Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Final Month at Bryce

My final month at Bryce Canyon National Park (September) was a flurry of new job experiences and a wild ride of unpredictable weather as well.

It had been a lifelong dream of mine to work at a National Park, and my job as a Volunteer Interpretive Ranger fulfilled that dream to its fullest.  My daily duties included working a few hours at the Visitor Center Information Desk, a few hours of project/program time (researching and/or presenting ranger programs), and "roving" out in the park (walking trails like these and assisting visitors).


Every single day, I got to meet and talk to hundreds of visitors from around the world-- from Canada and Mexico, to China, Japan, Germany, Austria, France, Switzerland, Spain, Israel, South Africa, Russia, Norway, Denmark, Australia, New Zealand, and India.  They traveled from around the globe to this special place in a remote corner of southern Utah.

I also got to work with a diverse and incredibly talented group of interpretive rangers-- each bringing deep expertise of their specific life's work from geology, biology, forestry, and astronomy, to music, theatre, photography, painting, and architecture.

If I could sum up the season into one word, it was "intense."

Of course, part of that was of my own making.  A week into my job, my supervisor asked if I might want to develop and present a few ranger programs.  Wow, how could I say "no" to such an opportunity?

Seeing that no other rangers had yet focused on the National Parks Centennial, I decided to focus my programs on what Bryce was like 100 years ago (in 1916).

While Bryce would not become a national park until 1928, the year 1916 was still very monumental.  Until then, hardly anyone knew of Bryce's rare hoodoos (except for a few locals).  That all changed in 1916 when the first road to the park was built, and the first photographs and articles were published in prominent national magazines.  From then on, Bryce was now "on the map" and a new natural wonder of the world to be seen!

After a month of research and preparation, I was finally ready to launch my programs in early September.  Reality set in when I saw them listed in the park's weekly ranger program schedule-- no turning back now!



My afternoon program was given at this idyllic location at Sunset Point


Here's a fellow volunteer, Joe, giving his program from there:


There were 2 possible venues for evening ranger programs.  The outdoor theater at the campground (where Ranger Don is shown giving his astronomy program):


and the indoor auditorium at the historic Bryce Lodge.  As my evening program was highly centered around a slideshow/video presentation,  I felt the indoor Lodge would be less problematic to the mood swings of Utah high-elevation September weather.

So, here was my lovely venue (photos taken during my afternoon rehearsal time):



While preparing these ranger programs was stressful, presenting them was an extreme adrenaline rush and always thrilled me to see visitors "light up" and get more excited about Bryce Canyon by the end of the program than they'd been at the start!  I always seemed to leave each venue "floating on air!"

Every day in September seemed to bring something new weather-wise.  One day while roving, I noticed dark storm clouds rolling in fast over the canyon rim---


Within 5 minutes, it was pouring rain with thunder and lightning seemingly too close for comfort.  I ran back along the trail to herd visitors away from the rim towards a somewhat safer (and dryer) shuttle bus shelter.  As luck would have it, just as we got to the shelter a shuttle bus arrived and we were all able to get inside the bus. Not one minute later, a giant hail storm began pelting the roof!

By the time we arrived back to the Visitor Center, the storm had now passed, and hail covered the ground!



About 30 minutes later, ground fog now rolled across the meadow in front of the Visitor Center--


I thought for sure that would be my only opportunity to see fog at Bryce Canyon, but less than a week later, an even denser fog draped the entire plateau.  Remember, my afternoon ranger venue above?  It now looked like this!


I thought for sure that all the popular viewpoints would be equally deserted on such a day, but nope!  Sunset Point still had a few visitors---


There were still a few hikers bravely trying to navigate the muddy clay along the Navajo Trail, but waiting a few more minutes, I was able to get this rare daytime "people-free" shot (impossible on a clear sunny day!).


Up at Fairyland, I was the only car in the parking lot and had the overlook all to myself:


What a fun day to live in the park!

By the last week of September, I knew my timing had been perfect to end my engagement.  I looked outside my RV window one night to see it snowing heavily on my lawn chair!


A sure sign that it's time to move to lower elevations!  But the morning snow sure was pretty to look at--



Farewell dear Bryce, until we meet again!











