Monday, August 19, 2013

Sleeping Bear, Final Week

8/9-8/10: These two days I worked the Port Oneida Fair in the Leelanau section of the park. The fair is a great chance for visitors and locals to come out and tour some of the historic farmsteads within the park that are not always open throughout the year. The Fair also brings in several different vendors that sell a variety of food and period influenced goods, from furniture to clothing and much more. It is also an opportunity for volunteer groups within the park, such as Preserve Historic Sleeping Bear, to showcase the projects that they have been working on, recruit more members, and raise funds. All in all, the Fair is a great weekend for everyone involved.
On the first day, I arrived not knowing exactly what my tasks for the weekend would be. I went to one of the main farms in the fair, the Olson farm, and offered my services to the Preserve Historic Sleeping Bear coordinator. We set up the majority of the tables, chairs, banners and information for the day, and started to receive visitors around 10am. I stayed at Olson farm until about 2pm, answering all sorts of questions about the farms and the park in general. There were several games for kids that I supervised, and I got to enjoy a show put on by the “Great Lakes Schooner”, a man who educated the public about boating on Lake Michigan in the early 1900s. At one point, one of the cooks in the house, who was displaying how to cook period specific food, set off the sensitive fire alarms, and I worked with a maintenance worker to deactivate the alarms. After 2pm, I headed over to the Burfiend farm where other vendors and games were set up. I participated in a game of cricket with a volunteer who was showing the visitors how the game was played in the early 1900s. We had a group of about 20 visitors play a couple innings in a formal game. Afterwards, I ran into a group of volunteers who I had gotten very close with on South Manitou Island this summer and did not expect to see again before I left, so that was a real treat.

Great Lakes Schooner giving his presentation.
Band setting up for an evening performance.
Fair at the Olson Farm.
Playing cricket.
Period music.
On the second day, I again had the freedom to help out wherever was needed. I had heard that largest parking area at the Dechow farm had been difficult to manage the day before, and only had two volunteers working the lot. I decided that some flat hat presence was in need, so I headed over there first thing in the morning. For about 4 hours, myself and the other two volunteers guided in around 1,000 cars into the grass parking area that did not have painted lines. The two volunteers directed the cars to where I was currently standing in the lot, and I had the responsibility of making sure that they were properly lined up in as best of a row as we could make them. By 1pm, the lot was nearly full and the designated parking areas were made obvious to new coming visitors. One of the supervisors for the Interp. Division asked me to relieve one of the volunteers who was running the barn tours at the Dechow farm around 1:30pm. I met with the volunteer, who showed me the highlights of the barn and then I took over. Once I’m showed a tour once, I feel very comfortable with conducting the tour myself, and the rest of the day went very well in the barn. The oldest section of the barn was built in the late 1800s, with the new, and more intricate, dairy section of the barn built in 1939. Twelve areas were built for cows to feed at while they were being milked. I explained to visitors the process of bringing in the cow, milking it, and selling the product to the local milk man. I also showed them how the silo worked and explained what types of foods the cows preferred. It was a great chance for me to polish up on some interpretation skills and talk to visitors. At the end of the day, I helped take down some tables and chairs and called it a night.
Some of the food served at the fair... yum!
One of the many livestock animals for the public to see.
The parking lot that I managed. There were six rows of cars total.
The dairy barn that I gave tours in.
8/11- Today I worked with SLBE dispatcher, Tom Davison. I reported to headquarters at 8:00am and we jumped right into the day. We collected all of the information needed for the morning report, such as campground availability, weather information, fire danger, and Lake Michigan wave info. Tom did the morning report, and then we got to work on filing fee warnings. Tom is responsible for filing all of the Law Enforcement tickets and warnings, and he has a very organized system. We taped all the warning onto normal sized sheets of paper for proper filing and got around 700 warnings into that cabinet, all while taking radio calls from all of the divisions within the park and answering all types of visitor questions on the phones. Tom has a very complex job that demands him to multitask quite often. It was fun trying to keep up with everything that he was doing.
