The Worst Week Yet…

Ha! Just kidding! If anything, this week has been everything but the worst. This past week I got to visit some of the parks that fall within the Intermountain Region. The first park we visited was Rocky Mountain National Park.  As I have said in previous blog posts, Rocky Mountain (ROMO) is the nearest national park to our Regional Office. Although it is the closest park, it is two hours away. Nonetheless, we drove the two hours and went up to visit the park. Originally Wednesday was supposed to be just a regular office day, but since half the team members are away at a conference and there are only three of us left in the office while they’re away, our acting Chief of Interpretation and Education, Polly, gave us the okay to tag along with her on the trip. Rocky Mountain is one of my favorite parks to visit, so of course I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to go!

During my time at Rocky Mountain Polly had a meeting with a few folks, so while her meetings were in progress my co-worker Claire and I went to visit some people that she knew.  Claire is relatively new in our office, having just started there in January, so there were still many people she had never met in person. There have been countless email conversations but neither she nor I had faces to put with those email addresses, so we took this chance to meet with those people. Meeting all these wonderful people and getting to know them was super nice, but we also took this opportunity to go around the park. Claire had only been up to Rocky Mountain a few times and Polly, who came to our office from Hawaii, had never been to Rocky, so the rest of the day was spent checking out visitor centers and the beautiful scenery! We even had the chance to see bighorn sheep hanging out by a pond! I guess you could say my day was pretty good!

Not only did I get to spend time up at Rocky Mountain this past week, but I also got to visit Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument (FLFO). Cristina, the other LHIP intern at IMRO, and I had the day to go visit another national park. What’s neat about this trip is that we are going down to FLFO to meet another intern, Ricardo! He is not a Latino Heritage Internship Program intern but is a Mosaics in Science intern, which is another internship program that Environment for the Americas sponsors. We first met Ricardo at one of our outreach events, GO Day, earlier this month. He and Jeff Wolin came to our event table showing all sorts of cool fossils from the monument! Since GO Day was a busy day for all of us, we didn’t get to spend a lot of time talking or getting to know each other, so we took this day to learn more about his internship program, about him and about the monument itself!

As a person who actually lives in Colorado, it wasn’t until I started working in this internship that I found out that Florissant Fossil Beds was a national monument here in Colorado. This trip was bound to be a learning experience for both Cristina and I, which it certainly was. Ricardo and another intern at the site, Evan, gave us the star treatment with the V.I.P. tour. They both gave us a personalized tour that encompassed all the archaeological facts and sites they had. To add to the star treatment, we even got to check out fossils that they keep in the back away from the public, but since we are National Park Service interns we were able to look at them! I was shocked at how much Ricardo and Evan knew about their site! They’ve only been at the park for a month, but already know so much about the place as if they have been working there for years.

Cristina and I in front of one of the intact petrified stumps of a redwood tree when they used to exist in Colorado.

Even though FLFO is a small park, there was so much there to learn! I, for one, didn’t know that Colorado once had redwood (sequoia) trees millions of years ago. Can you imagine how cool it would be to have actual redwoods in Colorado today? That’s crazy to think about! But an even cooler thing I learned was that long ago some man came to Florissant Fossil Beds, which at that time was the Pike Petrified Forest, looking for something. This man stumbled upon the forest and was hoping to purchase one of the petrified redwood stumps on the property. The man purchased this stump with lots of money, and to the property owners it was just some strange guy who was really interested in buying a stump. Little did they know that the random guy was Walt Disney himself! Shocking, right?! If you’re wondering what in the world Walt Disney could possible want with a petrified redwood stump, you’ll have to go check it out for yourself at Frontierland in Disneyland!

As you can clearly see by this blog post, this internship is absolutely horrible and it has been the worst summer of my life thus far. I’m having the worst time of my life exploring national parks, meeting new people, and learning a lot 😉

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