Monday, June 22, 2009

My First Day

So.....my first day. I could not have asked for a better or more amazing one! I've compiled a list of why my day was so great....it is in chronological order not in excitement order, primarily because I'm not sure I could rank my day.

1. MY UNIFORM!
I don't think I need to say anymore. I got to put on my uniform and was so excited to see it all together---ON ME! And the hat was the icing on the cake! :)

2. The Donut Palace
On our way into town yesterday we spotted the Donut Palace on the corner, across from the park entrance. We both were intrigued by it, but my main thought, was "Coffee!!!" I mean, afterall, where there are donuts, there is coffee! So, Mark and I stopped on the way in to "the office" and picked up a dozen donuts and two large coffees. The Donut Palace did not disappoint. Delicious! I, of course, had the sprinkles....as Lauren said, "think Crispy Creme and you'll love these!"


3. My picture with the brown sign IN MY UNIFORM!
Well, you can see this on the header of my blog. Mark took the picture and Jon, my brother, formatted it so that it could be my blog header (thanks Mark and Jon!). This was major excitement! Not only a brown sign photo, but my first day as a Park Ranger IN MY UNIFORM! Eeeekkkss!

4. Getting a tour of the Travertine Nature Center--
before it opened to the public!

So, my shift started at 8 am as did Lauren's. We were the only two scheduled to be there at 8 am and she promptly began to show me around (after we each had a donut of course!). It was cool to be "behind the scenes"!

5. Lauren attaching my hat belt properly.
I truly appreciated her help! This is the fancy little strap that goes around the NPS hat and keeps tight on your head---who knew? And it's much trickier to do than it looks! I appreciated the expertise help from Lauren and helping to make it a completed and official hat!

6. Lunch with Mark, Lauren and Chris
Mark and I didn't really have time to go grocery shopping before the job started so we planned on doing lunch together out. Lauren and Chris joined us and all four of us (five if you count Soba) had a Subway lunch we took to and ate at the Downtown Chamber of Commerce.

7. Working the Visitor Center Desk
When lunch finished, Lauren and I were assigned to the Visitor Center Desk to relieve Lynn and Stefan as they went to lunch. I felt so official being on the other side of the desk!!!! While I wasn't able to answer very many specific questions, I did become better acquainted with our two Barred Owls that are caged next to the Visitor Center Desk (see #8). I was also assigned to try and monitor the number of guests that came in hourly. I think we had 80 the first hour and 104 the second hour we worked the desk. Wow! It was amazing to see what it's like on the other side.

8. The Barred Owls and the owl pellet
As mentioned, there are two Barred Owls that sit next to the Visitor Desk. Both owls were hit by cars (separate incidents and unrelated) and cannot fly. They are both blind in one eye as well. They could not survive in the wild. They are very cool to have next to the Visitor Desk--a lot of people don't realize that they're real, which makes sense because there are a number of stuffed animals throughout the visitor center, including Crooked Horn the stuffed Buffalo (who died of natural causes). There are a lot of questions about them. AND....very cool....was that one of them deposited an owl pellet and it landed on a narrow strip of wood right next to the counter (but in the cage). I've never seen one before. My brother said he got to dissect one in high school. I just learned what an owl pellet was about two years ago (if that) and had never seen one before. I was most excited (and relieved that it didn't look like the mouse it used to be) to finally see a real one!

9. The Horny Toad episode
So, as I am at the Visitor Center desk, two separate families come up and examine a small terrarium that is sitting on the desk (near the owl cage). Again, separately and about 10 minutes apart, each family comes up and says, "Oh! A Horny Toad! I used to play with those things all the time growing up--you don't see much of them around anymore. Aren't they on the endangered species list?" Now, I've never seen a Horny Toad and do not know anything about them. However, when the second parent mentioned that he thought they were on the endangered list, I brought this to Lauren's attention. She promptly walked over to our bookstore and started looking in a book. Sure enough, she finds the Horny Toad. It isn't on the Endangered Species list, but is on the Oklahoma Special Interest list....they are becoming harder and harder to find. So, long story short, we should not have it in a terrarium, on display.

Interesting.....

So, what to do? After Lauren discussed with Lynn, Stefan and the park's game warden, it was decided that we should release it in the park in habitat that would be best for it (see #10). They need a steady stream of ants (adults eat 70-80 a day), heat, and sun. Our research taught us that they rarely survive in captivity.


