Positive Feedback

Yesterday was the kind that wears a ranger out. It was great, I love my job, but I was tired at the end. It was the hottest day of the summer, and under my ballistic vest I stewed in my own juices. The day started with training on rappelling and ascending cliff faces, moved on to an actual SAR carryout of a woman with a broken ankle, and from there I did a regular law enforcement and fees compliance patrol. I encountered some locals who didn’t have an entrance pass and were pretty cranky, entitled, and passive-aggressive. Half an hour before my shift ended, I was the closest unit to a car accident that resulted in getting off an hour late. Today I have about six hours of report writing ahead of me.

I love my job, all of it, even the passive-aggressive cranky locals, but at the end of the day I was one tired puppy. Right before leaving the office I checked my park e-mail, something I hadn’t had time to do during my shift, just to make sure I didn’t miss anything vital. There was a message forwarded from the chief ranger. It turned out to be an e-mail from some people I helped a few weeks ago who locked their keys in the car. They wrote a few really nice sentences about their interaction with me and how appreciative they were. And there it was: it matters. Even the mundane things matter to our visitors, and they see us working. The man said at the end of their trip, his grandson said he wants to be a park ranger one day. Isn’t that something?

I left the office feeling a lot less tired. Truth be told, I was grinning ear to ear. The positive feedback is important. Saying “thank you” to someone who does their job well is important. I write to fast food corporations, airlines, and so on when I have really positive interaction but this is the first time I’ve received such a note. It makes a difference.


THE GREAT NORTHWEST!!!!

THE GREAT NORTHWEST!!!!

(via coffeeandclifbars)


deschutesbrewery:

Pete Alport climbed Black Butte the other night to shoot some of our #wildfires, but when he got to the top there wasn’t much to see. The wind, however, had blown all the smoke northeast to clear the way for a great view of the fire watchtower and the #milkyway. Not a bad plan B and a nice evening workout. #oregon

deschutesbrewery:

Pete Alport climbed Black Butte the other night to shoot some of our #wildfires, but when he got to the top there wasn’t much to see. The wind, however, had blown all the smoke northeast to clear the way for a great view of the fire watchtower and the #milkyway. Not a bad plan B and a nice evening workout. #oregon


Common Good

One of my coworkers and I have “Seawall Saturday.” We arrange our daily duties to take us to the Seawall Campground sometime in the morning, and on our way we pass the Common Good Soup Kitchen. (Tagline: A Frank Capra Movie Comes to Life in Southwest Harbor Maine) The Common Good operates a weekly soup kitchen through the lean winter months, as well as Cabin Fever Saturday Nights with live music and good food for local families, and free-to-the-public cooking classes to spread information about healthy eating and nutrition. Year-round, food is delivered to people who are unable to get out.

How is it funded? The space is donated by a local motel. Throughout the winter a bowl is set out, and people pay what they can. In the summer, the Common Good has a daily breakfast: oatmeal, coffee, cocoa, and all the popovers you can eat. Popovers are delicious, puffy, light, eggy pastries that for some reason are a staple on this island. There’s free wifi, too. Breakfast is by donation, and it’s the donations from the summer cafe that fund the winter programs. Funding is all grassroots—there is no governmental or foundation support of any kind. The Common Good is all-volunteer and love abounds. Seawall Saturday is all about the popovers.

Today I came to avail myself of wifi, oatmeal, and a popover (maybe two) on my day off. I asked if they ever need more people to help wash dishes and wipe table. “Oh, yes,” said the woman who most often greets customers. “We need all the help we can get. Come by any time.” How can I not?


Because of Margaret

Visitation’s ramped up at my idyllic island park and I’m talking to more and more people as I go about my business. I remember being surprised the first time I talked to a ranger who wore a duty belt. I didn’t know rangers carried guns! Consequently, I understand when visitors are surprised by or curious about my duty belt. Even so, I was taken aback the first time a visitor expressed displeasure or anger that I was carrying a gun and TASER and all the rest. Since then I’ve heard it several times. “I don’t understand why you rangers have to carry those weapons. It shouldn’t be necessary.” (This is not something I ever heard last summer, when I worked at a different park.)

The first time a visitor said that to me, I thought carefully about my response. There are lots of ways to reply. I decided to go with what is the most real and personal answer for me.

I started my parks law enforcement academy on January 2, 2012 . We began with a moment of silence. On January 1, 2012 Ranger Margaret Anderson was murdered at Mount Rainier National Park. She wasn’t the first park ranger killed by gunfire. It’s likely she won’t be the last. Rangers respond to bears in the campground, visitors having heart attacks, families with flat tires or keys locked in the car, lost kids, and dogs who’ve tangled with porcupines. They also break up fights, intervene in domestic violence, interdict drugs, apprehend felons, and respond to active shooters—not always, not every day, but sometimes. Maybe once in a career. Maybe never. Maybe tomorrow. It’s not predictable. Park rangers protect the park from the people and the people from the park. Our belts and vests are sometimes necessary for us to do that. Our belts and vests are sometimes necessary for us to protect ourselves.


Seen recently on the island where I live…

Seen recently on the island where I live…


All I need to remind me my life is idyllic and perfect is a trip to my local library.

All I need to remind me my life is idyllic and perfect is a trip to my local library.



Lunch Break

Park rangers…they’re just like US. They look at their phones on their lunch breaks.

But I try to hide mine behind my lunch box so not to be judged silently by the visitors.


Birthday breakfast!

Birthday breakfast!