Monday, December 13, 2010

The Recovery Process

Almost a month ago, I opened my web browser to read that a Utah Park Ranger had been shot.  Within moments, I knew who the ranger was and I knew that my former coworkers and friends were out searching for the suspect.  Each day I have checked in via a friend receiving updates and on facebook on how Brody Young was doing.  Each day there have been ups and downs.  When it first happened, I wrote this:  It Is A Family.  When I wrote it I did not realize how big that family was.  

Each day I check into the website, I receive some kind of update.  But most importantly I get to read the comments that individuals have wrote on the facebook page.  Of course there were family, friends, and church members comments encouraging Brody in the recovery process, but also sending their prayers and thoughts.  Then there were others such as visitors who had contact with Brody during his course of work or people who love parks and have never met Brody before.  And then there was the Ranger family:  National Wildlife Refuge Officers Association, The Alabama Conservation Enforcement Officers Association, Minneapolis Park Police and the Park Law Enforcement Association, Blue Ridge Parkway brothers and sisters, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, Rangers from the ND State Parks, Rangers from Tennessee State Parks, and so forth. I would bet with a certainty of 99% that not one of those Rangers knows Brody.  And most likely never will, but as I said IT IS A FAMILY and Rangers are Rangers no matter where we are working.  

Besides the weekly updates, individuals in Brody's life coordinated auctions, music benefits, blood drives, and a donation account at Wells Fargo (Brody Young Benefit Fund).  The goal for the benefit fund was $5,000, which was achieved.  The auction brought in roughly $22,000.  And 42 people came out to donate blood (Hey Brody - They had the blood drive here in Moab today. My husband and I donated blood for the very first time for the both of us!)  

And all that is great...but what I think is great is on December 9th:

Latest update: still in ICU-critical, but progressing. Now has a trach to help breathe more on his own. Trach is too big to allow him to speak, but they will slowly decrease the size over next few weeks. With him covered from neck down, the kids got to see him-they were very happy! Brody still mostly sedated, but has been alert enough to nod head to questions. Nurses say he is more relaxed when his wife is there.

And then today I log on to find this:  

Brody is doing really good today. Today he was sitting up in a lazy boy type chair most of the day. He had two cups of ice today that he ate with a spoon. You would have thought it was Thanksgiving dinner, judging by how happy he looked when they told him he could have it.
He wants to talk so bad and can't at this point with the tubes. Hopefully by the end of the week he will be chatting up a storm. 

I know that in the coming month(s) that there will be ups and downs, but it is part of the process.  And with Brody's desire and will to fight, he will make a quick recovery.  

My thoughts are with you every day Brody.  Be strong.  

I realize that Christmas is coming up and you are probably spending $$ on gifts, but if you each of you that read this can spare $10 and donate to the Brody Young Benefit Fund, it would be great.  The first post I wrote I had over 100 reads which would equate to $1000 to the fund which will help in the recovery process.  Thanks all who read my posts and happy holidays!


Monday, November 22, 2010


One often hears that it is a brotherhood.  What?  The law enforcement world.  I mean there is the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP).  A brotherhood.

However, in the world of Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service, and state agency Park entities, we are a family.  The reason?  There are few of us.  We usually work solo with backup often being more than 30 minutes away and that is usually close.

I remember once when I made contact with a vehicle that visitors had been reporting as graffiti on Delicate Arch.  After I ran the driver, the Dispatcher called a code to me indicating 'trouble'.  I was still talking to the offender so I told Dispatch to standby.  The Dispatch knowing the seriousness of the offender said 'I need any available unit to start towards Arches."  The responding officers were National Park Service officers, Bureau Land Management officer, and a sheriff deputy.

When one works in a rural location, everyone backs up everyone else.   Why am I writing all this?  On Saturday morning I opened my browser to read: Park Ranger shot in Utah. Utah is a large state with 7 National Park units so the chance of me knowing the individual seemed unlikely.  However, with park rangers, we are a very small family.  You always know someone or at least a friend knows the individual.  Anyway, the park ranger shot on Friday at 9pm worked in Moab.  The shooting was too close to home.

I read further into the article and found out it was Brody Young.  The name rang a familiar bell, but it wasn't until they posted his photo that it became even more personal than it already was.  I had went on a river raft trip once and we met up with Brody during the trip.  He made the dutch oven cake that night.  (The title IT IS FAMILY is the link to an article, as you look at photos realize the boat is park service, Brody works for Utah State-primarily, we are family).

