The letter Y.

I had another piece I wrote on this rainy Saturday. It was about staying young. Then I decided it sucked and thought this one is much better.

Originally written July 23, 2015.

The Land of the Free.

The letter Y.

Yellowstone National Park.

Raw America.

Untouched land, sitting four miles over a volcanic hot spot. Geysers spew. The bigs roam free – elk, bison, moose, wolves and the great grizzly bear. The only shots fired are with the click of a shutter speed. Winters are brutal. Summers don’t exist.

The Burton family decided we would take a break from our family vacation in the Florida Keys. We headed north to a place we have never been. The land of the free. America. Old Faithful. Red, white and blue.

Red, white and blue flashing in my rearview mirror somewhere near hour 8 on our road trip to Yellowstone.

South Dakota Highway Patrol Officer: Ma’am, the reason I stopped you today is did you know you drove past me on the highway and didn’t move over? Did you even see me?

I glared at our friends’ car driving by, honking, with a camera phone out the window.

Me: Uhhhh…Yes. I saw you. I guess I wasn’t paying attention?

Officer: You do know if you see flashing lights on the side of the highway, you need to move over.

Me: Yeah, yeah I knew that. My mother-in-law got a ticket for that once.

I dug through my wallet for my driver’s license.

Officer: Do you have registration and insurance papers?

Me: Um, this is a rental. I don’t really know…

Scott handed me our rental paperwork.

Officer: That will do. Ma’am, I’m going to have to ask you to step out of your vehicle.

Me: Wait, what?

Officer: Can you follow me to my car? I want to explain the law in detail with you. It’s loud on this highway and I want to talk to you.

Me: Huh? You want me to get out of my car. Walk along the side of the highway. And then sit in your car?

Officer: Yes, ma’am.

I glanced at Scott. He looked confused.

Me: Uh, ok.

I walked in front of the officer.

Officer: Just sit in the front seat there. That will be fine.

I looked over his car to make sure it was a highway patrol car. I looked back at Scott. I opened the passenger door and sat. The driver’s door slammed shut.

Officer: So where are you headed?

Me: Yellowstone.

baldeagle

Officer: You have quite a drive from Kansas.

Me: It’s taking longer now.

roadtrip

Officer: Let’s see Julie. Burton. Are you related to the Burton Snowboards?

Me: Nope.

kate

Officer: And who is that man up there? Your husband, I assume?

Me: Yeah, his name is Scott.

scottme

Officer: And those are your kids?

Me: Yes, two little girls.

emma

kate1

Officer: I see. And what does your husband do?

Me: He’s Vice President at a medical software company.

Officer: And what do you do, Julie?

Me: I’m a writer.

The officer stopped punching numbers in his computer.

Officer: Oh. Uh, so does this mean I’m going to end up in the papers or something?

Me: Yep.

Officer: So back to the law you broke. I want to explain to you that whenever you see flashing lights on the side of the road, you need to move over a lane. Especially on a highway. This is a four lane highway. You need to move to the next lane. If this was a two lane highway, you would slow down to twenty miles under the speed limit. The goal is not to injure anyone along the side of the road here.

Me: Kinda like when I walked along side the highway?

Officer: I pulled you over for breaking the law, ma’am. You need to move over a lane and make way for others when you see a car pulled over to the side.

bighorn

Me: I believe I was more concerned about my speed at the time.

Officer: I clocked you at 81 in an 80. Do you understand the law you broke, Julie?

Me: Yep. I understood it when you were at my window too.

Officer: So where are you staying at in Yellowstone?

Me: Montana. My in-laws rented a house.

Officer: Oh, no camping then?

Me: Not this time.

Officer: I took my wife and kids out there to camp. Watch out for the bison. They’re everywhere. And they’re dangerous too.

bison

Me: That’s what I heard.

