Living simply in the wild

Mourning the Loss of a Dream Passed By

Being in the Park Ranger field you’re constantly looking for a few things:

1. A Full Time Permanent job.

In Ranger world there’s more then just the 9-5 jobs. You have a few options…

  • Seasonal Rangers: You only work the busy season of the Park which varies from region to region. Some Parks are 4 months, some are 6, some are 8 month jobs.  Then you’re unemployed in-between the busy seasons and applying for other jobs.
  • Career Seasonal: You work the busy season of the Park. Then you’re unemployed on the off-season. But, you get your job back at the same Park the next busy season.
  • Full-Time Permanent: This is where you get the privilege of working both the busy and the off seasons. You get to work all 12 months of the Year.

Ranger, like most other Rangers, started off in a Seasonal position in hopes that it would turn into a Career Seasonal or a Full-Time Permanent job. We currently are sitting at Career Seasonal. Ranger has the next four months off and then he’ll start back up…in the same Park.

2. An opportunity to work in your ‘Dream Park’

Most Rangers have their ‘Dream Park’. One that they dream about working in and are constantly keeping an eye out for a job to open up. One that once they get into they will more than likely never leave. For a lot of Rangers this would be the National Parks like  Denali, Yosemite, Yellowstone, Death Valley, Glacier National. Securing a spot in your Dream Park isn’t a chance that comes along very often, so when it does you do everything to make it happen.

Yosemite Valley
About a month ago Ranger was given the opportunity to apply for his State level Dream job. I say state level…because it’s a State Park, not a National Park.

It’s a Park we fell in love with the moment we visited it for the first time last January. We’ve spent more time inside that park than any other, aside from Lake Chelan. We’ve always been drawn there and we feel at ‘home’ there. It’s one of the most popular State Parks in Washington, visitor counts are in the millions. It’s truly a spectacular and magical place to be.

Applying for jobs in the system is always quite the process and gamble. You submit your resume and application online and then a fairly smart computer goes through and scrubs each one. They look for ‘keywords’ that you’ve written. If the ‘keywords’ are nowhere to be found in your resume and application, well then it will get thrown out. Tough gig right? Welcome to the life.

Baby Boy Typing

This particular job was for a Full Time Permanent. Ultimate score! Ranger took a chance knowing he doesn’t have much experience built up yet. Well, to his surprise he received a call back to go interview for the job! Getting that far was a WIN in his book.

So off to the west side he went. Eight hours round trip for a half hour interview. That’s dedication.

After the interview you’re left waiting…a week. In constant anticipation each time the phone rings.

Then one day you feel it in your bones. The phone call is coming. You’ve been thinking constantly about living and working in the Park and what life was going to be like on the other side.

“We’re sorry” they say. The job had gone to a different Ranger. But rightfully so. He deserved it.

For most jobs that would be it. The end of it, and you’d be onto the next. Well in this case it was just the beginning of this wild roller coaster ride we decided to strap ourselves into.

Roller coaster

One of the Seasonal Rangers from the park ended up receiving that Permanent position…so that opened up his Seasonal job that he had been working. We were asked if we’d be interested and said, “Of course!”. They had picked my Ranger and one other applicant and it was now down to decide between those two. They each had a phone interview to try to set one apart from the other a little more.

“We’ll call you early next week” they said…..

So we wait again…

Then the phone call comes in. I sit on the edge of my seat as i’m convinced Ranger is the best for the job!

Turns out there were some people out there that found out they didn’t open up this new Seasonal job for other applicants. It caused enough problems to where they had to start the whole job hiring process from the very beginning. Online applications. Ranger, who was in the top 2 candidates, had to re-apply, be scrubbed by the super smart computer again, and wait for yet another interview.

A few weeks later, after they had narrowed down the applicant to 5, he went back to the west side to interview…again. This is real life of a Park Ranger pursuing their dream.

And once again, it was “We will call you next week”.

At this point we both were worn down. We were tired of being in anticipation, my heart had been racing for the past 4 weeks. It was tired.

The phone call came, and ultimately the job went to someone who ‘had more Ranger experience’.

Phone Call

It’s very hard to have your Dream Park slip through your fingers. We had it slip through our fingers three times, in one month.

So what do you do? Do you sit here upset with all the politics and formalities of it all? Do you blame the people who threw the fit and made the process have to start over from the very beginning? Would we have done the same thing if we were in their shoes? Probably. So we can’t be mad. It’s all part of the Ranger game.

That same job opportunity probably won’t come along again in his career time. It’s one of those jobs where the Rangers don’t leave. Just like where we are now in Chelan.

So where do we go now? We goto our plan B with thoughts of a plan C. If you don’t have some sort of plan in this field you may end up being blindsided and possibly jobless. That may seem harsh but a Park Ranger as a career is a little unstable and the future of it as a career choice may be a little bleak if things keep going the way they are going.

But, we stay positive after this loss of a dream. We are thankful for the opportunity we had and how far Ranger was able to go in the process. We keep a plan in our back pocket. And we’ll continue pushing the dream.

Anyone that follows a dream knows it aint easy.

Rialto Beach Pebble Sunset

Faith is an Island setting in the sun.


5 responses

  1. You and David have a quiet tenacity about you. It’s a wonderful thing that you allow us to join you on your journey. 🙂 Good luck to all of you!

    November 29, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    • Simply The Wildside

      Thank you Denise. Its quite the rollercoaster somedays but you always just have to keep pushing on.

      November 29, 2013 at 6:02 pm

  2. Pingback: Stopping to Fill our Tanks. A Lesson in not living in the future. - Simply The Wildside

  3. Natalie

    Loved reading this! Just got a call for in Interpretive Ranger position on the State Level. I understand the anxiety and anticipation! Wish me luck, I’m just barely starting out in this field once I finish my degree!!

    February 9, 2015 at 9:39 pm

    • Natalie! First off…congrats! What an amzing opportunity to start off with. We’ve enjoyed the journey since we started. Even the downs of it, and there are certianly downs within everything.

      I’d love to be in contact more with you. Find out what state and what degree you’re persuing! And if I can be of any more help 🙂

      feel free to email

      Good luck!

      February 9, 2015 at 9:46 pm

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