Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A family outing

Last weekend, I talked my family into going up to the park where Ranger works. They didn't know he'd joined me in Breckenridge, so they thought I hadn't seen him in about ten days. It wasn't a hard sell to get them all up there.

Ranger had been anxious for my folks to come up there, anyhow. He wants to show them his "world," and the beauty that's all around up there. He wants them to see him in his element. He was excited to hear they were coming.

Ranger called me that morning. "It's been a weird day already," he said. Apparently, a guy in what appeared to be a patrol car had zoomed past the entry station. The ranger out there had radioed in that the car had passed through without stopping to identify themselves and without paying for a pass. Ranger tracked it down.

As he approached the car, the driver jumped out and rushed to meet him. As Ranger talked to him, he shifted positions to keep Ranger from getting a good look at the car. It looked a lot like a California Highway Patrol car. Ranger asked if he was an officer. The man said no. He told the man he needed to return to the entry station to pay for a pass or leave the park immediately.

The man returned to his car and sped away, leaving the park. Ranger got a good look at the back of the car. It read:


No kidding.

Ranger radioed the rest of the rangers, and told them about the car. They all made sure he left the park, but not without a few guffaws over the radio.

I told Ranger that it was too bad he hadn't seen those markings first. It would have been perfect to say something like, "It's about time you got here. We've been watching over that crash site for a couple of days now, and it's getting tough to keep people away from it."

He laughed loud and long about that. Apparently, he passed that along and it became to joke for the day at the park.

When my family and I pulled up to the entry station, Mike was there. I rolled down my window and said, "We're here to see the crash site."

He blinked at me, then started laughing. "Oh yeah! Go on ahead!" Then he introduced himself to my family, and we were on our way.

We found Ranger at the Visitor's Center. My folks poured over everything there, purchasing calendars and hats. Ranger would meet us up on the Point later. We wandered the nature trail and went up to the Point. The views were breathtaking! The kids were excited to show my folks all the sights they'd seen when we visited before. The wind was picking up, but the weather was nice.

At the Point, the wind became vicious. Ranger appeared just in time to snap some pics of us, before the wind howled up from the canyon below. I closed my eyes tight against it and grabbed on to Ranger's arm. As the grit shipped against my face, I hollered over the din: "People pay so much for microdermabrasion. They just need to come here!"

He guided us down the trail to a spot sheltered from the wind. My folks wanted to go down to Moab and explore Main Street. We arranged a time to meet at Ranger's favorite restaurant there, and headed down the hill.

We wandered the shops in Moab, looking at all kinds of art and souvenirs. My daughter bought a sketchbook and pencils. She played with a shop cat. I bought some seasonings for Ranger, since he loves to cook. He called me when he was headed into town, so we wrapped up the shopping and headed to the restaurant.

We got there first and were seated. Our waiter was the same one we had when Ranger brought the kids and I here. "Are you waiting for Ranger?" he asked. I nodded and he gave me a big smile.

My dad and I agreed to split the ticket, and not let Ranger try to pay. When Ranger came in, he came from a different doorway than what I'd expected. That's odd, I thought. It was the long way to get to where we were seated. Hmmm.

Dinner was a delight. The food was great. The service was perfect. Ranger loved the seasonings I gave him. We laughed a lot. At the end of it, my dad said to the waiter, "Can you split the ticket in half for us?"

He shook his head. "I can't do that."

"Okay, then can you put three on one ticket and three on another?"

"Can't do that, either."

"Really. Why?"

"It's already taken care of."

We all turned to Ranger. He wore a big, self-satisfied grin on his face. And I knew when it had happened. That's why he came in from a different direction. He'd already caught the waiter by then. We never stood a chance.

We started to say our goodbyes outside. He asked if I'd come to his car for a moment. There, he handed me a lovely little glass plaque. It read:

I Love You
My days are warmed by the touch of your hand.
My heart melts at the sound of your voice.
When I look at you, I see clear skies and mountain tops.
You are my love,
My future,
My life.

I hugged him and kissed him lightly. After all, my folks were nearby.

"Blogget!" Mom yelled. "We have a problem!"

We went back to their car. The tire was nearly flat.

Ranger to the rescue. He whipped a compressor from his car and aired up the tire. He found a nail in the tread that was causing the problem. Dad got a can of Fix A Flat from a nearby store. That held until we could get home.

That night, I talked to Ranger on the phone. I thanked him again for my plaque.

"It has a very important word on it," he said. "One I haven't used before."

"What's that?"

"It says 'future.' And I mean it. I want you part of my future. I mean it when I say I don't ever want to lose you."

I keep it by my bedside now, so I see it when I first wake up in the morning.


Anonymous said...

I am glad you all got to get together. and that you mom and dad likes him... More important, Do you kids like him? I know they do because I don't know him and I like him!!!


Blogget Jones said...

My kids think he's "really cool." He's taught them some neat stuff about the geology around here and the traces of ancient civilizations. Today, he's helping me pick up my son from school, and they're coming home to play video games. I told Ranger I didn't want my son at home alone, so he's helping out :o)