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Friday, October 07, 2011

Touring CA in a Recession-post 4. Incident with park rangers

My fourth post of my 7 day CA trip in Sept 2011. Here i do an entire post on an unfortunate incident with National Park Rangers patrolling Sequoia-King Canyon National Park. It occurred right after i had left from Grant Grove Village and was heading toward Giant Forest section of the park. It ended with an amiable parting of the ways and no harm done.

I left Grant Grove and went back along route 180/198 in direction of of Giant Forest. It is Monday mid-afternoon Sept 5th, last day of labor day weekend, and the park is emptying of visitors real fast.
When i got to intersection of 180/198 I took a wrong turn and ended up almost back at the park entrance. I did a turn around and went back in right direction, reached the intersection again and made the correct turn this time.

Only thing is I failed to stop completely and did not know there was a stop sign there, or missed seeing it. It may be because i was tired after being on road 6 hrs straight, driving 300 miles coming from northern CA, and my road alertness was off (I didn't get my usual coffee fix). I was rather beat up and looking ragged after five days on the road, staying at rough campsites last four nights. As i made the CA rolling stop i was spotted by National Park rangers in their white and green SUV headed in the opposite direction.

They turned around and followed me for a short distance and then came the inevitable flashing lights. I pulled over to stop and 2 park rangers came out of their vehicle and approached my vehicle. I need to point out that i am a veteran experienced delivery driver and have been stopped many times by police in LA for traffic violations so i did not panic or get upset. I was only dismayed somewhat by being pulled over in a scenic national park while i was on vacation.

The rangers told me i had just gone thru a stop sign at intersection of 180/198. But they and i knew that i had slowed down sufficiently and carefully at the stop and my actions were not intentional . It was more likely i was unaware of the stop sign, missed it accidentally, or had travelers disorientation. It is important to note here that i was rather tired and maybe a bit disoriented after a long drive and also me and my pickup both looked rather rough and grimy after five days on the road .

This may have been the real reason the rangers followed me and stopped me. The rangers treated me rather suspiciously at first as if they thought i was bent on some type of criminal intent while passing thru the park. Also, It was unusual to have a park visitor arriving right after labor day and perhaps they suspected me of being a courier and/or scout for a drug cartel looking to plant pot in the mountains( CA has a huge problem with illegal marijuana farms in all it's parks/national forest mountainous regions).

Whatever the reason for the stop one of the park rangers proceeded to do a partial search of my truck's passenger side interior, and ran an ID/ license check on me. I did put up a polite but nonetheless assertive objection to this rather inqusitive search high up in the mountains while i was on vacation.

My being somewhat cooperative( though putting up mild objections) was surprising in and of itself, as i have in past traffic stops behaved rather badly and rudely to law enforcement officers. That has always landed me in hot water with both cops and the traffic court judges. It is unwise to bicker at cops during a traffic stop, even if you are absolutely certain that you committed no wrong. Cops are human and vindicative, as i have learned from long and bitter experience dealing in the brutal, often unfair, money-hungry CA Superior Court Traffic Division.

As these were park rangers and not the usual urban city police officers i was given a bit more leeway and able to assert myself a bit more against the pullover. In Los Angeles i have been stopped over 20 times and never had my vehicle searched. I knew i could make a big protest over this likely illegal search but as i had nothing to hide i allowed the rangers to search my vehicle. They would find out soon enough that i was just joe traveler on a CA car camping trip. What they were attempting to find out is if it was just that or i was on another more sinister mission.

After a few minutes of vehicle searching and somewhat friendly bantering with the rangers they seemed to relax their attitude toward me a bit. I told them frankly that they were searching the wrong person as i was politically to the right, a right-wing blogger/tweeter with Tea Party sympathies( I am not officially with the Tea Party but share many of their aims). I told them that I was your normal everyday law-abiding US citizen on a CA getaway road trip, or words to that effect.

After they they found out i had conservative views I lectured them a bit on the fact that in my home city of Los Angeles they could not conduct a license ID check on a truckfull of illegal aliens just arrived the day before from across the border without the ACLU, illegal alien activists, and even LA politicians coming down on them. The rangers appeared dismayed. I further lectured them on the criminal realities of CA and LA and how i wrote frequently on my blogsite about the gritty criminal aspects of third world ghettoized Los Angleles. They completely backed off, gave me slack and even an unexpected but captive audience as i ranted on the gangster-ridden, graffiti-infested nature of Los Angeles, of which i am a world authority and blogsite publicist. They did not issue me a ticket.

I was not really all that upset about N.P rangers doing a rather inquisitive and legally questionable stop, search and ID check on me ( I was after all on a vacation getaway and had just entered into a really spectacular scenic CA national park so I was not all that stressed). I also understand the realities and stresses of law enforcement and the phychological profiles of law enforcment officers. I have plenty of experience with being stopped by police officers for annoying traffic citations in LA , due to long experience as an express delivery driver. Most of the time officers are polite and if you treat them with respect and don't hassle them they may even let you off on a ticket. I have had that happen more than once, though in most cases I was issued the citation.

I have competed my 'interlude with National Park Rangers section', a sort of digression from my CA trip log. It was a bit unsettling to be stopped by park rangers and searched while i was on vacation but i was soon on my way to the best car/ rv camping site in the Western Sierras. I would hopefully get over this unfortunate park ranger incident quickly, though there would be one more incident before i left the park. I am normally not the tin foil conspiracy type but perhaps I was being targeted and tracked by a federal government agency. Note: The park had indeed emptied out as i have alluded to previously, due to the severe CA great recession. Even Grant Grove Village, normally a swarming beehive of visitors year-round, had at most three dozen mostly exiting campers/visitors, and 1/4 of the folk at the village were park/ concession staff.

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