Tag Archives: cop

Santa Barbara


I was feeling tired and on the verge of getting a cold the day we set out for Santa Barbara. I ended up lying in my bed napping wile Mr. Carolina drove the van. I thought the kids had a plan, an idea of where we could park so they could sleep outside. I was willing to let them handle the logistics.

I awoke to bickering, and it wasn’t just the Fighting Couple (FC) arguing. Mr. FC thought he knew where we should park. Sweet L and Mr. Carolina and Robbie didn’t like Mr. FC’s idea, but they didn’t have anything better to suggest. We could see the beach right over there, but all the street signs prohibited us from parking nearby.Park, Signs, Travel, No Parking, Transportation

Mr. Carolina got mad and said he wasn’t driving anymore. Robbie said he’d drive, but he was really bad at it, and we were soon telling him to pull over and let someone else take the wheel. Mr. FC got in the driver’s seat and headed out of town. There was more yelling, and Mr. FC relinquished the driver’s seat. Then Mr. Carolina was back at the wheel, and we were circling through the city again.

I asked about the plan, and it turned out the plan ended at get to Santa Barbara. No one had any idea of what we would do when we arrived.

California, Sea, Ocean, Pacific, Waves, Seashore, BeachSomehow, Mr. Carolina found us the perfect spot. We were on a residential street, although the residences to our left looked like mansions to me. To our right was a park. Bellow the park was a beach and the ocean. We could hear waves crashing below. Best of all, there was no sign regulating parking.

I climbed back into my bed while everyone else tumbled out of the van with their packs to sleep on the beach. Although in the light of day we saw signs declaring the illegality of beach sleeping, no on challenged the beach sleeping during the days we were there.

The next night Furthur played at the Santa Barbara Bowl. Furthur was the whole reason we were there. We didn’t have tickets, but we thought we’d just hang out in the lot. I planned to sell hemp jewelry, but that plan didn’t work out.

The official parking lot was small and the charge was $10, a ridiculously large price for a bunch of kids traveling with empty pockets. Like most of the folks arriving for the show, we found a free place to park on a nearby side street. It turned out to be a good thing we hadn’t scrounged up money for parking because the people in charge of the lot were not allowing vending.

We ended up walking back and forth on the streets between where we’d parked and the entrance to the venue. There were Deadheads everywhere, so there was something of a lot scene, but more dispersed. The Fighting Couple was hawking their hemp creations (necklaces with pouches for stones fashioned in such a way that the stone was removable and replaceable), hustling pretty hard to get money. Me? I just didn’t care much about selling hemp jewelry and quickly gave up.

As we walked through the clusters of Deadheads, Sweet L and Mr. Carolina repeatedly met people they knew, including three guys they’d lived with or near during some portion of the summer. Mr. Carolina had told me stories of these boys, called them his brothers, and that was good enough for me. Anyone Mr. Carolina trusted, I trusted too.

Mick, the eldest of the group, with dark hair and brooding dark eyes, was obviously the leader. When he spoke, everybody listened. The Viking, a young blond man with rocks wrapped in his hair and a reddish beard, was Mick’s right hand man. Karl was the quiet one, and even his birth-control glasses didn’t hide his pretty boy looks.

Some time during that afternoon I sat on the sidewalk of a side street away from the crowds and looked at shiny rocks with Sweet L and Karl and the Viking. Karl made pendants from shiny rocks and wire, and I gave him a piece of rainbow obsidian that had broken when the wind blew it off my vending table. I thought maybe he could wrap the stone in some way to hide the broken part. He was grateful for it and gave me a couple of cool shiny rocks in return.

As we sat there, I told them about my snowflake obsidian experience, and they they thanked me for sharing my story with them. I feared most people would think me a little too woo-woo if they heard that story, so I was glad the boys actually appreciated it.

Day turned to night and none of us had tickets or money to buy them. Maybe the Fighting Couple made money and bought tickets. I don’t remember. By this point in our journey, none of the rest of us wanted anything to do with them. In fact, with Sweet L’s and Mr. Carolina’s backing, I’d told them they’d have to get another ride out of Santa Barbara. In any case, the Fighting Couple (thankfully) wasn’t hanging out with me and the boys.

Mick did, however, have psychedelics, but when he shared them, none were offered to me. I thought that was a little unfriendly, but I figured since he really didn’t know me, he probably wasn’t obligated to make sure I got any.

Later, as Sweet L and I visited with other folks who weren’t going into the show, a friend of his offered us a bump of molly. I took my bit and felt exactly nothing. Later someone gave me what was supposed to be psychedelics. I imbibed that too, and over the course of the night realized it had no effect on me. Weird. I can accept that I ended up with a bunk hit, but having two different drugs from two different people in one night fail to work? No such thing had ever happened to me before.

As Sweet L and I walked through the neighborhood away from the crowds, we came across Mr. Carolina, the Viking, Karl, Robbie, and Mick standing on the sidewalk in front of one of the area’s nice houses. Mick was not having a good time.

The people the nice house belonged to joined us on the sidewalk. They were worried about Mick. They wondered if he were ok. They wondered if he needed medical attention. The wondered if he were having a bad trip. We relaxed when we realized these people knew the lingo, when we realized these people were cool. One of the boys allowed that yes, Mick seemed to be having a bad trip.

