National Park Ranger Dirk Manchamp

National Park Ranger Dirk Manchamp- Eric Boshart

Because of the government shutdown, Fool’s Gold decided to take a trip down to Big Bend National Park to discover how things are going in a place that was closed for almost two weeks.

When we arrived, we realized that it hadn’t been maintained at all. The roads were nearly completely blocked off because of shrubbery and dead animals, and there was a lingering smell of strong alcohol as we approached the front gate of the park. The gate was lying on the ground and half-eaten by termites, so we treated it as a speed bump and moved right along.

We were eventually met in the middle of the road by a large man only in white underwear and park ranger hat. He was holding a bottle of Jack Daniels and was shooting at what appeared to be nothing. We all got out of the car, put our hands in the air, and asked about his affiliation with the park. In a strong country accent, he said his name was Dirk Manchamp and that he was once known as the best forest maintenance ranger in all of Texas. He was clearly in a drunken stupor, but we managed to sit him down on a bench at a nearby campsite to ask him a few questions.

FG: When you first heard of the government shutdown, did you know instantly that you were going to have to close, or were you just as confused as the rest of us?

Manchamp takes a swig of Uncle Jack, shoots at a nearby squirrel, and then proceeds to answer.

DM: I knew just about as much as that squirrel knew. We both had no idea we were going to die out here.

FG: Have you not gone home since the shutdown?

DM: What is home, huh? What do you define as home? *he belches loudly* I haven’t been able to find my way out of here in 13 days. So no, I haven’t gone to the place I usually sleep.

FG: Could you be lost because you are drunk?

DM: You’re drunk!

He shoots at a leaf falling from a tree.

FG: Do you have a family?

DM: I have two families. My fellow rangers, and an old lady and son at the trailer park.

FG: Where are the other rangers?

DM: Well, I know I ate Billy Bob. He was talking a bit too much and I hadn’t eaten in 33 hours. Judith ran off with a pack of wolves last Tuesday. Not sure if it was against her will or not. There are four more of us in this section of the park, and I’m assuming…

FG: Assuming what?

As he was about to answer, we hear a cell phone ring about a couple of yards away from us. Manchamp shoots at it and misses. He then goes and picks it up.

DM: Hey, this is mine! Says I got 43 missed calls and…22 texts. I’m popular!

How the phone still had battery left, no one will ever know.

DM: Let’s see…most are from the old lady… “Where are you?” “Sorry ‘bout the shutdown.” Blah blah… “It’s been 10 days. Come home.” “You’ve created a void we can’t handle.” “I’m taking Evan and we’re leaving.” “We’re going to a state park and finding us a different ranger.” “I’ve remarried without your  consent.” Can she do that? *we all shrug* Hm. Well then.

FG: I’m sorry about that.

The interview went on for five more minutes, but after he threw up and shot our social media intern in the shoulder, we decided to pack up. He refused to come with us and go to the hospital. He told us he’d stay there until the government opened back up. Even though it already has, no one ever visits Big Bend, so he wouldn’t know.

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