Ticket to drive

By Kathy Jacobs

Image by flickr user Andy Arthur

It was the Fourth of July. Hubby and I had driven to Iowa to go camping with his family. We were camped near Saylorville Dam. It had been a great weekend so far, the kind you only see during a Midwest summer.

There had been clouds in the morning, but they had burned off by the middle of the afternoon. Hubby, his brothers, his parents, and I were sitting outside the camper, playing cards. Birdsong filled the air. The trees fluttered their leaves in the breeze. Every once in a while, a wind gust would come through and threaten to take the cards away with them.

The topic of conversation: The fireworks.

“I vote we drive on into Des Moines right after dinner and see the show downtown.” said one of the brothers.

“Too far,” answered another. I really think he said it just to be ornery. “I think we should go see the show over by the dam.”

“I don’t want to go anywhere,” replied their father unsurprisingly. He hadn’t had a great day. His body didn’t like the heat, so he had spent most of the day in the camper with the air conditioner running. “If you all want to go, that’s fine.”

Their mom, the one who usually made the plans, looked at me and smiled. She and I both knew who would end up going and who wouldn’t.

“I vote Saylorville,” she said. “But I don’t want to drive tonight.”

“Saylorville it is,” I replied. The boys weren’t very good at spoiling their mom, so I tried to encourage it whenever I could. “Maybe we can go for ice cream after.”

“I’ll drive, Mom,” my husband said. “Anyone else want to go with us?”

We ended up splitting into three groups. Dad and one brother were going to stay at the campsite. Mom, hubby, and I were going to Saylorville in our car. The other two brothers were going to leave right after dinner and head to the Des Moines fireworks.

Dinner finished and the brothers left for Des Moines. As it got dark, the three of us piled in our car to head across the dam. Hubby and his mom had the front seat, I was in the back. We headed out of the campground and over to the dam.

Now, the road to the dam wound around a bit. Just before you got to the dam itself, there was a bit of a downhill slope. From there, you crossed the dam and then went back up the slope on the other side. From the time you started down until the time you headed back up, the road was just barely two lanes wide. The regular road was patrolled by the local police. The down — across — back up part was patrolled by the Park Rangers.

It so happened, that hubby dearest was going a little over the speed limit as we came down the hill. Next thing we know, the ranger’s truck is behind us. He’s flashing his lights at us. Hubby pulls as far off the road as he can. The ranger walks up to the driver side window. Hubby rolls the window down.

“Do you know how fast you were going, sir?” the ranger asks.

“About 30,” says hubby. “That’s the posted limit.”

“Down here by the dam it isn’t,” says the ranger sternly. “It’s 15 down here. You need to get out of the car and come with me. Bring your license and registration.”

Hubby and Mom dig through the glove box and find the registration. Hubby gets out of the car and goes with the ranger. Mom and I sit with the windows down. We hear the crickets chirping, the frogs croaking, and the sound of the water over the dam, but we can’t hear what the ranger is saying. We can see the two men don’t look happy. In fact, hubby looks totally embarrassed. Atone point, we see them turn around. The ranger points to something behind them.

A few minutes later, hubby comes back to the car his license, registration, and another piece of paper in his hand. Mom asks if he got a ticket. He shakes his head but doesn’t say anything. He has a very strange look on his face. It looks like he is trying not to laugh. We head slowly across the dam and up the other side. Once we are out of sight of the ranger, Hubby pulls to the side of the road and bursts out laughing.

Handing the extra piece of paper to his mom, he says, “I got a warning. He gave me a lecture about driving too fast with my mother in the car. He told me I should be careful on these back roads with such precious cargo.”

Mom and I join in the laughter. She’s driven the “back roads” all her adult life.

“Did he even have jurisdiction?” Mom asked.

“I think that is the real reason he gave me a ‘warning’. I don’t think it would hold up. The sign isn’t really visible from the road. He pointed it out to me while we were standing there. The sign was right where the ranger truck was when he pulled out to follow me.”

Did we get to see the fireworks that night? Yup. Even got to ice cream afterwards. It’s still a family joke. You see, that citation is the only one hubby has ever gotten. And his mom doesn’t let him forget it.

Based on a true story. One hubby will never be allowed to forget.

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