pay me to cross the country in a horse-drawn wagon along historic trails writing and taking photos along the way.

Either that, or go to the Chicago Art Institute and become a famous artist.  But my Mom informed me “artists starve, better get a job.”  So I waited tables and worked in offices as a clerk and secretary.  Thank goodness for those typing skills learned in high school, both then and now.

During my early 20s I moved to California, the land of golden opportunity.  HA!.  I lived and worked just south of San Francisco for a year, two jobs using both my skills still couldn’t pay the rent.

With tail between my legs, I returned to the parental home.  I wanted to go to college but had no money, or financial and motivational support from my family. Come on, I was raised to become a wife and mother.  Not something I was eager to pursue, and yet…

The marriage thing

Instead I returned to waiting tables, this time at a fine dining restaurant and was quickly promoted to day hostess, then night hostess and banquet manager, and eventually night manager.  I met my future, and now ex, husband there.  We lived together for my required year with his 5 and 10-year old children before getting married.  At 26 years old I quit working outside the home and devoted myself to being the best Mom I could, and enjoying my then current craft hobby of stained glass.

Soon after, on an amazing vacation canoeing with the kids in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, hubby and I decided that suburban life just wasn’t for us.  And so we moved west.  He wanted to return to his native Alaska but because I was a little nervous about that big jump we settled on Washington State.

Then we bought into the American dream and bought a house, new rig, old farm truck, horses, a cow (which we ate), snowmobiles, boat, cabin on the lake, dirt bikes, snow skies, camping equipment…..  You get the idea.  Plus I opened a small business, a craft consignment store, where I continued to pursue my stained glass while supporting local artists.

Ten years later, we filed a quarter million dollar bankruptcy, walking away from our house and debt.  I felt ashamed, lost and confused.  We moved, but stayed in Washington.

I went to therapy and successfully got rid of some very old baggage.  Then started taking classes at the local community college.  I started to bloom, to find myself again.  An out building in the yard became a studio where I taught stained glass through the local Community College.

We bought a small sailboat as my husband’s dream was to cruise the world.  The travel part of that plan captured my heart and after selling almost all our belongings we moved aboard and I learned to be a first mate.  I also quickly learned that sailing is fun but, I’m a terrestrial person and didn’t relish the idea of being out of sight of land.  Thus began a very rocky, or in this case wavy, part of my marriage.

A grown up Girl Scout

I continued with my education and earned an Associates degree.  Separated from my husband on and off, I moved to Bellingham, Washington and eventually earned my Bachelors degree in Environmental Education and Mass Communication at Huxley College, Western Washington University.  My paid internship took me to Mount Saint Helens National Monument as a seasonal Interpretive Park Ranger.  I fell in love with my job.  Couldn’t believe someone would pay me to talk about natural and cultural history of a place.

Life moves on

By then 14 years of marriage had passed, many of them not so good.  But we tried one more time and made a plan to drive our pickup with camper through Mexico, Central America and South America.  We had always gotten along better when traveling than when settled down.  But even seven months exploring the wonders of Mexico couldn’t save our defunct marriage.

While my soon to be ex-husband delivered a boat from Cancun, Mexico to Galveston, Texas I flew back to the States and regained employment at Mt St Helens.  To discover where my adventures as a Park Ranger have taken me go to Parks Where I’ve worked.

Addicted to Blog

In 2008 I started blogging at the suggestion of a dear friend known in the cyberworld as FabGrandma.  I never thought I’d share so much of myself online.  Yet I’ve made so many wonderful friends from around the world.  And thus pushed me off the continent in 2010 when I spent a month exploring South Africa, part of the time with a fellow blogger.  My dream of seeing the world had begun.

And now I’m addicted to South Africa returning for two months in 2013 and three months in 2014.

I’m still working on that 18 year-old dream.  Can you hear me National Geographic?  I still want to travel, write, take photographs, and (someday) get paid for it all.

Hope you’ll continue to follow my journey.

If you have any questions I’m kind of an open book so feel free to ask.



  1. Gaelyn..Terrific, absolutely love the layers and content of your new blog. Where south of San Francisco…I lived 25 years in Half Moon Bay..? And the sailing and Mexico travel…a lot in common!

  2. Very interesting life! I have enjoyed reading and I feel Iike I have known you forever!

  3. I love the way you tell it!! 😉

    May I be flippant… some girl, you are!!

    Keep on doing it your way! You’re an insperation to us all… and, just so you’re the first to know… I’m soon going to ba able to do the canals on water… VERY exciting news in the offing!!

    I’m going to become a part time water gypsy… 😉

  4. Such a rich tapestry of a life, Gaelyn. The Grand Canyon suits you just fine, I’m thinking. Can’t imagine you anywhere else for long, but understand the need to explore and see new things. I love what you’ve done with your blog. Very nice. Inspirational, actually. XO!

  5. Hello from some fellow travelers, RVers, and seasonal Park Rangers (Glacier & Arches) love your blog! Hopefully we’ll make it to GRCA in the near future to meet you 🙂

    Jon & Leigh – Our Sunny Days

  6. Rick Olmsted Reply to Rick

    Wow Gaelyn,

    My dad, Keith Olmsted was born in Illinois May 8. 1936. His dad’s name was Tyrone Ward Olmsted, known as Ward. I don’t know anything about Dad’s mom, she died giving birth to dad, to my understanding. So, I never knew anything about her. My dad had a step-brother named Bob Olmsted. I’m currently in facebook contact with Bob Olmsted Jr. Learned that Bob Sr, built the dorms that I lived in, at Rhien Mainz Air Base in Germany. Felt weird to learn that a place that I was Stationed at and loved. My Uncle helped build back in 1945-1947 and I was Stationed there 1981-1984. Sorry to say, Government closed the base down in 2005. The Frankfurt International Airport bought the land, tore the base down and built terminals there. Prior to it being a base, it was where they built the Hindenburg Blimp at.

    Do you recognize any of these names, from your neck of the woods 🙂 Cuz.

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