Thursday, December 31, 2009

Turtle Patrol

Turtle stranding season is in full swing now as we are seeing more and more stunned young turtles wash up. Most help we recieve requires volunteers walking the beaches on the sound side of the barrier islands to look for anything that has been stranded overnight. Recently I have been able to find 3 turtles, unfortunately no live ones. One of the smaller ones was fresh dead, so fresh that we probably only missed him by 12 hours or so. I did have one live one about 2 weeks ago that was transported successfully to rehab. It leaves you feeling slightly depressed when you meet ones you just missed being ablr to save. The turtle in the picture washed up and had been dead for a couple of days im guessing becasue it was starting to smell a little bit. This is a young Kemp's Ridley approx. 8-12 years old. They take 25 years to reach reproductive age so small as they may seem they actually have a number of years behind them.

Most of the strandings that we find are about the same age. This is becasue they are most vulnerable at this size to disease, cold, and wind. As youngsters these turtles are far out to sea, traveling thousands of miles. Being no bigger than the palm of your hand, they are living life near the ocean surface a ways out to sea feeding on plankton and numerous other floating particles that they can find. As they become larger they then return to the shallows where they can feed on larger creatures such as jellyfish, crabs, and snails. Some turtles like the Loggerhead have powerful jaws that can crush any hard shell and your fingers too if you accidently get them too close.
When the turtles first start coming into the shallows near Cape Hatteras they are still small enough that they can be pushed around my ocean currents. Both the Labarodar currents from the north and the Gulf Stream from the south meet at Cape Point causing strong water moments and awkward travel for these animals. During the winter months the goal is to find their way into the gulf stream which they will then stay in the warmer waters until spring. If the crazy island weather hits and there is a sudden cold snap, this is when we are on the lookout for cold stunned turtles. Being so small they do not have enough body fat yet to control temperature. If their body temperature drops too low this will cause a shutdown in their body systems and they become pretty helpless. We come then to find them washed up on the beaches unable to return to the water. These are the turtle that we know didnt make it to the Gulf Stream in time for the colder winter weather.

When coming across a turtle on the beach the first step to to see if there are any signs of life, which can sometimes be difficult if a turtle is really lathargic and out of it. By touching the back of the neck one can sometimes see some head movement. Also, tapping the inside of the front flipper will also trigger some reaction. Sometimes if we are still not sure we poke at the eye slightly to see if it will blink. If a turtle is found alive, the first thing to do it get it out of the water and off the beach. These animals can not be warmed quickly however ( 1 degree F per hour) wrapping them in a towel and keeping them dry is the best way to do so when they are being transported to the vet. There they will be treatting and hopefully released after some time in rehab. Last year over 100 turtles were found on the beaches and 38 successfully returned.

Coming to find a Kemp's Ridley in the sound side of the island (fresh dead).

Wind blown and tired...but a rewarding feeling.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Turkey and Wetsuits

As for hosting my first Thanksgiving it turned out rather well. Kaitlyn (neighbor from home) came up to visit for the holiday because she attends college a couple of hours west of Cape Hatteras and didnt intend on making the 12 hour drive to NY so we hung together for 3 days. We were in charge of the turkey, stuffing, pie, rolls, and gravy. Having never prepared a turkey on my own before I was a little skeptical. The 3 others that joined us included Rachelle and Jenn and Jeff who are they newly weds in the nps neighborhood. They brought the rest.

Most of the preparation details were passed on to me because I was actually willing to take control of the situation. This included removing the neck and giblits out of the body cavities....and then grabing the bird and chasing kait around the house with it flapping its wings. The gravy was the best part and the turkey was delicious. I believe the direct quote was, "This gravy is bangin!" So we had a successful day in the kitchen, proving that we werent just two stupid girls left to handle something important ;)

Today, feeling adventerous, we decided to go down to the surf shop and rent wet suits. We then proceeded to drive to Frisco and drag Rachelle out of her house and flooded back yard to come wipeout ...i mean surf with us. The waves were 10 feet or so but they just werent breaking the way that we needed to get a good ride. I managed to get up on my knees only once before getting slammed into the curl and decided that I would then just float and watch the sunset over the lighthouse. I must admit that turning over underneath your board before a wave hits is a very good way to avoid slamming your head, although you run the rist of hitting yourself with your own board.