Filed all of these fee warnings.
Throughout the day, Tom showed me more on the websites that he gets his weather information, NPS information, and local news from. He also showed me other programs, like IMARS, which I have seen before. We also entered a few tickets that had been written the previous day into a document to be sent to the Central Violations Bureau. At 3:15, Tom let me take over the dispatch calls. It was a little nerve wracking at first, but I began to feel a little more comfortable after a few calls. Around 3:45, we got a call from the Dune Climb about an “unconscious 18 year old female who passed out on the top of the dune”. Tom took over because of the seriousness of the call, and it was exciting to watch his process; talk about multitasking! Everything turned out OK with the medical and I got ready to do the afternoon report at 4:15pm. Again, it was exciting but a little nerve wracking to give the afternoon report to the entire park, but I am happy to say that I did a good job, only making one mistake throughout the whole speech. I am confident that I would get the hang of that after a couple times. We finished out the day getting schedule information to the Indiana Dunes dispatchers, who take over for Tom at nights on during his two days off every week.
Working the desk at dispatch.
Tom is our only dispatcher in the park, and he does quite a bit to keep all of us afloat. I wish that I had gotten a little more time working in the dispatch office, because it can truly be a complex working environment that takes many years to master. I am very thankful for all that Tom does for the park on a regular basis and am glad that I got to spend this time working with him. Today, I learned to be a little more patient and understanding for when a dispatcher is taking longer to get information out. It is not an easy job, and it is something that I think all Rangers should experience so that they can appreciate the help when they are in the field.
8/12- Today I worked with the interpretive division here at SLBE. At 10:00am, I shadowed Ranger Fredericks through her tour of one of the farms in the historic Port Oneida section of the park. We started at the school house, explaining its importance and talking about regular daily life on the farms in the area. We then got in our vehicles and led the visitors to one specific farm to show them a typical barn and talk about working in the fields. We had a good group of visitors during that tour, so we decided to extent the tour a little further and take the group up to the area where the family originally built their log cabin. We hiked to the top of a dune that overlooked Lake Michigan and the Manitou Islands, and saw a cleared out area where the house once stood; it would have been an amazing view. The family had to move the house down the hill because of a property dispute, but it was a great chance to explain to the visitors what the entire shoreline might look like if the park was never created. Houses would be running all up and down the coast. After the tour, Ranger Fredericks and I did a “rove” through the Dune Climb and the Scenic Drive. The interp rangers do these roves to increase their visitor contacts and check on the key areas of the park. We got out at one of the overlooks on the Scenic Drive to talk with visitors, and it was a great chance to see how amazing interp rangers really are when it comes to educating visitors and getting them excited about the park.
Ranger Fredericks giving a tour.
At 2:15pm, we started setting up at the Maritime Museum (which is one of the three old Life Saving Service Stations in the park that is now a museum) for a program called “The Heroes of the Storm”, which covered the daily life and duties of the men in the US Life Saving Service. Ranger Fredericks ran the program, which got the kids of the audience involved, playing the roles of the actual men of the LSS and the sailors who were in distress. I played the role of the boat captain whose ship was sinking in Lake Michigan. Ranger Fredericks showed the audience how the LSS would set up the Lyle Gun, which would shoot a projectile attached to a rope towards the ship in distress, and allowed the LSS to pull the sailors back to the beach with the aid of the breeches buoy. It is actually a very complex system and took a lot of practice and preparation to complete properly. She then told the kids playing as the LSS crew members that the buoy could not support the weight of us three crew members, so they pretended to get out the surf boat and row out to our aid. Alas, we were rescued and brought safely back to shore! The program took a lot of imagination of the children and audience’s part, but was a great chance to show the importance of the Life Saving Service.