I check the website over and over in the hopes that they caught the suspect.  I hope they catch the suspect without another shot fired because as I said we are family.  The rangers I have worked with in the past are out there helping to track down the suspect.  They are now in the line of fire, however; I know they did not hesitate when the call for help went out.  Every officer working was heading Brody's way.  That is how it works in our family.  Besides the other park rangers in the area, 140 officers in total are searching for the suspect.

If Brody wasn't laying in a hospital, he would be out there as well.  He was shot in the arm, leg, and stomach. The important thing is that he is alive and that even being shot he was able to make a radio call, talk to medics, and get out important information.  He is in critical but stable condition.

I leave you with this comment that was posted on one of the you will notice this person did not know Brody, but read what he puts in the last line.   

As a 30 year veteren former law enforcement officer my respect and admiration for these Rangers and rural Peace Officers is very deep and I am very proud of them. Doing a peace officers job with back up seconds away or even just a few minutes away is still extremely trying and risky. That they work alone and miles from help is more than those without experience in the field will ever know. My prayers are with my brother and his family. God holds a these men and women who serve so valiantly below the threshhold of most peoples awareness as very precious. My brother in arms and his family needs your prayers.

NOTE:  A fund has been set up at any Wells Fargo branch in honor of Brody Young.  He has a wife and several children.  Please help out if you can!!!!  Happy Holidays.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Grand Canyon

I stand out on the edge of a point.  And I think...what would it be like to jump?  Don't panic!  I am not suicidal, but I have often wondered what it would feel like to just jump and soar.  With no worry about the pain that would ensue when I hit the bottom.  What would it be like to jump?  Well as you can tell by reading this, I didn't answer my question this time.

I have been to the canyon numerous times as a child, college student, and now as an adult (really am I?).  I might joke about it being a really big hole, but each time I have peered over the edge and into the abyss this time I around I have been awed.  I have tried to look over at different points, but even when I was looking from the same location I saw something new.  But still always just amazed me.  As with many National Parks, I find it interesting, disheartening, and foolish that people that live in the state have never been to the Grand Canyon.  Hello, it is one of the 7 wonders of the world.  And you live a short ways away.  Pack up the family and get your ass up here so you can ask yourself as you peer over---what would it be like to jump?

I've brought two things of importance to the canyon almost every time I went to peer over.  First, as many of you have looked, I brought my camera.  And I have taken photo after photo of the same geological formations.  But you know what?  Well before you answer I am going to tell matter how much you comment on my photo and say how beautiful they are...those photos do not do justice to what I saw with my own eyes.  The photos doesn't capture what I am seeing.  Honestly, I don't even look back at the photos because I do not what them to taint my view.  

Second, I brought a journal I call 'My Book of Law'.  It is from a book by Miguel Ruiz (The 4 Agreements Companion Book).  As I opened it recently I noticed my last entry was 04/09 and now it is 11/10.  WOW.  So I figured what a better place to get reacquainted with the book.  Guess what?  Again the answer...I have barely opened it.  Because when I get out on the rim which I think is going to bring me inspiration to write in it, the beauty surrounding me takes my breath away.  This is all I could come up with....

I sit out on a point watching the sunset.  Quiet.  The raven calls out.  Peace.  The chill warms my body.  Silence.  The canyon howls as the rocks explode with fire.

And with that I leave you with the challenge.  Go to and look up what parks are in your area.  Heck search out your state parks as well.  And then go there and sit in the quietness and find peace from that hectic Monday everyone is always complaining about on facebook.  

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Uncourageous Murderer

I have never understood murder because in all sense it does not accomplish a damn thing.  In most cases, the killer gets caught and ends up spending time in jail.  Another lost cause along the road of life.  And no one grieves for the killer.  I mean when the killer shoots the quiet victim and solves whatever conflict there was, the killer didn't only shoot the victim, but every person in the victim's life will forever be changed.  And in all actuality, the killer also affects every person in the killer's life.

I grew up in a small town where you always say, shit like murder doesn't happen in our town.  But it did.  Back when I was in high school or may be a freshman in college, Kevin S. was murdered in our small little town. I am sure there might have been others before Kevin, but I remember it as my first 'real life murder victim' that I knew.

In 2009, I returned home from a wonderful weekend on the coast to find posting after posting of "I'll miss you Matt".  And then I was told Matt who.  I remember saying to my boyfriend that a friend of mine was murdered.  He immediately offered up his free ticket and I made arrangements to go to the service.  I have a picture in my head how it went down. I can see Matt standing at the door with the guy.  And then BLAM.  I do not remember the dickhead who shot him, but he is the most uncourageous, ball-less man in my book.   Because after shooting Matt over a trivial matter he should have cleared up by other means, he went home and put a bullet to his own head.  Leaving behind a wife and child.  However, Matt left behind not only his daughter, brother, parents, and other family, but 100s of people from all walks of life who loved him with all their hearts because that is how he loved them.  Matt still has his FB page and we still drop by to say hi to him, tell him we miss him, and ask for him to look down upon us and make us save.  We still love him, cry for him, and wish every day he was here.

