Monday, March 10, 2008

Park Ranger 101

This is my second day off of work in 5 weeks. But surprisingly, I wasn't in desperate need of a day off.
For the last 5 weekends, I have been working at Radnor Lake State Park and Natural Area as a Seasonal Park Ranger. (That's just a fancy term for Part-Time Park Ranger). I started volunteering at the park last summer one weekend a month just to see what work inside a park was like. Was it boring? Was it too difficult? Would it be monotonous?
Well, no, no, and no. Ok, it's pretty difficult, but never boring or monotonous.
After volunteering for a number of months and getting to know the park staff, the Park Manager let me know they were short handed and needed some weekend help and that if I wanted to, I could have a job there. I thought about it for about 15 seconds and agreed. (Although I came home and talked to Kari about it for a few days.) I would be working every Sat. and Sun., doing things like trail maintenance, patrolling the parking lots during our busy times and making sure people don't park where they're not supposed to, hiking the trails to make sure people are staying on them and don't have dogs on them or picnics or feeding the animals, and just general park upkeep.
And that's what I've been doing. Alot of other things go along with the job, but that is a general overview. I have been able to do some cool things though. When doing trail work I get to drive a 4 wheel drive hauler down some of the trails. It reminds me of riding the 4-wheeler when I was a kid. I've been able to see so many amazing things. The wildlife alone has been an experience in itself. Owls, beavers, otters, geese, ducks, hawks and lots and lots of deer. The deer aren't even afraid of you, (which can be a bad thing outside of the park). I've been able to feed two captive hawks and two owls also. I've cut trees from across trails, built trailers, and hiked, hiked hiked, and hiked.
Everybody wonders if I am wearing myself out working this much. The thing is, working at the park is actually really refreshing. My weekday job is pretty monotonous. Pretty....florescent. Working at the park means I am outside all day, most of the time doing physical work. Work that gets your hands dirty, your body sweaty, and your muscles very tired. But my mind is always refreshed after a weekend of fresh air and hard work. I always feel better on Sunday evening than I do on Friday after work. I like it.
The job is supposed to go until July 1st. Steve, the Park Manager is hoping he can get permission to extend it through the Summer. The nice thing is that I was thinking about getting a part time job anyway. Kari and I have been living with one car for a few months now. We'd like to buy a car, but we don't want to make any payments. So this will help us save up some money for that. So what a better way to make a little extra money than being a Seasonal Park Ranger!
And just if you were wondering, the house is not falling apart since I have been so busy. Kari is working her rear off taking care of things around the house and in her work. Part of me feels bad for putting a bit more responsibility on her shoulders, but she has been very supportive of the whole endeavor and really doing great picking up the slack of me not being home on Saturdays and Sundays.
Chaco misses me being home with her on Saturdays, but I make up for it by letting her on the bed and playing with her when I get home.
So, from now on, you can just call me Ranger Jenkins, (pronounced by Kari, "Ranger Jankins!").
Randor Lake State Park
Friends of Radnor Lake

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