California travel

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve’s First Wheelchair-Using Docent!

After five months of training, on May 18, 2014 Carrieanna graduated from the Docent Training Program at Point Lobos State Natural Reserve.

Point Lobos Docent Graduation

Point Lobos Docent GraduationPoint Lobos Docent GraduationFriends and family from Monterey, Big Sur and Tucson were on hand to celebrate as Carrieanna received her green docent jacket!

Laura DeVault, docent, park aide and a member of the docent training team, shared this poem.

Symphony Grand

You lovers of music, come listen to me;

To you I will speak of a Symphony Grand.


The instruments played, with consummate skill,

Are the Sun, and the Sky with the Clouds scudding by;

The Wind, and the Sea with its blanket of Fog;

The Trees, and the Birds with their delicate Songs;

The Flowers and Shrubs, all in color profuse;

The Animals on land, and those in the Sea.


Oh, come with me now to a place called Point Lobos.

Oh, come and be thrilled, by the sounds not alone,

For each sense you possess, haunting rhythms abound,

And harmonies fulfill the desires of your Soul.

Anytime we may go, for the concert never ceases.

And oft we must go, for the concert ever changes.

(David Covell, 1996)

Carrieanna answered a few questions:

Point Lobos Docent Graduation1) What inspired you to become a docent?

I would have to say I first became interested in becoming a docent after I experienced the Easy Access program at Bird Island in September of 2012.

(Upon learning that Point Lobos had just opened an accessible trail to China Cove, we went to experience it for ourselves. You can read about that experience here.)

I became seriously interested in looking into the docent training program later that summer when Jeri’s photos [Images by RJM] were used on the flyer for the Easy Access Program, and even more serious when her photos were used in creating the outreach presentation for Easy Access.

With the excited, enthusiastic and supportive encouragement of docents Barbara Grace and Lorna Clearbout, I registered to attend the Docent Trainee Recruitment meeting. Once I found out that a good friend of mine – who is a seasoned docent, and who knows me and my MS – was allowed to be my mentor, I was determined to be selected for this year’s training class.

2) Tell me a little about the training (how long it was, what you had to do, any challenges or “ah ha!” moments).

The training was from January through May and included the commitment of attending four of the five monthly training meetings (which began at 8:30 a.m. Not an easy feat! With the help and support of my boyfriend I was able to attend all five meetings).

Additionally, I was required to attend at least three of the five monthly Docent meetings, along with completing a host of other requirements pertaining to learning, experiencing, and interpreting the flora, fauna, geology, cultural history, economic history, and historical preservation of this beautiful State Natural Reserve.

One challenge was traversing the ADA trails independently using my manual wheelchair. With practice, determination and will I am now able to independently navigate the Sea Lion Point trail, even though it takes some time and effort; however it’s a really good workout, and tends to make the views that much more rewarding!

The other challenge is getting into and out of the Whaler’s Cabin with the bark outside. Inquiries and suggestions have been submitted to management regarding implementing a decomposed granite path from the road to the back door to allow individuals with limited mobility to enter the cabin without attempting to traverse the granite steps in the front.

One “ah ha” moment was having docents experience Point Lobos with a wheelchair, and practice pushing and being pushed in a wheelchair on each of the three ADA trails. With this experience I hope to facilitate a better understanding of wheelchair perspective, ability of navigation on trails, and overall appreciation of the interpretation program through Easy Access.

3) What do you hope to accomplish as a docent?

My main goal as a Docent at Point Lobos is to be able to share this magnificent State Natural Reserve with those visitors who venture out to experience and enjoy the wonder, beauty, and history of the natural coastal gem that is Point Lobos.

Tied in with that is my goal to reach out to visitors of every age and any background who use a wheelchair, walker, crutches, cane(s), or simply move slower than those not living with mobility challenges.

With the three ADA trails at Point Lobos, visitors with varying degrees of mobility have the opportunity to experience three different sides of this State Natural Reserve on the Carmelo Meadow and Granite Point trails, the Sea Lion Point trail and the newest, Bird Island trail.

Additionally I hope to inspire individuals living with Multiple Sclerosis to get outside and back to nature, despite being differently-abled. I hope to inspire others living with disabilities to come out to the reserve with the mentality “Don’t say it can’t be done, until you try it first.” You may surprise yourself! And even if it is difficult, or you’re unable to participate with complete independence, this is one place on earth you don’t want to miss, no matter what your limitations or difficulties may be.

Not to mention that I learn something new every time I am out at the reserve, and experience something different with each visit!

Point Lobos Docent Graduation Congratulations to all the new docents!

And most especially to Carrieanna. Her knowledge about the Reserve, her enthusiasm for sharing, and her “anything is possible” attitude will inspire many who visit Point Lobos!