I was laying in a hotel room watching the news when a flash of Lake Havasu hit the screen:  Six dead in shooting.  WHAT THE FUCK!  The worst tragedy in Lake Havasu history.   Well, unfortunately Havasu is not the small town it once was.  I didn't know any of the victims, but it doesn't matter to me.  This is more about the murderer.  See what Brian Diez did was walk into a home where six adults and two children were celebrating a birthday and shot all six adults.  One survived and was able to make the phone call to police.  She is in the hospital in critical condition. Brian then kidnapped the kids and drove to California.  Where he then put a bullet in his head.  WHAT THE FUCK!  Did you solve by killing the children's mother and then killing yourself, the father?  So not only did you affect the entire lives of an entire community let alone the family and friends of who you murdered, but you've left two innocent young children without parents.  And I hope that neither child had to witness what took place in that house because if they did, they will remember for the rest of their lives.   Two children who will grow up not fully knowing their parents.

And all this out of jealously.  None of these murders solved a damn thing in life, but to cause more tragic in the lives of so many.

Rest in Peace all and please look down upon us as if we knew you forever!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Good-bye PINN, Hello LARO

HUH?  Good-bye where, Hello where.  The NPS has developed a system of acronyms for everything.  Each park has a four letter cord.  Primarily it is either the first 4 letters of the name or the first 2 if the park has two words.  For example, Arches National Park is ARCH and Grand Canyon National Park is GRCA.  Of course there are funny ones like LAME-Lake Mead National Recreation Area.  All confusing, but once in the system actually pretty easy.

So I am heading up to LARO to start a new job.  Technically I started on Sunday, but I was still on vacation and then I had two days off and the movers don't come until tomorrow, Friday.  To answer your question...No, I did not get transferred.  In this case, I am making a lateral move.  Primarily, LARO had an opening and my boyfriend wanted me a little closer so he told them I worked in law enforcement.  I sent up my resume and they hired me.  So I am moving up to a new job and to participate in more bedsport with my boyfriend.  I'm excited, nervous, and overjoyed.  I'm going to freeze my ass off and hopefully some other fat portions of my body.

But I am leaving a park that has grown on my in several ways.  There are definitely things I am going to miss and definitely things I won't miss.  And most likely the things I won't miss will be present at my other job so I won't discuss them.  What is it I'll miss....

Well those times when the new intern/SCA shows up and I get to welcome them with my attitude and scare the shit out of them.  Every intern that I've come in contact with has some story about their first meeting of them.  Wimps!  I know Jenna is going to miss them as well because it was them that always would watch her while I was away or take her for walks when I had to work the late shift.  Sometimes I think they are going to miss Jenna more than me.  But I am sure my new park will have some SCAs I can welcome.

Over the years I have made friends with visitors that have come back year after year.  And I am going to miss their Thanksgiving dinners, cocktails, and good spirits.  But again I am sure I might have the chance to meet some new (types) of visitors at LARO. I am going to miss stopping to show visitors a California condor fly overhead or to give my 10 minute informal Interpretation program on them.   I am going to miss those good Mexican BBQs each weekend at the Moses Springs day use area.  The carne asada always makes my mouth water.

I am definitely going to miss the people I have come to work with and gotten to know in the community.  The housing area I lived in was a little community in itself.  We were always having potlucks, or I was always cooking for the housing family, parties (too many damned themed ones), and just nights of fun.  I am definitely going to miss the people of the community--the ranchers/homesteaders around the corners who allowed Jenna and I to run freely on their property, to swim in their ponds, and allow me to assist with eating the food at the brandings.  Oh yea, I'll be back for the brandings for sure.

Yep, I am going to miss PINN in many ways.  But I'm on to my next adventure in life.  The vehicle is packed to the ground, the movers come tomorrow, and I'll be on the open road by Saturday.

Until the next park....

Thursday, June 10, 2010


Yiayia is the Greek word for Grandma.  I just recently learned how to spell it, but for years I've been saying it in my non-greek accent.  Yiayia is the grandma of my friend Margaret.  Margaret lived up the road from us growing up and since my grandparents lived in the midwest, Yiayia became a surrogate grandma for me through the years.  

Just recently after many years, too many damn years, I was able to see Yiayia while visiting Margaret.  It was so great to see Yiayia and to give her a hug.  She was a little different...a little skinnier, a little older, but still the Yiayia that I knew. 

