Ranger Sam

The first day the white ranger truck pulled up to my campsite while I chatted with Dennis and Carol, I knew I was in a good place.

 “What’s going on, folks?”  the driver calls out from behind the wheel.

Introducing Sam, the Park Ranger.  Behind the wheel in her kaki ranger hat and dark glasses, she first struck me as a rough and tumble, no nonsense tough chick.  And yes, she was in the military.  But within moments, all that melted away, leaving a cheery bubbly personality, caring nature, and incredible sense of humor.  In charge of the community service program, she is absolutely a “get it done” girl and runs a tight ship, which is a good thing.  She is also a wealth of information about all things Florida.  What a fantastic ambassador for Secret Spot Park. Sometimes, you just have a feeling about a person.  An unexplainable connection.  It happened to me the minute I met Ranger Sam. 

Dennis proceeds to tell her about my raccoon woes, and how I sent Buddy in to fetch a case of water out of the mangroves the other day.  How can he resist an opportunity to tease me? And then I tell them about my grill.

Did you know that raccoons won’t cross a line of Cayenne Pepper?  According to Ranger Sam’s on the spot internet research via her phone, Cayenne could be a simple solution.  Of course I dash to the grocery store and purchase three big bottles.  I return, and proceed to drop a line of Cayenne around my entire campsite, about ¼ inch wide.  I’ll try anything once, even if it does look like I’m conjuring up a hex.

Along comes Ranger Sam.

“Whatcha doin, there, Miss Patty?”

“Creating my raccoon barrier.” 

She looks down at the orange stripe across the ground and grins.

“Ok…..Don’t forget to keep all your food in the vehicle, they are crafty animals and will get into your coolers.  They even know how to unhook bungie’s.”

I was tired from hauling the coolers in and out of the truck every meal and wanted to try to avoid having to do that.  For a test, I stretched a ratchet strap around the beverage cooler, set it next to the picnic table under the cook canopy and shook Cayenne onto the lid, excited to see how we would fare overnight.

Ranger Sam drives by frequently, checking on the campers, and we wave.

The next morning I spring out of the tent and check on the cooking area.  There are tiny hand prints all over the top of my beverage cooler, the strap intact.  Hmmm.  But they had to cross the Cayenne line to get to the cooler.

Ranger Sam pulls up to my campsite.  Hey Miss Patty, how’d it go?”

I showed her the tiny hand prints all over virtually everything under the cook canopy.  Well so much for simple solutions. 

“Some people set out a bowl of water for them, and say that helps keep them away.  They’re desperate for fresh water, you know” she says.

Of course I dash off to find a container to fill with water, and set it by the fire pit away from the tents.  I’ll try anything once.

We laugh and talk about fishing, and difficult people in business.  She tells me about a little used area I can bring Buddy to, and really let him run, and play in the water.  Sam understands about big dogs needing to be off leash.  She has one too.  She tells me about her family, and raising her son Lucas with her partner.  She will only be at Secret Spot Park for a short time, then will go back to being in charge of a park an hour or so away. Unconfirmed when that change will take place.  I selfishly hope it takes a long time.

I already know I will miss our talks, and look forward to each time Ranger Sam drives by and stops to say “Hey, Miss Patty….”

 

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