Wetsuits surprisingly keep you very warm...until you get out of the water. We should have gotten in closer to where we parked the car. THats all I have to say.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Move of the Century

I have the task of giving a program about the lighthouse. The 2 interp rangers that are stationed here for the winter both need to have a talk on this topic and it is obvioius why. So that means Jen and I are both working on bettering our programs :) We wanted to make each one different so we both choice different lighthouse topics. Jen is delivering a talk about the light's historic values and how life was for the lighhouse keepers out there on the Outer Banks. I chose the epic relocation project named "the move of the century." After the relocation it was named a National Civil Engineering Landmark which I think is pretty neat!

The lighthouse was moved from its original location to its new home 2,900 feet to the southwest. The move was completed in the summer of 1999 so this year marks the 10th aniversary. This truly was an engineering feat. Most visitors come in amazed that it was able to be moved all in one piece without a single crack in the foundation. The only crack in the lighthouse was caused by lightning long before the relacation project.

The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse weighs 4800 tons...thats more than 2 space shuttles and is composed of 1,250,000 bricks (The tallest brick lighthouse in the world). At 208 ft it is also the tallest lighthouse in North America. Intimidating?....yes. Those responsible for the project were a chimney moving company out of Buffalo, NY and a housemoving company out if Virgina. Both the principal and double keepers quarters were moved as well and placed at the new site.

Preparation began 6 months earlier. Workers dug down 6 feet from the base of the lighthouse and proceeded to separate the lighthouse from its granite base with a diamond tiped cable saw. As the granite was removed, steel shoring towers were placed underneath to transfer the weight. A straight line was then cleared and paved with gravel creating a move path for the lighthouse. The lighthouse now sat on steal that rested on heavy duty rollers. this is how the lighthouse would move...little by little.

Hydrallic jacks pushed from behind as the monsterous structure made its way slowly down the move path. Steal beams were taken from behind the lighthouse and placed in front like stepping stones as it moved along. After 23 days of slow movement the light reached its new home a safe 1,500ft from the ocean on July 9, 1999. It now stood the same distance away from the sea as it did when it was first built in 1870. Just goes to show how fast our world is changing. The island is being shifted to the southwest at an extrodinary rate. She continues to shine today keeping man-kind safe from the dangerous waters of the diamond shoals and we have returned the favor in keeping her safe from beach erosion for another 100 years.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Some storm damage may recognize this house as the house that was filmed in the movie "Nights in Rodanthe" the road closure is curently about 20 minutes south of where I live.


As I sit here in the Museum of the front of the famous light Cape Hatteras National Seashore...I end up thinking to myself " why have I been here for 2 hours and still havent seen a single sole walk in here. This is a wonderful place to visit." Then there is a snap back to reality. "Oh one can get here and the only people who are here have been here twice already because they are so bored that they came back twice.

The road has been washed away and has been shut down since Thursday. So everyone who visited the seashore for a vacation is getting a little more of Hatteras Island than they were hoping to get. As for me, Jennifer and I have been having real heart to heart conversations because there is nothing else to do besides complete stats sheets for which we have no stats. Today we have had a total of one family come strolling through the grounds that managed to get through the road block. As of right now the only way off the island is to travel 20 miles south the Hatteras Village and take the 2 hour ferry trip back to the main land...not for me.

The outer banks continues to be in a "state of emergency" and I guess if I were from a big city I would consider myself stranded. At least we have a grocery store, a roof over our head, and each other for entertainment. For now they are deciding to build a temperary section where you are allowed to drive along the beach past the road damage as long as you have 4 wheel drive. We shall see in the days to come.

In other news I am hurrying through my interpretive writing course at top speed. I have already learned a great deal and look forward to my next assignements include a site bulletin and radio essay. There is the possiblity that my site bullentin will be used here in the park. Everyone who comes in here is wanting to know all about the moving of the lighthouse so I think my bulletin will be on that.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Open Our Beaches!

