This post is dedicated to the men and women who worked at Crater Lake National Park in the 1980’s.
Big events define a generation, but small events define a person.
A college student needs a summer job. She’s afraid to go to an interview alone. She asks a friend to go with her. Her friend lands the job—she quits school, moves back home, gets a job at a bank.
But what happened to her friend?
Her friend travels 500 miles to a National Park in Oregon State and is forever change by the experience.
* * *
June 1984. At 7,100 feet, forty feet of snow cover Rim Village in Crater Lake National Park. Snow walls tower over the recently excavated roads, snow tunnels leading to building entrances. A few puddles dot the road and parking lot. White fluffy clouds speckle the blue sky. The air is crisp. The pall of deep winter pervades.
A white sedan pulls up to the Cafeteria and Gift Shop. The trunk pops open. A young woman climbs out of the back seat of the car, removes a Samsonite suit case and closes the trunk.
The older woman in the front passenger seat rolls down the window. “We’re worried about black ice, and the sun will set soon. You’ll do fine.”
The sedan peels out of the parking lot before she could say goodbye.
The young women walks into the cafeteria. The clock on the wall says 4:15 p.m.. Beneath the clock sitting at a table, a petite, middle-aged woman wearing a dark blue smock writes on a clipboard. The middle-aged woman looks up and waves the young woman over to her table.
“Welcome to Crater Lake. My name is Teresa, but you can call me Mom.”
Great adventures have small beginnings.
* * *
In a magical place, in a magical time—when Prince and the B-52’s provided the sound track—I worked with a group of people who worked their magic on me—each person a link in the story.
Star gazing around a fire pit, pretending to touch the Milky Way. Ghost stories told on the forbidden fourth floor. Steel cables holding the lodge together, the lodge groaning and popping with age. Singing made-up songs on the CB and nearly getting fired for it. Playing the card game spoons in the Great Hall after the lodge closed for the season. Treasure hunters and spiritual seekers. Forest fires, building fires. Love found and lives lost.
Through mistakes, successes, laughter, tears, elevation and camaraderie, we formed bonds which time cannot wear away. Enough adventures to fill a Nevada Barr novel but too numerous to mention in a single post.
When we meet, the years of separation evaporate with a single hug.
Great adventures have small beginnings, but they are our very definition.
* * *
All photos courtesy of Daniel Perkins.
Just beautiful, T…your words and the pictures.
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Thanks L! It was a wonderful time of my life. 🙂
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OK, so this one is a true story, yes? Am I following correctly that you didn’t intend to go for the job – you were just supporting a friend?
Yes it is a true story. I had no expectation of getting the job, but went because she was too scared to go by herself. Which I guess made me more relaxed in the job interview.
Wow – that’s crazy! And it helped shape who you are today. I love how the Universe figures things out for us 🙂 Pictures are awesome, btw. 😀
Thanks, Liz. My better half has a gift for photography.
After a long car ride to Eugene as a paying passenger, then a bus ride to Medford that arrived in the wee hours of the morning, a small wiry guy named RJ picked me up at the bus station and drove me up to the Lake – a quiet drive (I think RJ said about 20 words the entire trip) that was both beautiful and a bit scary. RJ delivered me directly to Mom who made me (and everyone else) feel at home immediately upon arrival. Then the adventure began and oh! what an adventure those 2 summers turned out to be!! Unforgettable!! That was 33 years ago. I meet so many wonderful and fun co-workers there that I have maintained friendships with to this day and I also met a tourist whom I went on to live another life with and through that person, I met my husband…way over here in Prague, CZ…over 2 decades ago! The last 33 years have been an adventure which continues thanks to that ‘small beginning’ at Crater Lake!! (P.S. On 3 June time will turn back 33 years when one of the first people I met and worked with/for at the Lake, will come visit me…she was like a sister to me back then and through the years has remained a dear and wonderful friend: Gail!)
Cathy!!!!! You brought tears to my eyes. I am so excited you and Gail are getting together. I’m hope we can make arrangements in 2017 or 2018 to get as many of us together as possible. And because of you, Dave and Doug, I will never look at San Fransisco the same way again. Thanks, Manx!
Give Gail a hug for me.
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