We went hiking a couple of weeks ago. The weather was beautiful, the sun was shinning. Why not? We need to be active as a family. (I have to keep reminding myself).
After many minutes of research on the web, we pick out a trail. It's only 3 miles and it's right next to the lake. This is gonna be great!
We drive for forty minutes and alas, arrive at our destination. As we approach the ranger booth, we realize, there is no one there. The booth is closed for the season. I read the sign in the window and it CLEARLY states that CAMPERS should put their payment in the "box" before entering the park. Well, we are not campers. Maybe they don't charge for day use during the off season?? And of course my husband is chirping in the background "JUST GO!!"
Fine. Drive on.
We park, get out and assess the area. Oh, look, a map of the trail. I go to investigate and research the trail. Once again, the chirping. "Let's go!!! Hurry up!!"
"Babe, looks like we go this way"
"Yes, BUT, I really want to go that way"
Ok, now every fiber in my body says, "Krista, are you crazy? Don't do girl, don't do it!! He gets lost in the mall!!
"mkay, hun, whatever"
FOUR HOURS LATER we are still not done with the trail. And do you know why?????
1. Had he let me study the map, I could have told him that it was a 7 mile trail, not 3.
2. We went the wrong way.
Hmmm.. Of couse, I say nothing. riiiiiiiight.
We finally get back to the car and much to my delight, I have a ticket from the invisible park ranger. Perfect. It states that I have violated the terms of the US Army Corp of Engineers and blah, blah, blah park rules. Whatever. I have 7 days to pay for a year pass or else. (Ok, now I have to make one thing very clear, day use for the parks $4. Now they are forcing me to buy a pass for $30?) Again, I say perfect.
I shove the ticket in my glove compartment and home we go.
I left for Orlando at the beginning of the week and completely forgot about my $4 violation. Upon my return, I open my glove, and there it is. Oh Snap! It's Saturday, day 7, and there is nothing I can do. Their offices are close until Monday. Monday, that's day 10. OH NO!!!
Monday comes. I rush to the offices on lunch. I of course explain about the missing ranger, booth being closed, etc, etc. I get nothing. Not a reaction, no compassion, nothing. Here are her exact words to me.
"Ma'am, you are going to have to wait just a minute. I going to have to see if they have already issued the citation"
"They? They who?"
I'm sorry, what? Did she just indicate that because I did not pay a $4 day use fee at a hiking trail, that I will get a citation and possibly arrested?
I mean, How would you even explain that to your kid? What do you tell them on visiting day in the slammer when they ask what you did to get there?? "Sorry baby, mommy didn't pay to hike on the trail that wouldn't end."
I have no response to this woman. I pay the fine, pick my jaw up off the floor. And head home.
The good news is, I can use the park as I please for the next 365 days WITHOUT having to worry about getting arrested and my record is still clean as a whistle. I can now sleep peacefully at night.