Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Looking back at 2018

I took a break in writing this fall.  It's definitely time for a New Year's update.

2018 was about doing everything I could towards becoming a permanent NPS park ranger. And then finally reaching that goal!
Taking the fourth graders on a field trip to Delicate Arch. This is what I love to do, and what I now get to do "permanently."
It has become really important to me to have a life where the work I do feels meaningful. What I love about being a park ranger is that I feel like I’m being of service to others. I believe in the importance of teaching science to kids and making sure they have fun experiences in our public lands. The vast majority of the people I get to work with (especially the volunteers) are dedicated, committed, and (most importantly) totally fun.
One of the incredible, young volunteers I had the privilege of working with this year. You can tell from my smile just how much fun we had.
But until now, I didn’t know if I could literally afford to do this job. Being seasonal has meant the high cost of moving every few months and of being unemployed between seasons. Not to mention no employee retirement. Granted, my permanent position has a long furlough and is still only part-time hours. But it offers stability and is a major step.

This year I worked at several parks— Arches (spring), Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park (summer), Canyonlands and Natural Bridges (fall).  These parks served as base camp for incredible weekend trips.
A highlight of the year was doing field trips for students at the Needles.
"Just" a little weekend backpacking trip. The trailhead is a quick drive from home.
A little further away... Peakbagging with Holly in the Tushars (photo by PMags)
Finally getting up into the Henry Mountains with Jan.
While living in Georgia, I visited park ranger friends I’d made last year while working at Mammoth Cave.
2018 had a rough start. Getting surgery (to repair a inguinal hernia) in January was a reminder of how tenuous health can be.  Recovery was painfully slow but I was lucky beyond words that S. drove up to help me through it.

One new thing I did this year was take online classes towards a certificate in environmental education. It’s been years since I’ve had to do homework assignments or write a term paper. What fun to be a student again!

iNaturalizing has become a common verb in my vocabulary. This fall I made my 1000th observations using iNaturalist. I love using this app both to identify and learn more about plants and animals and also as a way to contribute data for other scientists.
Hold on, I need to iNaturalize this tiny alpine plant! (photo by PMags)
This fall I spent a lot of time with this guy. It’s pretty neat to share my life with someone who loves being outdoors as much as I do.
Backpacking in the Needles.
In 2019, I will obviously be spending a lot of time hiking and backpacking around Moab. And for my two month furlough during June and July? There is a certain trail that still calls to me.

Happy New Year everyone!


  1. Oh I would love a July furlough! Wait...maybe that's not the right word to use right now. Anyway I bet it's the PCT! Would love to see you out there. I have 300 miles left!! (Section D and part of E, and Walker Pass to Horseshoe).

    1. Yes, "furlough" isn't quite right... sigh...

      That's incredible how close you are to finishing, Mary. I still haven't figured out what sections I'll be doing. But it would be fun to see you out there for sure.

  2. Hello! :) Sounds like life is treating you well---of course I've been sneaking peeks from what Paul writes! I'm glad you are in the situation to have the job you desired...I know you've been hoping for it for a while now. Can't wait to see what adventures you get into this year and yay, PCT! :)

    1. Hi Misit! Happy New Year to you! Paul is quite disciplined and through with the trip reports. It was hard to get modivated to write anything myself. But I've been missing writing. Thanks for the encouragement!

      Yes, I'm really excited about this year! Yay!

  3. So great to read what you are doing! So happy for you. Would love to talk sometime soon.

    1. Thanks so much Susan! It was so great to see you this summer. Yes, we need to catch up!

  4. Keep doing a little post evry nown then, 'K? Feels good.

  5. Finally a post from my friend and Yahoo decides it needs to go into the spam file. WTH? NOOOOOOO . . . well I'm glad I keep it cleaned out. I miss your writings, they are always so thoughtful and wise. It's been such a year of growth and change for you. You've earned some stability and more than anything that PERMANENT RANGER position. I'm so proud of you for knowing what you wanted, making the necessary sacrificing and working toward that goal. It's a testament of what can be done if you have patience and are willing to take baby steps. Congrats!!!

    1. It really has been a memorable year. Thanks for being there the whole time, for amazing trips, and through all the decision-making-phone calls. Wish we could have gotten together more this winter, but I think this spring and hopefully summer are going to make up for it!

  6. Excellent update. Thanks. Happy trails in 2019.