Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Some Interesting and at Least Mildly Exciting News

So I actually found out a little bit more about my immediate future! It looks like I am definitely going to be able to stay at wind cave through September, and even possibly a good portion of October. That is definitely good news! It is so different being here now and not having everyone around! And the last of my friends will be leaving in the next two weeks, which means that very soon I will be one of very few rangers who is still here. But I will get to stay and continue to be a ranger for about two more months!

That does complicate other things quite a lot, most notably be needing to move out of the house in Oroville, so I am trying to figure out what to do about that!

The other notable piece of news is that I know that I did have my application sent to the selecting official for death valley (further than I have gotten for anything else so far!) and I just found out yesterday that the same official called Ted to do a reference check on me. He was going to try and call back today and told me he would sell me. :) So that is very good news and means that I at least have a fighting chance of getting the position at death valley for the winter. I will hopefully know something more before too long!

So it appears as though things might work out okay after all. I am just continuing to trust and to do all that I can!

Otherwise, I am continuing to greatly enjoy sharing the story of finding Alvin's signature with visitor's on my tours! And I got to do the campfire program again last night. :)

I am off now to go sit in a natural hot springs!


Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Peace of the Prairie

So things are definitely looking up a lot more than they were just a few days ago. :) I still don't know any more about what is going to happen once I am done here, nothing more on getting a job, but I did find out the Big Bend in Texas has officially rejected me as well. So that is three no's. But I am continuing to try!

I actually had fun in Rapid City on Tuesday. I did a variety of different things including going to some thrift stores, getting lots of maps for free at AAA, and going to Cabelas which is always exciting! I also looked at trailers at several different places because I am trying to find a trailer that I can haul behind my truck in order to move out of the house in Oroville.

The most exciting thing I accomplished in Rapid, however, was to find a couple of hydraulic lifts that I was able to successfully install on my camper shell, which means that the back actually stays up now! Yay! So I don't have to prop it up anymore. :)

I spent a good portion of yesterday hiking through Wind Cave National Park. I went on three different trails, connecting them all together into a rather odd shaped loop, traveling a total of about 14 miles. It was very therapeutic and helpful for me to spend that time doing that. God most definitely renewed my strength and brought me peace. :)

I came back from hiking to find that the last roommate was gone! So I am now alone in the house. My first task is to clean everything and be able to actually organize my stuff in the kitchen for the first time. It is going to be nice to have things stay clean and not have to hide food, but also rather lonely. :(

I actually ended up getting to hang out with Haley (another fellow ranger) last night, which was nice. I was able to connect more with her and build more of a relationship, which will hopefully continue to grow so that I have at least one friend around for the next few weeks!

So bottom line is that my spirits are much better. :) Thank you for your prayers and thoughts and kind words. They are very meaningful and appreciated!

Now I get to go give one of each of our three walking tours for the remainder of the day!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Idiosyncrasies of Life

So I have not been doing very well at all for the last week, since my last email in fact. Not well at all. =( It had been difficult to find joy and I have consistently been thwarted in my attempts to remain at peace. I lack motivation to do much of anything right now, which is a state of mind I very strongly dislike!

But I have at least succeeded in distracting myself by watching quite a few episodes of the show "Deadwood," which is fun to watch because everything in the show actually took place in history just a few miles away in the black hills!

I am headed to Rapid City to visit some thrift stores, cabelas, the AAA office to get maps, and to get groceries. Tomorrow I am trying to go hiking with a few others, but if it doesn't work I will embark on some expedition on my own.

Phantom roommate actually left this morning and drunken roommate is leaving tomorrow night, which means that as of Thursday I am alone in the house. That is certainly going to be different!

Today as I was driving out of the park, I was not doing well, but as I drove through the beauty around me and observed the wonders of God's creation whilst listening to the words of the song "love" by "Above the Golden State" (Thanks Callie!) my heart was filled with a deep sense of peace and knowledge that God is bringing me to a place where he wants me. So I do have hope. It just has to break through a lot of other stuff right now! I have discovered that I have been hoping for the love and validation of a girl more than I have the same from God, and that has created all sorts of problems. I know better than that. And yet I was doing so and not even being cognizant of it. :( Sometimes I feel like quite the fool.

