Vacation Lessons: On Cape Hatteras LighthousePosted: July 11, 2011
I’ll open with a question.
Have you ever had someone tell you a story about a bad park ranger? We’ve all heard tales of a bad cop, a shady attorney or a doctor who cut corners. All those honorable occupations have their sad exceptions, but I’ve never heard anyone say “I just haven’t trusted park rangers since that day”.
Rangers are full of enthusiasm about the things we all want to see. They work tirelessly to protect those landmarks and treasures. They’re always polite, friendly and helpful. So why don’t people listen to them?
The Ranger At
Last week, the Omawari-son and I climbed the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. The National Park Service Rangers there were great.
They were ready with information on the lighthouse itself and on how to climb its spiraling, 248 step staircase. Just before a group is admitted to walk up the stairs, a Ranger gathers them for a little talk that mixes facts about the lighthouse with some safety tips. The talk goes sort of like this:
Blah, blah, blah, fun fact. Heat alert inside the lighthouse, fun fact. Joke, fun fact. Seriously folks, ninety plus degrees inside. Interesting tidbit. Equivalent of climbing a twelve story building, not a good idea for children. No pushing. Fun fact, fun fact, did I mention it’s like a furnace in there? Enjoy your climb, those of you with small children please turn back now, or prepare for your own personal circle of hell.
Despite the Ranger’s best effort, none of the people who should have heeded his warning took it. My son and I climbed the lighthouse while listening to the wails of children who were on the stairs because their parents did not respect the Ranger’s wisdom.
Kids were melting down most of the way to the top. Look at the picture to the right. See the steps leading up to the door on the right side of the brick and stone base? One child got to the top of those stairs and declared himself exhausted.
I heard one misguided parent attempt to reassure a little boy by saying “only one hundred steps to go”. Remember when you were a kid and a hundred seemed about equal to a million? That little guy is certain it is a million and expressed that idea pretty clearly.
Listen to the Rangers. If they say something, there is a reason.
What The Ranger Didn’t Say
I think it is pretty clear I am a fan of Park Rangers. As good a job as I think the Ranger did with the briefing for our climb, there are certain things he fell short on. Those were important things. Things like:
- When you are pushing fifty years old, it is a bad idea to climb a lighthouse in the wake of a nineteen year old gym rat.
- There is no dignified way to say “slow down, you’re kicking my butt”.
- People with a lot of hair need a hat when they are in windy places.
- People without much hair don’t give up their ball caps.
When it comes down to it, I’ve got no gripe with The Ranger. I know one thing he could never tell me. Every minute on top of the world with my son was worth a hundred, even a million steps.
- Night Motion Timelapse: Outer Banks (milkandcookies.com)
- Cape Hatteras & Bodiel Isl. Lighthouses, Pea Island, &Cliffs of the Neuse SP: to the edge of the salty sea (vbrekkidd80.wordpress.com)