She was in the process of making sweet bread.  I asked for the recipe, but I was told it was a secret.  Margaret was supposed to fedex me some, but that never happened.  I am going to have to search the recipe for it.  But like my Grandma's cinnamon rolls, I doubt I will ever be able to make the sweet bread as Yiayia did.  I think that Grandma's put in something special-love-that sometimes a typical person just doesn't add to their baking. 

As Yiayia and I talked through her broken English and Margaret's translations, it took me back to the days of my childhood.  I found it funny that Yiayia only thought it was my father and I and did not know I had 6 siblings.  That was probably because most of the siblings had taken flight.  But I think Yiayia took pity on that it was my father and I.  She was always sending down sweet bread, baklava, and other sweets to our house.  And of course it was all homemade, from scratch, with Yiayia love in the middle of it.  

I remember Yiayia and Margaret would come down and pick the olives off of our tree.  We would help her pick the olives and the dates from the palm trees.  I never knew why she was picking them until one Easter, it was the Easter after Margaret shot the golfer, my father and I were invited to their house for a traditional Greek Easter.  I found out Margaret's grandfather made ouzo in the basement and it was a pretty amazing system.   That Easter was one of my greatest memories of an Easter celebration.  Everyone speaking in Greek, the goat/lamb (can't remember) on the spit out back, but everyone welcoming us like family.  And I am sure that Yiayia sent us home with baked goods.  

When I visited in March, Yiayia and I discussed my bread making issues.  I was having the hardest time getting my dough to rise.  And Yiayia took me into the kitchen where she was preparing to make the sweet bread.  She had a large, and I am talking the kind you store your winter clothes in, full of dough that was overflowing the sides.  Why, why can't my dough rise like that.  She went to the freezer and returned with some yeast and put it in a bag for me. (I was hoping TSA wouldn't wonder why I was carrying around yeast)  Yiayia put some on a spoon and said use this much.  I am Type A and everything has to be measured.  She just shook her head, this much.  Then back into the kitchen with me and through a little English, sign language (kind of) and Margaret's translations, I got my lesson on bread making.  But still the recipe was not divulged to me.  The most important thing I took away from that lesson was to always, always sift my flour.  When I returned to my state, I immediately bought a sifter.  My bread and all my baking (cinnamon rolls lately) have been coming out beautifully.

I was pained the other day to see that Margaret had posted that Yiayia had a mini-stroke.  Damn I thought...I had missed so many years of seeing her and learning her secrets.  It is because of her and Margaret's family that I've always wanted to travel to Greece.  Well and the fact that Margaret still has family over there to shower me with hospitality.  I am so glad that I got to see Yiayia this past year.  Although a little older than the last time I saw her, she was still Yiayia through and through.  I hope for a speedy recovery because I am hoping to hang with her at the Greek Festival in September if I can get the time off?

I love you Yiayia....

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

True Friendship

True friends can go long periods of time without speaking and never question their friendship.....and pick up like they just spoke yesterday, regardless of how long it has been....(ganked from someone on FB)

However, I find this statement so true.  And so I will talk about my best friend....We've been best friends for over 33-34 years.  Our friendship and our family's friendship is the only good thing I feel that came out of my dad's second marriage.  Well, and Buckwheat, but unfortunately he passed on long ago.  

We were around 3 or 4 years old when we met each other.  I don't really remember this, but Michelle says the first day I met her I flipped her off.  Yep, all my siblings are older and I learned things as a child that I probably shouldn't have known at that age.  Oh well, that finger gesture sealed our friendship.  HAHA.  

Our families spent our summers in Tahoe and later in Brianhead.  Her brother, Joe, a little older than us, Michelle, and I would wreak havoc on that condo project.  I remember the time we demolished some other kid's fort.  HAHA.  Ok, it was mean, but fun.  

Michelle and I went to different elementary schools, but she was always invited to all my birthday parties and my sleepovers.  We went to the same junior high only because it was the only junior high.  Although we had a lot of the same classes and we hung out together, we truly had different cliches.  May be that is why we have survived all this time.  

We entered high school and definitely went our separate ways with regard to friends and hanging out.  We really didn't have too many classes together, but when we did we had a blast.  I remember having Michelle in Mrs. Biekman's science class.  Chad was in the class with us and man did we cause problems.  On the weekends and when we found time, we hung out.  

Our college years happened upon us and initially I went to another state, but returned to Arizona and spent the rest of my college days hanging out with Michelle almost daily on the benches of NAU.  She was the one who was with me when I decided upon piercing my belly button.  She was the one who attempted to put the new ring in, she was the one who attempted to repierce it, and was there years later when I almost passed out when I had it done a third time.  During our college years, we probably were the closest in all aspects of our friendship.  

