Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Full Circle, Almost

The other weekend my whole family came out to visit me; my parents, my brother, and my dog, Champ.  They endured nine hours of traffic, arriving late Friday night.  After a much-needed stretching of their legs, saying hello, and a tour of my living arrangement, my parents left my brother to stay on my couch and went to their hotel room.  The next day I gave them a small tour of the canal, showing them the section where I am living at Ferry Hill and the Ferry Hill visitor center.  
A cosmic coincidence in the Ferry Hill Visitor Center

We headed over to the Williamsport visitor center so that they could see a watered section of the canal.  They got to operate a lock gate and learn some of the canal’s history, just like I had done with the interpretation division.  

My father presents a seasonal interpretive ranger with a purple foam star

We also made a stop at Antietam National Battlefield, where they had some reenactors playing music and doing firing demonstrations.  If you read my last post you can see that I’ve been spending a lot of time over there recently.

That evening we went to visit my mothers friends who live in Frederick, Maryland.  We had dinner and got some ice cream in the very charming town.  I discovered that Frederick has a little canal of sorts as well.

Carroll Creek Park, Frederick, MD

On Sunday we spent the morning in Harpers Ferry, taking in the historical town and reading some conveniently placed informational placards.  

The highlight for me was stopping into the Appalachian Trail Conservancy headquarters in town, pulling out the photo album from September 2015 and seeing my picture and the pictures of all the friends I had made and people I had met while hiking the Appalachian Trail.  It was just a few days short of the two-year anniversary of my start date.  

An AT white blaze, the trail runs directly through Harpers Ferry, WV

After spending some more time in town and crossing the bridge to walk along the canal, we got some lunch before taking a whitewater-rafting trip on the Shenandoah River.  The trip ended just south of Harpers Ferry, where the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers meet.  The water level was pretty low and there was not much in the way of white water, but it was still a fun trip.  From the moment we got onto the bus to get to the river the guides were cracking jokes.  My mother had mentioned our rafting trip in the Grand Canyon a few years ago to one of the guides who happened to be the trip leader, and he requested that we be in his boat.  As the leader he took most of the rapids and technical stretches of river first and then would park on a rock, ready to toss a throw rope to anyone who fell out of the raft as the other guides came through the rapids.  Even though it was my day off and I was not at my park, I still felt like I was performing park ranger duties, ensuring for everyone’s safe and enjoyable usage of natural resources.

After the trip was completed we cleaned up and had dinner in Shepherdstown, the small town right next to where I am staying at the Ferry Hill visitor center.  I returned to my apartment and my family to their hotel, as I had to get up early for work the next morning.  

Reflecting on it now, it is interesting and warming that I got to take my parents to some national parks (sort of).  As they have taken me to many parks all over the country and are certainly the reason I am in this program now on track for a career in the NPS.  Now I just have to actually pay for a trip and the cycle will really be complete. 

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