Things have started to slow here on Hatteras Island. I had the chance to get out and explore several times. The only interpretive staff that we have here are Laura, Rachelle, myself, Mark and a couple of volunteers. Mark will leave in about 2 weeks which is sad because we get along quite well and have had fun. We will be getting another seasonal in on the 9th and I have heard that she will be a good addition.

My exploring has been limited to Rodanthe, Hatteras Village, and I am hoping to get to Ockracoke soon enough. The towns up and down the chain look very similar in that the houses are tall and the boundary between the villages and park land obvious. "Since we cant build out we will build up!" most of the locals don't want anything to do with park service employees but I have found that if you let them know that you have nothing to do with the decisions to close the beaches they will tollerate your presence. There are signs everywhere in town stating things like "open our beaches" or "RIP federal government promises." Needless to say my uniform comes off rather quickly after work before going into town. There are some places that really support the park and welcome employees without a second thought. It is just knowing which ones to avoid is the trick.

This is Mark's brillant idea for Halloween night. " So....I think that one of us should dress up like a sea turtle, another like a piping plover (endangered bird) , and the other can be a park service employee holding a beach closed sign. We then go out for drinks and start closing down sections of the bar and if people get too close we expand the closure. It would either be really funny or end really badly depending on who was in the bar that night!" Hmmmm...I dont think so!

Friday, October 23, 2009

New Visions of an Old Lighthouse

I have always apprecieated lighthouses and have seen a few in my lifetime. My family and I would travel to the shores of the Atlantic from time to time and I was always interesting to see the lighthouses and marvel at their beauty. However, having never seen the Cape Hatteras lighthouse I was in for a real treat. As I drove in I saw it, rising above me as the car grew closer. The giant black and white striped candy cane stood taller than anyother light structure I had seen. In the October afternoon sun the tallest brick lighthouse in the world did look truly majestic.

Over the years I have gained appreciation for the natural world, hence why I love visiting mountains, lakes, oceans, sand dunes, and geysers. But every so often I get the sence of appreciation for the works of man and accomplishments that are unimaginable. It takes brains, imagination, and determination to create such wonders and the combination can sometimes make magic.

Having been on this sight for 2 weeks I have heard history of the lightkeepers whose purpose was to keep this lighthouse operation. This is a beacon of warning to men at sea, a navigational tool, and a way of avoiding the feared "Graveyard of the Atlantic". Thousands of ships have foundered here in the diamond shoals. It is here where the Gulf Stream and the Laborador current meet in an epoch battle creating some of the roughest waters on the eastern coast and a sense of terror to ships. With a beacon of exactly 7.5 seconds for one rotation this unique pattern is unlike any other altering ships to there location on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

This lighthouse has survived over 100 years of operation and a relocation project deemed "The Move of the Century." The lighthouse was moved 2,900 feet to the southwest in 1999 to save it from the rapidly approaching ocean tides. The importance of this light has gain the respect of millions of visitors and has touched the hearts of those learning its unique history. Located at the original site there is a granite circle engraved with the light keeps names starting from 1870. As any visitor will find, It was tremendaous work to keep this lighthouse running.

At night fall it is a dramatic sight. As I was out running one evening darkness fell opon me. As my eyes adjusted to see the road ahead of me I saw a familiar light coming from the old tower. As I sometimes do, I timed the interval at exactly 7.5 seconds. I felt comforted, and had a sense of place. I knew that even if the road suddenly dissapeared I would be able to find my way. It brought a connection between myself and the history of this amazing place. This beacon has been used for a long time and legacy continues each and every day.

Some people have trouble finding thier place in this world. It is inevitable that you will feel lost sometimes. We all feel this way. But as there is medicine for most things we can somtimes find it within symbols. That is what this light is a symbol, a icon of place. So if you ever feel lost, lonely, confused, or need a sense of place in this big world I suggest visiting a lighthouse. Standing at the base watching the light shine out over the water I know exactly where I am...I am on Hatteras Island.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Wind Blows Me to the Coast for Winter

Lots of exciting changes are happening. This is the first time that I am able to watch the colors change in Glacier National Park. The aspen's, larches, and dogbane are turning golden as we rapidly approach October in northwest Montana. It truly is a spectacular sight. Eric ( one of my co-workers) and myself hiked up to huckleberry lookout the other day and saw all three seasons in just one hike. This is not uncommon for Montana, mind you. Looking into the northfork was breathtaking. Im starting to recognize that all too familiar knot in my stomach that I get when I know I have to leave this place soon. I will be saying goodbye to Glacier NP on October 3rd and I am trying to enjoy my last week of autumn bliss.

