After a wonderful and hot three days off it was back to my Ranger work week at the North Rim, my Monday on Friday.
Busy first day starting with two hours in the office catching up on the past days off. Then 2 1/2 hours in the Visitor Center basically answering the same question repeatedly, “I just got here, what do I do?” Honestly, doesn’t anybody read about where they are traveling to? There’s so much information online between the NPS sites and bloggers. Yet I answered their questions with a smile and explained how to read the map they were given in the park’s Guide/newspaper. Which, BTW, is found in the center of ALL individual NP sites. I reminded everyone to drink plenty of water at this high and dry Grand Canyon and then forget to myself. When you work a 10 hour day and never pee you know you didn’t drink enough water. 2 1/2 hours is enough of that.
My Monday typically starts and ends late. After the VC stint I prepare to give a 4:30pm Condor Talk which lasts about 35 minutes and explains the recovery project for this endangered species that almost went extinct. I’d usually return to close the visitor center at 6pm after that but this day the current Artist in Residence Stan Honda presented about night sky photography and I introduced him to visitors. One of my collateral duties is the lead for this North Rim program. I learned a couple of things to try and will hopefully get ambitious enough to drag out the tripod and give the skies a shot.
Because I didn’t have time to go home for dinner I crammed down a hotdog at the deli then at 7pm introduced Steve Dodder who organizes the volunteer amateur astronomers who set up at the North Rim’s Star Party. He talked about the distances of planets and how long it takes light to reach them from the sun and then back to earth. Then at 8pm I presented the evening program with PowerPoint where I talk about the Ancestral Puebloans who lived at the canyon 100s of years ago. Off at 9:30 and happily headed home.
Thank goodness my Tuesday—on Saturday—didn’t start until 10am when I worked at the visitor center until 1pm. More of the same questions and a practice in patience. This followed by roving along the rim, gazing into the canyon, and answering questions that are more oriented about the natural and cultural history here. This I love to do. I gave a geology talk at 3:30pm, returned to the visitor center for about 45 minutes, then dinner followed by roving the campground to invite visitors to the 7pm campfire program. I talked about how the early Native Americans learned the skill of pottery making by telling stories and there is clay to play with.
Unfortunately the next day started early for me at 7am with opening the VC which also included putting up signs in the campground for the night’s evening and campfire programs. More of the same questions then at 11am I gave a short cultural history talk in the Lodge’s Sunroom about why there are burros at Grand Canyon partly based from Marguerite Henry’s book “Brighty of the Grand Canyon” which is an excellent story for young and old alike.
After lunch I do the 1pm Way Cool Canyon (WCC) program, our most youth oriented, where I ask, “Do you like to dig in the dirt, solve mysteries and tell stories?” If yes, then you should be an archeologist. The kids excavated—moving pine needles only—in a strung out test plot I created to find modern artifacts then we make up and share a story about what the items are and who left them behind. Some of the stories are hilarious. We finished up by making a reproduction of one of the oldest artifacts found here called a split-twig figure using a 3-foot piece of bread-tie from a huge spool. The WCC fulfills a Ranger program requirement for many kids completing their Junior Ranger books. After this I returned to the visitor center for a couple hours and finished the day at 5:30pm.
My Friday—on Monday—also started early and usually after a Nature Walk I head out to the Walhalla Plateau for a day in the field including an archeology talk at 1:30pm. But this week I instead roved for a couple hours in the morning, worked in the VC from 10:30am to 1pm, lunch, and at 3pm gave the geology talk, followed by a return to the visitor center and a bit more roving then off at 6pm.
This is pretty much a typical Ranger work week at the North Rim Grand Canyon. And over this three-day weekend I’m staying on the coolish Kaibab Plateau out by East Rim where Bill, Sasha and I will be camping and hiking a piece of the Arizona Trail. Will post about that next week.