But perhaps that is the beginning of greater wisdom. And I could hardly be in a better place to encounter the cleansing power of Christ in the wilderness! I am keenly reminded of the words of John Muir that the more we cut down our forests to build churches the cathedrals, the further we are from God.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Interesting Parallels of Life

Here I am writing again already! But I do actually have several interesting stories to report. These last few days have included some rather unusual events and situations!

To begin with, I did get to do some hiking Tuesday night. I actually hiked about ten miles through the park, which was exciting, got to see a lot of places I had not yet visited! I drove up to the very north end of the park, left my truck there and hiked all the way back to where I live in lower housing. That worked out very well because I arrived just as it was getting dark, perfect timing to join Eric, Noelle, Mike, Mary, and Doug in a venture back to the north end of the park to view stars and the meteor shower. That worked out beautifully because they were able to take me back to where my truck was! And I got to see some amazing stars and quite a few meteors! The sky could not have been better. It was perfectly clear, I was out in the middle of the prairie where I could see the entire sky without anything obscuring it, and the only ambient light was a faint glow from rapid city and hot springs. Definitely a prime situation for viewing the heavens! After spending about an hour and a half simply looking up at the sky we came back, but laying out there had inspired me to spend the night out on the prairie. :)

So on Wednesday I went out and hiked another 6 miles on a different trail, ate dinner over my camp stove, and then pitched my tent out in the middle of the prairie. I then spread a blanket out and watched the stars and meteors for a very long time. :) I actually had cell phone reception out there which I found ironic! It was very peaceful and quiet and a beautiful place for me to be. God definitely gave me peace in light of turmoil brought into my life as a result of a phone conversation had while out on the prairie. There is nothing like the abiding peace of Christ, given through the majesty and wonder of his creation. :)

And I needed that more than I would know as I faced yesterday. It was a long and hard day at the cave. We were very busy and I had a couple of things go rather wrong. First of all, I got stuck in the elevator with 8 other people for 35 minutes! Not good! Especially because I was on my way into the cave for a tour which meant half of my tour was in the cave and the other half was still on the surface! But they were able to eventually get me out and I still finished the tour. Pretty crazy! Then I had the last natural entrance tour of the day and right when I got to the bottom of the stairs I had a girl, the very first person in line no less, freak out and decide she didn't want to be in the cave. So I had to walk her all the way back out to the surface past everyone else on the tour!   

Today was another very long day as well. I am sad and melancholy, but also being renewed by the spirit and love of Christ. It is amazing the gifts the he will give us if we pay attention when we need his peace the most. =)

Thanks for listening! 


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Some Rather Exciting Discoveries

So the adventures most assuredly continue! I am actually at the Hot Springs Public Library right now because I have the day off and for once am NOT going somewhere to do something adventurous! I figured it would be nice to actually take a day off and try and accomplish some other things, one of which was to come to the library and get a bunch of episodes of "deadwood" which I will be watching in the ensuing days. :) I am probably going to do at least a little hiking in the park later though. It is way to hot to go out now, but perhaps in the evening. :)

Things are changing here at Wind Cave. Last night we had our farewell dinner with all of the interp staff and had to start saying goodbye to people. Deric left last night as did Toni. So two of my closest friends here are now gone. :( Toni is actually going to be in Custer State Park for the next month though, so maybe I will still be able to see her occasionally. And Justin will be leaving in about four days. So very soon I will be a great deal more alone than I have been so far.

I continue to apply for jobs for the winter, but have not heard any positive word yet. I did get a negative response from Voyageurs in Minnesota and from Everglades in Florida though. So those parks are now officially off of the possibilities list! I also just found out that they do have some positions on the lighting crew at Wind Cave for the winter. Since it is a different division I could actually do that job and stay at Wind Cave. My job would be to actually help pull cable through the cave and install the new lighting system. Very different than what I have been doing! But it is something to consider. If I did decide to try for that I might be able to just stay here. Hmmm.

