Life Lesson: U.S. Coast Guard Firing Range Signs Are REAL

I spent five days at the World Series of Birding in Cape May, New Jersey with my nine year old daughter and her birding team. Congrats to the kids for winning the youth division, too. World champs!

While the kids are birding, we moms are able to shop, eat, sleep, work, blog and go to the beach. (And drink pineapple martinis). Attention, parents: if you are looking for an activity for your kid? Fuck soccer. It’s definitely birding FTW.

One day, while the kids were out scouting for birds, I went to the beach. I brought my book and a towel and a plan to look for sea glass. I’ve been coming to Cape May for nearly 20 years, and I know that at the very north end of the beach, where the U.S. Coast Guard Property begins, there’s always the best sea glass.

This is mainly true because you have to pass no less than TEN “No Trespassing” (including one “LIVE FIRING RANGE”) signs to get there. In the summer, I usually stick close to the ocean, because I know I will be able to pretend I haven’t seen the signs which are further up the beach towards the dunes. In all those years, I have never once been approached by the Coast Guard.

I start collecting some ‘painting shells’ (really huge, white clamshells) because I know the kids will have fun after dinner painting them. I’m just walking along, minding my own trespassing business, when I hear it.

The military Jeep.

Son of Poseidon! Really?!

I try to look innocent, mentally preparing my ‘I didn’t see the signs’ speech, and the conversation goes something like this:

2 Fully Uniformed U.S. Coast Guard.. Guards (who appear young enough to be my children): “Ma’am, are you aware that you are trespassing on government property?”

Maryma’am: (grins sheepishly, appears surprised) “No, officers, I was just looking for sea glass.”

Coast Guards: “Ma’am did you see the no trespassing signs you walked past?”

Maryma’am: “When I walked this way, I was closer to the ocean so I didn’t see the signs.”

Coast Guards: “Ma’am, this is a live firing range. See that copse of trees on the dunes? (pointing) And see those targets out in the ocean? You’re standing in the line of fire.”

Maryma’am: “Wait. WHAT????? You actually SHOOT AT THE OCEAN like 50 feet from where kids are BIRDING FOR THE WORLD SERIES OF BIRDING!?”

Coast Guards (glance at each other): “That’s why we have the signs. Also, you’re standing in a protected shore bird nesting area. We have to ask you to leave the property now. You can keep the shells, ma’am.”

Maryma’am: “Cool. At least they’re sea shells, and not bullet shells. In my ass. Please try not to shoot any innocent birding kids, boaters, fish or nesting birds!”

Coast Guards (glance at each other): “Yes, ma’am.”


I should also note that while I’m thankful I wasn’t arrested for trespassing on government firing ranges, in my opinion this particular firing range should be relocated to a safer location. Doesn’t the Coast Guard own islands or anything? Sheesh! Also, they need to stop hoarding all the good sea glass and painting shells. Also, trespassing is spelled wrong on your sign, asshats.





  1. Kate

    May 16, 2012 at 4:18 am

    OMG this had me laughing out loud but seriously you get all the exciting stuff going on over in the US. I want to go see I want to go see *stomps feet like a child* 😉 xx

  2. Marymac

    May 16, 2012 at 6:08 am

    Please come see! 😉

  3. Chelle

    May 16, 2012 at 7:40 am

    Good Lord Woman! I can see it now "the guv'ment shot me in me arse for tressssspassin'"
    Please don't get shot in the ass, babe, it's painful and you'll have to sit on one of those donut air cushion things and I will *never* let you live it down. EVER.
    Love you!! XoXo

  4. Kerry

    May 16, 2012 at 11:21 am

    haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! I'm glad I didn't have to come get you out of jail … but I totally would have 🙂

  5. marymac52169

    May 16, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    That WOULD be tough to live down. That is SO not the good kind of donut! Lol

  6. Damien

    June 3, 2012 at 5:17 am

    This is a very funny and relatable post…if one can commiserate with nearly being shot. I had a machine gun pointed at me once in Egypt. There were no pineapple martinis afterwards, just a gallon of crappy beer, which quite frankly did worse things to my body that an Ak-57 round would have. I didn't even get any shells out of the deal!

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