It seems like I’ve been driving forever, I thought when I woke up in Dodge City. I got lost driving over to my Aunt Alice’s house, but finally, with Cousin Pat’s help, found it. We had a great visit and I got lots of phone numbers and addresses — maybe I’ll get around to Christmas cards this year. My Aunt Alice also showed me her rosary collection — 400 rosaries of all kinds, some from the Holy Land!
I headed out, stopping to find out this tidbit: the famous and infamous graves are actually not in the Boot Hill graveyard in town, but outside of town. As you leave, heading West on highway 400, it’s the cemetery on the right hand side of the road.
I tell you what, taking the roads not taken can be pretty dusty and lonely! I got lost in Garden City and somewhere along the way, out in the middle of you-know-what-nowhere, I saw a sign for the plant entrance. “The Plant” was HUGE, must’ve been more than a couple miles square. I thought: what kind of plant could be out here?! Then I saw the big, familiar sign, I’ve seen so often at the grocery store: TYSON.
That’s when I made the pledge — to only get my chicken organic. (Gulp!) Or maybe I’ll just become a vegetarian. Ewww!
Farther along, just after I crossed over into Colorado, that’s eastern Colorado, which is just like western Kansas, I started noticing all these box turtles. Now, most of them were roadkill, but I knew from my childhood when I got a box turtle pet of my own that some of the little critters live to get to the other side. I thought: wow, my grandson Max would really love it if I brought him a turtle!, so I started keeping an eye out for one. When I thought I spotted it, I slowed down, pulled over and made a u-turn.
But, no luck, this turtle wasn’t going anywhere but to his heavenly reward. As I was crossing back to my car, I saw that a Colorado State Trooper had pulled in behind me, probably thinking I was having car trouble. Or so I thought…
Turns out the trooper dude — he was about five-foot tall and maybe 85 pounds soaking wet — stopped to see just what I was doing. And, apparently, I looked pretty suspicious!
He: Is there something I can help you with?
Me: (smiling) No, no, I’m fine, I was just looking for a turtle. My grandson would just think I was the queen bee if I brought him one!
He: (not smiling, very serious, peering up at me from behind trooper sunglasses and from under the trooper hat brim, uniform looking all starchy-like) Well, I would hope you would take a turtle to the other side of the road, if you happened to find one.
Me: (a little taken aback, not getting what he was getting at — yet) Well, I wasn’t able to get one, all the turtles do seem to be kind of smashed up so far.
He: But if you found one, I would hope you would take it to the other side of the road.
Me: (still obtuse) Yes, I guess I COULD do that, ha-ha. But my grandson…
He: Because, you see, it’s illegal…
Me: (lightbulb slowly coming on) Illegal??
He: It’s against the law to take wildlife across the state line.
Me: Oh. I, um, I didn’t know it was illegal. (I’m not smiling anymore, kind of getting a little scared)
He: Yep, it’s against the law.
Now there’s a bit of silence.
Me: Well, I guess I won’t stop for ANY turtles. Thanks for telling me! I sure didn’t know it was against the law.
He: Yep. It is.
Me: (now I can’t stop talking) Because when I was a little girl, we stopped and I got a box turtle and had him for a pet for quite a while, his name was Timothy…
Another bit of silence.
Me: So, thanks again for telling me, I sure won’t stop for any turtles anymore! Have a great day!
And with that I climbed into the car, heart pounding, feeling like I just barely escaped a fate worse than death. And now, I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY wanted to stop for a turtle. But I didn’t.
We stopped that night in Limon, Colorado. And, guess who waited on me? That’s right — Robert Downey, Jr.!
Well, he wasn’t really the actor, but he is a dead ringer for him, don’t you think?