Sunday, May 16, 2010


Today was another busy weekend day.  It was just like yesterday.  It started out crazy and wound down in the late afternoon.  There weren't any major issues today, but the crowd at the entrance was a little harder to control.  In honor of Military Appreciation Month, the Florida State Park System offered free admission to everyone at all of our parks today.  People were pleasantly surprised and thought of their friends and family that are or were in the military.  Most of our visitors were also very generous with donations to our park in lieu of the park admission.
Like most Sundays, the morning was quiet.  We had a slow but steady stream of people coming in.  I stayed in the ranger station to answer phones, but I had plenty of time to fold brochures as well.  We are well stocked for the next few days on folded brochures and trail maps.  I even had time to take the only two photos that I took all day.  I spotted a pretty little moth on the window of the ranger station.  It was outside and I was inside, so the view that I had was of its underside.  I didn't find a name for this little moth, but it reminds me of a very common butterfly that I used to see during our butterfly life cycle programs at the nature center where I worked in Delaware.  I watched a lizard on the same window as well, but I was soon called away by a ringing phone or visitor, or something.

By 10:30am, the rush was beginning.  The constant line was forming and getting longer and longer.  The parking space counter got into position and began monitoring spaces.  Once we reached our capacity and had to begin turning traffic away from the park, things got difficult.  It was harder to get people to keep moving today.  The line was so big all at once, that there was both a line coming in and a line going out that were connected and not moving.  That gave people the perfect opportunity to blow their horns, yell, and complain.  Soon, I had three separate families who had surrounded me from behind.  Each group had already gotten into the park but had people that they were waiting on that had been turned away. They wanted me to let their additional people in.  Between trying to explain the situation to each group, I was still trying to keep the traffic moving and catching the barrage of complaints and "but I" and "what if" and "can't I" and "why don't you" from each passing vehicle.  It is difficult to be kind, accommodating, yet fair in that situation.  I did my best and called our Law Enforcement officer for additional support.  People whine less when there is an officer standing there... maybe its the gun on his hip or the handcuffs.  Whatever the reason, I was thankful.
We were eventually able to get more people into the park.  The three groups waiting behind me went through all levels of begging, demanding, screaming, and eventual gratefulness as they waited for their companions to be let in.  Finally, by 4:00 we were able to reopen for the last time and we stayed that way.  I heard from the field staff that it was a good crowd today out in the park.  I guess they got all of their frustrations out on me before they got into the park.  Maybe it was the free day that made them happy.
By the time I got home, I was so glad to be there.  I am really looking forward to a weekend off next weekend.  I am even looking forward to Monday.  Even Monday is better than the weekend that I had.

Thought of the Day #39
Did you know that the first park rangers were military personnel?  When the first National Parks were created, someone had to protect them.  The US Army was first tasked with this job in 1886 in our first National Park, Yellowstone.  Over time, it was realized that while the Army was effective at protecting the land and keeping visitors safe, there was still a need to educate the public and answer all of their questions.  Over time, park rangers evolved into the multi-talented people that they are today.  The job has changed drastically through the years, but there are still some reminders of the Army days.  We are still uniformed personnel and are strictly regimented in many ways.  We still are here to protect the land and the people coming to visit, but our jobs have evolved to include many more things as well.
Please take the time to remember those who have served in the military, past and present.


Lorena said...

(Yes, I'm reading these backwards, catching up). It sounds like if I ever *do* come down on a Tuesday, I should bring you some Whiskey! I do love people, but... man. :shakes head:

Ranger Amy said...

LOL! Knitters and booze are welcome any time.