The Sunday Post #312

The Sunday Post is a chance to recap the past week, talk about next week, tell you what I’m reading, and share news. It’s hosted by The Caffeinated Book ReviewerReaderbuzz, and Book Date.

The Sunday Post #312

On The Blog Recently

In The Rest Of My Life

Last week, I blathered about the end of my work season and told you to ask me questions about being a park ranger. Now I'm going to answer the questions and show off some random park pictures I found on my phone.

(If you don't care about the ranger stuff, then you should probably click away now. I totally understand if you're going, "Ma'am, this is a book blog." There will be books on Tuesday, I swear!)

Where did you work, and did you live in the park?

I don't think I'm allowed to say where I work. They're really strict about what we post online. I can't even post selfies of me in my uniform! It's a state park. It's located on the high plains. It has a lake. It's near Denver. That's probably vague enough.

I did not live in the park because I wouldn't have been able to bring baby Brooklyn with me. Living in the park would have made the commute a lot shorter though!

Are you an EMT? Did you train as an EMT?

Nope. Some of my coworkers are former EMTs, but I've only taken a 4-hour CPR and first aid course. I'll probably take more medical classes this winter.

You got pepper sprayed in the face?!?!!

I did. It was part of my training. I wrote about it ---> here. It sucked.

You have to re-interview for your job next year?

Yep. The park starts hiring in January. If someone applies for my job and is more qualified than me, I'll have to get a different job.

Control tower for the dam on the left. Boat ramp on the right.

What does it take to be a park ranger?

Well, you spend most of your time working with the public. So . . . a sense of humor and epic amounts of patience.

Good things that happened during the season?

Goofing around with my coworkers. Seeing cool wildlife and weather. Meeting people from all over the world. Driving a truck up a creek to search for an elk herd.

I like seeing the creative ways that people use parks. I love when people put massive amounts of energy into joyfully stupid activities. For example: A group used sidewalk chalk to create a 4.5-mile-long hopscotch grid in the park. (Yes, I played hopscotch on it. No, I did not hop the entire 4.5 miles.)

The Witch's Paddle was cool too. Around 400 people in Halloween costumes showed up to paddleboard and hang out on the beach.

The backside of the dam.

Bad things that happened during the season?

Medical emergencies every weekend. A man drowned. There was a nasty motorcycle crash. I saw a loose dog get annihilated by a pickup truck. I caught COVID, and it kicked my ass for 8 days. Then there's your daily dose of difficult customers.

What animals did you see?

Tons of them! The "every day" animals are deer, coyotes, prairie dogs, rabbits, squirrels, bull snakes, magpies, hawks, lots of different water birds. Turtles, fish, lizards, and frogs. Oh, and spiders and mice. Spiders and mice everywhere.

The "sometimes" animals are bald eagles, golden eagles, elk, rattlesnakes, black widows, turkeys, owls, beavers, and muskrats. I've seen black bears and moose in the park, but not this season.

A coworker left this note on our office whiteboard. It says, "Beware of baby rattlesnakes around shop. If found, do not pick up by hand!" You'd think that would be obvious, but nope. We need a reminder to grab the bucket and snake sticks before messing with the baby rattlesnakes.

Most surprising part of your job?

This was my first year as a ranger, but I've actually been working in the park since 2019. I used to work in Visitor Services. Not a lot surprised me because I had a pretty solid idea of what I was getting myself into.

I was surprised by the amount of trash in the park. I picked up so much trash! And there was always more trash!

I was surprised by how scary it is to mind the business of strangers. I have to answer radio calls and walk into situations with only a hazy idea of what's going on. One time, I overheard an angry dude screaming at his girlfriend. All my instincts were like, Stay away from angry dudes! That's how you get murdered! But, no, I had to go and get involved with the angry dude.

I was surprised by the number of people who recorded me on their phones. I'd be selling park passes or cleaning up trash on the side of the road. Then I'd look around and notice someone pointing their phone at me. Why? What are they expecting me to do? Now I know how the wild animals feel with all the tourists gawking at them.

I was surprised by the number of people who came up to me and said, "Thank you for your service." I'm not in the military! I thought that was a military thing! It freaks me out because it feels like stolen valor or something. I'm just a park ranger. I'm not even a very good park ranger!

Crazy stories of people you encountered?

Of course! There's never a shortage of those. Here are four for you:

1. The rangers got a report of a person (potentially) missing in the lake. We got all the tourists out of the water and onto the beach. I was walking through the crowd and looking for witnesses or anyone who was missing a family member. It's a scary situation.

A little girl walked up to me and said, "How much longer will it take you to find the drowned person? I came here to swim, and I haven't been allowed to swim yet. I'm getting impatient."

Um . . . I'm sorry, Kindergarten Karen. I will speed this search along so you can get your laps done. Dang. The kids are cold-hearted.

2. Another female ranger and I were setting up stuff for an outdoor educational event. We were trying to sledgehammer rebar into the ground so we could hang signs on it. It wasn't going well because the rebar kept hitting rocks. A man walked past us and said, "Who let women be rangers? And who gave them a hammer?" He didn't offer to help.

3. I was doing traffic control immediately after a motorcycle accident. A lady got mad because we hadn't put up Detour or Road Closed signs yet. Um . . . do you really not see the motorcycle carnage or the unconscious gentleman in the street? We have priorities, madam! The signs need to wait until we do something about the unconscious dude.

4. I failed to explain death to a customer:

Woman: "I have Shayleen's lifetime annual pass. Shayleen died."
Me: "I'm sorry to hear that."
Woman: "Can her pass be moved to my account?"
Me: "Unfortunately, no. The pass belongs to Shayleen."
Woman: "But Shayleen is dead. I married her husband. Can the pass be moved to his account."
Me: "No. The pass belongs to Shayleen. It can't be transferred. It became void when she died."
Woman: "This is a very rare and expensive lifetime pass!"
Me: "I understand—"
Woman: "It's a lifetime pass! It never expires! That's the definition of lifetime!"
Me: "It's Shayleen's lifetime pass. Shayleen is no longer living. Her lifetime pass is void because she has no life."
Woman: ". . . ."
Me: ". . . ."
Woman: "This makes absolutely no sense."

Join The Madness

Take care of yourselves and be kind to each other. See you around the blogosphere!