So where will I be going you might ask....I have recently accepted a winter seasonal position at Cape Hatteras National Seashore. One of my former co-workers at Glacier was the one to actually offer me the position as she accepted a permenant position and moved there in July. I am looking forward to working with Rachelle again and also learning about what Cape Hatteras has to offer. I am being brought on October 12th and will work until mid-April. Just in time to return to Glacier!!!!

I am told that I will be giving 2 interpretive programs while I am there. One of these will be a history program and the other a nature walk. A guided walk on the outer bad could that be?? I will also be working the visitor center, doing projects as assigned, and working a museum. I am looking forward to the new experience, learning a great deal, and meeting lots of new people. so if anyone has free time this winter and is up for some warmer weather, surfing, or yummy seafood give me a shout anytime ;)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Advice from a River

Bowman Creek
Adrien and I managed to spend over an hour just sitting next to Bowman Creek one day. Our intent was to walk up the path a little ways and play around. It felt nice to sit for a while and enjoy the peace. Away from the road, the crowd, the noise was just what I needed.
We sat there for the longest time just staring off down the creek watching the water flow downstream. We can learn alot from water. As I watched it go around the bend taking the path of its own choosing I began to think. Rivers don't ever ask why...they just flow. Coming around that bend they hit obsticles and outsmart them. The river will go where it is destined to go and sometimes the path that looks the easiest is actually the most difficult. The river knows this...and she goes around. Points of chaos equal points of hardship and can be seen on her face as she struggles to stay calm. But sometimes staying placid is too much to ask of her. The further along she mellows out and can relax again as the terrain allows... Rivers do not follow guidelines, or rules, they make their own.
As I continued my weekend up to Crypt Lake I saw yet another stream bed. This time dry and motionless. Even though she has left this spot her power is still there. It can be seen in the rocks that was shaped and changed by the river. Lying motionless it lies and shows a memory of what once was. We shape and change where we have been. That is for sure. Every impact no mater how small is important. And just like the river we leave trails. She is a model for people who feel alone, lost, or confused. She has moved on but has definetly left her mark.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Confidence (n): the feeling you get before you fully understand the situation.

"Addie, if all of your friends jumped off a bridge into frigid the would do it to wouldn't you?" These are the words that came our of Brian's mouth as Bryce and I meet him and Kim at the St. Mary Falls bridge around 10pm. This was the biggest spur of the moment plan we we had though of yet. Bryce and I had gone to Kim's campground evening program and afterwords she said, "Brian and I are going to jump of the St. Mary Falls bridge." We then decided to join them. At the begining I had every intention of chickening out when I got there. It was already starting to get dark and we could barely see the trail. We arrived to find out that Brian and Kim had already been in twice and they decided to stick around and go again with Bryce and I.

I had seen it done before...but never in the dark. This bridge is maybe 2 stories high and when one jumps off of it you are landing in what looks like a swirling vortex of water. The current is not that strong however and the current generally pushes you to shore where you can just walk out. The fact that I was dark enough that I couldn't really see the current put me at ease a little bit more. I decided to go first because I knew that if I watched everyone else i would not end up jumping. I was more worried about the water being so cold because it is feed by 3 different glaciers at least.

I climbed up on the railing and looked down...bad idea. I started to get nervous. Finally I just let lose, stepped up ontp the top and jumped off. I had twisted my body in such a way that I was able to stare at the bridge as I was falling. When I hit the water it didn't really feel cold. I was so hyped up about the jump that I didnt really notice it. I had to lean my head back far to look up at the top of the bridge where Bryce was about to jump off. As he jumped I could only see his siloutte as he too made the plunge. Byran and Kim followed soon after him. The we preceeded up the trail and out to the car and made our way back.

