The Student Conservation Association's Online Community
Monday, September 25
It's my first day!
I didn't have to hit the snooze button on my alarm at all. I got up, put on some khakis and a nice shirt, spent a nice couple of minutes getting my contact lenses in (I'm getting better at it!), and freshened up. I went and made myself a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch and ate as I filled out the necessary paperwork. I put my things in my backpack and headed out. The house is like a three minute walk from the visitor center. I accidentally made a wrong turn and ended up on a road to more people's housing. Well, that's why I leave early for things! I made it to the VC at 8 a.m. and let myself in the staff entrance. I kinda browsed around for people, and eventually stumbled upon a woman park ranger in the back. She came and said, "you must be Kaylene!" and introduced herself as Libby, my supervisor. I had been familiar with Libby because she is the one who hired me, and who conducted my interview and all the subsequent phone calls. She gave me a folder with a lot of employee information in it, as well as my work schedule for this week. I ALSO GOT A TON OF MAPS. She told me it'll be a busy week due to National Public Lands Day this Saturday. I'm scheduled to be at all three sites* this week - spending NPLD in Coronado National Memorial with my fellow intern Andy (whom I still haven't met). Soon, another woman park ranger entered in and introduced herself as Suzanne. She is the main interpretive park ranger at the Southeast Arizona (SEAZ) parks.
She took me into the VC and went over details about how to set up in the morning. Pretty simple stuff including turning on the touch computer for visitors, updating forecasts and weather reports, raising the flag, etc. At 9 a.m. a shuttle runs that takes visitors up to the Echo Canyon area for hiking, and I rode along with Suzanne. We saw a nice Arizona white-tailed deer in the road. It was about a 15 minute drive up there, and I got to talk with four adults who were all going hiking. We made some small talk - when I said I was from Denver, one of the men in the back said, "so how many 14ers have you done?" to which I got to reply, "I just completed my fourth last week!" This prompted various 'impressive' noises from the other adults. We then all got to talking and they asked me about climbing mountains in Colorado. I could just answer everything and talk about everything. It's pretty neat educating hikers on that kinda stuff. I felt really cool. Gosh, I love those Colorado pride moments.
We said goodbye as we dropped the hikers off, and Suzanne took me up to Sugarloaf Mountain (we are secretly in Maryland now, shh!), where there is a cool summit hike and you can get stunning sunrise, sunset, and night sky views. Definitely something I plan to do soon. We drove back down Bonita Canyon Drive and saw another deer in the road. We talked about the park, various other things, and where she had worked previously. She was originally an intern with SCA and had worked at several amazing places before - Death Valley, Crater Lake, Natural Bridges, and Garden of the Gods! I told her about my roadtrip this summer and we got to talking about the stunning wonder that is Death Valley. She drove me to the park headquarters, which is down a gravel path a little ways. There i got to see where I would receive my mail, SEE THE POOL, and meet some other cool folks working at the park. I met Rita, Kristina, Mike, and Dean, all who were very friendly and excited to meet me. I met with Dean so we could go over housing logistics, and get everything checked out. WE checked the house for anything that wasn't working, and then he went off on his way.I returned to the VC where I spoke with Libby about a few more details. I hung out and watched how Suzanne interacted with the visitors that came in, taking mental notes. After that, Libby said I should just look around the VC and learn everything there is to learn there. I got my lunch break, so I walked back to my house and made myself a nice quesadilla with an apple and cranberry juice. I just kinda hung around. When I got back, I was told I could go and read supplemental books and materials at the park, which I had received when I got my folder with employee details. For the rest of the day, that's what I did. I read! I read each park pamphlet, and then read small books on the sites from the Southwest Parks and Monuments Association. Then I started reading "Chiricahua," "A History of the Southwest: The Land and Its People," "De Soto, Coronado, Cabrillo: Explorers of the Northern Mystery," and "Rocks in the Chiricahua National Monument and the Fort Bowie National Historic Site." All very interesting things and I was excited to fill my brain with knowledge of these places.
As the day came to a close, Suzanne told me to come out with her to see how closing down the VC works. Basically a reverse of setting itup, plus I get to change the date on the passport stamp and record numbers of visitors and calls. We accomplished that. Suzanne told me to show up tomorrow with hiking gear and a lunch, because I would get to go hiking tomorrow. I could choose whatever trail I wanted! I AM GETTING PAID TO HIKE AND EXPLORE! That'll be great.
Now I am back here in my house enjoying the sunset view from the window and enjoying being all to myself. Excited for tomorrow!
*Though I have housing at Chiricahua, I will also be working at Fort Bowie National Historic Site and Coronado National Memorial.