We graduated from college and went on our ways both ending up in the Phoenix area.  Michelle was the one who found me my first apartment, which I sometimes still wish I lived in.  I was there on the mountain when she married Hector.  I was there when her children were born.  And vise versa, but I've been smart and haven't gotten married and pushed out children...but she's been there for me whenever I needed her.  

And then I got the job of a life time and left Arizona.  But since my family was still all there, I would often come back.  And when I did, we always went out to lunch or spent time together.  Usually with me handling her kids and giving her a break.  And like the statement above says, it was like we had just seen or spoken yesterday.  

When I received the telephone call her brother had passed away, there was no doubt in my mind that I was flying to be with the family.  And so I did.  

We've lived apart for many years now.  Only seeing each other about once a year.  I live in a no zone for cell phones, but she somehow talked me into getting text messaging.  And every week when I head into town for errands, we either text back and forth or give a quick call.  Occasionally we will send each other a card that we find that fits our friendship.

The last couple of weeks, we've missed each other.  When we finally talked yesterday, she jokingly said 'Am I still your friend?".  I said NO.   And we both laughed.  In the 33 years we have known each other, we have never had a fight of any kind.  We've never stopped being friends like so many teenagers do over the course of school years.  Her friends are so different from mine, but we all get along just fine when we hang out together.  Michelle and I are quite bossy with each other and during a particular outing with her friends, Michelle was bossing me around as she usually does. (Which is funny because I am 10 days older to the hour).  I can't remember the exact words, but one of her friends said something with reference how we berate each other.  And Michelle just laughed knowing full well that this was just part of our strong friendship.  

She is the truest of friends and I know in the coming months as I travel even farther away from Arizona that our friendship will not suffer and end in anyway.  If anything it will just grow stronger as I think I might be in a cell zone.  

So give your true friend a call today or drop a note just to say I'm still here and how are you....

Saturday, May 08, 2010


In 2005, I participated in my first Relay For Life event in H-town in California. I came in second place in raising the most money for our team. But it wasn't about me. The money I raised went for cancer research. Check out this link for more information regarding Relay For Life. The Relay monies help in the following ways:

Helping people stay well
Helping people get well
Finding cures
Fighting back

So far the Relay I am participating in has raised over $1500.00 and we still have 83 days to raise money. I think my donate page gives a good indication as to why I do this year after year after my first one in 2005, but nonetheless I'll tell you more....

Kevin Ross was a classmate of mine in high school. Nope, he wasn't someone I hung out with and would even call a friend. Hell, to be honest I didn't realize he was missing from half of my classes until he returned to school after his treatment. I remember like it was yesterday (not 20 years ago) how when he stepped on stage at graduation, the entire class stood and clapped. It was a very emotional graduation to say the least. He is doing well last time I heard.

I have three sisters who have beaten the cancer bug. Supposedly my father was a carrier of a 'cancer' gene. My oldest sister who recently beat breast cancer went through some genetic testing and that is how we found out. I like to think I am going to be the black sheep of the family and not get any form of cancer. I could go get tested to see if I have the gene, but I refuse. Primarily because I already wonder constantly if I am going to get cancer. If I went and got the test and I came back positive for that gene, I think every time I sneezed I would almost have a heart attack thinking I have cancer. Some people would want to know, but I want to live my life not worrying more than I already do.

My dad's companion (AKA: Girlfriend) of over 10 years, battled a form of cancer that would go into remission and then return. I do not know how she endured the treatments every several years. But she was a strong lady. I know because she used to kick my ass in tennis year after year.

In 2007, a coworker, Gary, was diagnosed with Cancer. He under went surgery in April and upon opening him up, realized the cancer was far worse than they thought. Immediately, I organized a Relay For Life team called Gary's Condors. Since we had so many people they made us split into two teams, but in realty we were one. We raised the most money for the cause because they made us split into two teams. I think we raised almost 4,000 dollars. But to me that night was not about the money.

The first lap of every Relay starts out with survivors walking the lap. Gary, fresh out of the hospital, may be a week, walked that lap and he led the lap. He walked many more after that before heading home. Most of our team stayed all night, taking turns walking, chatting, crying, laughing, and making a difference. Tim Graham walked the entire time we were there. And half the time it was raining, but no one went home. We had tents set up but no one used them to sleep. The energy of Relays is amazing. I can't remember what time the final lap was, but Gary's Condors had an amazing turn out including Gary leading us once again around the track. As you can tell by his webpage he lost the battle.

