Nearly a year ago Chris and I came to this wonderful place as our very first experience as volunteers. We only spent a month the first time round but it was enough to enchant us with the desire to return; and so we have.
There are the familiar places, having not changed in the big scheme of things and other places where the change has been stunning. For example, the visitor center had a remodel planned and the various exhibits were just coming in when we left last year.
This year a seemingly whole new center welcomed us with all sorts of interesting displays reaching out to grab our attention.
Of course not to be outdone, the local sheep just had to swing by to say hello after we had set up and there hasn't been a week go by without them paying us a visit. Between the sheep and the deer it is always a good idea to open the door slowly in the mornings so as to not scare them or ourselves. Let's face it, having an angry turkey gobble as a wake up call puts a whole new perspective on life.
This year the ranger has decided to give us a bit of variety and has shifted our jobs to encompass more of the recreation area. As I mentioned before, most weekends find us manning one of the boat launch area booths and its launching ramp. Since these are usually separated by at least a half mile our only means of communication is via walkie-talkie. I mention this only because Chris is a really fine judge of character and never fails to warn when the characters are enroute to the ramp.
What a stark contrast it can be! The professional guides quickly back their dories down their selected ramp lane with little to no correction. They get their boats launched, towed over to the waiting area, and then are off to the parking area. Time on the ramp, 5 minutes or less. The local fishermen may spend a little bit more time on the ramp but for the most part can rival the pros in backing and unloading.
Then come the rafters. Usually arriving around 10am and only on the sunny days these intrepid water enthusiasts will arrive with their rented rafts that are floated only after the requisite taking up of two or three ramp lanes, 20 minutes of unloading and absolutely no idea of just how cold the river is. (That last part changes quickly and is usually accompanied with a high pitched squeal – regardless of the age or gender of the water tester.) The launching of the rafts reminds me of a holiday weekend with new RV'ers arriving at a campground. Thankfully, the ramp has benches for the spectators. (Sorry, I was just too busy un-clustering to take more pictures.)
Another job the ranger will be having us do in the coming weeks is collections. We'll be traveling the roughly 257 mile circumference of the reservoir visiting each launch and fee area to collect the iron rangers. We are definitely looking forward to seeing some the territory that is called Flaming Gorge.