I could have been fined, jailed, or both.
I got off with a “stern” warning. I must admit that the 40ish officer and his twenty-something partner using their best professional demeanor required that I exercise great care in not giggling. Something about their glorified golf cart and young age tested my mental toughness. Besides, I could have been fined, jailed, or both.
So, I was walking on the beach down to the pier. I had taken my camera this time with the intent of taking a picture of the pier with the waves breaking in the background. I could not find the angle that satisfied my photographer’s eye. I thought I would head up to the parking lot where the tourists left their cars and then I saw the dunes. Perhaps I could locate an overlook and come up with an image captured through the sea oats.
I walked along the parking lot searching for a path. I saw two women walking ahead of me through the dunes and headed in their direction. I found the “path” they were using. It lead out toward the highway so I gave up on taking a picture.
As I was heading down the highway – walking facing traffic – I sensed this vehicle pull up behind me. Since I was walking against traffic the vehicle kind of surprised me. This is when I met the sand dunes police guys. The driver gets out and said something that I thought meant I should sit in the golf cart. It turned out he wanted me to place my camera on the seat. The image of me sitting in the front seat of the cart while being questioned does seem kind of unlikely.
I was interrogated by the old guy. He wanted to know precisely where I had exited the dunes. I did not actually know, but my explanation of somewhere between here and the driveway was not precise enough. I finally admitted I did not know for sure. He went through a thorough description of the legality of walking through the dunes and explained that I had ignored the numerous signs warning against such activity. I did not see a sign, but this was evidently not sufficient. The dunes are very fragile and there is this rat or mouse the protectors of which prevent high rises from being built so I obviously could not walk there. I admit this was the one comment to which I could not resist offering a comeback. I told the officer that I had not stepped on any rats.
The officer asked me where I was from. I have no idea why I claimed Iowa. This is technically true if the question is where were you born. I am not certain if I was rattled or confused from talking with all of the other old folks who live down here about my history.
The officer asked for my identification and I thought I would soon be fined, jailed or both. Of course, my North Dakota license should have alerted the officer to possible conflicts in my story but he did not notice. Evidently, being from the midwest allowed me a break. I should have known better, but didn’t. He took a picture of my license with this phone. Now, I am in some kind of database as an evil doer.
I was released with a strong warning. One last time I was asked to explain why I decided to walk through the dunes. This time I mentioned I was just following the two women who could still be seen attempting to make their getaway up the road in front of us. The officers let me go and headed out in pursuit of the ladies.
I do know not to walk through the dunes. I did not learn this from the signs and it was the reason I did not deviate from the path to walk toward the crest of the dunes overlooking the beach to get a picture. Still, it was an interesting experience and I appreciate the work of the guys who stopped me.