Sunday, June 28, 2009

Bad Boys, Bad Boys, Watcha Gonna Do?

I do not usually share this publicly, but I do love me some Cops. Our law enforcement friends yes, but I was speaking of the TV show Cops here. I love the drama, the action, the interviews, everything...So, yes, on our TiVo at home we have Cops scheduled as a daily record.

What does this have to do with my Park Ranger-hood???

Well, Lauren is the bomb and hooked me up with a ride along with one of the Park Ranger law enforcers. And not just any law enforcer, the Supervisor! I spent almost five hours in a ride along with Ranger Randy Scoggins. And it was AWESOME!

Randy has been a law enforcement ranger at several parks and enjoys his time at Chickasaw. He drove us around through the campgrounds sharing what he's looking for and explaining why he does what he does.

The five hours were jam-packed but let me give you a few highlights:

1. ON THE WATER!!!! Yes, you're reading that right! I got to do a ride along on an NPS boat on the lake!!! Wooohoooo!!! It was super! We drove around the lake, showing that we were out there and waving--we were a presence. We asked one boat to show their life jackets, reminded another that life jackets had to be worn for anyone being pulled by a boat (as in on a tube), and were stopped by two moms who were looking for their sons who had been missing for an hour and a half on their jet skis on the lake. [Don't worry--they were fine, we spotted them later playing around on their jet skis. But their moms asked us to relay the message that they "were hot!" as in mad.]

Being in the boat was very fun. I haven't had a lot of time on the water and it was very fun in the speed boat, donning the uniform, boating from one end of the lake to the other while doing compliance checks. At one point we were called for a tow, but by the time we got there the boat was working again, so no tow necessary.

After almost two hours out on the lake Randy pulled the boat into the boathouse and then put it up on the lift. How cool is that?

2. Listening to all of the calls over the radio....The rangers not only hear park chatter but also calls in the county. We went to two calls. The first was to check in on a car that had been pulled over and then, when the license was run, it came back as suspended. That individual was probably going to jail until they bonded out. (Randy said that finding drivers with suspended licenses is fairly common.) The second was over a campsite dispute. Several rangers throughout the day spoke to Rose about her family's tent site and that the tent needed to stay on the gravel and not into the woods or other lots. By the time we got there they were in the process of moving so any further police action was averted. Randy quietly spoke to a family member on the side then we were on our way again.

3. Touring the park. Both Lauren and Ron took me out into the park prior to my ride along and I'm very grateful for them doing so. On Saturday, however, I went to the final arm of the park that I hadn't previously visited: Guy Sandy. This is where a lot of the locals put their boats into the water. There is also a camp site there but it isn't very popular right now because there was a prescribed burn in that area last year (to get rid of the Red Cedars) and the land has not fully grown back yet. There are also fishing areas back in that part of the park and we stopped by one spot and Randy politely asked to see their fishing licenses to make sure they were in compliance. They were, and we moved on. Randy showed me the hunting areas, told me what he looks for when he's roving that area during the hunting seasons (guns, particularly loaded ones, cannot be loaded and riding in the front seat with the driver for instance). We also went up to the dam area. This is closed to the public now because of federal regulations, but the view from the top onto the lake was magnificent. I wish I had my camera with me. In my excitement to go on the ride along I left both my camera and my iPhone back in the office.

I really appreciate the opportunity to do the ride along and my time spent with Randy. I learned a lot from him about the park, his job, and law enforcement. What an awesome opportunity!!!

And my day didn't end there....

At about 6:15 Lauren called Randy to see what we were up to. It was my dinner break time so Lauren picked me up at the Ranger Station and after thanking Randy, Lauren and I were on our way to Subway for dinner. Then back to the Travertine Nature Center to get ready for ....


I should mention here that I worked L schedule yesterday. That means that I came on at 1:30 pm and finished at 10:30 pm with my dinner break between 6 pm and 7 pm. So, dinner break was my half way point.

Lauren's evening program was about Bison. Evening programs are held in the outdoor amphitheaters---there are two in the park. We were in the amphitheater at the Point. We gathered up the trunk of buffalo parts, grabbed an extra table, our water, our hats, and my camera and we were off!

Once we got there we carried the trunk to the amphitheater and then roved the campsites encouraging people to come to our program. Lauren introduced me to the camp host for the area. The camp hosts help the campers with any needs they have: directions, the fee collection stations, questions they have, etc. They live in the park and receive a free campsite in exchange for their service.

By 9:00, the start of our program, we had 13 attendees. Lauren did a great program, first introducing the park, then talking about the significance of the buffalo to the Native people and the park, and then asking the participants what particular parts of the buffalo were used for. In her trunk she has a bladder (used as a water bottle), a tendon (for sewing), the tail (acting as a fly swatter), a buffalo robe, a buffalo skull, a hoof (used as a cup), a horn (used as a carrier or a cup), and a rib (as a tool). By the end of the evening we had 16 total attendees and a successful program!

We had to be careful packing up, the area is known to have brown recluses and scorpions (see my previous post that featured the picture of the dead scorpion). Well, we saw a live scorpion several times, but we made it safely back to the car.

The moon was out and beautiful and the stars were magical. I don't think you realize that you don't see stars until you look up under a dark, rural sky and see the stars was beautiful.

That was the end to my awesome day. I love being a Teacher-Ranger-Teacher.