Saturday, April 3, 2010

What A Day!

It was a busy one!  As was expected, we did reach capacity in the park today.  The morning was slow enough and we were prepared, so everything went well and the day flew by.  It was not nearly as bad as everyone had been telling me it would be, at least it wasn't today.  I may have a different opinion by the end of the summer.
In the morning, I opened the ranger station and spent some time there learning a little more.  I feel pretty comfortable selling passes, using the register, and even checking out campers.  I need a little more practice with checking them in, but I'm getting there.  The more time I spend there, especially when its busy, the more scenarios I come across and the more I learn.  After a couple hours in the ranger station, I headed back to the office to open up our offices for a cleaning crew. A squirrel was there to great me, it was having some breakfast while it sat on a branch in front of our offices.

We had our air ducts and carpets cleaned today and it made a world of difference.  The cleaning took a little longer than expected though, and I felt bad that I had to leave one of the district personnel there to wait by himself all day.  I had to get back to the park because it was getting busy.
I was really glad that we had some community service workers come in today.  They were able to help with the morning clean-up and continued to keep the litter at bay throughout the day.  The gate had steady traffic flowing through it all day, but the real rush came around 1:30.  One of the rangers kept an eye on the parking lot and came to the ranger station when there were only 10-15 left.  We put out orange cones in front of the ranger station and put up signs that notified people that the park was closed temporarily.  We also had to put out a sign making people aware that if they left the park, they may not be able to return.  Once we reached our maximum capacity, we closed the ranger station window.  I manned my post which was to wave everyone through the turn around area made by the cones.  By the time they got to me, the visitors had already passed two signs explaining the closure.  About every third person stopped to ask me something.  One carload passed me three times and stopped to give me a different "what if" or "why can't we" every time.  I heard an awful lot of excuses today.  Everyone had a reason as to why they should still be able to come in.  I don't understand why it was so hard to convince them that there were no parking spots and crowds everywhere.  I can certainly understand their frustration, but I don't like crowds when I am recreating.  "Temporarily Closed Due To Overcrowding" would have sent me away in a hurry.  As I mentioned on Thursday, there are a lot of different mindsets that come to this park.  Some people were very upset with us, but they were usually the people who cheered and waved when they did finally get to come in.
One ranger watched the parking lot and called the ranger station to let us know when we could let in 10 cars or 15 cars, as the spaces came available.  We closed and opened again three times today.  By around 4:00, we knew that the rush was over.  We took down the signs and the half circle of cones.  Then we all breathed a sigh of relief.  I never made it down to the spring area when we were at the peak of it all.  I will try to get a picture soon.  I also need to get a photo of the turn-around set up for you all.  I will try to remember tomorrow morning before it is full of cars.
Once things were calm at the park, I decided to head towards home.  I checked in at the office with the carpet cleaners and the person watching over them.  They were still hard at work, but were done with all of the offices that I am associated with.  I turned on the thermostats and locked them up.  I offered to stay with the cleaning crew, but my offer was not accepted (I didn't mind at all).  I closed the gate that they were using near the offices and headed home.  The other person had the gate code to let the cleaners out.  On my way out to the truck, I noticed something on the light outside.  It was a Bagworm Moth, one of my favorite critters.

 Thought of the Day #82
While my current position does not leave me working in the ranger station normally, I want to learn how to do everything.  There is nothing that frustrated me more when I worked retail in the past than when I asked a supervisor how to do something that I needed to do and they couldn't tell me.  I don't ever want to be that supervisor that can't answer questions.  Spending time observing in the ranger station will serve many other purposes as well.  I can be helpful when the attendant is slammed with visitors.  It can get very overwhelming when there is a line of cars at the window, a line of people at the counter, and a ringing phone that just won't stop.  I am also getting to know the rangers and how they interact with visitors.  Finally, and I think most importantly, I am learning what procedures are working well, what procedures need to change, and the training or re-training that is needed for all of the rangers.


Kim Zuch said...

I just found your blog and I love it! I'm hoping to do something similar this year, starting Jan 1 (tomorrow!) with our 1st Day Hikes! I'm an interpretive ranger with Nevada State Parks. My new blog is at

Anonymous said...

That's great! Good luck! There were so many great unexpected outcomes to my blog (excellent reference for myself regarding work happenings for one). I hope you find the same and I'm sure it will be an inspiration to others. Enjoy your first day hike!