The trail was quiet and there was just enough moonlight for us to see the light colored stones on the pathway that were guiding us out. I thought of a great idea for a centenial program for next season...a midnight hike. That would be so cool. You are forced to use your other senses and I experienced a trail that I have been on probably 80 times in a whole new way. We are definetly going back to do that again and dragging others along for the ride. Maybe this time we will start earlier.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Good Medicine

The season has been in full swing for many weeks now. For the past couple of days all the campgrounds in the park have been filling. Last year the campground in St. Mary would fill a handfull of times. This season we have been filling every night which is refreshing. I was talking to one of the employees who works at the resturant at the Lake McDonald Lodge and he told me that their sales are down from last year. This leads me to believe that people are scaling down this year and moving from expensive hotel lodging, busting out their tents and hitting the campgrounds. Attendance for our campground evening programs have been outstanding so that is a good thing. I have been able to get out and see programs this year and recognize and appreciate all of the hard work that my fellow rangers and our interns have done. There is a lot of amazing talent here this summer and it has inspired me to make my programs even better as well.

I have the privaledge leading an all day hike this year to Siyeh Pass. It has been an interesting experience where I am able to really get to know the people that I am hiking with and am with them for 8 hours. I lead them up the highest maintained trail in Glacier National Park and discuss the geology, ecology, and the cutural history that they are able to discover along this 11 mile journey. I do have some pictures from this trail to put up that I took when I hiked this trail with coworkers before my first program. It rain but was still good. The view from the top is spectacular. I have learned a lot from the people I have been hiking with. On my second hike we were walking down from the pass and there was silence from my group for a little while. Right as we stopped for water on of the women sighed looked around and said, "This is good medicine."

We have generally been lucking out with the weather for the past couple of weeks. Temperatures have been reaching the 80's and it has been pleasent to be outside. We do however get those rainy days where Logan Pass is completely socked in and the entire visitor population tried to cram themselves into the tiny little visitor center at the top of the Continental Divide. On days like this I just want to tape the weather report to my forhead, sit in a chair, and let the visitors help themselves. When they ask "is it going to rain all day" I start to say..."yes."

Adrien and I hiked Dawson and Pitamakin Passes on on of the most beautiful days of the summer so far. I had never done the hike and was very intimidated by the fact that it was 18 miles long. We got to the trail head at 7 am and were out by 4pm which was not bad. This fantastic hike was followed by dinner at Serrano's (a really good mexican resturant in east glacier) and the Amy's campfire program in the Two Medicine campground. Everything about the day was just perfect. There was not a single cloud in the sky and the peaks in the distance looked crystal clear. After reaching Dawson Pass the view only improved as we walked along the ridge. The sights were enough to take your breath away. Being the only ones on the backside of this high altitude trail made it feel like we were doing something illegal. It was that good. Niether one of us talked as we made our way across the narrow pathway. My mind started to wander...and I thought about what that woman had said to me on Siyeh Pass a week 4 days earlier. "Good Medicine" This place seems to have to ability to heal in a lot of different ways. It is amazing to think of something having that much power. But as I stared of into the distance to was greeted by a wave of tranquility. Standing there on what seems like the top of the world listening to nothing but the wind and the sounds of melt water running over the rocks i let myself zone out. Places like this are special. They have the ability to tranform you, give you different outlooks. The medicine you get from experiences might be better than anything from your doctor. And maybe they it can do more than we think...give you hope, disguise illnesses, mend broken hearts, ease stress, and leave you wanting more.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Better than Ice Cream

We all made it back from West Glacier in one piece. My camping trip to the North fork had to be postponed due to car trouble…not with my car at least. I decided to drive my own car over so that I would be able to go camping after training and get some groceries. I had driven the white government van over to the west side the day before for orientation and took it on route 49 which is a narrow road with many twists and turns. One wrong move and a car could easily end up over the edge. I remembered saying to one of my co-workers, “I wonder how long they are going to keep this crappy van…its beginning to scare me a little bit.” I laughed at the end of the next day when we left the broken down van sitting in the gas station parking lot in East Glacier. Sierra had been driving the van just behind me and when I reached the end of route 49 I pulled my car over because I did not see them behind me anymore. I waited 5 minutes and started to get a little worried. After about 7 minutes I decided to turn around and go back for them. No sooner had I turned around did I see them coming around the bend very slowly, turn the corner and roll in to the gas station. Apparently the van was making some interesting noises and since there was no mechanic in town we had to ditch the vehicle and cram as many bags and people into my car and Amy Maries little Subaru and my Escape as well. We made it there eventually, 40 minutes late for training and with one less car. It must have been serious enough because it was towed and we still don’t have it back…

