Monday, June 28, 2010

People I'm Working With

So here's a review of some of the people I'm working with again, and a couple new people here at Tower. First there is Colette, my boss. She's the head ranger at Tower and Law Enforcement as well. It's thanks to Colette that I got the job here because she helped me through the hiring process this past school year, (if you've ever tried to work for the government, you know how difficult the hiring process is.) John K works bears with me. He also started out as an SCA, and he is really good at handling crowds at the bear jams. Ranger Dooley is the backcountry ranger here at Tower. If you had to show the meaning of 'ranger' to someone, it would be Ranger Dooley. He can hike for miles without breaking a sweat and no one would dare to contradict him in the front country. But despite all his Ranger-ness, he's actually a really funny and nice guy. Eric is a permanent LE here at Tower, and he's really knowledgeable about everything that goes on here. He's always working to enforce the law and make the Tower area a safer place. John M is also law enforcement (LE) and always has an opinion that's interesting to listen to. I could probably talk for hours with him, but I would never want to get into a debate with him. Amanda (LE) is one of the coolest rangers here. She's about 6 inches shorter than me, but she would definitely be able to beat me up if she wanted to. Brady (LE) is one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet. He has a bit of a warped sense of humor sometimes, but then again, I was told I do as well, which may be why I enjoy hanging out with him. There's a new law enforcement ranger here at Tower. His name is Howie, and he's a pretty awesome guy to hang out with. He's also REALLY good at bear jams. He'll swoop in, give a lecture to people chasing after bears, and then turn around and smile at the rest of the visitors. Ron (LE) is really awesome. He's always really calm, but has this look about him like he knows what's going on. Sara was a volunteer here last year, and now she is a ranger, with basically the same job as myself. Sara is really fun to hang out with and always has new information to tell me about something
We have a new SCA here, (my old job), his name is Brian and he seems to be catching on to everything here pretty well. Brian brought one of his friends here when he drove out, and now that friend, Jim, is a volunteer for Tower Ranger Station. He'll mostly be working the bear jams.
There are a few other rangers at the Northeast entrance who stop by once and a while, such as Scott, Ryan, Sally, Gabe, Mike, and Brian C, so you might hear me mention them a few times.
Well that's about it. My hat should be in tomorrow. I am really looking forward to it.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


There's been a moose hanging around Floating Island Lake, about 5 miles west of the station. This is a gorgeous looking moose with a nice set of antlers growing. Its rare to see moose in the park, (my brother can attest to this), and many people spend weeks or so searching for one without any luck, so it's pretty cool to see a bull moose this many times.
I just love living in the mountains. We can get really warm temperatures during the day, but as soon as 6:00pm hits, the temp drops at least 20 degrees. It always gets down to about 31 degrees at night, so it is like free air conditioning. It is also really nice to wake up to a backdrop of mountains every morning. Just taking a look around at the scenery as I walk up to the office is so amazing.
Also, thanks to all those who've commented so far. I may not be responding to all of them, but I am definitely reading them!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Kersey Lake

I had my first real day off a while back and it was AMAZING! John M, Brady, Amanda, and I and their two dogs Tango and Arlo all went for a hike in the National Forest just outside the Northeast entrance. We left early in the morning, because Brady had to work later that day, and headed to Kersey Lake in the Gallatin Natl Forest.
We started up along a trail that had a bunch of forks off it and it seems as if we tried every one until we reached the main trail that led into the backcounty. One of the forks led to a waterfall. It was nothing big, maybe about 20 ft tall but boy was it loud! And fast! I would not like to boat down that thing in a boat. John M, who used to be a rafting guide showed me the course I would want to take if I was put in a boat and forced to go over the waterfall. There were two parts: one current that went right over the edge, and one current that was made into a jump by a rock. Now you would think that taking the jump would not be the better idea, but John explained that if you took the jump, the boat/raft would land flat and there would be a better chance of the nose of the boat being up. If the other route was taken, the nose would land at the bottom of the waterfall face down, and the chances for flipping the boat would be much higher.
Another fork of the trail led to an abandoned power plant that used the current produced by the waterfall to make energy. I guessed there was a fire, because it seemed that the building was gone, and only the foundation remained. But apparently whatever remained was protected by some historical artifact act made by the government, so the cement and iron ruining the landscape that was left behind will remain there indefinitely.
We crossed a bridge going over the river and headed up the trail. Arlo, (Amanda and Brady's dog) got to see his first batch of snow. He also loves to play with balls, so when I made a snowball and threw it to him he caught it in his mouth, but to his disappointment it got crushed when he bit down.
We hiked some more, through lots more snow, until we reached a creek crossing. Luckily, there were some fallen trees so none of us had to get wet. No one really had trouble crossing except for myself and Arlo. He seemed a bit scared of both swimming across and crossing on the log. I just seemed to have bad balance, so I sat on the log and scooted myself over the creek.
For a while we climbed a mountain through a lodgepole pine new growth forest. On the other side of the mountain going downhill, the trail was covered in snow and the snowmelt. So it made for a very muddy and we downhill climb. At this point, I was very grateful for my new hiking boots which my mom bought me before I left. Not only did they feel wonderful, but they also kept my feet dry, which is a wonderful thing in this cold mountain climate.
We reached a lake and hung out there for a while. There was a rock cliff that if you yelled at it, a pretty cool echo was produced. Both Amanda and I experimented with our new discovery. There seemed to be a forest ranger outpost across the lake, but due to our lack of time, we decided to check it out on another day.
We headed the same way back, going up the muddy trail and scooting across the creek. For lunch, we stopped at the beartooth cafe in Cooke City just outside of the Northeast gate. If you are ever in this area, this place is a must! Not only does it have amazing food, but it also has 130 types of beer from around the world that you can order. Now since I am underage, I ordered just an ice water. But the Bison burger that I ordered was delicious.
After that, it was back to the park. The second half of my day wasn't as enjoyable as the first half. I spent about 4 and a half hours cleaning my trailer. But since it was a thorough cleaning, hopefully from now on, if I tidy up once a week, a large cleaning isn't going to be necessary again.
Well that's all for now. I still haven't gotten my ranger hat in. Believe me, if I do, there will be pictures right away.
Photos of the Kersey Lake hike are posted at the bottom.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

