You have to love flashbacks. Especially with video! This video was first posted back in 2015 on a different YouTube channel I had for tourism. That channel is no longer supported, and so I thought it was a fun little video to post here.
Before the pandemic, I was a tour director, tour guide and as such, I often drove smaller tour vehicles. And with that, I was like any other professional driver in that we maintained a “Drivers Log”. A paper logbook showing how many hours I was behind the wheel, where I went and how often I was “off duty”.
In 2015, the Federal Government made it mandatory for professional drivers to begin to switch from paper logbooks to electronic logbooks and they gave us a grace period. My new electronic logbook app “Keep Truckin” was serving me very well. it was easy to use and did what it needed to do. Except of course, on the fateful day when daylight savings hit and Arizona time became the same as Nevada time. And on that day, I was sent to the Grand Canyon National Park, South Rim where Mr. Park Ranger was waiting for someone like me to pull in..
Like clockwork, I get to the south rim with my tour group and find a “surprise” vehicle inspection. Usually, this is not a problem. I am one of those who likes to keep on the good side of a Park Ranger. The problem was that my new app was not making the time switch and was not logging my time correctly. So, this was a major issue!
After getting my guests off to the overlook, I came back to deal with a Park Ranger on a power trip. To add to His power trip was his tag-along. A new ranger there to observe and learn to from the more experienced Ranger. So Mister Ranger on a power trip was now Mister Ranger on a larger than normal power trip!
I explained the problem to Mr Ranger and he was telling me that I was illegal with the app because it did not connect to the van’s computer system. My vehicle would be Red-Flagged if I did not have a fully completed paper log. Unfortunately for me, I did not have a paper log and as for the app not being connected, I knew he was wrong. I kindly explained to the ranger what I thought the law was because that’s what the legal section of my App said was the law and I punched it up to show him the very section.
Being “Red Flagged” is a term used to mean that my vehicle would not be allowed to move. Essentially it was being impounded. My office would have to send another tour vehicle up to get my guests
The Ranger was not impressed because to him, the App was wrong. Just to be the bigger man, he was going to show me the proof and he walks away to find the rule books for rangers. Meanwhile, the junior Ranger had finished the inspection and as we chatted, he told me that I really needed to carry a blank paper log sheet, not an actual book, just for times like these.
Mr “I am God” Park Ranger returns with the actual rule book in hand and he told me that he would read me the exact law that I was violating. As he read the law out loud, he stopped as he realized that I was right. That my App was legal to use as it was (working) until 2016. This was 2015.
He was not a happy Ranger. I was still not legal to move because I needed a paper log sheet filled out showing my drive times and stops for the day so far. So I was still not allowed to move.
As we were sitting there, a tour bus in the same parking lot had just failed its inspection. Actually, it blew a brake line that narrowly missed hitting that Park Ranger inspecting the bus. Junior Ranger whispered to me to go ask that driver for a logsheet since he wasn’t going anywhere for the rest of the day. I was liking this kid!
The bus driver was not happy, he was mad at the failure and was taking his frustrations out on me. Almost refusing when I asked if he had a blank timesheet I could. Thankfully, the Junior Ranger came over and had asked him in a nice, yet firm voice. So he did!
The good news was that I was able to complete my tour. I was not Red-Flagged. However, I knew the moment the Park Ranger realized I was right and he was wrong about the law, I wasn’t going away without something to remember my trip by. That meant a $250 fine for not having the logsheet properly filled out when requested.
Death Valley Rangers Have a Laugh
The following day, I make this video, upload it to YouTube and it gets a few thousand hits. A few weeks later, I am in Death Valley where most of the park rangers there are not power-hungry pricks. I’m at Badwater overlook with a wonderful tour group.
Up pulls two Park Rangers. We talk like we always do. We swap a few stories about Death Valley tourists and I show them my electronic logbook. That’s when one of the Rangers asks if I have a YouTube channel and did I recently post a video about a Grand Canyon park ranger? I said that was me, guilty as charged. He laughed and told his partner that I was the one in the video he shared with him (and a few other Death Valley Park Rangers).
The Park Rangers in Death Valley, for me anyway, have always been more friendly, helpful, and considerate than the ones I run into at Grand Canyon South Rim. And apparently, they like it when a video pops up showing the other parks and their rangers hassling the very people they should be supporting.
Yep, they said they liked it when a tour guide “Educated a Park Ranger” – No, they did not give me a fine…
That was probably not the highlight you were expecting this post to end with. But I thought it would be fun to relive the story and to see just how bad I was 5 years ago compared to now. Maybe not so much of a difference in on-camera talent, but the video quality sure has improved!
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