Monday, June 12, 2006

"Hey, It's Good To Be Back Home Again"

So sang John Denver and truer words were never spoken, or sung as the case may be. My family and I arrived home yesterday after a much needed vacation. No internet, no blogging (online, at least) and not really much in the way of news despite having access to television. I did manage to catch brief glimpses into the news (the death of Zarqawi and the defeat of an anti-Gay American Amendment) now and again but, the desire to seek it out was just not there. I must admit that there were moments when I wondered what some of my compatriots were writing about but I knew I would catch up on them in time, so I didn't fret about it.

That's not to say that my mind did not wander in the usual directions. There were plenty of things during our trip to and from our vacation site to raise my hackles and point up the fact that this country is going down the wrong road, with little hope that it can or will take a turn for the better.

Along the way we were asked to provide government approved ID almost any time we sought lodging, as well as providing the state government vehicle ID number. Sad to say, I am pretty sure that I managed to mangle that plate number every time it was asked for. It sucks to have dysnumeria, (which I actually do have to deal with) but it's a convenient excuse. And, as I found out an ATM card with your photo on it is accepted by virtually everyone (other than guys in jackboots) as legitimate photo ID. Something for my comrades in arms to bear in mind.

As usual, there were numerous signs along the Peoples Highways that let us know that the powers that be were not only watching us, they were spending lots of money to do so. This was never quite so clear as it was in Virginia, a place where I attended High School and worked as an adult. Here we have a state which was once the cradle of Liberty in our country and now it is no more than picture of the coming police state. Mind you, this is nothing new! Even when I was a teenager going about my teenaged business in Mt. Vernon it was abundantly clear that Virginia was headed this way. Fairfax County, Virginia was quite proud of the fact that their law enforcers were the number 2 department in the country, (behind that fine upstanding organisation out in Los Angeles) and their enforcers were always going about their business in a forceful manner. So, who couldn't see where this would inevitably lead?

Not only was my legally obtained Radar Detector illegal in Virginia, (Honest, officer it was unplugged. Would I lie to you?), but there roads were covered by federally funded signage imploring me and my family to buckle up, (something we do as a logical precaution anyway and not because someone in a uniform might force us to do). After all it was for our own good and our safety, right? Surely, it had nothing to do with raising revenue via a Federal program that put money in local law enforcements pockets, right? Right.

And the constant reminders about the need for security could not have been driven home any more than they were when we were winding our way through the highway system at Hampton Roads. Traffic cameras are one thing, but really you really need a pole mounted camera every 1/10th of a mile!?! And on ever ramp and junction? That's not a traffic system, folks. That's a surveillance system and is many multitudes beyond anything I ever saw in communist China or anywhere else. And, somehow the people of the Commonwealth of Virginia have allowed this to happen. So much for the cradle of Liberty. I find it odd that Virginia has gone this way, especially given their state motto, "Sic Semper Tyrannis"...oh, the irony.

I did get to see something interesting at a 7-Eleven in Chesapeake, Virginia. My guess is that some of these stores allow law enforcers to have free beverages while on duty. OK, as private entities that's their business and they can do as they wish. The cops I saw taking their Big Gulps didn't pay and, even when addressed by the staff didn't even bother to say thanks for the refill, they just took their stuff and left without a word. I asked my wife, after we left what she thought would have happened if I had approached the staff and pointed out that I had a gun, so why couldn't I have free stuff like the cops, too? We got quite a laugh out of that, since we knew the answer.

I must say that it was a relief to get into North Carolina. They should call the crossing at the border Check Point Charlie, because that's what it felt like.

It was a nice week in quiet Avon, North Carolina. We enjoyed the food, (for the most part...see my upcoming Roadfood blog for more on that), weather and beaches. My wife took up windsurfing and I reacquainted myself with the peaceful joys of fishing and playing on the beach with the kids. Even that was ever so slightly tainted by the tentacled grasp of politicians...starting next year North Carolina will force people to beg and pay for permission to fish in the ocean. All in the name of adding revenue to government coffers, as usual.

Despite all this, I'll likely return next year and have an equally wonderful time being with the people I love the most and taking a peaceful respite from everything else. Even blogging. Unless the place we rent next year has broadband......oh, dear.....

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Jeremy said...

Yeah, Virginia is getting pretty bad, and it sounds like you hit the two nexes of federal power: Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads.

One thing about the traffic cameras: supposedly those are only used to run the traffic lights (an alternative to sensors in the road) sense Virginia law forbids red light cameras. However, there is a bill before the GA to repeal this prohibition.

Michael said...

They may supposedly be for traffic light control but why do they need them on the Interstate where there are no lights? It's a messed up situation when you have cameras every 1/10th of a mile along the Interstate running around there...I'm glad I don't live there anymore and will certainly tale some pains to go around Virginia in the future.