Tuesday, June 26, 2007


I have to give huge props to all the recent blog posts from the current and former Eugene posse. Good musings and good pics. On the other hand, my blog has seen an inexcusable dearth of attention despite my large amount of free time at the Tower. My ever-fragile Dell computer, which I managed to kill on my road trip, is still under warranty - much to my surprise. I was all revved up to give Dell an ear full in hopes of getting some sort of free repair but it was unnecessary. When I get it back in a week or so I will really have no excuse not to blog.

Work at the Tower has been good. I'm enjoying in a lot. People tend to be friendly and in a good mood while on vacation. I've even gotten a couple questions about NPS management. I spouted out more about NPS history and management to that poor guy than he probably ever wanted to know. The typical question is "where's the bathroom," so I really have to take advantage of those substantive questions. I've also started my program schedule full-swing. I have three programs that I give routinely. One is a guided walk around the tower, another is a short twenty minute talk, and the last is an evening Powerpoint presentation at the amphitheater. All have gone well so far. My favorite is the short talk. In it I have a great story about a guy who parachuted to the top of the Tower and got stranded up there for six days in 1941. One suggestion to get him down was to drop him a bottle of whiskey. If he were to drink it, then the ordeal would be over because "God knows what to do with drunks."

Life in a town with a population of 408 continues to be interesting. I've gotten to know the locals and had a good time fraternizing with them, though I can't go as far as claiming to like Bud Lite and Copenhagen long cut. I gave both the old college try, with predictable results.

Thursday, June 07, 2007


It has been very rainy here lately. Uncommonly rainy, at least when compared to the last few drought stricken years. In consequence, the countryside is beautifully green and verdant. The deer are starting to fatten up, lots of birds are singing, and even the skunks look pleasant.

Now that it is June, many important Native American ceremonies take place. They are particularly centered around the solstice. But on the first of June, there was a guy playing a drum and singing in Lakota up on the boulder field below the tower. His was singing in the distance, so it sounded almost as if you were imagining things. The experience of hearing him was really cool. After that, the interp staff had a discussion with some Lakota Sioux elders about the sacredness of Devils Tower, or Bear's Lodge more accurately. This old Indian couple had some of the most profound things to say about respect, peace, and making your way in the world. The tolerance this couple had for other points of view (provided they were respectful) was really inspiring. For most of the day, they simply told stories that served to teach many of the lessons that were imparted to them as youngsters. It was often hard get them to answer questions in a pointed or specific way, but nonetheless I learned a lot and was reminded how far simple respect can go towards solving complex problems.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Week 4

I'm about to start week four at Devils Tower. My duties have not been fully implemented yet. The first two weeks were training - partially useful, partially mind-numbing. Fortunately in week three I started working at the visitor center and finally getting to wear my uniform. I actually really like wearing the uniform, especially the hat. Unfortunately though, we can't wear our hats indoors. I've found that people will believe almost anything you say if you have a uniform on. Working at the visitor center consists of standing behind a desk and answering questions. Most of the questions are about how to get somewhere or where the bathrooms are. But thankfully there are some people who ask substantive questions that actually take some explanation. I've found my week point to be birding questions. For example: "I just saw a stunning species of thrush. It had two wing bars, a grey breast, a darker back, and a shrill call. What's its name?" The only accurate response I could give was, "Yes, you definitely saw a bird."

When I'm not at the visitor center I have "project time" to work on my program. I've enjoyed this process this far, as I am allowed a lot of leeway in choosing a topic. My topic is NPS history and the challenge to balance preservation and use in the parks. Designing the program has been a nice opportunity to do some writing and research. I'm excited about the program, but I don't think it will be the most enthralling for the visitors unless they share my interest in it.