Jon was born in New Orleans and grew up exploring the forests and bayous that cover the South. From the beginning his family was, and still is, an outdoor family. Family vacations centered around camping, hiking, and fishing. In 2007 while going to college in Chicago to be a teacher, he felt that his life was lacking adventure. So, he dropped everything and headed north to explore Alaska. While in Alaska he decided that working the rest of his life at a desk was not going to work and that somehow he was going to make a living outside. After returning to the lower 48 he moved to Wyoming and started guiding backcountry trips. He did eventually become a teacher. His love of learning led him to Montana State Billings where he got a degree in Outdoor Education and then on to Plymouth State University where he received his M.Ed. in Experiential Education and Development. When he’s not guiding you can find him teaching natural science to elementary school students. Jon has done all sorts of guiding, from wilderness therapy and adjudicated youth trips to technical guiding in the mountains. By far his favorite guiding is adventure travel, it’s the perfect setting to blend his love for teaching with his love for getting people outside.
In his off time, you can find Jon and his wife Liyah hiking, camping, or wandering the Western United States with their dog Roscoe.
When did you first catch the travel bug?
I first caught the travel bug in 2000, when my family moved to the London suburbs. Most weekends were spent were driving through the English countryside visiting castles, or sites like Stonehenge and the Roman baths. On long weekends we would hop across the channel, that was where I really caught the bug. Visiting great museums, like the Van Gogh Museum, the Louvre, Musei Capitolini and seeing the collections at the Vatican, had a huge impact on me at a young age. It instilled a lifelong love of visiting museums where ever I go and admittedly added an academic slant to my travel. Still today I rarely pass up a museum, no matter how small.
What’s your favorite vacation destination?
It’s hard to pick a favorite vacation spot, but Yellowstone is up there. I love any place with interesting natural history, lots of animals, someplace to get away from the crowds and good museums. Yellowstone is the most geologically significant park in the United States. The activity of the caldera and the accessibility and density of volcanic features is unmatched. The park is also home to amazing human history like that of the Clovis and Folsom people. Being the most intact example of a western ecosystem, Yellowstone also has some of the best wildlife watching of any park. The backcountry is large and uncrowded, waiting for anyone willing to hike. The NPS museums are well done, and the staff is knowledgeable. It’s hard to beat Yellowstone that’s for sure!
What’s your favorite hike?
My favorite hike is the Old Glacier trail out of Dubois Wyoming. 20 miles of hiking through deep valleys, carved in pre-Cambrian granite, brings you to the state highpoint, Gannet Peak. The valley along Dinwoody Creek is an excellent place to spot grizzlies, moose, and the occasional wolf. It’s unspoiled and remote, it doesn’t get much better than that!
What’s your favorite bike ride?
My favorite bike ride is the Illinois Prairie Path, from Geneva to Chicago. As you ride along the La Fox river you ride through, farms, mills, small towns, quarries, and past families fishing and picnicking. As you get closer to the city, the farms turn in to packing plants and factories, and then eventually to city blocks. You pass over the Des Plains River, through Garfield Park, past the Sears Tower and finally end on the lakefront, at Buckingham Fountain. It might not be as traditionally scenic as say a ride through Glacier, but I rode it many times in high school and college, and I think it is quintessentially midwestern.
As a child my favorite book was always Jules Vern’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. It was the first book I picked up and couldn’t put down. For me, a child growing up on the gulf coast, the descriptions of fantastic underwater battles, mythical sea monsters and high adventure let my imagination run wild every time I saw the water. As an adult I was lucky enough to come across a new translation that was far more faithful to the original. It went from a children’s book about adventure to a book about the obligations of morality and what it means to stand for something, of course still set against the backdrop of high adventure beneath the sea.