Getting to Know My Site

Arriving to PAIS

Hoi, welcome again! Flying from Colorado back to my mom’s place to re-pack everything to drive up to Corpus and begin at my site two days after has made me just a tad bit tired. But nonetheless, I’m here at Padre Island National Seashore or PAIS or PINS (depending on who you ask). 

The site is quite the drive from my apartment, about 40 minutes. Crossing two bridges and driving past flat fields with no cell phone connection for 15 minutes of the ride, it definitely makes you feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere. 

Then you see the PAIS sign greeting you as you try not to look very much lost and confused. I straightened myself in the car and pretended I knew what I was doing. I don’t know why I had to prove myself to a sign on Monday at 8:25 am, but I did. 

Soon as I drove past, I could hear the calls of the Eastern Meadowlark (of course I didn’t recognize it on the first day, but imagine if I did). Driving down I also noticed some areas were burned but not too badly. I also saw what appeared to be a cell tower to which my supervisor, Kelly Taylor, advised me that it belonged to Homeland Security and not for the public. Arriving at the Visitor’s Center there was a colony of laughing gulls laughing at the guests pulling in. Do they know about the sign thing?

After walking around and taking photos, my supervisor let me inside. I was welcomed by my new coworkers and led to the back office. You can tell a lot about how a place is run based on the layout. There are clean cubicles on one side, a large table aside a reference library and Kelly’s room right across with the door wide open. In the food nook there are communal foods, teas to try, and deer meat to take home in the freezer. A mix of natural and fluorescent light all throughout the place. The AC is cold, but I feel warm inside. 

As the day led on, I got to learn more and more about Kelly, Caitlin, from NPS and Patty from Western National Parks Association (WNPA). I was both directly and indirectly reassured many times that Kelly is an excellent supervisor. Answering every single question, I had and discussing topics like mental and physical health. She is very open-minded and explains things in great detail. Which is something I very much appreciate.

While driving around the park to do stats, something I’ll explain more on my next post, she taught me about the other organizations/companies here: WNPA, Homeland Security, Border Patrol, WorldWinds (a windsurfing rental place inside the park), Game Wardens from Texas Parks and Wildlife, and even local universities doing research. So much more goes into a park than what I thought. This park is long. Looking out the window I asked about the burned fields. Kelly explained that there was a prescribed fire last week and that the field is recovering fast. Continuing on, we saw camping grounds filling up, a quiet birder lookout, and RVs whizzing past us with long surf fishing poles. Passing an accessible trail and a boating spot, we drove to a restricted area that was the sewage lagoon. Surprisingly, cacti and ducks were hanging around there. Behind that there was a small shooting range that’s occasionally used by Navy officials too. There’s also an abandoned building in walking distance to the Visitor’s Center. Generally, a lot to explore.

I also learned some other things on my first day: like baby oil is best for removing tar, rangers can’t wear their hats at the front desk, and I have to prepare to wash my windshield everyday (fast winds and ocean air is tough on a little car).

Alright that wraps it up for now, goodbye!

Before I forget, World Turtle Day was this past Thursday! Happy belated and pick up your trash!

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