Friday, August 16, 2013

A salute to Rangers

Our stay here in West Yellowstone ends tomorrow when we start our trip back to Denver for the birth of our first grandchild. Our three month stay here has been nothing short of fantastic.  The scenery has been well documented but I haven't said enough about the people (not the tourists, the residents).

We love West Yellowstone.  All of the people are really nice and friendly.  We have met countless full-time RVers like us.  Many come back year after year to work seasonal jobs in town and in the park. These seasonal people are essential to the experience in town and the park. Hats off to them for tolerating tourists. The ultimate nod goes to the hearty people that stay year-round to maintain and prepare the town for another summer's onslaught of tourists. They have made it a great little town and deserve a hearty salute.

But the real heroes are the Park Rangers and all of the park employees. I'm talking both the National Park Service and the National Forest Service. There is a big difference in the responsibilities of the two agencies but they share a common purpose and that is to ensure a great experience for all to enjoy our national parks and forests. We've seen first hand (especially Ann working in the Hebgen Lake National Forest Service office) the life and efforts of the extraordinary people that work for the Forest Service. They are outdoors people through and through. Most spend their days out in the forest performing various tasks that protect the forest and wildlife and maintain the services for the public to enjoy. They come back each evening exhausted and dirty but with a huge smile on their faces. Some stay out for days at a time working and camping in remote areas. We have never met more salt of the earth, genuinely nice, friendly, helpful people. We are truly blessed to have met them.

The National Park Rangers and employees may not spend so much time roughing it in the forest but their task is also daunting, protecting the parks from tourists (yes, I worded that properly) while making the experience of the tourists the best that it can be. These, too, are remarkable people. Keeping a smile on while trying to control over a million tourists a season takes a very special person.  Salute!

As you visit our National Parks and Forests, if you meet a Ranger or employee please give them a hearty thank you for what they do. This will be a new habit of mine from here on out. No more taking it for granted.

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