First Day Back

I just recently received a picture from John K, one of the bear rangers here, of me on my first day of work. I'm in plain clothes because my uniform hadn't come in yet. Colette was having an EMS review on the scoop stretcher and I was chosen by the rangers to be the patient. So they poked and prodded me onto the scoop stretcher for about two hours. But its OK because the same thing happened during my EMT class a while back, so I was used to it.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The standard

One thing I've been wanting to do for a while is learn how to drive a standard or a stick-shift car, and two days ago I finally got the chance. Brady taught me in his truck. I have no idea why he wanted to do this, because I assumed since I know nothing of standard cars that I would accidentally break the transmission or something. Despite my warnings, he was still willing to teach me which was extremely awesome of him. So we get in the car, and before I can move 1 foot, I stall it. After, I think, two more stalls, I manage to get out of the parking space. But then it takes another two stalls to get moving forward in first gear. We head down the Tower driveway and do a U-turn near the backcountry office. I somehow manage to shift into second gear on the way back without stalling. We are then about to go up the small hill towards the upper office. I downshift to first gear and get to that and around a dirt road fine.
Then, Brady seemed to think I was ready to go on the real road. So I tried and then shifted all the way up to 3rd gear! We were going 30 mph! It was so scary. We then pulled into Roosevelt lodge to turn around, which I do fine. But as soon as we get to the turn back onto the regular road, I stop. Now getting going again in first gear is still really hard. I think I stall about 4 times before I get back on the main road.
We get back to Tower okay, and I manage to stall the car one final time about 2 feet away from the car being parked. Overall, I would say it was a success because I didn't break his car. But it is very exciting to "know" how to drive a standard car. Thanks again to Brady!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

So much water, but so little water

So for the past three weeks or so, Yellowstone has been getting drenched with rain showers and snow(in some places). The rivers and creeks are pretty high this year. Yet in all of this abundance of liquid, the water to my trailer has been shut off. Apparently, the water pipe leading directly to my trailer and Sara and Ron's RV had a leak in it that was making Amanda and Brady's place sink into the ground. And I mean LITERALLY sink into the ground. It looks like the foundation sunk about one foot so far, but they turned off the water to my place so they could dig and fix the leak. Brady and Amanda were so kind to let me crash in their extra bedroom for a few days or until the pipeline gets fixed. But there has been no set date for it, so I have no Idea when that will be.

Got back onto the bear jams a couple days ago. For those of you who are just tuning in, bear jams are traffic jams caused by bears when they are visible from the road. And just like last year, there are a handful of visitors who park their giant RV in the middle of the one laned road, jump out, and run to the bear to take pictures.
Yes, I did say run to the bear.
When I first came here last year, my instinct was to run AWAY from the bears. I still have no idea to this day why someone would want to run towards a wild animal that can tear your face off with a swipe of the paw.
But despite all of my fears of getting my face swiped off, I somehow ended up about 10 ft from a bear when I helped it cross the road yesterday. Thank goodness there was a car to put between myself and the bear.