As for adventures, there has been no shortage there either! Last weekend I had three rather exciting adventures actually. the first occurred on Friday. I got up early to go and take a staff picture (which can now be seen as my facebook profile picture) and on the way back was invited to go with Eric and Noelle to go and climb up Inyan Kara mountain in Wyoming. It was a difficult, but very beautiful hike that provided great views looking toward the black hills and also toward Devil's tower. Eric had heard that there was a signature from the Custer expedition on the mountain so we decided we should find it. After much searching reminiscent of Nicholas Cage in national treasure we succeeded in locating the legendary signature which read. "C. Custer, '74." That would be colonel (he was made a general as a field commission during the civil war but after the war was demoted back to colonel, the rank he still held in 1874) George Armstrong Custer on his famous expedition into the black hills in 1874 when he and his part found the gold that started the gold rush, led to the foundation of deadwood and the richest gold mines in the united states, and ultimately resulted in the infamous battle of little bighorn two years later. That was an exciting carving to find!

The adventure continued that night when I got to go on a rec trip in the cave that took me through a section I had not yet seen. That included all sorts of fun things like string from the 1890's, several interesting signatures, and some amazing cave formations. The most exciting part was getting to climb down into the cathedral from above and see where one of the holes out of that room actually leads! For Mom and Callie, that is the room on the natural entrance tour with the impressive boxwork and high ceilings looking much like a gothic cathedral just before the stairs leading down to the model room, which is the second stop on that tour. For the rest of you, it is really cool. :)

The next day brought more cave adventures as I finally got to go on a survey trip in wind cave! I spent 8.5 hours on Saturday crawling through the cave and helping to officially map 460 feet of passageway. So Wind Cave is 460 feet longer now because of me! I got to be on point which means I was the first person to go through anything because I was the smallest. That was very exciting because that meant that I was the one to actually find things in the cave! And find things we certainly did! I found newspaper from the 1890's, found a significant amount of string from the same period, found several candle stubs, and found a match as well. All of that was at least 110 years old!

I also found virgin cave passageway, meaning passageway that no one had ever been down in any capacity. And I was the only one that could go in because of my size. So I got to go somewhere no one else has ever been. :)

But the most exciting discovery of the day for me was a 160 foot long passageway that had previously been unknown and unrecorded. But I was not the first one to go down it. As soon as I started down the passageway I could tell that someone had been there before me and soon began to see string. The passageway started to widen out and a dome opened above me so I stood up. when I did so I saw that there were from carvings in the rock. The first read Joe Striker. We don't know who that is. But the second signature read "A.F. McDonald." That would be Alvin Frank McDonald, the greatest explorer of wind cave who died in Dec. 1893 from Typhoid fever he contracted at the World's Fair in Chicago. The date underneath that signature read "July 17, 1893" which means that I found one of the very last signatures in one of the very last places Alvin ever explored. So exciting! It was a phenomenal find, and I was the one to choose the passageway and the one who actually found it! Not only that, but the passageway is significant enough that we get to name it. :) After talking to the other guys we decided that we want to give it a name that references those signatures because they are the most significant part of the passageway. Current possibilities include Alvin's Attic (because it is higher than anything else we have found that Alvin was in in the area) or Striker Street (because that appears to be the only reference to this particular gentleman in the cave). 

So I found unknown passageway, and found one of Alvin's old passageways and get to help name it! How exciting is that?!

I got to give the campfire program again on Sunday night and it was just as fun as last week. I love being a ranger! And then I gave the wild cave tour again yesterday! I have today and tomorrow off and then work for three days giving the normal tours plus the walking tours. I don't have the new schedule yet, so I don't know what happens after Saturday! So that is why I am taking today off. :)

Living the adventure!