I walk and raise money for many reasons. But I ask you to donate because I know you know someone that has either beaten the hell out of the disease or unfortunately has gotten beaten by the disease. And the more we raise, the less people CANCER beats.

If you have made it this far in the reading, you might as well go to the site and donate. Thanks.

I reached my third goal of $700 so I bumped it up to $800. Now I am 88% away from reaching that goal.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

The Flight of the Condor

On a good given day I can witness this magnificent bird flying over where I live. It is a California Condor (Gymnogyps californianus)with a wing span of roughly 9 1/2 feet. Usually they are so far up in the sky that sometimes you aren't sure if you are looking at a small plane or a condor. Usually, capturing a photo this close isn't feasible, but I have contacts.

This is the start of the spring trap-up. The program captures all the birds (or attempts to) for medical checkups. Yep, just like you are supposed to go to the doctor once a year for your annual physical, the condors must go through the same.

Once they are trapped into a facility, they are captured with a net and then a serious of tests are conducted. The condors have blood drawn and a sample of that is tested for lead. Condors can die if they have a thumbnail size of lead in their system. If they have lead in their system then they are given a treatment to remove it. If their lead levels are extremely high, they are put into a dog kennel and whisked away to the zoo for more intense treatment. Besides the blood work, the entire body is check over and the feathers are measured and counted.

Do I need to give you a history? In the 80s, there were 22 condors left in the United States. Depending on who you talk to the number will vary, but I'll go with 22. They decided to save the bird by having a captive breeding program. Today, in the wild and captivity there are roughly 350. And more wild condors are starting to produce offspring. Matter of fact, where I work has a nest for the first time in 100 years. Progress is slow, but it is progress nonetheless.

So on Tuesday, I heard the radio call that a couple of birds had been trapped. Knowing that most of the crew was in SAR training, I volunteered my time to help out with their physicals.

And that is where photo above came from. As we approached the facility, there was a bird on the roof and it took off flying. The condor was about 20 feet above me when I snapped this photo. But it isn't so much the size of the bird that awes you. When a 9 1/2 foot wing span flies over you, the sound that is whistling through its wings is amazing and breathtaking. At that moment in time, every thing else in the world ceases and you hold your breath. Peace.

They are vultures. They eat dead things. And they aren't really handsome or beautiful. But after working with them for years they still take my breath away. People will often say they are ugly. The videographer said "they are so cute" and I had to chuckle because they do tend to be cute at times.

After we were able to get one adult male trapped up, he was held by one person as I head the feet and tail. He was beautiful. Yes, beautiful. His head was various colors--some red, some orange, flecks of black. Really it is hard to explain fully. Just as we were finishing up, he decided it would be a good thing to poop on my hand. Lets just say thank goodness for gloves.

But not many people can say that they have had an endangered species poop on their hand. Both birds came back with high lead levels and one was whisked to the zoo for further treatments.

So where are they getting the lead? Well since they are vultures, they eat dead things. And around here, we have hunters and ranchers galore. There is a ban on using lead ammunition for hunting in the area, but as always there have to be a couple of bad apples in the group. And when they leave their kill for the vultures (coyotes, turkey vultures, etc), the condors find it and ingest it. The program has had numerous condors die from lead poisoning. The ammunition battle is just one of many the condors face in becoming a population not regulated by humans.

I think this bird flying above was 375. They are all numbered and radio tagged so crew members can find them usually. Some of the birds even have GPS units on them which allows crew members to pinpoint their locations from downloaded data. In 2005, I had the great opportunity to work on the project for an entire year. But during that entire time, I never had a condor poop on my hand.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The part of the job I love

Monday was a day on the job that I love. It is a day to recoup from the weekend visitors and get paperwork done. But I decided against all that because I knew on Tuesday it would rain. I put on the light weight uniform and heading out on the SW Trail. Lately the adjacent landowners have informed me they have been picking up our visitors on their property. The last pair picked up was in bad shape---out of water, dehydrated, and absolutely lost. So I figured I would head out and see where exactly visitors are going wrong. I was granted the permission of the landowners to drop into their property if need be.

I radioed Dispatch and called into service indicating I would be on foot patrol. Dispatch came back and asked if I wanted 1 hour status checks. I said no, but then I realized why they were asking. JC, a park ranger at Rocky, lost his life while on foot patrol. Ever since then there has been changes made while rangers are on foot patrol.

My task list of the day was two fold---check archaeological sites and figure out what visitors are doing wrong. I parked the vehicle at the carcass dumpster and started walking through the brush where I thought I knew a shortcut to the trail. Um, status checks huh. I bumped my head on a motion camera and so as I walked away I gave DFR the finger. I'm sure that'll show up at a going away party. I stumbled through poison oak about three times before jumping the creek, landing in the creek, and getting to the other side. I've always said I didn't get poison oak so this would be the test.

