We had the good fortune of connecting with Olivia Hale and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Olivia, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
To put it simply, the life I’m living now would be impossible without risk.

After college and getting married, my husband Colton and I tried settling into what we thought would be the new normal of our adulthood. Truth be told, I chose nursing as my major and profession because I didn’t know what else to do. We moved into my late grandparent’s home on our family farm in Ohio because it’s all I’d ever known. It was only about a year into that life that I started to feel a craving for something more.

We’d always loved the outdoors. As broke college kids, we fell in love hiking the trails near our campus. I remember hearing about travel nursing just before the pandemic started and thought, “gosh, I wish I had the courage to try that out.”

A simple interest developed into a deep desire and before I knew it, I was speaking words out loud to my husband I hadn’t really had the courage to tell myself: I wanted to take a risk.

To say I was an anxious ball of nerves is the understatement of a lifetime. But nearly 2 years later, I can’t begin to explain what this risk has done for my life and career. Sure, things aren’t always easy. We live in an RV, thousands of miles from family and friends. But for the first time in my life, I’m allowing what brings me joy to dictate my career and decisions instead of the other way around . I’m following my heart and am so much happier for it. We’ve been able to visit NM, AZ, OR, and WA state hiking trails and visiting places I used to only stare at on a screen. Now, I am not only grateful for my career in nursing- I don’t know where I’d be without it.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Outwardly, I’m a nurse. But on the inside, I’ve always been a creative at heart. I stumbled through wanting to be an actress, an author, a poet, a wedding photographer, an Etsy shop owner- you name it, I’ve tried it. I’ve had countless poems rejected, a mediocre Etsy business, and a pile of old business cards labeling me as a photographer who lights up with confidence in front of a group of groomsmen I’ve never met (which couldn’t be further from the truth).

Truth be told, I can find some fulfillment in all these things- because there are aspects of it that I do enjoy. But it wasn’t until I started to align my creative side with my favorite hobby of hiking that I really found my inspiration.

Travel nursing has given me the opportunity to further explore and express my love for adventure and outdoor brand photography. The more hiking and camping we’ve done, the more I’ve discovered that documenting these places and showing the outdoor gear at work-the way it was intended, lights me up inside. There’s something beautifully tragic about trying to capture a picture of nature in the same light that you see it in the flesh.

It’s been a challenge. We live in a day and age where “photographers” are a dime a dozen. Having a platform on social media seems to be the only thing that defines success and earns the eyes of brands that may potentially provide payment and in turn, validation. In a lot of ways, I’m still stuck in this chapter of trying to make of name for myself. But the best thing I’ve learned along the way is that if it never works out the way I envision it- who cares? As long as it makes me happy, I’m not going to stop. And that’s really all the validation that I need.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Right now, I’m finishing up a travel nursing contract in Cottonwood, Arizona- which, in my opinion, is such a perfect central area for so many cool places in the state!

I would definitely make a trip to Sedona one of my top priorities! Devil’s Bridge trail is popular for obvious reasons, so I would make a point to try and get anyone visiting to see it. But Sedona is so much more than Devil’s Bridge, so I would probably try to spend an entire day or two there- maybe rent some ATVs, do a few other trails (I love Soldiers Pass, Boynton Canyon, and Broken Arrow), walk the main drag and shop for souvenirs, and then BLM camping in our Jeep’s roof top tent would be a nonnegotiable. There is something really magical about being out camping staring up at all stars in the desert night sky. If we were really trying to get the full experience, I’d get us a Northern Lights sunrise hot air balloon ride over Sedona. My husband, Colton, and I did that for my birthday and it was so incredible I cried tears of joy.

Coming down from the high of Sedona, I would spend some time hanging out in Old Town Cottonwood. If it were my dad visiting, I would without a doubt take him to Colt Grill for some mouth-watering brisket. If it were a close girlfriend in town, I would have us start the day with a stop at Crema Craft Kitchen for a brunch of mimosas and their killer egg croissant breakfast sandwich. After brunch, we’d walk the shops of Old Town and eventually stop at Bocce for some late afternoon Mojitos (my favorite) and a pizza to share.

Another spot I would recommend checking out is Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix. With over 50 acres of differing species of cacti to see, I know anyone visiting the state for the first time would be easily blown away by this stop!

A few honorable mentions are taking a visit to Watson Lake in Prescott or checking out Tonto Natural Bridge State Park. Watson Lake is such a cool area because the landscape differs so much from the surrounding areas. Renting a kayak to explore the lake or taking the loop trail around the water are both things we’ve done and really enjoyed! Tonto Natural Bridge State Park is a little less known about. We visited one of our first weekends here on a whim and ended up being really impressed by it. If you’re physically able to hike down to the travertine bridge, it’s so worth it!

All of these suggestions are outdoors, but it’s what I love! And Arizona is one of my favorite states to spend time in because the landscape differs so drastically, there’s always something new to explore!

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I wouldn’t be anywhere close to where I am without the continual support and challenging of my therapist. I think mental health is still such a taboo topic in the world today. We’re made to believe someone has to be weak or mentally ill to go to therapy. That couldn’t be further than the truth. In my opinion, everyone should go!

Instagram: @hale.on.a.trail

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutArizona is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.