This last week, one of our assigned duties was to attend the monthly Volunteers in the Park (VIP) picnic. We were reluctant to go, but our boss told us to check it out. The picnic was held at Cow Creek, close to Furnace Creek, so we had to drive an hour to get there. I wanted to make macaroni salad, but I didn’t have enough elbow macaroni, so then Tom wanted to make Beef ‘n Beans but I couldn’t figure out how to keep it warm from the time we made it the night before until we got there at noon the next day.
We went with the safe bet of two kinds of brownies which I cooked in the convection oven. The brownies turned out so well that we were in danger of not having any left to take with us. We eventually showed a little self-control and took several dozen.
There were about 20 VIPs at the picnic. Half of them were campground hosts at the various campgrounds scattered around Furnace Creek. The others had various jobs: one led star programs, one did maintenance on trucks, one was a botanist, and, of course, Tom and I are interpretive guides. Some of the other VIPs have served here at Death Valley for years. I think the record was 27 years of being volunteers every winter. We also met some of the staff who work at Furnace Creek in various administrative jobs.
The food was an odd mix of salads and brownies. About half of the people brought some kind of salad – but with odd seasonings and different ingredients. I think when the grocery store is two hours away, you make the best of what you have in stock. The salads were supplemented with our brownies and another couple of pans of brownies. One person brought pumpkin bread with pumpkin butter and that was delicious.
We enjoyed meeting some of the other VIPs but it seemed a long way to drive for a 45 minute potluck. We enjoy spending time with the other rangers here at the Castle – because we all do the same jobs we have more in common with them. So we told our boss that next month – we can skip the VIP potluck.