More and more people are arriving now and all divisions should be fully staffed now. Saturday morning I woke up hoping to possibly get out on the trails at some point before our second week of training and work begins. I looked out the window to see a fresh 3 inches of snow. Well so much for that I thought, and went back to bed. I did eventually get up and outside to take some pictures as the snow started to melt out. We all could feel the front moving through the day before as the wind began to pick up. Some of the visitors were warned about the snow but they didn’t seem to believe us. I wonder how they are doing today as they crawl out of their tents. Some tourists from Florida were taken by surprise as well.

We now have a bear trap in St. Mary because of a problem bear that we have been having in the housing area. Audrey told me that we had a bear on our front porch this past week and he went barreling off into the bushes as soon as she opened the door. Living in the trailer loop definitely has its perks. As much as I miss the dorm it is a nice change to have my own space, living room, kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom. Now I have a whole lot of room to throw my stuff around in and not just one room. My Wii has become quite popular and I am glad considering that is why I brought it. I am in the dorm quite often though as we have quite an interesting group this season. Last year training seemed very quiet compared to this year. We have strong and outgoing personalities this year in the interpretive division and so far have been really enjoying myself. At the end of the day I can leave the noise and head back to a more secluded area to unwind. I think I have found the best of both worlds.

I hear rumors of more movie showings at the St. Mary Visitor center. We recently saw V for Vendetta as a group. Why not? We have this amazing new surround sound system so why shouldn’t we enjoy it for ourselves once in a while? We watched the Wizard of Oz last week before training that lead us into our theme for this year. In many ways Glacier National Park is like the wonderful Land of Oz…. Visitors to the park can relate to Dorothy because they are visiting a magical place where there are all sorts of interesting this to see and experience. When they return home they will be forever changed. Home might be the same physically but this place does seem to have an effect on people. One they get to this park many different things lay in their path that interpreters are trying to help them find. We provide them with intellectual connections that help them to understand the meanings of the resource (Scarecrow…he is the symbol of intellect). They will hopefully also make emotional connections (Tin man). As interpreters we are taught to use the resource and our creativity to bring about these emotional connections. This will allow visitors to care about Glacier then hopefully care for Glacier. And finally courage is what makes this all possible (Lion). We must have the courage to try new things, break out of our comfort zone and allow ourselves to be surprised.

After the snow on Saturday a few of us decided to go on a trek up to Scenic Point in the Two Medicine area. We knew that it was going to be snow covered but we welcomed the adventure and started out early on Sunday morning. We saw a cinnamon black bear and a moose on the drive up and another black bear on the drive out. One might think that that would be a great day in itself but the hike and some time by the lake were spectacular. We ran into more and more snow on the trail as we climbed in elevation. At one point we missed one of the switchbacks because the snow was so deep that we couldn’t see the trail….we figured that since Scenic Point was at the top I was pretty hard to miss. Eventually we rejoined the trail and made it to a large rock at the top. Scenic Point was in view but a large snow drift kept us from going all the way. The drift was on a ledge…Bryan was convinced that we could make it but after looking at it closer he was eventually outvoted. I told him that I think we are recognizing limits and respecting them. After the Mt. Jackson incident last summer I am beginning to respect those limits more often.

The view was incredible with all of the snow covered peaks in the distance. We had lunch on the top. Food always tastes better after a long hike. Bryan continued to say, “There is nothing better than an apple at the top of a mountain. That first bite is better than ice cream.” Sierra, Shari, and I completely agreed and enjoyed the view for about half an hour until heading back down. We then spent another hour on the shore of Two Medicine Lake. There were then 15 attempts at a picture of us jumping in the air followed by a short swim. I thought they were crazy but they went in and I just took embarrassing photos which I will not post at this time in an attempt to keep the friends that I have made.

