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Huntington native lets her traveling feet take her around the United States and more
Lauren M. Wilson - Wednesday, January 2, 2013 4:24 PM
Originally published Dec. 31, 2012.
Margaret Hartman doesn't stay in one place for long.
The Huntington native has lived or worked in 12 different places across the globe in the past four years.
"I just couldn't take the idea of the same place forever," she says.
Her journeys began when a friend mentioned knowing someone who had recently returned from a seasonal job in Alaska.
Hartman was immediately intrigued by the idea.
She says she had just graduated from Ivy Tech with an Associate in Applied Science in medical assisting.
"I graduated with a degree I suddenly didn't want to use," she says. "I felt the light at the end of the tunnel fading.
"I have always yearned for excitement and new stimuli," she says. "When I was a child we moved three times, and when my parents were my age they moved eight or more times ... I think it is hereditary."
It was December 2007, and she decided to perform an Internet search for "seasonal jobs."
She says the search returned a specific result, the website www.coolworks.com.
Hartman used the site to apply for two seasonal jobs, "something near Mount Rushmore and Glacier National Park."
She says she got jobs at both places, but ended up picking a serving job at a restaurant in Glacier National Park, located in West Glacier, MT.
So in June 2008, Hartman left Huntington for the first time since her family moved here when she was in middle school.
Hartman worked at Glacier National Park from June to September that year.
She says she had great natural views from the windows in the restaurant where she worked.
She spent her down time "hiking, canoeing, kayaking, cliff jumping, swimming, camping and mountain climbing."
Hartman remembers her first seasonal job experience fondly, describing it as "so exciting and wonderful."
After the summer season wrapped up, she says she went on a 2,500-mile road trip by herself.
"I went from Glacier (National Park) to the Pacific Coast Highway and down to Oregon, across the desert and then back up to northern Minnesota," she recalls.
After her road trip was over, she returned home to Huntington, but left again in October when she moved to Steamboat Ski Resort, in Steamboat Springs, CO.
Here she worked as a server in a restaurant at the resort that was - just like the restaurant in Montana - surrounded by spectacular natural views.
While in Colorado Hartman learned to snowboard, as well as enjoying more hiking and camping.
After completing her first year of seasonal work, she says, "I never looked back.
"I could have gone anywhere in the world and never felt regret."
Hartman stayed in Colorado until April 2009, when she again returned to Huntington for a short time.
The summer of 2009 was a busy one, as she volunteered at the Bonnaroo Music Festival in Tennessee, traveled overseas to Sweden where she sang with Village Harmony - a nonprofit corporation that sponsors world music programs - and then returned to Glacier National Park in Montana to work from July to September.
Hartman says her international travels are the most fun to talk about.
While in Sweden, she lived in a hostel in the countryside and sang morning, noon and night. She wrapped up her trip by traveling the country for two weeks performing.
After another summer wrapped up in Montana, Hartman came home again.
She didn't stay home for long, though.
Winter of 2009 brought Hartman to Stowe Mountain Ski Resort, in Stowe, VT.
This was one of her longest stints, lasting nearly a year, where she worked at a restaurant called Cliff House.
The restaurant is situated atop Mt. Mansfield, the highest mountain in Vermont. Hartman made the trek up the 4,395-foot mountain each day, just to get to work.
The restaurant has floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the mountaintop and offers gondola rides to its guests.
At the ski resort she says she enjoyed snowshoeing, snowboarding and skiing in her free time.
When she returned home in October 2010 she stayed for two months.
In December, she was on her way to the other end of the country - Florida.
She lived in Naples, FL, for four months, where she worked in a fine dining restaurant as a server.
"Naples was a little different," she says. "I spent my time on the beach, camping, kayaking and tried long boarding."
After leaving Florida, she traveled overseas to South Korea to visit a friend who teaches English there.
"South Korea was all just for fun," Hartman says. "I spent two weeks going to national parks and hiking, going to nightclubs and drinking tea at little cafes ... we went to Seoul by train, where I walked all over the city and rode the subway."
She says she also went to the Demilitarized Zone and toured the North Korean border and Panmunjom, an abandoned village between North and South Korea.
Once back in the states, she was off to Isle Royale National Park in Michigan. The island is located in Lake Superior, and is accessible only by ferry.
Hartman worked as a server, again, but spent "most of my days off portaging 80-pound canoes and camping in remote areas."
On this island, she says life was very secluded. Hartman seldom had access to a cell phone or Internet service and kept in touch with her friends and family at home by writing letters.
The National Park Service describes the island as a "rugged, isolated island where wolves and moose abound, far from the sights and sounds of civilization."
Hartman says she is proud of herself for sticking to it and enjoying her time on the island.
Yet, travel finally began to wear on Hartman after returning from Michigan, and she decided to spend some time a bit closer to home.
From September 2011 to August 2012, she rented an apartment in Indianapolis and worked as a barista at a Starbucks.
"I walked and biked a whole bunch. I toured the metropolis and got a feel for ‘city' life," she says.
Hartman enjoyed the opportunity to experience life in a big city, but she says she prefers working in national parks or more natural settings.
Those natural settings drew her to northern Italy in the fall of 2012 for one month, where she spent her time woofing - staying and working with locals - on an organic farm.
Hartman says she spent her time cleaning, baking, cooking, feeding animals and winterizing beehives.
She's currently living in Boyne, MI, and working at Boyne Mountain Resort. She does not know when she will return home from the resort, but she does have plans for the coming fall.
For the first time in years she will put down some roots at Northern Michigan University in Marquette, MI, where she will live and study fisheries and wildlife management.
She still has the itch to travel, though.
"I plan to study abroad at some point while I'm there," she says. "I want definitely want to do seasonal work in the summer months."
After four years of studying, she says she wants to buy a home with land to "start a self sustaining farm and raise a family."
After everything she has experienced, she says she has learned that "most people and places are very similar."
She says she has learned that "people are kind."
As she describes her travels, she says she has met many people who have lived in one place their whole lives.
"I was just passing through their land so I saw nothing but beauty and excitement, but for them it was a thorn in their side - a place filled with drudgery," she says.
She says that, although traveling "may appear glamorous," it has shown her just how much her home has to offer.
On the other side of the coin, she says she knows that some people would view her lifestyle as negative.
"Anyone who would look at it as negative has probably never done it. I get it. It is hard to understand things you have never tried.
"In fact, I also think it is negative ... even people who have done it don't do it as often or as aggressively as I have, so they may nay-say."
But for Hartman, it is all worth it.
"I have seen the tops of mountains and moose swimming in pristine lakes. I have met people from all over the world who have taught me ways to live that I could never have understood before. I've seen the sunrise in South Korea and set in Oregon, so when I die I will never say, ‘I wish I would have.'
"In the end, it's my life."
Complete caption: Margaret “Maggie” Hartman, a Huntington native, has spent more than four years traveling the world. Here, she canoes at Isle Royale National Park in Houghton, MI, where she lived and worked for three months in the summer of 2011. The park is located on an island that the National Park Service describes as a “rugged, isolated island where wolves and moose abound, far from the sights and sounds of civilization.”