How did we get him in the first place? The day before a man brought him in in a tin can. He was camping at our park and said he was mowing the lawn (in Oklahoma City) the day before and found him. He didn't know what to do with him, was coming to the park on vacation, and so he brought the lizard to the visitor center. Evidently, this is a regular problem for the park. The ranger at the desk yesterday got the lizard set up with a terrarium and some meal worms and thus, how we found him on my first day.


His name came to be Spikey via an 8-ish year old boy who took a special liking to him. He wanted to know the Horny Toad's name and when I said I wasn't sure he had one, he suggested the name Spikey.


10. Releasing Spikey
As I said, the Horny Toad had to go. So, Lauren and I hopped in the car and drove to a park that looked like it had enough diversity in environment that surely our little friend could survive. And if not...well, then he would at least be contributing to the food chain. We walked up an incline, turned the terrarium over and with our goodbyes, he scurried away.



11. A tour of the park
After releasing Spikey, Lauren took me on a tour of the park. It was great to see how big it was, the different parts of it, and hear a little about the park.

12. The reunion and goodbye of my boots
1995 didn't seem that long ago. But as my brother reminded me today, it was the halfway point of his life so far. That made it seem longer ago. Well, I got these boots in December 1995, right before I went to Belize for three months. I loved them. I remember going to REI or EMS, getting fitted for them, getting my big green backpack and getting ready for my first solo international adventure. Well, yesterday I said goodbye to them. I dug them out and brought them with me because I need a pair while my boots are on back order. I thought, "how perfect! I'll use my Asolos!" Well, they were perfect, until about mid morning. Then, I thought I just tripped over my own two feet (not that uncommon for me) but then realized that a little bit of the sole came loose on my right boot. By lunch half of my right boot sole was missing. By mid afternoon my right foot's sole was removed from the boot and my left foot was well onto it's way of being removed as well. You can see from the picture that they were pretty useless without the soles. And the cost to resole them was at least the cost of a new pair of boots. So, good by Asolos, hello to my new Merrell's.


13. Dinner of Mazzio's with Mark and Soba in the park
Mazzio's is a fast-food Italian eatery. I compare it to Fazoli's back east. But what I like is that they have a fresh salad bar that ISN'T by the pound---I could load up on hard boiled eggs and it didn't cost me anything extra! Cool! Mark and I were dining there for dinner the second night in a row and decided only on salads and mozzarella sticks (what a meal, eh!?). We took our order to go and went to the park and ate, enjoying the trees and the sounds of the park. Soba loved exploring while we ate.

14. Birthday cake ice cream--a cousin of Blue Moon????
So, there is this all-in-one place called Braum's. It has ice cream (much more than DQ or an ice cream shop), it's a drive thru (love that--keeps the ice cream from melting!), and also sells dairy products and fresh produce. Kinda cool. So, Mark and I decided to go in and check it out and get some of the cool creamy yumminess! And what do I see?????? A blue ice cream!!! Could it be???? I ask for a sample....and it is very close....very, very close....to my MOST FAVORITE ICE CREAM EVER: BLUE MOON! If you are not from Michigan then this might not mean much. But Blue Moon is the ever-elusive ice cream from my youth. During the prohibition years Stroh's (as in the beer) went into the ice cream making business. Growing up in southeastern Michigan there used to be two Stroh's stores. And I would get Blue Moon almost every time, particularly in my high school years in the downtown Wyandotte store. But haven't found it outside of Michigan. This was VERY close....I would say a first cousin of it. The biggest difference was that it had cake bits in it--thus it's name: Birthday Cake. Take the cake out though and you would have a Blue Moon look alike....very exciting!


15. Saying goodnight to Mark and Soba next to me
I know it will be a while before all three of us are together again...7 weeks suddenly feels long in this respect. "The pack" enjoyed each other's company and fell asleep soundly.

2 comments:

Jonny T said...

Lovin' the adventures and the blog!!!! So excited to see what's to come! I bet every day is going to be as packed as your first. Have I told you I'm jealous yet? Cause I am! Have fun!

kelsea said...

Wow Ms.T! Sounds like an awesome, fun-filled first day!! Great Job saving the toads! :)