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Y E L L O W S T O N E   -   D A Y   # 3

Saturday, August 7, 2004

Early in the morning, while sound a sleep, the local sheriff stopped by, announcing his great displeasure with four solid raps on my van side door. While putting on my t-shirt I announced I would be right there and a second round of raps ensued. Then a third round of raps sounded and a deep voice followed, exclaiming "Sheriff"!

I was busted. Apparently parking on the main drag in Gardiner, MT wasn't a good idea. But the van doesn't look like an RV on casual glance so what tipped this fella off? I opened the door and spilled out of my van-cocoon onto the sidewalk, feeling rather groggy from being rousted so early in the morning.

Yup, it was the Sheriff. He looked at me kinda funny and said it was illegal to park and sleep in my vehicle. I pleaded ignorance, chanting the same mantra that I'm positive untold numbers of past offenders have claimed. He then told me my headlights were on. MY HEADLIGHTS WERE ON?!?! Yes, I left my headlights on.

My van doesn't ring a bell to tell me when I leave the lights on. When I parked the van the previous evening I exited the driving cabin to the back of the vehicle from the inside, I didn't step outside. The sun hadn't gone down yet so I didn't notice when I parked the van that the dashboard lights were lit.

So from 8:30pm until 2:00am my lights were on. Basically I was a big, white, headlit beacon that said, "Hey, check me out!". Had I not left them on I doubt I would have been caught.

The Sheriff took pity on me and told me I could stay and go back to bed. He didn't want me wandering around in the night. I thought that was rather nice of him. But before he left I started the van to make sure I didn't kill my batteries and it started up without pause. I let it run a while to charge things up then went back to sleep.

After a few more hours of sleep I woke and planned in detail my day's activities. I would drive to Mammoth Hot Springs to hike Mt Sepulcher, drive south to Bunsen Peak for another hike, drive to Yellowstone's Canyon Area to soak up the views, then head southward out of the park and down to Jackson, WY.

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