While Theresa was getting her doctorate in molecular and cell biology at Berkeley, we spent most of our spare time traveling to Yosemite for rock climbing. So when we had the chance to take a long hiatus after her postdoc, we came to Yosemite with the plan of climbing when we felt good and job-hunting on our rest days.
In the end, we just never quite managed to leave. We have been living and working year-round in Yosemite ever since. Our passion for climbing transformed into a passion for natural history, trail running, hiking, mountain biking and snow shoveling (though we still dust off the climbing gear from time to time). We’ve worked in the park as ski instructors (both), a ranger (Tom), assistant manager of the mountaineering school (Theresa), online marketing manager (Theresa) and telecommuting as a historian and later web developer (Tom… it’s a long story). We’ve also been known to clean houses and repair roofs to support our Yosemite habit.
Encouraged by friends who had managed to pull off this home-ownership thing, we bought an empty lot in 2005, and started building. We moved in upstairs, and then in 2010, finished the apartment downstairs and started renting.
Now, four years into it (writing this in April 2014), we have a bit of perspective. When we started, we just knew that we wanted to treat people the way we would want to be treated ourselves. We didn’t want to nickel and dime people with add-on charges or leave them to fend for themselves with cast-off utensils in the kitchen that weren’t good enough for us. We wanted our place to be relaxing and feel like home and, in fact, one of the most common comments we get from people is they felt like they were coming home at the end of a day.
What took us longer to realize was that one of the main things we offered people was advice and orientation. At first, we were hesitant to “bother” people, but we quickly came to realize that in a vast park like Yosemite (1200 square miles, the size of Rhode Island), people usually need help getting settled and putting together a plan of action. We also had no idea the sort of connections we would make with people. Now we’re at the point where some people have made five or six visits with us and we’re starting to see their kids grow up and know them as friends. We even randomly had one guest show up who was a very close friend of someone who played a brief but pivotal role in Tom’s life almost 30 years earlier (how we figured out that connection is a story in and of itself). Anyway, it’s been a great journey so far and we hope you’ll join us for a small piece of it if you’re coming our way.