There had been a snafu with our government vehicle at a busy arch location. A staff member had locked car keys inside, and I was the one to catch a ride to the general vicinity with the spare set. Because the one giving me the ride was almost late to her guided tour, I had her drop me off 1.5 miles from The Windows as I had time to hike in on a beautiful day. Besides, it would give me a chance to approach this section of the park on foot for the first time and see the large formations without a windshield in the way.
The perfect late-summer day was about to get better. I walked for about 35 minutes with my ranger hat, water, backpack (with radio and first aid kit, of course), and spare car keys. Visitors smiled or waved as they passed. I ascended the hill to the busy parking lot and encountered a couple in their 60s assembling their belongings for a hike. They looked up to see me happily hiking in instead of driving in. “Czmotyh heruth nwpprta sha unath bensdisen yuth,” the man said out loud. Not sure if he was talking to me, I said, “Eh?” and he smiled embarrassedly and shook his head: “I was telling my wife that the rangers here are better than I expected.”
I laughed out loud. His comment made me smile all day each time I remembered it. In this bittersweet time of mentally preparing for my upcoming departure, I am reminded OFTEN that the rangers here are clearly better than most people expect. We are a collection of professionals who are passionate about our job, our parks, and helping people make connections with this incredible resource. It’s my goal as a park ranger to always be “better than expected.”