The strangers went into caretaker mode. They got cushions from their lawn furniture and placed them on the concrete in front of the house so Mick could have a comfy place to rest. Once we got Mick relaxing on the cushions, the homeowners brought us blankets. The woman brought out a jug of water and toasted English muffins smeared with peanut butter and jam. When the homeowners were ready to go to bed, they told us we could stay in their front yard as long as we wanted and even gave us a permission letter to show to any police officer who questioned us. The kindness of strangers indeed!

(Later in the night, a police cruiser did stop in front of the house. A cop got out of the car and began questioning us. Whoever was holding the permission letter showed it to him. The cop immediately backed off and drove away!)

I spent most of the night next to Mick, trying to offer him comfort. He was tired of this life, he said. He didn’t want to be here anymore. He wanted to float away and leave his body behind. I tried to keep him talking, keep him breathing, keep him with us. I was wearing a bracelet of rose quartz (the stone of unconditional love and infinite peace) on a stretchy cord. I slipped it off my wrist and onto his.

All the time, we could hear Furthur playing in the Bowl. The music was distant and a little distorted, but we could hear it, and it was ours.

We sat in front of that house for hours. I don’t know what the others were talking about while I tried to convince Mick to stay, but they were always nearby. Sometimes they’d come over and talk to Mick and me, but mostly they were doing their own thing.

At some point, Mick was mostly back to himself, and Mr. Carolina, Robbie, Sweet L and I went one way, and the other boys went another. I drove the van back to the spot we’d found the night before and settled in. We stayed there the next day and one more night before Mr. Carolina, Sweet L, Robbie, and I headed to Los Angeles.


Images courtesy of https://pixabay.com/en/park-signs-travel-no-parking-39412/ and https://pixabay.com/en/california-sea-ocean-pacific-waves-2666059/.

Pulled Over


The events in today’s post happened several weeks after the events of yesterday’s post, in August 2015.

I got pulled over by a cop on the way back to my campground after my day off in Babylon. The funny thing is that I know the cop! It was Officer S., my co-worker’s neighbor. Officer S. is a sheriff’s deputy, and I’ve talked to him in my campground and in the parking lot. He’s always been very nice and polite to me, but the bottom line is, he’s still a cop.

We passed each other going in opposite directions on the road up the mountain, and when I looked over, I thought There goes Officer S. in his sheriff’s department truck. The next thing I knew, the sheriff’s department truck was coming up behind me like a bat out of hell with the lights flashing. I thought he must have just gotten an emergency call to head in the direction I was going.

I pulled off the road, into a turn-out, expecting him to pass me, but he pulled in behind me. WTF?!?!? I wasn’t speeding. I wasn’t driving weird.

I wasn’t scared because I hadn’t been doing anything wrong. I hadn’t been drinking (I haven’t had an alcoholic drink in over two years), and there were no guns or drugs in the van. But I sure as hell was wondering why he was pulling me over.

I turned off my music and sat with my hands on the steering wheel. I didn’t want him to think I was digging around for a gun while I was digging around for my license and registration and insurance card. I figured I could dig around after I told him what I was digging for.

When he walked up to the driver’s side of the van, I told him through the small side window that the main window doesn’t roll down and asked if I should open the door. He assented by reaching to open the door himself. When the door opened and he saw me, he looked sheepish and said he thought I was someone else.

I thought, Yeah, Alfonso Gonzalez, but I didn’t say that aloud.

Turns out he thought I was someone else other than Alfonso Gonzalez. He thought I was some other little gal in a van. He thought I was some crazy lady (he made the swirling finger next to his ear sign), some lady who’d told him her van (with Illinois plates) was in storage in Babylon. He thought she’d taken her Illinois plates off the van and put on New Mexico plates. At least he had the decency to look embarrassed when he realized he’d pulled over the wrong little gal.

He asked me where I was heading, and I must have given him a strange look because he said, Oh, the campground, just as I said the name of my campground.

I asked if he wanted to see anything (meaning license, registration, insurance card, but I should probably rephrase the question in the future because I realized after I said it that it might sound like a come-on line). He said no, which was good, as I don’t think he had any probable cause to pull me over, since I wasn’t the little gal he thought I was.

I guess now I’m one of the locals who knows the cops.

Cop Knock


The events in today’s post happened several weeks ago, in July 2015.

On Sunday afternoon, I’d headed for Babylon as soon as my shift at the parking lot ended. I typically want to get to civilization as soon as possible when my time off starts, but by the time I complete my descent into the parched heat, I usually wonder why I thought leaving the mountain was a good idea.

This Sunday was hot too, so I stayed in the coffee shop as long as I could. After it closed, I found the temperature hadn’t dropped much, so I walked aimlessly through Target for a while. But soon that store was closing too, and unless I wanted to waste some time (and money!) in Denny’s, there was no place else for me to go. Besides, I was tired and needed as much sleep as I could steal from this desert night. So I drove my van to the 24/7 supermarket and found a decent spot to park.

