Wednesday, October 25
Today's the day -- I have officially been working in Southeast Arizona for one month. I'd like to share some thoughts, accomplishments, and goals.
- Wow. I live in an unbelievably amazing place. Not only am I amazed simply by Chiricahua National Monument itself, I am amazed at the amount of things there are to do here. It's easy to think that since I live in the middle of nowhere in a desert I will get bored, but it couldn't be further from the truth. There are so many places on my list to visit that it's overwhelming. This past month I have visited and explored the three SEAZ sites, along with the east and west sides of Saguaro National Park. There are so many other places on my list, some of the most important being: Sonoran Desert Museum, Tumacacori National Historic Park, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Cochise Stronghold, Santa Catalinas, Casa Grande Ruins National Monument, and even more sites in New Mexico.
- I'm not lonely. At all. I knew I wouldn't be, but everyone else seems worried about it. I am in a very isolated place. It is 45 minutes to the nearest services in the small town of Willcox. I live onsite with my employees and I do live in my own house. I highly value my own space and being in control of things, so this is great for me. My job is literally to talk to people all day, answer questions, explain things. At the end of the day, I need my alone time to recharge. It's been very nice returning home and being by myself for the rest of the evening. I am not lonely at all!
- The best part of my job is getting to hike during work hours. Just to become familiar with the trails, make sure everything is good to go, and I've just begun roving -- wandering along the trails and speaking with visitors I see along the way.
- I love the weather. It's dry and mild here (for this time of the year at least). I would love a thunderstorm though.
- Visitors come in and constantly go, "Why isn't this a national park?! It's so amazing and just like other parks we've seen!" I both like and dislike that Chiricahua remains a national monument. I like that it remains a monument and is a little off the beaten path. This creates such a tranquil environment where you can really be one with nature and the surroundings. A lot of people have the goal of hitting all ~58 national parks, so if Chiricahua was added, it would inevitably increase visitor numbers quite a bit. People deserve to see the park and all it has to offer, but I love how peaceful it is and how it's not too crowded.
- - It's amazing talking with the park rangers here and seeing where they have worked. They've worked at Death Valley, Crater Lake, Grand Canyon, and more, and think SEAZ is a great place to be. It's also amazing knowing that four of the rangers I've spoken with started out as SCA interns.
- - I have explored most of Chiricahua and know it well. There are two trails remaining for me to explore, but I've seen all the rest. There is one more trail in Coronado I need to take as well.
- - I am able to confidently answer most of visitors questions and explain the park well. I've discovered how fun it is to explain things to folks and have them listen to your knowledge.
- - I assisted with a Youth Summit group and an elementary school group visit. I got to see how the interp rangers interact with them and how they enjoy the park.
- - I completed several online courses to help me in expanding my knowledge of interpretation: History of the NPS, Foundations of Interpretation, and How to Develop an Interpretive Program.
- - At the top of the goal list is to develop my own interpretive evening program. I've already determined that the subject will be the Sky Islands and how the elevation and altitude change results in such a diverse climate and wildlife. Here it resembles desert, grassland, deciduous and coniferous forest, and chaparral. I've been doing research on this.
- - Finish hiking all the trails here: I still have to do the Natural Bridges and Hailstone trails.
- - Drive Pinery Canyon Road in Coronado National Forest. Visitors literally ask about this road everyday and I can't explain firsthand. It's a rough road, so I don't want to take the Prius. Ideally I'll take a government truck. This needs to happen!
Here's to another amazing month.