Monday, July 17, 2017

Program Visit: We are Transferring! Temple --> National Park College

Just kidding!! I am staying put as well as the program! You will understand the title more after you are done reading about the amazing program visit this past week!

Presentation of Plaque to HOSP Protection Rangers; From left to right- Myself, my supervisor Ranger David VanNest,  and Supervisory Ranger Jeff Johnson
I was fortunate enough this week as well to have two out of my three ProRanger Program managers; Anthony Luongo (Tony) and Vicki McGarvey (Vicki), come out and visit me at the park. It is a required part of the program that they visit all of the ProRangers to evaluate how we are doing, if things are working out at the parks, and to get feedback from us and our Supervisors about how the program is operating for the summer. The program uses this feedback so that we can continually improve the program to make it better. Originally, all three of the managers were supposed to come, but unfortunately Adrian Fernandez (Adrian) could not, so, therefore, his request for me to find a spring to make him look younger goes unfulfilled, but there is always next time (Adrian if you’re reading this you look like you’re 30, so no spring needed)! On Monday night upon their arrival, I took Tony and Vicki out to do a small driving tour to get a head start on our schedule, and give them time to get to their hotel to rest after a long day of traveling! I first took them to our campground site, which was full of campers for the week, and explained to them the different types of things we enforce when we patrol the area. From the campground, we made our way to Hot Springs Mountain to drive up to the scenic overlooks for a great view of the city of Hot Springs. Along the way, I was pointing out what is our jurisdiction, what areas are popular, and talked to Tony and Vicki about how their travels to other parks this summer have gone. We made it to the mountain overlooks and were able to take in the great view, with a nice sunny evening with great weather, and of course a few selfies (never can have too many). Once we got to the bottom of the mountain, I was able to show Vicki and Tony the water jug fountains that are spread throughout the park that people from the city of Hot Springs can come get water at for free. We filled up our bottles, talked with a few locals, and then were on our way to explore the town. Upon giving them a tour of the town so that they would have some familiarity while driving back, we arrived back at the ranger station and concluded the first part of the visit, with great times had by all.

The point! Hot Springs Mountain Overlook #1
The second day of the visit started at 0900 hours at the ranger office, where I began by introducing Tony and Vicki to Supervisory Ranger Jeff Johnson and my Supervisor Ranger David VanNest. After our brief introductions, Ranger VanNest, Tony, Vicki, and I headed out for a walking tour of bathhouse row. While on the row we went to the museum and explored everything it had to offer, and had a little fun with pictures while doing it! From there, we got a special peek at the microbrewery operation next door and got to chat with the owner on how she got the operation approved and started, and how successful she has been thus far in her journey. After the walking tour of bathhouse row and our promenade were over, we headed back to the office so that Tony and Vicki could interview Ranger VanNest and Johnson about various aspects of the program, and on my job performance so far this summer. After a very informative and enjoyable interview, I presented HOSP Protection Division with a plaque for being a partner park this summer, as challenge coins were also given to Rangers VanNest, Johnson, and Chief Ranger Cully upon his return from vacation later in the week.

Presentation of Plaque to HOSP Protection Divison; From Left to Right- Tony, Myself, My supervisor Ranger David VanNest, Supervisory Ranger Jeff Johnson, and Vicki.

Next on our agenda was to go out to lunch with Ranger VanNest. Lunch was very enjoyable as we got to hear stories about where Ranger VanNest has been, as we shared our stories as well about our trips and the program. After filling our stomachs, we headed up Hot Springs Mountain to the Mountain Tower Observatory to go to the top and take in the 360-degree panoramic view of Hot Springs and the surrounding areas. While up there Ranger VanNest and I were able to better explain and point out different significant landmarks in the area. Unfortunately, after the Mountain Tower stop was over, Ranger VanNest had to depart and go finish some things before heading home for the evening, so goodbyes were said and he was on his way. Next for us was to complete the driving tour of the park, so we headed to the West Mountain Overlooks, then from there we went to Bull Bayou. Bull Bayou is an area of the park that only the locals usually know about and is a nice watering hole to go swimming in on a hot day. So the three of us hiked back to take a look as they were quite surprised to see this little swimming hole ways off the roadway where most would not think something like it exists. Our final stop before dinner was National Park College. I know what you are thinking, but in fact, National Park College is not associated with the park service in any way. It is a local community college which just happens to have the best and most ironic college name ever, something both Tony and Vicki dearly wanted to see, and of course, take a selfie in front of! To end off the day we headed to Superior Brewery for dinner, which is the microbrewery that’s in the park that we got the sneak peek of earlier in the day! It was a great dinner with delicious food and great conversation to go around! Well at least I thought it would end there, but too much fun we decided to go visit the local candy shop and pick up some of our favorites for when we got back to our places of stay! Many great times were had and memories were made, and we still had half a day left!

And now you understand the Title! Who would have known! This was a selfie must!

Tony and I exploring the View!

The final day of the visit started off with meeting again at the ranger office in the morning. It was my turn to get interviewed, so we started out the morning in the briefing room to conduct the interview. After the interview, we headed back down to bathhouse row to catch up with Meg and Paul, the Resource Management to observe them do one last water quality test on a spring so that Tony and Vicki could see what I did on the day I worked with resource management. I introduced them all to each other, as questions were asked from both sides on each other’s program and such, as well as Tony and Vicki being able to watch what they do. After the water testing was complete, it was time for us to go get ice cream and hit the gift shop before they started on their way to visit fellow ProRanger Angelo at Mammoth Cave National Park! After having some delicious ice-cream and losing the best ice cream shop competition to Kyle at Gettysburg, which I totally understand because well its Mr.G’s, we headed back to the office so that I could introduce them to two other Rangers before they were on our way. When we got back to the office, I introduced Tony and Vicki to Ranger Little and Canine Ranger Konyak, who was very excited to meet new people. This was a great opportunity for them to see a ProRanger park with a canine, especially one who I have worked closely and a lot with throughout my time here so far. After the fun introduction, it was time for Tony and Vicki to begin their trip to see Angelo, as we said our goodbyes and drove off. Overall, it was a great program visit, with many memories made and new ideas tossed around during their stay. I heard that HOSP may even make it on their personal hidden gems list! Thanks everyone for continuing to read my blogs and support me, and I hope everyone’s summer continues to go well!

Hitting the Gym!

Administration Building

Musuem/Visitor Center

Interpretation Desk!

What kind of rock is this? 

Picture of Tony Taking a picture of Bull Bayou

Ranger Little and K9 Konyak

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