I don’t sleep well in the heat. I sleep best when the air’s a little cold, and I can snuggle under a pile of blankets and never get warm enough to kick them off in the night. I knew this was not going to be a night of good sleep, but I figured if I could catch a few hours of shut-eye, I’d be ok the next day.

The last time I looked at my watch it was 11:30. I must have dozed off because I was suddenly jerked awake by knocking on the van.

Who is it? I asked loudly (and probably gruffly too).

The dreadful reply: Sheriff’s department.

Oh fuck! I didn’t have any guns or drugs in the van, so I knew I was ok on those fronts, but I couldn’t imagine any good reason a representative of the sheriff’s department would be knocking on my door in the middle of the night.

I peeked out the curtain, and sure enough, a very young man dressed in cop clothes was standing next to my van.

I said One moment or Just a minute and started fumbling in the weak parking lot light filtering through my curtains to find my glasses and some clothes to put on. Once I was dressed and could see, I moved the curtain so the cop could talk to me through the window.

Here’s the story he laid on me: He was looking for Alfonso Gonzalez, who lived in a van just like the one I was in. He asked if Alfonso Gonzalez were in the van with me.

I don’t know anyone named Alfonso Gonzalez, and there sure as hell was no one in there with me. So I told the deputy that Alfonso Gonzalez was definitely NOT in the van.

Of course, then the cop wanted to see for himself. He said if I’d just open the door and allow him to look inside and see that no one was with me, he’d be on his way because all he was interested in was finding Alfonso Gonzalez. I wanted the whole interaction over as soon as possible, so I agreed to let him look inside my van home.

I opened the door and stepped out onto the warm asphalt, barefoot and wearing a skirt with the elastic pulled up over my breasts, strapless sundress style. The cop shined his flashlight into the van and must have immediately seen that I had been in there alone.

But then the liar started questioning me! Of course, he wrote all my answers in his little notebook.

What was my name? When was my birthday? Did I have any outstanding warrants? Had I missed any court dates?

I answered his questions despite the fogginess of my sleepy brain. I didn’t feel like I had much choice in the matter. I was in a parking lot in the middle of the night, and I didn’t have a lawyer to call. Would he find an excuse to take me to jail if I didn’t answer his questions? If he took me to jail, would my van be impounded? If my van were impounded, would I lose all of my belongings and owe a bunch of money to the court system? I answered his questions.

I don’t remember now if I volunteered the information in hopes of making myself look respectable or if I answered a direct question, but I told him I was down from the mountain where I worked as a camp host. I said I had to get supplies in the morning, then I would be on my way out of town.

You can guess where his questions went from there. What company did I work for? What town did I work in? (That was a particularly difficult one for my sleep addled mind, since I don’t work anywhere near a town. I’m near a couple of small communities, but I’m miles from any real town.) I think he even asked me my boss’ name. I answered his questions.

Then he started asking me about the license plate on the van. He asked if my registration was current. I told him my registration didn’t expire until the end of August (which he would have already known if he’d looked at the sticker on my plate), but added that in fact I had just paid to update the registration and was waiting for the new sticker to get to me. He said he had run my plate number, and it wasn’t in the system. I don’t understand how a legally registered vehicle (which my van is) wouldn’t be in the system, but that’s what he said. So then he asked to see my registration if I had it handy. (I’m sure he was hoping I didn’t have it handy so he’d have a reason to ticket me for the infraction.)

As I was digging around for the registration, he asked me how long I’d been in California. I said I’d arrived at the end of April. He told me I needed to register my van in California since I was residing in the state now.

I tried to tell him I wasn’t residing in California, that I don’t have a residence in California, but he said it looked to him like I was residing in my van. True enough. I didn’t think to say my job is temporary or seasonal. I didn’t think to say that as soon as I’m laid off, I’ll be high-tailing it out of California. I don’t think any of that mattered to him. I think he figured since he hadn’t gotten Alfonso Gonzalez, he’d try to find some reason to harass me.

I’m aware of the concept of California Uber Alles, but I wasn’t aware that like the Borg, the state wants to assimilate anyone who enters its domain.


Thankfully, my good sense kicked in (or maybe I just woke up), and I decided arguing with the cop was not going to make my situation better. I just shut up and handed him the van’s registration paperwork.

He went back to his car (which he had parked behind my van, blocking me in) to run my information. I guess everything checked out because when he came back, he returned my paperwork and didn’t ask to search the van, and he didn’t haul me off to jail. He did tell me that I should transfer my registration because the CHP (California Highway Patrol—you know, CHiPs…Ponch and Jon…bad 80s television…)


is very strict about people living in California while their vehicles are registered in another state.

After he left, I locked my doors, closed my curtains, and crawled back into my bed. In addition to the heat, I had adrenaline coursing through my body. I was awake for at least another two hours, wondering if the deputy had called CHP, if more cops were on the way, if my van would be impounded and I’d lose all of my possessions (again). I finally dozed a little and was less worried about the CHP and the prospect of losing my van in the light of day.

Since that night, I haven’t been bothered by any cops looking for Alfonso Gonzalez.

And it may be superstitious, but I don’t sleep in that parking lot anymore.