At 4:00pm I met Ranger Peg at the #9 overlook at the Scenic Drive for another program that took visitors on a guided hike from the #9 to the #10 overlooks. We only had a group of 5 visitors, but Ranger Peg talked about the geological formation of the sand dunes, what the visitors could actually see when standing at the overlooks, and the Legend of the Sleeping Bear (where the park got its name). I don’t believe that I have told you all the old Native American legend, so here it goes:
There once was a mother bear and two cubs who lived on the Wisconsin side of Lake Michigan. One day, the mother bear decided to take her two cubs and swim across the lake to the  Michigan side in search of more food and a better place to live. She swam for nearly 50 miles, constantly trying to keep her cubs by her side. Finally, she arrived in Michigan, but her cubs were nowhere to be found. She climbed on top of a large bluff to search for her two cubs, but they had drowned in the Lake. The great god, Manitou, saw how upset the mother bear was, and surfaced the two cubs and made them into the two Manitou Islands, North and South. The mother bear still rests on top of that bluff (now the 450 foot tall Sleeping Bear Dunes) watching over her two cubs.
The story is, indeed, a sad one, but it was a way for the original people of this area to explain why the dunes and the islands were here. The story has several variations, some claiming that the bears left Wisconsin because of a fire, not hunger, but that sort of thing tends to happen with oral legends.  From the #9 overlook, you can see one area of the dune that sticks out a bit and has more vegetation on it than the surrounding area. Apparently, that area once had a group of very healthy trees growing on it, and it would have been hard to explain why it was there a few hundred years ago. The legend, and the Rangers, still say that that area is where the mother bear lays.
At the end of her program, Ranger Peg allowed me to talk with the visitors about the Manitou Islands, since I knew a bit more than she did from spending my whole summer out there. I told them about the once thriving farming and logging industries, and why the island was so important as a safe harbor. I answered some questions about taking the ferry out there and camping on the island, so maybe I encouraged the group to take a trip. The islands receive fewer visitors than the mainland, so it’s great to advertise how special of a place they really are. We took a few pictures with the group and then headed back to headquarters to drop off our vehicle and called it a day. I wish I had a little more time to spend with interp, but I got a lot of interp time on my own being the only Ranger on SMI and conducting the Lighthouse tours. Every Ranger needs to have interpretive skills, and today was a great chance for me to polish mine.
One of my favorite parts about Sleeping Bear- finding back-road corners of the park that stun you with their beauty. This lake caught me off guard when we casually drove by it.
8/13- Today may have been my last official ride-along for the season. I started at 2:30pm (which was great because that gave me time in the morning to run errands and get my car ready for my big trip home) and hopped in a vehicle with Ranger Chalup. It was a colder day, so we decided to hit some of the less popular spots in the park that we do not get around to patrolling too often. We drove through the campground to scout out any problem sites for later that night, but everything looked OK. Ranger Chalup finished his shift at 4:30pm, so I went back to the station and watched Ranger Mazurek complete some evidence collection from a previous case involving possession of marijuana, mushrooms and ecstasy. Ranger Mazurek ended up taking the individual to jail, and had a lot of evidence to process. I wish that I was on the original case, but it was a great chance to see the evidence collection process again. He told me about the importance of an officer’s chain of possession and how to be very detailed with your report, in case the violation goes to trial. I watched as Ranger Mazurek painstakingly cataloged and bagged every piece of individual evidence and did a write up. We locked everything away until it would be needed again, and then headed out for patrol.
It was a cold night for the middle of August (it felt like fall) so there weren’t too many people out and about. We drove past a vehicle that was parked on the Crystal River, and observed a family of four fishing. We went out to check their licenses, which the two who were older than 16 were unable to produce. Ranger Mazurek could have written them a ticket on the spot for not having their license on their person while fishing, but decided to see if he could pull up their fishing license through their driver’s license, since they claimed to have a valid fishing license. It came back that the mother’s last license was purchased in 2008, and that the one son never had one on file. We wrote both individuals a ticket for fishing without a license.
