AMERICAN FORK — Can you imagine loving your summer job so much that you never leave it? An American Fork man who has spent 45 years leading tours at Timpanogos Cave after taking a summer job there knows exactly what it's like to love a job that much.
Jay Allen's day starts at 7:45 a.m. and his commute to work is a mile and a half hike, with a one thousand foot climb in elevation. But he said he doesn't mind at all.
"No better job on this earth than to come to Timpanogos cave, hike the trail and meet the people and cool off in the cave everyday," Allen said.
That first summer at the cave in 1968, when Allen was 22, dramatically changed his career path.
"I liked this so much I never made it to medical school," he said. "It's a lot funner to play in a park than to work in a doctor's office."
Allen became a science teacher at American Fork High School and said he has kept the cave job all these years, because he loves it.
Even though he's guided thousands of tours over the years, leading tens of thousands of visitors through the cave, it still doesn't get old. He's even training another generation of guides.
Sseeing people's faces light up as they learn something new, in the darkness of the cave, is what Allen finds most rewarding.
Allen said that at his age, he takes the job one day at a time, but doesn't plan on retiring as long as he can keep hiking to the cave.
"Well you know what, everyday things are interesting," he said. "I think that is why I keep coming back, because every day there is one good challenge that catches your attention."
You can find Jay at the cave Sunday through Wednesday. However, this is the peak season, so be sure you make reservations a few days in advance of when you plan your cave tour.