Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Back to the Grind

Now that I'm finished with all of my days off this week and I am back to work to stay for a few days, the week is ending.  My week will continue through Sunday, but in the office, everyone was scrambling to get things done.  We are still in the mad dash to wrap up our budget before the fiscal year ends in June.  We have almost reached the deadline to stop using our purchasing cards so that the payments process this year.  We are rushing to get all of the things that we need while we have the money.  I spent most of the morning calling and pestering a business that needed to get me a quote and a cleaning company that needed to e-mail information about the work that they did weeks ago.  By 3:00 I had reached a point where I couldn't get anything else done because I was waiting on responses from others. 
The majority of my day was spent in the office.  I did find a few bugs hanging around the office porch to share with you.  One is a variety of Tussock Moth caterpillar.  They have very distinctive tufts of fur at each end that stick out further than the rest of their fuzz.  You have seen some other Tussock Moth caterpillars here and here.  This is a head-on view of its face.

Near the caterpillar, I found an Assassin Bug Nymph.  When it grows up, the orange, spiky mouth part that you see will be much more intimidating.  It will use that mouth part to stab other insects to feed. 

I did get out of the office for a little while after lunch.  All of the park staff joined forces to patrol the spring area when we heard that a rowdy group was coming into the park.  A "senior skip day" tradition had started with a local high school.  For the past few years, the groups that came had caused a lot of trouble.  I had heard stories of stolen food from a family in a pavilion and a ruined birthday cake, rotten eggs, and bullets found in the woods.  Everyone was on guard for what the group might bring this year.  Overall, the group was good.  They were rowdy high school seniors, but for the most part, they were respectful.  We had to watch closely and catch problems right away, but they were responsive to our requests.  I stuck around for a while, but I saw that there was no major trouble and the Rangers were doing a great job.  I finished up what I could in the office and then went back to check on the crowds one more time.  Most of the people were on their way out.  I heard reports of a stun gun and a boxing match from the rangers, but they were stopped immediately.  You just never know what to expect, but I am more and more impressed every time I see the Rangers jump into action together to tackle a big situation.  They really are like a family.  They pick on each other and complain about each other, but when someone is a threat to the park, they work well as a team.
Before heading home, I took a quick walk around the Wet-to-Dry Trail.  I was taking a look at the accessibility of the trail.  We have a group coming in next week for a tour.  The majority of the trail is a wooden boardwalk and is accessible.  Where the boardwalk ends though, there is a sandy, bumpy and hilly trail to the picnic area.  Anyone on wheels or needing stable, flat ground would have to turn around on the boardwalk and return the way that they came.  I had to look again to make sure that there was enough clearance to turn.  My Manager and I discussed it later and while ADA regulations are often on our minds, we remembered the layout of the trail much differently that it really is.  I'm glad I took another look.  While I was on the trail, I saw a Dragonfly that was a different color from the blue and green ones that I see in my yard most often.

I also saw a large Skink.  While I stood there and took its picture, two park visitors walked up behind me.  I started talking to them about the Skink when another one arrived.  While we stood there and watched, at least three other Skinks scurried through the area.  I believe that they were all Broadhead Skinks, but the female and young Broadhead Skinks look very much like another, Five-Lined Skink.  They are usually somewhat solitary creatures, but they usually lay eggs in the summertime.  I imagine its time for them to make friends.

On my way back through the picnic area to my truck, I passed another Dragonfly.  I know I have photographed one like this before, but it seemed to be studying the sign.  I thought it was funny.  The Dragonfly obeyed the sign too... it didn't bring a grill or a pet past that point.

Thought of the Day #29
Crowd control can be a delicate beast to deal with.  Everyone in the park paid their entrance fee and deserves to enjoy the park the way that they want to as long as they are following the rules.  Different people enjoy the park in different ways though and it can be a difficult balance between visitors sometimes.  Some groups come to the park to enjoy the peaceful serenity of nature.  Some people come to the park to play in the water and have fun with friends.  Both groups deserve to enjoy themselves, but its up to the Rangers to make sure that they can compromise with each other.  Its hard sometimes.  All we can do is use the rules and policies in place to guide our decisions to make sure that we are fair and reasonable to everyone involved.

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