Alas, the trail. I started down the trail with GPS in hand looking for sites. I found 4 of them, one that required bush whacking and the other 3 I found by learning to walk past the site then coming back to it a different way. Bush whacking here sucks.

As I finished with the first site and was taking notes, I looked up to see a coopers hawk. Then another hawk, a sharp shin, entered the field of view and dropped down to tap the coopers on the back. I watched this for 10 minutes while I took notes for the Field Observation Card, which always gets me a mention on Raptor Man's email updates. And then I trudged on.

I came to the fence where I believe visitors make their near fatal mistake and took some pictures so things could change and visitors wouldn't be picked up by the landowners trespassing. Then I did what the visitors do and hopped the fence.

I immediately came upon a beautifully new bulldozed road and started following it. Within a half mile I came upon a second road, but decided against taking it and continued on. I am so glad I did. I crossed the creek at least 15 times with one being knee deep. I was enjoying the solitude, the quietness, and the new views. I was watching for tracks to see how far people had gone on the road when I came upon what I believed to be a mountain lion track. I continued to see them for sometime and then started looking behind me every so often just to be certain I wasn't being followed.

I had decided as the heat of the day was approaching that if I did not come upon another road to my east by 12pm, I would turn around. I suppose one issue visitors have is they probably don't know which direction is which so when they get lost they can't determine the best way to go. The second pair the landowners picked up were traveling in the opposite direction of the park. At 1125 I noticed a road on the ridge line and by 1139 I found the road. I hiked up the road and I mean UP. I used the bulldozer tracks as steps because it was so steep. I saw two horny toads on the way up.

Upon reaching the top, I noticed that the road ended right there at the top. And then I heard it...the yelp of the coyotes. They were right over that grassy knoll. I slipped my gun out of my holster and started up the rise. Calm down folks, the gun was just in case they were right over the edge and I spooked them enough for them to come at me. As I got to the top, they stopped yelping and I noticed movement in the bushes across the way. I dropped my pack and sat down. I watched an adult come out of the bushes, look my direction, and then head up the hill. Shortly there after two pups came out heading up the hill. I got up and headed where I thought a road might be. )I was thinking to myself at this I am exhausted and most visitors are unprepared so we could have some issues here. The landowners don't live in the valley, it is just where they put their cattle so they aren't always there.)

I turned on the GPS and did a quick calculation of my distance straight line from the park... 5.5 miles. OUCH. I walked over to the earthquake equipment figuring a road had to be there and jumped the fence to find about 5 different roads. Again, knew where I was so there wasn't a chance of me getting lost. I headed towards the HV house. A house I had always looked at from OP and wished I could see it up close and personal. Today I would.

I found a gate that led nowhere and snapped a photo so I could explain to the landowners were exactly I ended up. I could see the corral down the valley where I branded cattle last year and saw the vehicle moving away from it. Most likely I was going to come upon the landowners today. I continued on the gravel road between the green hills enjoying the beauty around me. To be able to own property like this would be wonderful. I dropped down unto the main road and headed towards the house.

I came upon 4 cows standing on the left side of the road and they quickly crossed over to this area near the trees. And then all of the sudden the entire herd started coming at me. Almost like they were surrounding me as some were in front and some were behind. They ran up on the hill and I dropped over the other side just as I heard the vehicle coming behind me. Not sure which owner I was about to meet, I turned to face the vehicle and held up my hands. It was J&K and I had just talked to K earlier in the day. They gave me a ride to the HV house. J really wanted to drive me back to the park, but I was determined to hike the entire thing. He offered me a coke, water, or a beer. As I look back upon it, I wish I would have taken the beer.

I started up the pasture past the horses and through the two gates. As I was climbing yet another hill I thought if this doesn't flatten out soon, I'm going to have to call 501 to pick me up. I was exhausted, overheated, and ready for bed. I was pretty sure I would lose a toenail or two because my feet had been wet for a while now. Finally it flattened out and I reentered the park.