Carrieanna leads her first group as a docent 

Point Lobos Docent Graduation
Trail overlooking China Cove
Point Lobos Docent Graduation
China Cove (and harbor seals)
Point Lobos Docent Graduation
Harbor seals and pups
Point Lobos Docent Graduation
View of Bird Island
Point Lobos Docent Graduation
Bird Island
Point Lobos Docent Graduation
Black crowned night heron

Point Lobos Docent GraduationPoint Lobos Docent Graduation

By Jeri Murphy

Traveler, writer, photographer, former wedding officiant, mother, friend, explorer and new Texian ... that's just a little about me!

23 replies on “Point Lobos State Natural Reserve’s First Wheelchair-Using Docent!”

Congratulations, Carrieanna! So very proud of you and all your have accomplished already. You are truly our trailblazer! The tee shirt that you designed exemplifies your positive attitude and lively spirit. Thank you and Jeri for letting us use your joyous images on our Easy Access flyers and outreach presentations. I am looking forward to many exciting adventures with you at Point Lobos. Lorna


Carrieanna, it sure took me a lot of reading to get to this point for my note!!

First, a historic congrats!

Next, if you have a list of docents that can show up and help people move around (read: push a chair and get a workout) for any of your specially tailored events, please put me on it. If not, let’s start one now so you can have some support resources and start planning/inviting…


Carrieanna, Congratulations — I’m really happy we’ll be seeing you at Point Lobos wearing your new green jacket. It’s a privilege to know you and to observe your can-do attitude! I’m sure you will continue to lead the way to break down barriers — you go girl!


Hi Alex,
Thank you!
I look forward to working the Easy Access Adventure program with you.
Thank you for the encouragement and support!!



Congratulations, Carrieanna. Since Marie and I have been your friends for several years now, we already know what a remarkable, special person you are. Now, you have something else to add to your growing list of accomplishments. Welcome to the Point Lobos Docent group; you’re a great addition.

Larry and Marie Swank


Here, here! As Larry and Marie Swank’s daughter, I’ve heard so much about you. What an achievement! You are truly an inspiration.


Way to go Carrieanna! You are a wonderful, and inspirational addition to our docent program at Point Lobos. You and Jeri have already added so much to our Easy Access Adventure with your ideas and insight. And now we get you for real!


Hi Carrieanna: I want you to know how very proud I was to welcome you and the rest of Class 36 into the Docent Corps. To my knowledge, you are the first differently-abled docent to complete docent training, and I am certain that you will inspire others to follow in your path. Your presence in the Docent Corps has placed a bright light on some physical barriers at Point Lobos that could not have happened in any other way, and during my time as Docent Administrator I will do everything in my power to get them fixed.

Thank you so much for your dedication and courage — and most of all for being a shining example of what it means to be a docent at Point Lobos.



Hi Judd,

Thank you so much! I really appreciate your willingness to help look into and address the challenges experienced at the reserve. I know that any changes made will most certainly make my time at Point Lobos a bit easier. I look forward to working with you around the reserve.


Well said, Judd. Amen! Particularly the part of being an inspiration to others to follow in her tracks. I truly hope that it happens. Carrieanna exemplifies the “anything is possible” mantra.

Carrieanna, I look forward to working with you, learning from you, and seeing your shining smile.


Thank you Mary Ann!!

Ooo, maybe the Yayas can do an overnight down here?!?!
Definitely too much driving for a day trip, but an overnight or weekend could be great!!
Let me know 🙂


Congratulations, Carrieanna. What a fantastic accomplishment. I can’t wait to hear all about the training, your first group and what it’s like to be a docent the next time I see you. You go girl!!


Thanks Francine!
Let me know when you’re ready to venture to the central coast to take a break from the central valley!
A breath of fresh air!


Carrrieanna, what a treat it has been to get to know you during the docent training. Your “can do” attitude and full involvement with all aspects of the training has been an inspiration to everyone. The docent corps at Point Lobos is lucky to have you as one of its members. Many congratulations!


Thank you so much for all your guidance, and awareness towards my inclusion with all aspects of the training program. I was lucky to have you as our class trainer!
A fabulous job on your part, thank you!



Congratulations Corrieanna! I am proud and delighted for you! And although I have thought nature hikes were a thing of the past, I am now hoping that someday I can join you for an amazing experience!


Amy, I am sure Carrieanna would be delighted to show you the beauty of Point Lobos! (And I’d love to hike along with you. Let me know when you’re coming and I’ll be there!)



Hi Amy,

I would most definitely enjoy sharing this awesome place with you someday!
Just let me or Jeri know when you are able to coordinate a trip to the central coast!
Thank you!


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