Thursday, June 29, 2017

A Visit to Virgin Islands National Park

A Visit to Virgin Islands National Park 

Days Off 

Hey there! My name is Brennan McAuley from Cohort 5. I am currently down at Christiansted National Historic Site for my second summer internship. I took a small trip on my recent days off, Keep reading to see what I was up to! 

I recently visited Virgin Islands National Park. I met up with Ranger Riester who I met last year working a detail in Lowell Massachusetts. She showed me all around the park and explained to me the different law enforcement responsibilities that pertained to her specific park. After that, we went and explored the park! we enjoyed snorkeling, hiking, and driving through the park. This gave me a chance to see a whole lot of history and natural resources. I had a blast. In the evening we met up with a couple other rangers at the park. The following day I was given the opportunity to talk to a group of YCC students about the ProRanger Program. There were most definitely some future ProRangers in the room! Overall, my time spent with Ranger Riester provided me with a great experience in a beautiful park!

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A must see view when visiting

One of the many beautiful beaches protected by the Rangers 

You can see the BVI and St. Thomas from many spots within the Park

Walk This Way: on over to Boston

After a long wait and much anticipation Adrian, Vicki, and Tony finally made it to Boston to visit for the program visit. With stated, "the most interesting itinerary," they came ready for a great visit. Starting bright and early at the Charlestown Navy Yard I brought them all on over the climb the 294 step Bunker Hill Monument. We counted this as PT for the day.
 Before the climb
Photo at the top of the monument. I made this picture larger just to show our beautiful glistening faces
From Bunker Hill we continued through to the North End of Boston following the Freedom Trail through Copp's Hill Burial Ground and the Old North Church. We continued on to Faneuil Hall stopping by the visitor center and catching the very end of a ranger talk by ranger Hannigan in the Great Hall upstairs. I also must note because everyone was being well-behaved I let them go into the historic chocolate store and try some old fashioned chocolate.
Old Fashion Chocolate exhibit (free samples included)
After a few miles of walking through Boston it became time for lunch. We chose to eat at a restaurant in Quincy Market behind Faneuil Hall and everyone was definitely ready to eat.

After lunch we continued finishing the trail through the Old South Meetinghouse, Old State House, King's Chapel, Granary Burial Grounds, a very brief walk through the Boston Common, and finally continuing onto the Boston African American Heritage Trail. After the Freedom Trail we wrapped up our time in North End with dinner at the historic Union Oyster House and dessert from Mike's Pastries (also joining us for dinner was a former ProRanger). Arriving back at the Navy Yard we had a meeting with my supervisor going over the program and my progress. After such a long day it was a good thing day two was set to be more relaxing.
(I hope the meeting went well)

Day Two: Day two began bright and early again with a tour of the Navy Yard facilities including the Constitution Museum, Visitor Center, USS Cassin Young, and Law Enforcement building. This was followed by a meeting with Chief where we presented him with a plaque showing our gratitude towards his and the parks support and involvement with the program.
Presenting Chief with the plaque
The rest of our day was capped off with a visit to George's Island. There we enjoyed lunch relaxed and roamed around touring the historic fort. The island was a lot of fun.
How we have fun
On the ferry back we had my evaluation and discussion of the program a vital step for my self improvement as well as that of the program. So far the summer has continued to be a success and I look forward to the future challenges and lessons it will bring. I would like to thank Adrian, Vicki, and Tony for coming as well as Mark, Chief Tinkham, and Brittney for their involvement as well.
Thanks for Visiting!

Train, Learn, and Grow!

After an unusually slow week, my fourth week is finished and in the books! The week started out in the office responding to some emails and getting stuff in order that would need to be completed by the end of the week. Ranger Flint was also doing the same thing, and by noon time that day we both had to get out of the office, so we started out on patrol for a few hours. The day was unusually slow with nothing going on, so we decided to take a drive up Hot Springs Mountain to see if anything was going on. As we were descending the hill with no luck spotting anything so far, we found a man and his sons waving us down for some help. Come to find out they were lost on their hike and needed help finding their car. We could only take one to go find their car, which after talking to them we concluded that their car was on West Mountain a few miles away. We wound up taking the father to retrieve the car then have him proceed to go get his sons. That drew our day to a close as Ranger Flint and I would be right out again the next day to start all over.

