There is only one more week in the “season” at Death Valley. Even though there are still 600 people going on tours every day, the seasonal rangers are packing up and getting ready to move on to their next jobs. So last week we had the All-Employee Picnic up here at Scotty’s Castle before everyone spreads out to different parks.
Tom and I were not planning on attending – we are volunteers, not employees – but the other rangers here at the Castle urged us to come. The picnic was held on the beautiful lawn of the Castle after closing and about 30 people attended. It was definitely more fun than the VIP picnic in February, but we know the rangers and we didn’t know any of the other volunteers.
The Employee’s Association provided burgers and hot dogs and everyone else brought a dish to share. There was a variety of chips, an excellent banana pudding trifle, and a bunch of store-bought cookies. Tom and I took baked beans, which turned out to be a funny choice because there weren’t any plates and most of the employees didn’t bring any. I guess they aren’t experienced potluckers like Tom and me!
I took all the paper plates I had (eight) and gave them out to anyone who sat at the table with me. It was amazing how quickly I got popular! I also had some plasticware which I shared. But until I passed out the paper plates and plasticware, people didn’t have any way to eat the baked beans or the banana pudding. Rangers are a creative group, used to roughing it, and they came up with some innovative “plates” and “spoons.”
Tom got out the Frisbee and threw it around with some people and their dogs. We didn’t start the picnic until 6 and the burgers weren’t ready until 7, so it was dark soon after we started. Because Scotty’s Castle is part of the Dark Sky initiative, the lawn area was really dark very quickly. We had to break out the flashlights to clean up after the picnic and people went home soon after eating. The coyote pack that lives at the Castle was watching us during supper and I’m sure they finished cleaning up anything we missed in the dark.
It is hard to believe that we are already at the end of our time here at Death Valley. We loved spending (missing) the winter here and exploring this wonderful and huge National Park. There are still a lot more canyons to see, so we will probably be back.