(Another addition to the MORA Blog, copied over to here)
“This is a story about you,” read the words written on the screen of your laptop computer, and you were pleased. You have always wanted to read about yourself on your favorite blog.
You live in a medium sized home in a very small town. It’s a short drive to the closest gas station where you regularly buy the essentials, like milk, eggs, bread, and occasionally a newspaper, but it is a longer drive to be able to fill your cupboards. You usually only make that trip every few weeks. You don’t know your new next door neighbor’s name yet. Occasionally, she will wave to you on her way out to check the mail. Occasionally, you will wave back.
As the sun sets, you can see the colors changing on the peak of the volcano in the distance. You always try to make it out around sunset to watch this show, but you sometimes forget until it is already too dark outside. But when you do make it out to watch the spectacular show, you are elated. After the magic is complete, you think to yourself, “I haven’t been there in years; I wonder if it has changed much since I was last there.”
Your spouse looks at you, asking “what did you say?” You quickly reply with “oh, nothing.” You didn’t realize you mumbled that out loud.
You hadn’t always lived in Washington. In fact, your childhood home is rather far away. “It was dryer there,” you remembered. “And the trees were different too.” But then you recall why you moved out here in the first place. Sure, it may have been partially due to the job you were offered, but you really just wanted to be closer to this beautiful mountain that is nestled on the horizon. And yet, you haven’t been there in many years.
“This weekend, we’re going!” you shout, but in looking around, you realize that your spouse had gone inside already. “Why didn’t I notice that?” you wonder, but not for too long.
Once you return inside, you make sure your calendar is clear for the weekend, and you start packing your bags. After such a dazzling display of color on the mountain, you just knew you had to go there, as soon as possible. Today is Wednesday. Friday, after work, you would just start to head straight to your destination for the weekend.
Fast-forward to Friday at 4:54pm. You are staring at your computer’s clock, waiting for the next six minutes to pass. And then, they do. It is 5:00pm, and you sprint out of your office and into your car. You drop by your house to pick up your spouse, who was already waiting in the driveway. What seem to be just a few short minutes later, you arrive at the entrance station of Mount Rainier National Park. You purchased your annual pass at the beginning of the year, so you are waved into the park. You drive the remaining twenty miles on the new, smooth road to get to your destination. Paradise.
You are surprised by how easily you found a parking space, but you are grateful. Once you park, you immediately head over the stairs immediately behind the Jackson Visitor’s Center and you are off. You are so excited to hike these trails again, that you don’t even pay attention to where you are going, and eventually, you admit that you are lost. Boy, has it been too long since you have hiked these trails.
Luckily, you find one of the Meadow Rovers out on patrol. You recognize the familiar logo on their sleeves. One arm has the NPS Arrowhead with the word “Volunteer” written above it, while the other is the “Meadow Rover” insignia. Equipped with their hiking backpack full of Meadow Stomper pins and flower identification guides, this Meadow Rover was well prepared. With their extensive knowledge, they were able to guide you back to the parking lot, where you were very easily able to find your car.
You travel down the hill again, ready to set up camp at your spot in Cougar Rock. You check in with the campground host, who is also wearing that same “Volunteer” patch you saw not too long ago. You pitch your tent and your spouse starts a meal over the campstove. You are hungry. You haven’t eaten since Tuesday. No. You ate lunch today. You just feel like you haven’t eaten since Tuesday. The meal is your favorite one, and so is the drink you chase it down with. You retire early to your tent, and your spouse is close to follow.
The sun rises early the next morning, and you already have your day planned out. After choking down a cup of cowboy coffee and eating a delicious breakfast, you are off to your first hike of the day: Comet Falls. It was one of your favorites years ago, and you learn quickly that it still holds true today. You notice a section of trail that appeared to have washed away when it rained a few weeks ago. You carefully step along the trail, making sure not to slip. Just around the corner, you notice a trails crew, all wearing blue shirts and yellow hard hats. They are working hard on this trail, installing new check steps. You ask about their project, and they tell you that they are working with the SCA as part of one of their Community Crews. They have been out here for eleven days already, and they are working to repair portions of the washed out trail. You thank them for their volunteerism, and you are on your way.
You make a few more stops while you are exploring the mountain, and along the way, you encounter more people that you assume work for the park, but are all volunteers. You are amazed by this, and you want to learn more. You are given the contact name some someone in the Volunteer Office at the park from yet another volunteer you meet, this time at the Longmire Museum.
The weekend is over just as quickly as it started, and you start the drive home. You are trying to find a radio station that comes in clearly, but to no avail. Instead, you turn off the radio and talk about the amazing weekend you had with your spouse. They are as equally excited as you are, and you both are very glad you made this trip.
Tuesday morning, while in the office, you begin to daydream. You rarely daydream, but today is an exception. You think back to all of those people who had helped you while you were having the time of your life at Mount Rainier. Then you remember that you have someone’s e-mail in the Volunteer Office at the park. You hurriedly dig through your pockets to find that slip of paper (for some reason, you have it in your pocket of your work pants) and you immediately send out an e-mail.
That afternoon, you get a response, and after a chain of e-mails sent back and forth, you will be volunteering this weekend in the park. You sign your spouse up too, though they do not know it yet. You are sure they will be excited.
You were right.
(to be continued)