Tuesday, May 19, 2009

First Days as a Ranger

Okay, so I am not actually a ranger yet, but I am getting a lot closer at least! I do have most of my uniform. I had to send my hat back because it was too small, and my belt is almost too small, but i may just end up dealing with that. Not sure yet. I do have my official badges and name tag pins though. :) I have not tried to take a picture yet because, quite frankly, it just isn't nearly as exciting without the hat! But as soon as I have my hat and everything is all put together I will take some pictures and send them your way. :)

Things have been going very well. I am learning tons of information! The training is a mix of lots of different things! Today I had a session on speleology (the  study of caves), geology, the history of wind cave, and what sort of people come to the national parks. So it is quite the variety of topics! Plus we are also going on tours into the caves. It is really cool how they are doing it because they are having different lead staff members give us a tour first as if we were tourists. We can ask whatever questions we want and everything. Then we go back and they walk us through and explain how to do everything, where light switches are, where emergency phones are, where the important stuff to point out is, where you stop, how fast you move through the cave, all that sort of stuff. So it is very informational and we get to see them actually do the tour first. And we are going to go through each of the four tours with a different staff person next week so we can hear a different way of giving the tour. They are really stressing the fact that they want us to come up with our own tours and make them unique. It is the same material, walking through the same pathway, but we can focus on and talk about what we want to and what is important to us. I really like that. :) It means that I am going to get to create my own version of what I think is worth knowing about the caves, the geology of the caves, its history, etc. So I am definitely really liking that!

All the rangers seem really nice and like they will be a great group to work with! Last night the lead staff made dinner for all the rest of the interpretive staff, which was very cool and exciting. And we ended up just sitting and talking to each other for quite a while. I enjoyed that a lot. :)

I am living in a 3 bedroom house with five guys and a sixth may be coming. So I do have a roommate. It seems like that will be okay. It is not ideal, but he seems to be a good guy. Two of the other guys in the house who are on the fence crew... not so much. But I think I can deal with it. We ended up losing the microwave because apparently that was someone else's who came and picked it up, so I will have to live without that! But I did manage to find some sort of home for everything and hopefully things will live through the summer!

I do have to work next Monday on my birthday. Or rather I have training stuff going on. I will not start actually guiding tours until the week after that, but I appreciate that because it is giving us a lot of time to really learn things and be good at what we are doing. I am pretty sure that I am not being paid for the training. That has been a bit unclear, so I don't know for sure, but that is the impression that I am getting. That is certainly most unfortunate, but it is what it is! Hopefully things will all work out even if I am not getting any sort of paycheck for probably about a month!

I will also get to see a lot of the surrounding area as a part of the training and we will be going on the four hour "wild cave" tour a week from tomorrow. That is the super exciting, crawl on our belly with hard hats and headlamps tour. :) I want to see if I can lead that one also!!

So phone reception is definitely none existent here. I am having to drive four miles away and sit on the side of the road in order to get anything right now! so you can leave me messages, but not so much actually call me. I don't know how much I am going to be able to call, so mail will probably be the best option!

The general number for the park is 605-745-4600 (or 605-745-1134 is the direct line to the front desk-they both ring in the same place).

If there is ever some real emergency and you need to get a message to me right away you can call 605-745-1133. Please do not call this number unless it really is an emergency. This is the line that is always manned by one of the lead staff that is also the line that is used if something goes wrong in the cave or anything like that. They will always know where I am and what I am doing and be able to get a message to me, but it is definitely not a number that you call if you just want to say hello! Unfortunately for that you pretty much just have to call my cell and leave a message and then I have to call back.

I am pretty tired and exhausted right now! I am trying to decide if I want to go be adventurous or just go back to the house and end up trying to go to bed earlier. We'll see!

I love you all very much!