There have been more than a few times that my obstinacy has bordered absurdity, but I’m beating Katie to the punch to share a funny story of how unreasonable she can be.
At the beginning of this trip, we bought the National Park Junior Ranger CD, which has a bunch of kid songs about the national parks and nature. Many of the singers and songwriters are park rangers who also happen to be musicians.
Our kids’ favorite songs on the CD are performed by one ranger in particular, and Katie wanted to find him.
Katie found an article about the ranger / musician a few weeks into our trip while in Florida and shared with me that he worked at Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota. She banked this information for later use, since we would not be in South Dakota for several months.
However, between that day when she read the article in Florida and our travels to the west coast, Katie got into her head that the ranger worked at Capitol Reef National Park in Utah.
She started talking up the ranger and her plans as we neared Capitol Reef.
She couldn’t wait to find him, to meet him, to see the kids’ reaction when they saw him, and of course to have him sign our junior ranger CD.
Realize that this whole desire to meet this lyrical ranger is absurd by itself, since you couldn’t get Katie to go see a music concert without bribery or military force.
I’m rolling my eyes every time she brings up the ranger and Capitol Reef. The car conversation goes something like this, several times over the course of a couple of weeks:
“The guy works at Wind Cave,” I tell her.
“No,” she says. “He works at Capitol Reef.”
“Find the article again. Read it. He doesn’t work there.”
“No,” Katie says. “I don’t know where the article is. I know he does work there though because he has something to do with paleontology. Capitol Reef is big on paleontology, and that’s why he sings the song about paleontology.”
Never mind that the guy also sings extensively about sea turtles. Katie hooks onto this paleontology and Capitol Reef thread and simply will not let go.
So we reach Capitol Reef, and it’s time to find the ranger.
We head to the visitor center on day one to track him down.
Katie approaches the first available park ranger that she can find and asks if they know the ranger who sings the song on the CD.
I didn’t get to witness the conversation, but my understanding is that it went something like this.
“Do you know so-and-so ranger?”
“Never heard of him, the ranger answers.”
“Really?” Katie asks astonished. She definitely thought this ranger would be a hotshot celebrity among rangers. “He sings that song about paleontology.”
“I don’t know what your talking about.”
“Are you sure?” Katie asks.
“Hmm.” Katie knows Mark couldn’t have been right.
“Well, I’ve only been here a year.” The ranger consoles her.
Bingo! The tidbit of information that allows Katie to keep her own version of reality alive.
She finds me with the kids outside of the visitor center.
“Did you find him?” I ask.
“No. The ranger I found has only been here a year. He’s on front desk duty. He’s never met him.” Katie says, clearly thinking she found an entry-level ranger that simply hasn’t had the privilege to meet the elevated Bon Jovi Ranger.
The next day.
Katie finds another ranger, this one with gray hair, ensuring that he’d worked at the park longer than the greenhorn she found yesterday in the visitor center.
“Hi Ranger, do you know so-and-so ranger who sings that paleontology song on the Junior Ranger CD?”
“No, I’ve never heard of him.”
“Really? How can that be? He sings like half the songs on the CD. My kids love him. Have you worked here long?”
“Twenty seven years.”
“You don’t know him?” Katie wonders, knowing for certain that Mark can’t be right.
“No. Maybe he works in a different part of the park.”
Bingo again! The lie lives.
Not only is the ranger musician only accessible to veteran rangers and not newbies, but he also works in some elite part of the park, digging for dinosaur bones and enchanting animals with his guitar, in a place where not even all the veteran rangers have the privilege to meet him.
“Katie, you are a nut. The guy works at Wind Cave. He does not work at Capitol Reef.” I assure her that I remember when she read me the article.
“Shut your face. He works here.” Katie shuts me down again and again.
Flash forward six weeks.
Capitol Reef is a distant memory, and of course we didn’t meet the rock star ranger that makes moms faint and junior rangers wet their diapers.
We’ve just completed our tour of a cave on our day trip to Wind Cave National Park.
Neither Wilson nor Jane did well in the cave, and they came out of it crying. We hurried to the car to get them a snack and water, and then we loaded up for the two-hour drive back to Wall, SD, leaving the park a little frustrated.
A few miles outside of the park, once the kids settle down, I remind Katie that the singing ranger works at Wind Cave.
“You mean we could have met him? Why didn’t you say something?”
My eyelids still hurt from the over-the-top eye roll I gave her right then.
However, what I later learned, and have yet to tell Katie, is that the ranger doesn’t work at Wind Cave.
I was way wrong.
He works in the Dry Tortugas, which probably inspired that sea turtle song we all love.
Great story, Mark! And, by the way! She got a dose of that stubbornness from you- know –who! Her MAMA!