The goodness of guides


I’m going to let you in on a secret. I have a crush on rangers…as in National Park Rangers. Some people collect celebrity sightings; I collect ranger talks. I admire how these people are so passionate and deeply knowledgeable about history, geology, flora and fauna. Thanks to park rangers, I’ve learned about the lives of cougars, what it takes to go caving, how sound from airplanes affects the ecosystem below the flight path, and much more.

Today, I was rapt listening to the story of Custer and Sitting Bull at Little Bighorn National Monument. That’s saying something since I’m not a battleground fan or military strategy buff. To be honest, this location is unremarkable to me—a green swath of prairie grass, rolling hills and a granite marker.

But thanks to a couple of ranger talks, it was almost as if I was the one wearing a blue Army coat, crouching behind my horse, feeling in my pouch for ammunition that wasn’t there, sucking on the metallic taste of fear, wishing for a way out. Those park rangers made history come alive.

Unfortunately, there is one thing that could be a deal breaker to me becoming a park ranger someday. I simply cannot abide by those long green wool pants and brown boots on 98-degree days. If they have shorts and sandals option for the National Park Service, I’m in.