My ranger uniform is still looking awesome. I would love to put pictures up, but I would rather wait until my re-sized ranger hat comes in. No ranger uniform is complete without the hat.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Now that I am working for the National Park Service(NPS), I get to wear the NPS uniform. Now if you are one of the many people who've heard me say "I'm very excited to get my ranger hat," you might be able to understand my disappointment with the next sentence. My hat came in, but it was a size too big, and I had to send it back for a different size. So now I have to wait another week and a half probably to get it. Not fun.
The sizing of the clothes is very confusing as well. Not only did I have to send back my had but also my sweater, windbreaker, hat band, and my pants (which were about 4 sizes too did that happen!?)
Apart from the frustrating ordering online, the uniform looks good. My long sleeve shirt requires a tie, so that can be annoying at times....but it still looks good and that's what matters!
Having a badge is awesome too. It doesn't really do anything except sit on you and be shiny.
As usual, I have my bear spray and my radio. No change there. And for the time being, while I'm waiting for my Ranger hat to come in, I get to wear an NPS ball cap if I so choose.

Same old, some new.

Well, here we go again. I begin my stay at Tower with a bison grazing on the dandilions not five feet away from my trailer. I wish the weed control in Massachusetts was that good.
I have been worried for the past few days because my background check hadn't cleared, (all federal employees must go through one) but yesterday I got news that it cleared, just in time for me to start working. Hooray!
Only a few things have changed here. Brady and Amanda, (two Law-Enforcement Rangers who worked with me last year as well) have a new dog named Arlo. He is very sweet and fluffy. But of course, along with the fluffyness comes shedding.
I'm in a different trailer, but still near the creek so I'll be able to hear it at night. One thing that definately hasn't changed is the bears. they are as active as usual. On monday afternoon, a bear came in to the Ranger station area. He wandered around and into the horse corals until John M. and Eric chased him back to the woods. With all the vehicle traffic at the station, it's not safe for a bear to wander around. This is why it is a nessisity to push it back into its natural habitat.
So tomorrow I'll try to make a post about the people I'm working with again. I know I made one in my last blog, but refreshers are always nice.
Until next time!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Arrived in Yellowstone!

We have arrived! And for the past two days I have been taking Yvette around some of the great places in Yellowstone for her to see. We've been to Canyon, Lake, West Thumb Geyser Basin, Old Faithful, Norris, and Mammoth Hot springs. She seems quite enamored by the thermal features. But unfortunately tomorrow her flight leaves out of Bozeman. She said that she had a great trip and hopes to come back sometime though.

Tower and everyone are awesome as usual, and I can't wait to start work!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Iowa and South Dakota

So I posted some photos at the bottom of the page. The past few days have been quite eventful. On our second day of Ann Arbor, one of my mother's friends from grad school, Marijim, and her husband Jess took us to a delicious breakfast and then to the farmers market of Ann Arbor called Kerrytown. All of the vegetables looked so delicious that I wished I wasn't on a road trip so I could buy them.
We left Ann Arbor and Headed to Iowa. After an 8 hour drive, we arrived just in time for supper. My cousin Yvette got to meet my grandparents and my other cousin Brian that night and the next day she met my Aunt and Uncle and my other cousins Dana and Alex. (Lots of cousins!)
We had a good day off in Iowa, visiting with family, playing with the new baby kittens, checking the car, and visiting the pigs of course. Unfortunately we had to get a move on the next morning and move on to South Dakota. That day, (our fifth day) was our longest day of driving. I think the total was around 10 hours! But we did take a break from the open highway by stopping at the Mitchell Corn Palace. The outside of this extravagant structure was covered in beautiful art pieces of corn. (Pictures at the bottom)
We arrived at this little mom and pop inn called Dakota Inn in Kadoka, South Dakota. The most amusing thing about this inn was the pool. It was one you would not want to take a dip in. It was about two feet deep, and a nice emerald green......with algae. :P Yuck~
Today we did a small geology walk in the Badlands National Park. Now if you haven't ever been to the Badlands, I highly recommend at least taking a drive through the upper loop. Hiking through the eroded rocks is also quite fun because there is never a set path; you have to make your own. After the Badlands it was to Wall Drug. Wall drug was a small Drug store struggling to survive in the early 1930's. The original owner compelled people to stray off of Highway 90 by offering free ice water. The current owner still offers that.....along with tourist items, a cafe, a small mall, western wear, an arcade, and a giant t-rex. Very fun.
Then we saw Mount Rushmore. It was pretty cool, and thats the end of today. Tomorrow we arrive in Yellowstone. For that I am very excited. I cannot wait to see all the rangers again!

Myself in my uniform from a couple of years ago. I wear normal clothes to the office now.