Sitting Shotgun…LITERALLY

I don’t like the term “bucket list” because it’s not a pleasing visual and because it sounds way too much like “kick the bucket” but I haven’t figured out anything that sounds more Princess-y.

Let me think…

Dream list? No.

Hurry-up-and-do-things-before-you-die list? Truth, but nope.

Fantasy fulfillment? MAYBE.

Enchanted experiences? YES! I like that a lot. Enchanted experiences it is.

Whatever you call it, I’ve always been interested in what I am not.

Like when I thought I had what it took to be a movie star, I was cast as a streetwalker in a Marty Feldman film (I won’t tell you which one haha.)  I had a vague idea of the job skills of your average streetwalker, but I still did my research and hung around the Gaslamp District downtown to study the behavior of the local streetwalker in her natural habitat.

Apparently, I was a good student, because on the day of the shoot, after my scenes were wrapped, I was walking back to my car still dressed in my costume, and was REALLY AND TRULY propositioned by a man who thought I was a for realz working girl. I was so happy a security guard came to my rescue. Job well done! (Well, not really, but you know what I mean.)

And then there was that brief moment in time right after college and before I did my fifth year to become a teacher, where I thought I wanted to be a TV journalist, so I interned \at a local TV station, an NBC affiliate.

I covered a few crimes, did several live remotes, and learned how to write sharp and succinct copy, a talent I think I’ve totally forgotten, by the way.

Once again, I didn’t stick with that career path either, but I had a lot of fun, until it got boring.

Apparently, I have a short attention span.

My city offers something called the Citizen’s Academy. It’s a free, seven-week program designed to help us learn about our city government to become better informed and involved citizens.

During the police and fire safety class, I asked if it would be possible to schedule a ride along with a police officer. That’s another career I’ve always been fascinated with. I would never have been able to go into police work because of the whole uniform thing. I mean, seriously, not to be able to choose what I want to wear? The same thing EVERY SINGLE DAY? No way. That would be TORTURE. SERIOUSLY.

A couple of weeks later, I got a phone call to arrange a time where I could join an officer during his shift. I chose Friday night because I wanted to see what happens during a DUI stop.

Here’s my public service announcement: DO NOT DRINK AND DRIVE! There’s absolutely no excuse when there’s Lyft or taxis. It’s not worth it.

So that’s what I did last night. I met the officer at the police station after he had a shift briefing. My first question was regarding where I would sit,  front or back. I’m so glad it was the front, which is much more pleasant.

The officer wore body armor; I did not.

I had spent quite a few days coordinating an appropriate outfit…seriously, what does one wear to sit in a police car as an observer for a few hours?

This is what I chose: skinny jeans, white long sleeved jersey top, a sweater with vegan suede, studded boots, and a animal print silk scarf. FullSizeRender (3).jpg

Don’t laugh; this kind of thing is very important to me.

I’ll keep the officer’s name private, because I don’t think it’s necessary to share.

He was a great host. A modern day police car is really a fully functional office with computers and license plate readers and GUNS! I’ve never been around a gun, never shot a gun, I’ve never even held a gun. EVER. He had an AR15 and another kind of shotgun or rifle, as well as the gun he wears in a holster, a Sig Sauer–and they are ALL LOADED. LOADED WITH BULLETS. 

We got our first call, a welfare check of a mom and her children. I had to sit in the car because domestic calls can often become volatile, so I sat with the engine running (they leave the motor running all the time by the way) and wondered for a split second what would happen if I drove away. (I found out later that there’s a kill switch just in case that happens.) Another police car showed up and they both went in and returned in about fifteen minutes. There was nothing wrong; an ex-girlfriend of the mother’s boyfriend made a fake call because she was being vindictive. Just babymamadrama, but good to know the children were OK.

We drove back to the beach looking for some action. We got another call about a stolen vehicle and drove to the vicinity but didn’t locate it.

It was such a strange experience to sit in a police car. It was still light out and people were staring at me. I’m sure they couldn’t figure out what I was doing there, so I waved and smiled at everyone. Super cool!