I drove to the campground store, bought some ice cream and some vitamin water and called it a day. Can't complain that I just got paid to hike 12 miles without seeing another sole for 11 miles of that. I called Dispatch and called out of service...Good evening.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

A Blast from the Past

The year 2000. A statement was made to me about a person we knew that came from a well off family who lived a life of simplicity. One or two pairs of jeans, a few shirts, and slept on the floor. I got rid of all my cds (500+), turned off my cable, threw out some of materialist things, was getting ready to sale my vehicle for a moped, but decided against it and started sleeping on the floor. In doing so I felt a huge weight lifted off my chest that I didn't realize was there and some how my life turned very spiritual. No, I didn't find God. However in this same time, I tried to go to every church-Mormon, Black Baptist, Catholic, Christian Bible Thumpers, and even Scientology (they were never open). I started reading Tao and Buddhism and the book that changed everything was the Miracle of Mindfulness. I was writing a lot of journal entries and so I share one from December 3, 2001:

I question what my purpose in life is. And as I sit here at NH I come to think life doesn't really have a purpose. Our, my purpose is to simply live and die. And through those two stages I must learn and experience all I can. I must feel all I can-pain, sorrow, love, etc. And of course learn from the feelings. I will make mistakes and learn from them. I will have a job and learn from it. And I when I die if there is an afterlife, I will have these to learn and experience more. In yesterdays I was constantly searching for the purpose of my life. Constantly wanting the answer, but sitting here tonight the answer just blew through my mind. My purpose in life is to live and I realize this must be fully. It must be on the edge, risky, adventurous. Must be lived to potential of tomorrow' lessons but living only in this exact time, this moment. Not 5 seconds from now, right now. I must get back to being mindful. I'm sitting here writing, smiling. I'm sitting here living my purpose.

The smile that was once shining so brightly and often and's here tonight. Why? I think may be because I found my purpose but may be because life just seems right. Calm, peaceful, and quiet even though I live in the noise-filled busy city. Just feels right!

Monday, April 19, 2010

My Religion

Since I probably didn't explain myself about my religion, I will attempt to a little more....No, I still don't believe in God. I believe in the Moment. I believe I will be reincarnated into something greater in my next life. I am pretty sure I was Joan of Arc or a witch in a previous life because I hate fire. I wish I could live along the lines of Buddha and Taoism, but I fail often.

During a very spiritual time in my life while living in the beauty of Utah, I wrote this....

My religion isn’t to a deity

There are no sacrifices except myself

I don’t bow to an alter

I don’t pray on my knees

However each day I breathe

I feel the air on my skin

Smell the Earth and water

Sense the spirits of unknown

Earth is my religion

Waking up to see the beauty

Hearing the crickets in the night

Or the lizard’s scales on the leaves

Seeing the rabbits feeding on the grass

Or the bobcat on the slick rock

Those are my religion

Walking in canyons of grand walls

Seeing the writings of the ancient past

Observing the deer drinking peacefully

Listening to the quietness engulf me

That is what I consider my religion

The peace of complete serenity

I get when I open my eyes at 3am

While sleeping under a million stars

And hear the coyote yelp goodnight

My religion is that sense of peace

Being able to smell the sage bush

Or see the first buds of the Apache Plume

Hearing the ripples in the stream

Watching the fall leaves descend

This is my true religion

I guess in a sense I do pray

Whenever I’m communing with nature

For the one glimpse I haven’t seen

Whenever I climb upon the peaks

And see the most spectacular view

I realize that if I would succumb to death

I would be completely satisfied

Because I am one with the Earth

Which I consider my religion

Thursday, April 15, 2010

I was told to REPENT

And being the non practicing Catholic that I have become, I immediately thought of God. And that is where this post is going. Now really I am not sure why I have to repent to blog again because the meaning of Repentance is a change of thought and action to correct a wrong and gain forgiveness from a person who is wronged...And well I didn't truly wrong someone in stopping my blogging. But nonetheless I am going to give a whirl at it again.

So God...immediately off topic...whenever I am typing either GOD or DOG, I always start off by misspelling it. For instance, if I am writing about a DOG, I will always start typing GO first. I have that problem with my Bs and Ds as well, but it is only when typing never when writing....

Ok, so God. I think the reason I have such a hard time writing about God is because I don't believe in one. Which leads me to something someone wrote recently...."if you don't believe in God.... you might think it is just a part of the goodness in you.... but still.... that goodness is from God and through all of this I know He gets ahold of your heart and shows you His wonders." That is that person's belief and I absolutely respect that belief. However the goodness that I showed that person wasn't because of God. Well to be honest....ok, I have to divulge a little about the person's person....

Here is this 5 year old child that has a rare disease that only 17 people or less have in the world. The disease is PEPD. Look it up if you are interested.

So back to my non Godly help. The reason I helped was in a way because of God. The reason I helped was because I don't understand why GOD would create that much pain for a child. Why her parents' and friend's prayers haven't made the pain go away. I didn't help because they prayed for help, I helped because I am financially able to help when they have needed it. I supposed to them me paying for a lil somethin there and a lil somethin here is answering their prayers.

However, no God called out to me to help. The writing on the wall asked for my help. And so I have repented.