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  • Working (and Living) on the Edge: Grand Canyon’s Unusual Occupations 1

    Trading Traffic for the Grand Canyon

Picture this: you finally pull yourself away from work, make your way to the freeway and it’s stop-and-go traffic. “Get a life!” the bumper sticker on the car in front of you seems to be yelling directly at you. You sit there blank-faced with your head still pounding from this afternoon’s meeting. Your patience wears thin when you hear yet another car honking its horn, so you give in to instinct and shout back at the bumper sticker, “I have a perfectly good life, thank you very much!” There is something about hearing yourself shout these words. As you inch your way home that evening, you think about your life. If you’re being honest, you know it isn’t perfect, but what would a perfect life look like? You recall riding horses on your parents’ farm as a child. You always pictured your life going in that direction – working with animals, taking in the sunset after a long day of meaningful work outside. Is it too late?Fast forward six months and your commute has changed entirely. There are no cars in sight; no bumper stickers, no exhaust fumes and no road construction. The pace is easy, the scenery breathtaking and the company friendly. You can feel the sun on your face and when you inhale, your lungs fill with fresh air and you smell the faint scent of pine. You’ve traded in your SUV for a much more adventurous ride: a mule called Rosita. And your new job? You’re a Mule Wrangler in the Grand Canyon.The Grand Canyon is one of the seven natural wonders of the world and you have the privilege of guiding visitors down into the depths of the canyon and back out again, telling them all about its rich history, the wildlife, the plant life and everything else that makes it so majestic. Each guest comes to the Canyon wanting a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and you get to help deliver.In your old life, your days consisted of delivering presentations in a beige meeting room, hoping to capture attention with PowerPoint slides and a well-organized agenda. Now, you’ve replaced PowerPoint slides with views of million-year-old canyons, and you traded in your agenda for a real-life adventure. As much as the guests see you as “the-one-who-knows-all”, you are still learning something new with every mule ride down into the Canyon.You have finally found your people. You live in a community with new friends, who were all called to the Grand Canyon for reasons like your own. You sit down to share meals, stories, experiences,and laughs. In your off-hours, you go hiking and climbing. Though you each have a different story, you were all drawn here by the same things: a passion for this magnificent place and a desire to make a meaningful life.Your work here is more than a job. It’s a lifestyle. Every day is a different adventure and best of all; you get to call the Grand Canyon home. If you ever see that bumper sticker again, you may shout at it, but this time it would be a thank-you for giving you the nudge you needed to get out of that stop-and-go traffic and onto a mule for the ride of a lifetime. Explore careers at Grand Canyon National Park