It was my first shift in my full park service uniform today. I came into the visitor center at 8am and as people came in for training and computer use I was greeted with, “Awwww look at you.” I guess I failed at the attempt to look like a bad ass. Haha…just kidding. Sarah then insisted on getting about 5 pictures of me behind the desk. The visitor center has been slow and I can honestly say that I was bored today. Hence the pictures….and sneaking in to watch bear training…and looking at mountain lion pictures. Soon enough the VC will be flooded with visitors and programs will commence. I applied to my first winter job today as well…seems really soon but it will be here before we know it.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Brains, Heart, and Courage in the Real Land of Oz.

Adrien and I took a 9.5 mile trip out into the Red Eagle Valley yesterday for a bit of an adventure. Much to my own detrement I am now really sunburned and have started the infamous ranger tan. Not that I have really gotten the chance to wear my new uniform yet but the sleeve line is in the same place that it will be all summer. I have finally cured my hat envy that I had all last summer because I now have a beautiful new stenson hat of my own and can't wait to wear it on the job very soon.

Training has started officially and I will be off to West Glacier again tomorrow to start the first week of training. During our second week of training at Many Glacier I will be in and out of the valley, attending training on some days and working the St. Mary Visitor Center on others. Our training theme this year is Brains, heart, and courage in the real land of OZ. I can't wait to see what Mark has cooked up for this. I know one thing for sure...I will be bringing my camera because Mark tells me that there will be some YouTube worthy sessions. I look forward to training because you never know quite what to expect and everyone enjoys themselves at least some of the time whether they expect to or not.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Road Trips and Warm Weather...

So...I graduated on Saturday (May 23)...drove home on Sunday...packed the car and headed for Glacier on Monday. I drove out with one of our new interns who lives near Syracuse as well so as least I had some company. It was defintley a whirl wind couple of days. We drove from Syracuse, NY to St. Mary Montana in just under three days. This included stops at Badlands National Park and Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. They have put up a new memorial at Mount Rushmore which is a large granite archway including a column for every state with the state flag hanging from each column. Visitors walk through this as they the come upon the viewing area for Mount Rushmore itself. We watched many visitors taking pictures of this new addition with the presidents faces falling in the center of the structure behind it. I felt that a project this size kind of takes away from the sculpture itself. I was unimpressed. I don't like when people try to make something grander when the original is already enough to make you stare in awe.

On our the third day of our journey I was ready to leave the car and walk the rest of the way just so i could get the feeling back in my legs. However, As I saw the mountains come into view to the west I forgot all about my legs and my heart started pounding with the excitement of being back in St. Mary again. We arrived and quickly picked up our keys and unloaded half of the luggage when I got a call from Jamie asking me if we had made it yet. We left the rest of the baggage in the car and headed up to Sun Point to join the group at St. Mary falls. We met up with Jamie, Mark, and Elizabeth whom I was so happy to see again. I then we introduced to the rest of the St. Mary interp crew. I was imressed with how outgoing all of the new interns are. We are going to have a great season there is no doubt about that.

When entering the visitor center I noticed that we now have a variety of brand new signs. One is on the outside of the building and includes the NPS arrowhead. We have beautiful signs inside the visitor center that help visitors to distingush between the information and backcountry desks as well as a new sign for the Glacier Association book store. As I went upstairs to check my mail I found the letter that informed me that the program that I submitted last year certified. As I read through the comments I began to smile. After only a few suggestions for improvement the statements ended with the words , "Nicely Done!"

The weather has been unusually warm for the past few days on the east side of the park. When I drove up I was expecting 60's and maybe some rain. It has reached the 80's for three days in a row this week, but looking like it might cool off a little bit this weekend. The interns seem to be making a fast adjustment to life in the park and we are still expecting the last member of our crew to arrive later this afternoon. It is definetly a sea of change in St. Mary. Besides Jamie, Sarah, Elizabeth, Adrien and myself I am seeing new faces all around me, not just interp but in Law Enforcement, Entrance Station employees, and Backcountry as well. I look forward to meeting new friends as the summer progresses and also catching up with old ones. Adrien and I have planned our first hiking excersion for tomorrow and should be nothing short of entertaining. I am also looking forward to our potluck tonight which will bring everyone together for a good time. Stay tunned for more updates soon...