But after that disastrous nosedive in Chile, he realized that while living his dreams was important, he needed something that would provide him with a steady income and lower risk for injury. He also wanted to contribute to society in a meaningful way. As a white-water guide, he had been trained as an EMT and enjoyed it, so he decided to become a registered nurse. He bought a fixer-upper in the nicest neighborhood of The Dalles, Ore., and started classes at Columbia Gorge Community College, which allowed him to be close to the rivers he knew. Jonathan earned his nursing degree in 2011 and began a career in community health, working at a migrant farmworker clinic in Hood River, Ore. Two years later, he moved to Seattle to get critical care experience at a larger hospital.
“Behind it all was a drive to have a lifestyle that supported the things that I really love doing, like being outside,” he explained. “Nursing offers a unique scheduling opportunity where you can work three days a week and still be full-time.”
He stacked his nursing shifts to work six days straight and have eight days off. After finishing an overnight shift on the sixth day, he would grab his bags and head to Sea-Tac Airport for an overnight flight to his next adventure. He would sleep on the plane, spend a week kayaking and visiting friends, and catch a flight home to land just in time for his first shift back.
Eight years after devising this plan, Jonathan is still a world traveler and kayaker. This winter, he went to New Zealand, Peru, Hawai`i, and Mexico. He works part time in critical care at a small hospital in The Gorge, Ore., and guides during the summers.