Living simply in the wild

Being a Rangers Wife

IMGP1107Being a Park Ranger wife is much like being a wife of any other career. It takes patience, love, understanding and another dose of patience. But that’s just me, i need all the extra patience i can get.

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Being the wife of a Park Ranger varies greatly from state to state, park to park. Each wife inevitably has their own story.

This is what it is like for me:

Our life is in a constant sense of instability. Since landing a Permanent position we have a larger sense of stability then before, but in this career there really is never a time when we aren’t slightly concerned about where we will be in a week…a month…a year from now. The key is not to get let yourself become too comfortable somewhere.

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Being the wife of a Park Ranger requires tough skin. I’ve learned lately that not everyone views Park Rangers as the heros or the protectors of our States lands. I’ve come across a few who will not pursue any type of relationship with me because of the fact my husband is a Park Ranger. There are times where there is a lot of backlash with working for the state/government. There are always people who disagree with what is going on, whether or not we have any control over what is happening, it’s our fault and they will blame us forever. I’ve learned to feel people out a little bit before volunteering my husbands career choice to everyone.

Flexibility. When living inside of the park he works in it is quickly established that he’s never really off duty. If something happens at the Park late at night, he responds. If he’s dealing with a problem that extend past his shift then his shift is extended. This is also the case when not living inside the park as well. He does have times when he’s on call 24/7, and if he’s off hunting down someone who’s harvesting illegal mushrooms… he is going to miss dinner plans.

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Of course flexibility goes beyond the job. It seeps into the housing arrangements that is beyond our control. Most housing assignments are completely acceptable, but I have heard a few nightmare stories out there of houses that have been neglected for years. Mold and animals with free range of the house seem to be quite common issues.

Love of the outdoors. This is almost a given. Almost every Park Ranger I have ever spoken has told me that they just wanted a career where they could “be outside”. So on Rangers days off you can bet that he’s counting on going on a hike, or fishing, or on some adventure. (apparently Park Rangers don’t spend as much time as they thought they would outside and they need to get their outside fix on their days off as well).

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Solitude. It’s pretty common to be a bit secluded in this line of work. Living inside a park that’s miles from the nearest town is pretty common. A thirty minute drive the nearest gas station or grocery store isn’t uncommon at all. Even now that we live smack dab in the middle of a (very small) town, we still feel secluded. My guess is that all the neighbors have seen how many people have lived and moved out of this house that it’s hard to invest the time and effort to get to know someone when they will probably be moving out shortly. I totally get it.

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Fear. Park Rangers in Washington are commissioned law enforcement officers. They carry firearms, they have jurisdiction in their area to detain and arrest, to make traffic stops. You name it. As a wife, it’s scary. Seeing my husband strap weapons to himself before he walks out the door each morning is a bit of a wakeup call, literally. The stories he comes home with some days makes me want to pull the plug and convince him to go back to a safe desk job again. But his heart is in law enforcement and that is where he’s at right now. So I smile and be sure that he knows he’s loved and appreciated. I am thankful he is smart, quick on his feet and has been given the tools and training to deal with tough situations when they arise.

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There is so much more that goes into being a Park Rangers wife. Just like there is so much that goes into be a wife of a salesman, a repair man, a politician, a fisherman, a cook. It’s complicated at times, messy, hard, and completely worth it. We all do the best we can and when we do mess up we hope it will be met with grace and forgiveness. Just as we hope we will handle others mistakes with grace and forgiveness.

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I don’t appear in photos very often, i’m almost always on the other side of the lens. Having this many photos of me in one post has me quite literally feeling completely vain. You probably think this post is about you, you’re so vain…..

 

 

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