Everyplace we go on our travels we meet interesting people. Some we get to know pretty well, like the young seasonal rangers here at Pipe Spring. Others we just speak to for a minute or two. Some we keep in touch with through the years. I especially appreciate Facebook and being able to stay in touch with rangers and parks where we worked previously. We’ve met lots of interesting people here at Pipe Spring and I wanted to share with you some of those I remember.
First, the rangers. I really enjoy the three young, seasonal rangers. Sarah is adventurous and daring but, after getting stuck in quicksand and sand, she says she has had enough of sand. Sarah has worked at several parks in the west and would love to get a position as a Search and Rescue or Backcountry Ranger.
Miranda is from Los Angeles – the big city – but seems to feel at home wherever she goes. She is calm and moves at her own speed, so she is relaxing to be around. Miranda has worked all over the United States and dreams about having her own ranch someday.
Josh is from Virginia and worked for a while at Harper’s Ferry and the Dayton Aviation Heritage NHP. He took this position to explore the west but hopes to return to the east again. All three of them are curious, passionate, and care deeply about the National Park Service. I enjoy their company enormously. They make me laugh and challenge me to consider new points of view.
The guests I meet are pretty interesting also. Pipe Spring is connected to the Latter Day Saints and we have lots of descendants of the people who lived here stop by. Heatons, Hamblins, Windsors, Chamberlins, Wooleys, Whitmores. We have a book in the Visitors Center that we ask descendants to sign when they visit. We were really busy that week showing them around the monument. Jonathan Heaton sold the fort to the National Park Service and his son, Leonard Heaton, was the chief ranger here for 40 years. Jonathan had 15 sons! Children and grandchildren of Leonard remember playing in the ponds and sleeping in the beds. The Heatons had a family reunion in July with 600 people attending!
Guests from all over the world come and visit Pipe Spring. We joke that Europe must be empty in August because we had so many European visitors. Translations of our brochure are available in Italian, French, German, Spanish, and Dutch and we pass them out every day. We also have plenty of American visitors. One gentleman was from California but teaching AP American History in Beijing! He came back every summer to visit family. I spent an hour talking to a woman who has been volunteering at the National Parks for the last nine years. She worked at a state park in Utah this summer and was heading to Brunswick Georgia where she will be a campground host. She volunteered at Fort Frederica several years ago and said she would see us there this winter!
Of course, some of my favorite guests are always the children. On a rare, rainy afternoon I talked quite a bit to four-year-old Joseph. Joseph was very friendly and couldn’t tell me much about the national parks his family had visited on their vacation. But he could tell me about every pool in every hotel. Gage, age 7, asked for the Jr. Ranger book, told me he had 75 Jr. Ranger badges, and asked me if that was the record. Unfortunately I had to tell him that we have met many children with more than 150 badges. Gage pledged that he would soon have that many.
The people I meet leave an imprint on my heart. Some people I am glad to leave behind when I go, but most of them are interesting, interested and glad to visit a national park site. Most people come to the parks ready to enjoy them. Because of this, I am always ready to enjoy the people I meet.