The rest of the night was pretty quiet. At one point, we heard a call on the county dispatch of a blue truck that had tried to steal a sign in one of the local towns. We were near the road and the direction that the vehicle was last seen heading, so we decided to set up at a close intersection and watch for the vehicle. It would have been great to catch them, but we never saw the truck nor heard any further report from any county officer. We checked some of the beach access roads, which were almost all empty, and then headed to the campground for a quick check. All was quiet, and we went back to the station to finish off our night. Tonight was a great chance to me to do a night time ride-along, which I have not seen too many of. It is a whole different world once the sun goes down, and it was exciting to be out there, despite the slow evening.
8/14- In the morning, I had the option of doing whatever I wanted. I had plans to hike a trail that I have not had the chance to try out yet, but decided to use the time to work on my final presentation for our ProRanger summer class that I will be giving when we return to Temple next week. The presentation talks about Sleeping Bear a little, and then goes into my duties and responsibilities throughout my time here. I’m excited to share my experience with my fellow ProRangers and NPS staff.
Since two of our officers are out of the park for training reasons, we were a little short staffed today on the mainland. My District Ranger put me on the schedule to go up to Leland and cover the North Manitou camper registration and orientation. I did not work on North Manitou, and only went to the dock twice this summer, so my knowledge of the island is limited. Since we do not send out a Ranger to North during a few weekdays, we have to register and orient the campers at the dock in Leland before they take the ferry out. Most of the registration was similar to what I did all summer on South, and the orientation also had a few similarities. I oriented around 30 campers, and stayed around to help unload and load the ferry. To be honest, I was a little nervous about giving an orientation for a place I have never been to, but I think I did a great job. I headed back to the office to finish up my presentation and update my blog.
8/15- This morning I started with finishing up some projects in the office and making a list of things I need to do before my departure date. Before I headed up to Leland for orientation, I decided to check out the historic blacksmith shop in Glen Haven, something I had not really explored before. Maintenance worker Chris was manning the shop on one of his days off, and he showed me around the shop a bit. It was interesting to learn about the process of making literally anything you needed, and how much skill is involved. Chris asked me if I wanted anything to bring home, and I told him it was my stepmother’s birthday on the day that I return home. Together, we made a flower pot hook and it turned out very well! My time in the blacksmith shop was a great look into how difficult even the simplest of things were back around the turn of the century. We surely take a lot for granted when it comes to modern machinery and construction.
Ranger Seybert and I headed up to Leland to catch the North Manitou campers before they took the ferry out. We ran them through registration and orientation, which also went smoothly. I will be doing my check out later this evening, handing in all of my gear and start packing for my trip home..
8/16- Today I spent the majority of my day packing up my things and getting the car ready for the long trip back home. My Chief Ranger and I grabbed lunch in Empire and said our goodbyes. He presented me with a 2013 Ranger Coin, which was a great honor and something I would hold onto for the rest of my life. I made sure that all of my checkout paperwork was completed, and went down to the beach to enjoy one last sunset. What a great way to finish my internship, with a sunset over Lake Michigan!
My Ranger Coin.
8/17, 8/18- It’s been an amazing summer at Sleeping Bear, and I would like to take a moment to thank everyone who has made special. To all of the Law Enforcement Rangers in the Leelanau and Platte Districts, the maintenance workers, administrative personnel, interpretive and fee staff, dispatchers and everyone else at SLBE that I met along the way, thank you for doing everything you could to make me feel welcome and help me along the way. I enjoyed working with each and every one of you. I knew that this internship would go quickly, but I didn’t think it would come and go as quickly as it did. It’s amazing what you can learn and the relationships that you can build in three months, and I am truly lucky to have had the opportunity to do both at Sleeping Bear.
And it ends with a sunset over Lake Michigan.
I started my long drive home on the 17th, stopping in Youngstown, Ohio for the night. I will make the rest of the drive back to Philadelphia on the 18th, and it will be great to be home for a week before school starts again.
To all of my readers who have followed throughout the summer, thank you. ProRangers, it has been great reading your blogs as well, and I am looking forward to seeing you all at the academy graduation and the AAR. As always, thanks for reading!
Pit stop at the University of Michigan on the way home. What an amazing state!

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