Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Stars will Come Out Tomorrow (Bet Your Bottom Dollar)

Today was a beautiful day! The East wind stopped blowing so now we can operate at normal status. Usually we work out of the VC (Visitor Center), but on East wind days it is too dangerous for pilots to land on Naknek lake. Instead pilots land on the nearby Brooks lake. For who ever is on the D schedule that means that instead of working in the VC your happy job is to spend most of the day up at Brooks lake giving bear orientations on the beach. With that clarified let me tell you about my July 22. My day started moderately early at 7 am in order to get prepared to meet planes at Brooks lake at 7:45. I enjoy bear orientations b/c they give me the chance to meet lots of interesting people. Sometimes we are lucky enough to give orientations to influential or famous people. I have met several people from National Geographic, Discover Channel, high level government officials, and the man who broke the sound barrier (Chuck Yeager). After giving several orientations through the morning, I saw a most unusually colored plane land up the beach. Normally I did not think about it too much more than wonder where this new plane was from and where its occupants might call home. The plane held people from all over the world and a family from Mass. Normally this would not cause too much excitement for most people, but it turns out that the world travelers were a film crew and that the family was none other than Animal Planet's Jeff Corwin and family. All very nice people, but sadly I did not ask for a picture since it would be rude and against my job position. As awesome as it is to say I gave them their bear orientation this was not the end of my day. After a day of orientations and "Roving the Falls" talking to people, I got off work to go eat a well deserved meal. After making delicious pasta with baked salmon marinara I started to sit down to my dinner. However, the squirrels under my cabin were making such a racket I got up and started stopping on the floor to hopefully get some peace. Finally...Quiet! Just as I sit down I hear another noise. I look towards the floor under my sink and just in time to see the pipe under my sink move! Thinking to my self in dismay: "That has got to be the largest squirrel ever or there is a bear under the cabin." I moved to the window on my door and could just make out a big blonde behind. I started stopping on the floor and kicking the door to move it from the pipe it was obviously digging around. After a few seconds it moved enough for me to get the door open a crack and start banging on the front step. Word to the Wise: I am a trained semi-professional do not ever try to attempt these actions in the presence of a bear (It might decide to fight back). When it moved a few feet from the door I came running out on the step and started yelling at it like it was a big dog that was being naughty. Apparently my voice must sound scary b/c it bolted. I notified the "authorities" aka an on duty ranger and helped track down the bear to determine if it was leaving the area and try to match its identity for later records. Now think about how boring it must be when you sit down to eat at home :) All I can say is this place is wonderful! Other things that make my day: I had a couple today that I gave an orientation to that came up to me later to tell me what a wonderful day they had experienced. They were retired and had wanted to visit this place for 15 years. After all that time they were finally able to afford to come out for the day and they thought it was the best thing they had ever done in their lives. That ladies and gentlemen is the definition, which I could not explain better, to why I work in Katmai National Park. I hope you have all had a wonderful summer. Mine is sadly coming to an end, here at brooks camp. In two weeks, I leave to go visit some professors in Fairbanks and visit Denali National Park for a few days before returning to Tennessee. With a little bit of luck there will be a blog about this place next year (except I will be a paid ranger)...(cross you fingers).

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