Sunday, March 17, 2013


The Federal Law Enforcement Taining Center, known to its inmates as "flet-see" trains about ten thousand people every year for 91 Federal and Tribal agencies. Last Wednesday my nephew Jess graduated their four month course as a newly minted federally certified National Parks Service Law Enforcement Ranger.

I was there with his parents to watch the ceremony and while we spent the morning prior to the ceremony checking out the sights of St Simon's Isle Jess was taking one last final exam. And believe it or not one member of his class was flunked out at that test, just hours before graduating. The class is not for pansies and not for the faint hearted or those not committed one hundred percent. Jess admitted that at one test in the course he was sure he was going to fail and it was at that point he realized he wanted to be a full time ranger at Yosemite National Park more than anything. And FLETC was his path to a full time career as a climbing ranger. Yup he climbs the cliff faces of Yosemite for a living and does search and rescue missions in the wilderness and from time to time he patrols the park in a car and issues people speeding tickets. All this with a gun at his waist which for a long time was quite the dilemma for this young man raised as a Quaker.

My in laws, his parents wanted to visit the famous (unknown to me) azalea gardens of the Methodist Church on St Simon's. They tell me John Wesley's Methodists are closely affiliated to Quakerism and given that affinity we drove out to check the flowers that bloom in the spring.

This was what all the fuss was about, and very nice they were too:

I had a hankering to see Fort Frederica and while my brother in law had never heard of the War Of Jenkins Ear I was pleased to get him up to speed. Fort Frederica National Monument - Fort Frederica National Monument . We had run out of time after we checked out the church and narrowly avoided prosecution by the God fearing so we had to skip the fort. A reason to return here.

St Simons is part of a tourist agglomeration of islands packaged together to encourage people to visit Georgia's one hundred mile long coastline. They call them the Golden Isles, and they are the juxtaposition of wealth versus the poverty of towns like Brunswick which lost their economic basis after the Navy base was closed in the 1970s.

Apparently President Carter decided to put the newly minted Law Enforcement Training base where the Glynco Naval Air Station had previously provided employment. The government giveth and the government taketh away. The private sector on the other hand is nowhere to be seen building factories and giving well paid jobs to Americans. Oh well.

Given the circumstances I decided it was rather urgent I get a respectable haircut so I spent some of our valuable diminishing time available at Vann's barber shop and I rather think I was attended to by Vann himself, a grumpy old dude who shuffled round the room blaming the female hair stylists for stealing his barbering equipment. it was some form of minimalist modern theater which helped pass the time. The thieving females seemed unaffected. I overheard one talking to a client and explaining they had seven or eight liquor stores. "We know how to drink here," she asserted confidently but I judge them to be rank amateurs compared to Duval Street. Ready to meet the very serious Federal people:

Onward and upward we rode and drove to the base.

We lined up to get ID cards and had no weapons to drop off yet we barely had time to glance at the blimp display showing off the past. I thought of Fat Albert which may not be decommissioned but may rather be taken over by the Homeland Security people who will continue to fly it over the Keys. We don't need no stinkin' drones!

The graduates lined up outside the auditorium...

Two Bureau of Land Management employees, ten US Fish and Wildlife Service rangers and eleven National Park Rangers got their certificates inside...

...and we listened to a bunch of speeches extolling the virtues of the law enforcement service...

... And finally they took the oath:

... And it was done. Jess was ready to bug out, back to Yosemite to see his wife and have a brief vacation before taking his field training in West Virginia's New River Gorge, another place with good climbing potential. His mother the MD had a medical meeting in Indianapolis the next day so she had some driving to do and I had to get home and I was anxious to make miles south before the cold night air closed in. Back to the real world.

I had a dog waiting for me at home.

And a long ride home in bright sunshine and cold crisp air. Those handlebar muffs were a life saver all the way to Miami and kept my digits toasty for five hundred miles.

It was fun surviving the cold but I skipped Bike Week In Daytona Beach altogether and kept riding, dreaming of warmer weather to come. I'd rather ride in a hundred degrees than in fifty degrees any day and I hope to get a few tours in this summer in the mountains far from Flatistan. The Bonneville and I are ready.