Officer: It’s crazy how many animals you will see.

elk

Officer: And the bears. Oh man. I won’t camp there again. They get a little too close. You have to keep your food far from your tent. It’s not my thing.

bear3

bear1

bear2

Officer: So what are you guys going to do if you’re not camping?

Me: Oh, I don’t know. I definitely want to white water raft. I love the thrill of danger and going really fassst uhhhhm… I’ve never done it before.

whitewater

Officer: Yeah, that’s pretty fun.

Me: Oh! And I really want to try fly fishing.

Officer: Really? Fly fish? Not many women do that. Man, I could never get my wife to fish.

Me: Yeah, fishing is our husband/wife thing, I guess. We just got back from the Bahamas last week. And we got an invite to fish in Costa Rica with some friends. We went to Dominican Republic last year. I caught my first white marlin. So this fly fishing will be interesting.

Officer: REALLY?! A marlin? Yeah, I want to fly fish. But I decided that will take up too much of my time. I’ll just wait for retirement.

flyfishing

Me: Well, at least you have some pretty views here in South Dakota. Is that where I am at?

Officer: Yes. Ok, world traveler. I printed out your citation here.

Me: Damnit.

Officer: You can mail the fine to this address in South Dakota. It’s not due until mid-August. That should give you enough time to enjoy your vacation and get back to Kansas. If you would like to plead not-guilty, you must appear at this courthouse at this time.

Me: I’m not coming back to South Dakota.

mtrush

Officer: If you would sign here for me, saying you understand you broke the law.

I signed.

Officer: Here is your driver’s license back. And you’re free to go.

baldeagle2

I opened the door and slid a foot out.

Officer: Have fun in Yellowstone!

Me: Thank you.

I slammed the door. I opened my driver’s car door. Then slammed the door again.

Scott: What the hell took so long?

Me: I said thank you, Scott.

Scott: What?

Me: He gave me a ticket and I said thank you. I hate it when I do that.

Scott: You got a ticket? How much? You were in there for 20 minutes! Did he do anything to you? I was about to get out and see what was going on!

Me: I don’t want to talk about it. No, he didn’t do anything. He just talked my ear off. Thank you. Jesus. Thank you, officer. Thank you. Thank you.

Thank you, Yellowstone.
Thank you, Yellowstone.

zipline
Thank you.
 

___________

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Y.jpg

14 thoughts on “The letter Y.

  1. Haha! I confess, I’ve already forgotten what law you broke … because those photos are flipping awesome! Looks like an amazing trip – wildlife, adventure, outdoors – what more could a girl ask for? Great post πŸ™‚

    Like

    1. “Not moving over a lane while he was pulling someone else over on side of road.”

      I understand the safety issue but UGH!! If I’m getting pulled over it’s usually for speeding.
      My husband took most of the pictures. I think the bald eagle flying away is my favorite.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. That’s a strange story. How do you remember these conversations verbatim? Or is there literary license? Anyway, I guess everyone has a ‘cop’ story or two. Thanks for sharing this one.

    Like

    1. That’s a good question!! πŸ‘πŸΌ I wrote this as soon as we got home from that vacation, I inserted pictures within the post on a whim.
      As far as the conversation, I had scott drive the next leg and I texted my family exactly what happened because I was so angry. They got word for word what happened. I took that text and made a post from it.

      Like

  3. I can’t believe you got stopped in South Dakota!! I work in SD and the only place I ever got stopped was on my way there driving thru NE – going 64 in a 60. I said thank you, too πŸ˜†

    Like

    1. UGH! I was so mad. For the citation, of course. I wish I got a warning. But mostly mad for him asking me to walk to his car and sit. My kids were scared, Scott thought I was getting hit on. It was awful. Just awful. I didn’t know what to do – can you tell a cop “no, I’m not going with you.”?
      I should have reported him.

      Like

    1. I wouldn’t have been that ballsy if I stayed in my own car. I kept thinking what I was going to do if he touched me. I had to stand my ground. I was so confused why he would ask me to get inside his car.

      Like

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