Back on the road, we were called to assist another officer with a non-emergency, when we got re-dispatched to a possible burglary. This time, it was lights and sirens and about 100 mph running red lights and OH EM GEE, it was SO EXCITING!

Again, I had to sit in the car, but I could see what was going on. It wasn’t exactly a burglary, but it was somehow drug related, and the guy had to be handcuffed because he was being slightly combative and not following directions. At this point, five other police cars showed up and I was starting to rethink my decision to try on a more adventurous life. I mean, should I get out and run away? I didn’t want to see too much reality. I can only take tiny bites of real life at any given time.

While I was sitting there, I could hear all the other calls on the radio. There were a few accidents, mostly DUI-related, a group of kids were on the roof of the high school, and the saddest one was a possibly suicidal young adult who was being transported to the hospital on a 5150, a section of the California Welfare and Institutions Code (WIC) which authorizes a qualified officer or clinician to involuntarily confine a person suspected to have a mental disorder that makes them a danger to themselves, a danger to others, and/or gravely disabled.

It was getting late. I was tired, and REALLY needed a glass of wine, that’s for sure.

My officer/host was a twenty-five year veteran and had kind and patient answers to all of my  questions about crime in the area and high profile cases he’s been involved in.

My takeaway from this experience is that our community is relatively safe; there are stolen cars and home burglaries,  an occasional murder and sexual assault, but the overwhelming realtime danger is the POTENTIAL threat of a terrorist attack. That seems to be the main focus of law enforcement training. “Active shooter” scenarios, “dirty bombs” in crowded locations–these are things that this naive and very sheltered girl never really thought about.

Do I feel like it was a valuable experience? Absolutely. I would encourage everyone to contact their local law enforcement and invite themselves along to see how we are all kept safe by these hardworking and dedicated men and women, including the dispatch team.

And really, don’t drink and drive. Or text and drive. PLEASE.

 

 

 

 

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“My soul was in the lost and found…”

…and no one but me came along to claim it.

I got lost today. Physically lost, not spiritually lost.

That’s not to say that I’m NOT searching for myself in a spiritual realm, but that’s not what this day was all about.

Nature was calling as she often does; I could feel the strong pull to hike, to connect my hiking boots with sagebrush and trails and coyote scat dotted with small bones and fur.

I’ve never hiked alone but thought it’s about time, it’s time to stop waiting for my Prince Charming to tie my cute size 5 1/2 boot laces into little bunny bows.

Time to step out and face this day and the next day and the day after that…

On my solo journey.

At least for today.

So I did. I hiked Calavera: I’ve hiked it a zillion times over the years but never by myself.
(Check out a previous Calavera excursion with pics HERE)

How difficult could it be? It’s a five minute drive from the house and like I said, I’ve done it a ZILLION times.

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I started at 4:00 p.m., thinking I’d walk for about two hours or so and be back at the car before sunset.

That was my plan.

I started up the trail, found another trail that looked SLIGHTLY familiar, and made it all the way to the top of the not-very-big-mountain, said hi to some other hikers, was asked to take a pic by a young couple who were celebrating their very first outing away from their newborn (grandma was babysitting), and breathed in the scent of dirt and native plants– HEAVENLY.

I decided to be a real adventurer by taking a different path to get down the hill.

This was where my decision making became just a bit faulty.

Nothing looked familiar. NOTHING. All I knew for sure is that I had climbed UP and now I needed to go DOWN.

How the hell could I have pretty much walked every inch of this land and not remembered the right way to go?

5:30 p.m.

I saw another single female with a similar look on her face–one of slight anxiety, embarrassment, and uncertainty.

I asked her if she knew how to get down. She replied, “No, do you?” I responded, “Nope, but let’s walk together so that we can be lost together.”

I gave her one of my walking sticks because the first path we eventually agreed to traverse was steep and narrow. Prickly bushes slapped our faces as we hacked our way through to one dead end after another.

We FINALLY found the correct way and set our course around the lake.

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6:15 p.m.

We said goodbye as the sun started to dip and blaze on the horizon. I had parked at the far trailhead and had a fairly long but level walk to my car. I walked FAST because the sun was going down FAST.

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OOPSIE.

I forgot there was a last minute fork in the road where I should have turned right which would have led me directly to the parking lot.

