As we left we decided to drive up the street to see if there were any blue herons nesting in the tower we discovered last year at one of the nature reserves. I got a new camera for Christmas and we wanted to try it out. We have been here a number of times. They have a couple roads with signs that say, "Open from 8:00 to 5:00" and the gates are always closed. This time they were open and we decided to go in and drive the designated roads. We saw many blue heron and swans and other wild fowl. We had just made the loop and drove back to the access road we came in on and noticed the gates were locked. It didn't take us long to realize we were locked inside a state-operated facility and that it was 4:00 in the afternoon and if we were going to get out we had to work fast.
I called a friend of mine who was familiar with the area but he couldn't find a phone number for the Department of Wildlife Resources. I also wanted to connect with someone who knew where we were and could help if things got bad. We then had Aly get online and google the phone numbers of the bird reserve where we were trapped, the landfill directly across the street and the Division of Wildlife Resources. I called the Wildlife Resource number first and got a voice-automated menu with a number of listings that I couldn't hear because Lois was in a full panic. I was laughing at how funny it was while she was yelling, "This is not funny!" Turns out she needed a restroom.
"Oh come on," I said, "You've got to admit this is pretty funny."
"No," she said, "This is not funny at all."
I finally handed her the phone because I couldn't hear anything the operator was saying. Eventually she reached someone and we waited for what seemed like an hour while he tried to get us some help. At 4:30 he got back on the line and told me a game warden was coming and it would take about a half hour. He wasn't lying either; about 4:55 a guy showed up and pulled out his ring of keys and fumbled around. Lois got out of the Forerunner and said she was going to go talk to the guy. I said, "He's probably going to give you some grief."
"Oh no, he's not." she said. And sure enough he did. He wanted to know what we were doing behind the locked gate and how we got in there. "Well, I just picked up the truck and lifted it over the fence," she said in her head. Out loud, she said, "The gate was opened -- and said it would stay that way until 5 p.m."
Mr. Game Warden was less than pleased and told her, "This gate is suppose to be locked at all times and I need to be somewhere at a quarter 'til 5."
"Then you're already late and you might want to get someone to change your signs," Lois told him. "But you're not going to leave us in here." I'm not sure if he noticed she was casually stroking the place on her jacket embroidered with the name of her newspaper employer.
Mr. Game Warden fumbled around in his truck, after taking a minute to read the sign -- which said, basically, we're open 'til 5, so come on in. Seeing nothing that would let him challenge her further, he pulled out a bolt cutter and clipped the locks.
Ah, sweet freedom. Did I mention that the landfill across the street smelled like a -- well, like a landfill.