19 comments:

  1. Bryce is such an awesome park with all its diversity, it even has Bristlecone Pines!
    Pray you are on the road to recovery and will be on the road again soon.

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    1. Yes, when Illinois friends came to visit & decided to hike along with me on my daily rove of the Rim trail, I had them snap my photo above beneath my favorite "stealth" Bristlecone. People always think Bristlecones trunks are only twisted and oddly-formed, but not true! This one was straight and tall-- only when you noticed the pines boughs did you realize it was indeed a Bristlecone! p.s. getting better every day!

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  2. Hi Lynn, I have been reading your blog for quite some time now. Sorry to hear about your recent set back .Hope your treatments are going well and you will soon be on the way to good health and adventure. We are planning a Rv trip to Utah's 5 national parks in sept/oct. I was wondering if that's too late in the season weather wise. Love your photos of Bryce I'm so looking forward to seeing the Milky Way .we live in Vancouver BC Canada so we don't get to see many stars,due to city lights.
    Be well Lynn and I look forward to your posts.

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    1. Sept/Oct is a great time to visit the Utah parks. I'd suggest starting with the higher-elevation places first if you can (Bryce, Cedar Breaks, Grand Staircase/Rte. 12, etc). Fall colors are nice by mid-Sept in those places. By end of Sept, campgrounds begin to shut down in those places (Bryce does leave 1 loop in the North CG open longer though). October is great for the lower elevation parks-- Zion, Arches, Canyonlands. There's a great little mountain range just outside of Moab to the east called the LaSal mountains. I saw some spectacular aspens there in October a few years ago! Zion fall colors hit their peak in early November, but October still might give you some hints of color (and hopefully have a few less people too). Have a great time!

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  3. Hope you are hanging in there, loved all these pics, this was one of the best places we have been.

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    1. I'm doing better every day-- chemo is a breeze so far!

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  4. As aways, your post is beautiful and inspiring, thank you

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  5. One of my favorite parks. Lovely photos! What a terrific place to spend the summer. Hope all is going well for you. Sending thoughts and continued prayers your way:)

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    1. Thanks John & Pam! Prayers are always greatly appreciated-- I'm feeling great these days!

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  6. HI Lynn, glad to see the new posts. Guess you are feeling a little better. Would it be possible for you to give us an update on the progress of your treatments? I keep praying for you.

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    1. Thanks Barbara-- I'm still in Houston at MD Anderson for another month. Treatments are going very well so far-- much easier than I feared! I'll find out at the end of April if the current chemo has been working. If it has, I'll continue the same chemo this summer. If not, the Dr will try some different chemo drugs. I've been getting physical therapy every week too, which has really improved my mobility & strength-- I'm now almost fully recovered from the back surgery! So, feeling strong & hopeful at the moment! Thanks for the continued prayers!

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    2. That is great to hear Lynne !!

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  7. SO good to get a posting from you. Beautiful pictures and information on sharing your journey. Be better soon. Thank you

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  8. Not sure why but I had missed some posts, think I am now caught up. I am very sorry to hear of the cancer reoccurrence. I hope the treatments are going well, you found a great place at MD Anderson.
    These pictures make me want to get to Bryce even more. Lovely pictures and glad your stay there was good.

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    1. Thanks Lisa-- I decided to back-date the new blog posts so they'd stay in chronological order. Still have a bunch of Mexico & Cuba posts to write, so keep checking the home page every week or two and you'll see them pop up beneath the "Life Changes" post. See my reply to Barbara above for my current condition, but yes, I have indeed found a great place & great care team here at MD Anderson! It's pretty remarkable how much improvement I've made in just a couple of months. Fingers crossed that it will continue as long as possible!

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  9. Hi, Lynne - What a great experience you had at Bryce! And a wonderful opportunity to fulfill a dream. I've done a quick trip through Bryce, but didn't really see what it had to offer. Great photos and the fog shots are special. Sending good wishes your way.

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    1. If you haven't seen the newer posts I added to Nov. 2016, take a look at some of the other posts there for some of the cool hiking trails at Bryce. It's a small, highly visited National Park, but very unique and fun to hike too!

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  10. Such great photo and the progression of the fog. Stay strong.

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