A living? For the last several years I've done writing and editing: books, scientific & technical papers, field manuals, planning documents, etc. Before that I worked for the US Forest Service running a project that monitored air and water pollution in the Bridger Wilderness (the Wind River Range). We packed a tiny Avon raft up to 10-11,000 feet to sample alpine lakes and did lots of ski mountaineering in winter to collect snow samples. Also taught field sessions in environmental sampling and outdoor skills, both for the FS and freelance.
Writing about the outdoors and gear, I got in the habit of documenting what I do, like framebuilding or wrapping oars, which is made really easy by digital cameras. I also enjoy teaching people how to do stuff. So posting on the BUZZ is a pleasure.
But the writing thing has been a scramble the last few years (and looks worse for the future), so I've been working on fluvial geomorphology (how landforms are created by flowing water) for a grad degree in Geography/ Water Resources. I've got lots of experience in fieldwork but need a credential to earn decent money. Just finished the classes and am at work on a thesis— using paleo-stage indicators to track flood levels back several thousand years. Pretty cool subject for a boater.
(photo by Mike Daniels)
Used a Pack Cat and my old climbing rope for a channel survey— too deep and slick for wading. (tail of Stovepipe Rapid on the North Platte)
Here's a study site with beautiful lichen trimlines (showing longterm flood levels). Excuse a plug: Pack Cats (jpwinc.com) are perfect for field science. You can stand on the bottom to take samples or pix without leaving the boat.
If you study something water-related (aquatic biology, hydrology, water quality chemistry) you can use your boating skills at work. Lots of tough water issues on the horizon, so it should be a good area, jobwise.
For more free time: don't have kids, buy stuff you can't afford, watch TV, become a serious sportsfan, or hang out in bars. Also, don't spend your time worrying what to do— just do something.