Photo: Orhan Cam/Shutterstock

11 Commandments of Dating a Park Ranger

by Shelby Huff Sep 16, 2016

1. Thou shall assume they will not be in the same place for more than 6 months at a time.

Expect to move, and often. From small, charming cabins; to your van parked down by the river; to the bunkhouse filled with questionable characters. They’ll follow jobs from the alpine bliss of the Rockies; to the bear filled woods of Alaska; to the backwoods of Missouri and back.

2. Therefore, thou shall prepare thyself for a long-distance relationship for a season, a year, or years.

Your ranger love will be applying to many jobs at the end of each season, be tossed around the better part of the country, and constantly uproot their life. Though it isn’t always easy, that footloose and fancy-free mentality is one of the qualities that brought you together in the first place. You have no choice but to believe the winds will blow you two into the same place down the line again.

3. Thou shalt not count on having a place to yourselves.

When you two do manage to land in the same place, you will not have a place to yourselves. You will share your commons, or maybe even your room with quirky individuals. You will also sleep on beds the size of coffee tables. But you won’t care about any of this, because you are finally, finally together.

4. Thou shall not be accustomed to establishing regular contact.

Remember that July you didn’t see each other once, and that August when only two emails were exchanged? Those emails fueled your life until September rolled around and the season calmed down. They are as independent as they come and are comfortable going about your life as usual, so there is nothing sweeter than a rare voicemail or a letter from them. Those weeks and months that drag on without them are suddenly worth it when you finally see each other after a long absence.

5. Thou shall dog sled in Siberia for your vacation. In February.

There will be no summer vacations. Forget it, it’s just not happening. They did not even have a day off in July. Winter though, winter is full of possibilities. You’ll just have to pack your balaclava and wool socks along for the ride.

6. Thou shall receive gear or homemade flies as gifts.

Expect something homemade, meaningful, and most importantly, cheap.

7. Thou shall expect your significant other to have talented, hot, badass friends with whom they spend most of their time.

It’s a long distance relationship, remember? It’s unavoidable that they’’ll meet badass people in this line of work. This is where trust comes into play. Those friends may be portrayed as legendary to you, but you have to remember, you’re being portrayed the same way to them.

8. Thou shall be prepared to hear a long, romantic history.

They’ve allowed themselves to be blown around the better part of the country like a dandelion seed. It’s not easy to maintain a relationship in this life, but it’s easy to start one — and let it slip away. There will be a lot of exes and almosts in there. They won’t be particularly proud, but hey, who sets out to live this life alone?

9. Thou shalt not have high expectations in the budget realm.

Most money will be spent on gear and trips. It’s a cheap lifestyle. You’ve got to be on board with living as simply as possible to extend your trips as long as possible in the off season.

10. Thou shall be prepared at all times to brag about them.

Yes, yes, it’s all true. They fought fire, fought off a grizzly, and saved a lost hiker’s leg — and life. They did a triathlon and climbed a 14er in the same weekend, yet they still found the time to make dinner and watch the stars with you. Cheers to that.

11. Thou shall expect to live an awesome life.

Remember your first date under a brilliantly lit night sky? The times you were false charged by a bear? The long dusty trails, the brutal climbs, the heart stopping views, the laughs, the tears, the taste of what it really means to be alive? It’s going to be exhausting, but filled with untold moments of true bliss. You wouldn’t trade this wild ride for anything else, or anyone else.

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