26 October 2007

Summer is officially over

...at least in my line of work. With the early departure of a couple key summer rangers, we're down to just barely more than our year-round folks. Campfire programs, guided walks, and other programs ended this weekend. Though we'd love to continue through September, it gets tougher to schedule when all hands are needed to keep the Visitor Center up and running. A few days to breathe, get it all mentally and physically put back in place, and we'll take a look at what we're supposed to do over the long, slow winter.

The number of visitors is drastically fewer today then last Monday. Kids are back in school. (My two finally headed back to school today as well.) Families are fewer and farther between. Snowbirds moving south begin wandering through. We have a few more younger couples or newly retireds who see these "shoulder seasons" as the most stress-free of times to travel. It seems too, that foreign visitors are up in the past couple of weeks. More Germans, Asians, Brits, Aussies, even a smattering of eastern Europeans. Could be they've been here all summer and it's just the percentage of 'mericans to fur'ners has shifted.

The departure of our summer rangers is bittersweet this year. For nearly four years, we've had a solid cadre of seasonal rangers that any park would be hard pressed to match. All three of 'em excellent interpreters, great people, good friends, an absolute focus on customer service and park protection. All of 'em creative, innovative, continuous learners, and examples for each other and our newer folks. One leaves for a permanent job with the state park system. Another leaves with his family back down to roots in the Bay area. A third, probably back next year, but next year with child, if the husband doesn't find another, greater opportunity. Ya can't bemoan their departure since each one is taking a positive step forward in their life and career, though I will whine in anticipation of the extra work we've got next year in gettin' a totally new crew trained up as well as these folks. It's tough seein' the kids grow up and move on, but I suppose it's bound to happen, eh?

And is if we needed another clue that summer has passed, it rained last night for the first time in a couple of months...a preview of winter laying and waiting like the offshore fog, for the short days and long nights of November.
A difference between a boss and staff, noticed yesterday afternoon during the glorious ocean extravaganza yesterday:

Employee asks, "Could I get out for a while and go for a walk on the beach?
Boss declares, "I'm going to go for a walk on the beach."
This smilin' rangerin' face made an appearance on the channel 3 news last night. The weekend news director called up yesterday morning, asking about our record-high visitation and jammed campgrounds over the Labor Day weekend. When I explain that visitation for the holiday is about what it always is, and that campgrounds are only as full as the number of sites we've got...and that they've been full all summer long...he all but admits it's a slow news day and they really just need something to talk about at 6:00.

He sends a young cub reporter, just a few short weeks out of college on the drive north to see us. She's only been in the area for two weeks, and this is her first trip to the park. The interview is short, easy, uneventful with the young reporter seemingly searching for questions to ask.

Got home just in time to see the story and it was about what I expected. It filled the time slot, without making me or the state park ranger look bad. A good, generally meaningless local news story reminding the locals about the parks in their backyards. Update at 11.

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