Tabatha Deans

Bringing Integrity to the Written Word

My first official Dam tours

After practicing in my tent all night in my mind, I was excited and well-prepared to guide my first official dam tours. The first one I did with Sheila, a veteran tour guide tagging along to see how I did. I specifically asked to take a tour that had several kids in it, thinking I could use them to help lighten the mood and cover any  mistake I might make. I got my first mistake out of the way immediately, when I said the reservoir was 191 miles long. (it’s actually only 91 miles long) That was the only realy mistake I made on the tour, however the kids were absolute hellions! They immediately tried to climb on the railings at the top of the dam, which is 502 feet tall. They were with their mother who just looked completely checked out, so she was no help at all.

I figured out quickly that a brief overview of the facts was the best route, and to get the kids to the bottom of the dam to feed the fish ASAP. So I gave an abbreviated version of the tour, and let the three other adults in the group know that they could ask me questions if they wanted to. We were all in silent agreement that getting the kids to the bottom fast was best for all of us. Throughout the tour the kids tried to step on every bug, lizard or anything living that crossed our paths. They stuck their heads and hands through the railing onto the street, after I specifically told them not to because the road was narrow and anything sticking out farther than six inches through the bars would certainly be hit by passing cars.

But we all survived the tour, and as soon as we returned to the top Sheila said “That was the worst tour I’ve ever seen!”  A little sensitive about it being my first tour, I asked her what I did wrong. She quickly replied that I did a great job, she meant the kids were the worst she’d ever seen. She assured me that the next one could only be better.

Still scarred by the little buggers, I watched for a group of adults that might be a little easier. A group of about eight people came and asked for the “fish only” tour. If there’s a small group and noboby else signs up, we can skip the speeches and just take them to the bottom of the dam to feed the fish. Seemed like a perfect tour so I signed up to take them. They didn’t seem really happy about the trip, although they brought baggies of cat food to feed the fish. I tried to make small talk but they weren’t really interested in any interesting facts or trivia. They said they were from Vernal so i figured they’d been to the dam dozens of times and were just killing time to entertain the one child, who looked to be about 9 or 10.

The group included a grandmother, her daughter and husband, their kid, an aunt and several other family members. When we got down to the fish deck, they fed the fish, but were pretty somber and not very enthused. Trying to make conversation again, I asked the mom, who looked about my age, where she went to school. She turned around to answer me and was crying. It was then that they explained to me that her father, the grandma’s husband, had been a dam security guard for 20 years, and had passed away several months ago. This was their first trip back to the dam since his passing.

The daughter told me that their dad used to bring her and her brother to work with him, and drop them off to fish below the dam while he patrolled. “Don’t tell anyone you’re with me,” he would tell them, since he obviously wasn’t supposed to have kids in the patrol car. The mom/wife of the deceased, told me stories about how she used to also go on patrol with him at night, and they used to hang out at the bottom of the dam, where he would point out his favorite fish and they’d watch the sunset and the wildlife. They had purchased some post cards of the dam and surrounding lake before the tour, and one of them pulled them out of his pocket.

As a family, with tears flowing, they went through the pictures to decide which one he would like to be inscribed on his tombstone. I watched as they remembered and cried, and although it wasn’t the ideal tour I had pictured it to be, I felt a little special to be a part of the experience. They told me more stories as we wrapped up the tour, and i wished them well when we finished. When I went into the breakroom to record my tour and let Sheila know how it went, I saw a picture of their dad hanging on the breakroom wall, commemorating him for his years of service.

I took a third tour which included a canadian and a couple of families passing through. It was the “picture perfect” tour as far as their participation, interest and speeches I gave, but I’m always going to remember the family that I took to the bottom of the dam to remember their father/husband.

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August 12, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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