Instead, I ended up probably two or three miles away from my intended destination.

It was dark now. Completely dark.

I somehow found my way to the main road (I HAVE NO IDEA HOW I GOT THERE) with traffic whizzing by.

I felt like Cheryl Strayed (author of Wild)  on the Pacific Crest Trail.

I thought I was going to end up spending the night there, sleeping with a trio of coyotes wrapped around my body to keep me warm. As magical as that sounded, I was tired and dirty and wanted to go HOME.

It took about another hour to walk up a steep incline to where I THOUGHT my car was parked.

I knew I could have called my neighbors for help but I was determined to solve this problem on my own.

I am a strong and capable female. I CAN DO THIS.

Sweaty, dusty, stressed out but exuberant, I made it to my car at 7:30 p.m.

I had never been so grateful for civilization in my life.

I drove to the closest liquor store, bought a bottle of wine, got home, took a bath and toasted myself with a huge glass of merlot.

I was lost, got found, and feel like a natural woman.

Success!

Golden Gate Park and Botanical Gardens

Spent the last few days with my preggy DIL and the original Angel Boy.

Today we went to Golden Gate Park and the Botanical Gardens.

It was a glorious blue sky day!

These might not be the best photos; I was rushed and didn’t have time to focus!
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Exploring Carlsbad, Part Two: Wildlife vs Development

When we first moved here in 1985, our street was a dead end (literally).

My son and I would walk our dogs to where the pavement ended and there we abruptly entered a wonderland of nature: along narrow paths with overhanging vegetation;  sage, coyote bush, sumac — and wildlife; coyotes, bobcats, deer– even a mountain lion was spotted now and again.

In other words…heaven.

It was a sad day when the bulldozers appeared and in a matter of minutes completely raped the hills, scraping the native flora down to bare earth, uprooting mature trees, and displacing dozens, if not hundreds, of animals.

It’s unrecognizable now–if you hadn’t lived here as long as we have, you’d never know the rich beauty that once existed.

It’s regretful that the city leaders didn’t and don’t seem to care about respecting, protecting, and preserving native flora and fauna.

Instead of conserving and sustaining our unique beauty, they’ve allowed Carlsbad to become an Orange County clone — heavy on the ubiquitous business parks and subdivisions totally disconnected to the land.

They’ve mostly destroyed the unique personality and beauty of our little coastal town.

In my opinion.

Historically, Carlsbad/Agua Hedionda Lagoon was the former home to two Native American groups, the Luiseños and the Diegueños or Kumeyaay.

Did you know that Agua Hedionda means “stinking waters”?

(It does and it does.)

Although the Spaniards (and other settlers) decimated the Native American connection to this area, over the years I’ve heard about nearby sacred burial grounds that might still be intact, and that’s a good thing.

In spite of the destruction of habitat, there are still a few surviving animals attempting to coexist.

In the evening, we hear the song of the coyote, not as often as we used to, but it makes us happy. Check out this audio. So close!

I’ve seen fresh bobcat tracks, too, but no actual visual sighting.

On a recent walk, I stepped out of my front door, walked across the street, and was immediately greeted by this amazing sight, a Great Blue Heron nearly as tall as me.
GreatBlueHeron1 greatblueheron2 After I snapped a dozen photos, I continued walking, and spotted a White Egret.egret2015It was a day for wildlife; these are not good pics for some reason, but a couple of different rabbits made an appearance.

On a front lawn.
aprilwalk5 Overlooking Agua Hedionda. aprilwalk4

I believe this is a Cooper’s Hawk; don’t think it’s a Red Tailed Hawk.CooperHawk1If I ruled the world (or at least my little part of it), I’d make sure that any planned development would respect all wildlife and make appropriate plans to not only preserve habitat, but encourage MORE animals to coexist with us.

Especially predators. We need predators. We need coyotes and bobcats and mountain lions and hawks and falcons for balance. Without them, we’re inundated with their food source; rabbits, rats, and squirrels.

Can’t we all just get along?

Read Exploring Carlsbad, Part One: Signs
https://enchantedseashells.com/2015/05/01/exploring-carlsbad-part-one-signs/