Bike Stop with Ranger Summerlin
In the beginning of the shift the following day, I started out by going over qualifications I need to be a certain level of search and rescue as well as firefighter certified in the park service. One class I found I need to take was Aviation Safety, so I started to begin the class online, which took up again most of the first half of my day. Again, following lunch time Ranger Flint and I headed out on patrol. It got a bit busier than the day before with stops as we conducted 8 total from about 1200-1600 hours. The stops didn’t mount up to anything particularly big, mostly verbal warnings for speed infractions, traffic infractions, or erratic driving. As we got back to the office at 1600 hours, Ranger Summerlin was coming on shift and went to take a drive down bathhouse row to check up on everything. As he was driving he witnessed a cyclist riding on bathhouse row, as not only that is a violation, but he decided to blatantly throw an empty soda can up in the air and litter in the park when there was a trashcan right next time him. We went down to assist with the stop as we heard Ranger Summerlin become slightly more agitated and us not knowing what was happening. We arrived on the scene as Ranger Summerlin was writing a citation for the littering, with the suspect not being very cooperative. After writing the citation we sent him on his way to go pick up the litter then continue his way home, as our day of patrolling was coming to an end.

Weather Report Board
The next two days in the middle of the week were very slow as the vacationers had left and the rest of the city at work. I continued my aviation training as the class is almost completed, as I just have to take the test and pass. I also was able to go out and patrol the park with Chief Ranger Justin. We came across people littering out of their truck, so we proceeded to stop them and issue them a verbal warning for it. Later, we stopped a cyclist who was riding on the row which is again our biggest violation issue. As we ran him, he came back with a few priors and surprising convictions, but had no warrants or wants, so we just left him with a warning no to ride on the row but he could ride in the street. For the rest of the shift, I rode with Ranger Little and K9 Konyak, making a few stops for traffic violations.

Arkansas State Crime Lab

The next day Ranger VanNest and I spent the day taking the evidence that needed to be processed to the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory in Little Rock. But before we left, Ranger VanNest had me record the weather and report it to the weather service station in Arkansas, which needs to be done every morning at the start of the shift. After calling in the weather we then left for Little Rock. While at the state crime lab we were given evidence that had been proceeded to take back with us. Upon return to the Ranger Office (RO), I was able to help mark the evidence in IMARS as returned to the park and in our evidence locker, which gave me more training on IMARS, something that you can never get enough of!

Old Cases Binder I sorted through
On my last day of my work week, which happened to be my birthday, Ranger VanNest and I started out on an early morning patrol of the park. We eventually found ourselves at the Gorge Campground where we saw a dog off leash, which is a violation in the park, so Ranger VanNest made contact and let the owner know that the dog must be on a leash while on park property. Upon returning to the patrol vehicle, we had a visitor stop us for what has been so far the most bizarre report I have heard thus far. The visitor and her family wanted to let us know that there was a woman sunbathing in the nude at a spot where she was going to take her kids to swim. By law, there is nothing we can do unless she wanted to make a complaint about it, and from there we could proceed. We asked if she would like to make a complaint and she said yes, so we followed her and her family over to the spot where the woman was. By the time we got there, it appeared that the woman had left, and the family was okay with it as long as they would be able to enjoy their day, which they proceeded to do as Ranger VanNest and I headed out to continue our day. We went back to the RO, where Ranger VanNest gave me the task of looking at what old cases were closed or open so that we could compile a stack of evidence that we could destroy at the end of the summer as part of their bi-annual evidence cleanup.

Graffiti on North Mountain Overlook
To close out our day, we headed out on bike patrol, again getting myself more used to the bike and practicing the skills necessary to master it. Ranger VanNest really wanted to test me and asked if I could bike down steps, which I had never done on a patrol bike before, but have on my mountain bike at home, which by the way are two totally different things. I proceeded to try as I made it down the first one, then proceeded to almost take a spill before the next step, catching myself mid fall. Let’s just say that I took a break from that skill that day as I didn’t want to end up in the ER on my birthday, but is a skill I want to perfect by the end of my time at HOSP. To end our patrol, we rode up Hot Spring Mountain on our bikes looking for anything going on. We got to the North Mountain Overlook where we spotted some graffiti that was fresh and reported it to our dispatch so that we could record it in IMARS, as no one was present at the overlook to question and no cameras present. We rode back to the RO on a refreshing downhill ride and concluded our work day. Even during the slower, non-eventful stops and days this week, I was able to pick up a lot of knowledge and other not as often used but very beneficial skills that will make me a better Ranger in the future, and I am glad to have all the Rangers here being able to teach me the ins and outs of this amazing job.

More Graffiti on North Mountain Overlook