Ranger Kathryn's Arches

July 8, 2009

The funny things visitors say

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 7:55 am

People will ask a ranger anything.  Yesterday’s winner, asked on the trail:  “Can I make sunscreen out of dirt and water?”  Pause while thinking.  “Yes, I believe you can.  You would have to smear it on quite thickly, however.”  Official Ranger Answer, conjuring up images of elephants caking their skin to keep off flies.

Another good one was a visitor who came up to a staff person working the desk and asked, “Do you keep track of all the rocks that fall in this park, and when, and where?”  The staff member was somehow able to keep a straight face while answering — she is a better woman than I.

The third one happened while we were up on top of Teardrop rappeling, at least 1000 feet above the inhabited part of the park.  Ed had pointed out a depression in the rock, oh, larger than a couch, into which sand had blown and plants had sprung up.  There was a small juniper tree, a blackbrush, a small cactus, and several other plant species — plus a wonderful undisturbed layer of the cryptobiotic soil crust that glues the whole surface of the desert together.  The woman looked at the adorable little ‘garden,’ looked at me, and asked in utter seriouslness, “Did someone plant this?”  Again, I had to pause to collect myself.  “Ummm… God did.”  That was sufficient for her.

The fourth one is repeated fairly often.  Apparently MSN circulated some time ago a news flash on Wall Arch’s demise of last August.  People regularly come in and ask, “Which arch just fell?”  Usually it will suffice when we explain that one fell eleven months ago, and show them before and after pictures.  But one adamant woman would NOT take that as an answer.  She was 100% sure that Delicate Arch, our icon, was DOWN; no amount of discussing or reasoning with her would change her mind.  She wasn’t going to hike up there for proof, but she repeatedly said that Delicate Arch had fallen.  At some point, one is tempted to shake one’s head and say, “OK, it fell,” and move on to the next visitor.  But that is against the Code of the Ranger. 

Often international visitors have the various arch names close, but not quite right.  Delicate Arch has been called ‘Fragile Arch” by several, and “Delicious Arch’ by one.  I kind of like those.

Time to get ready for my day… another day in paradise, if only it would stay out of the triple digits…

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