If you follow me on Facebook or the Twitter, you probably know that I recently spent five days at the World Series of Birding in Cape May, New Jersey with my nine year old daughter and her birding team. (This competition is no joke, people- just ask Jon Stewart). 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.”
Special thanks to Kellen McCluskey Photography; she returned with me to the scene of the crime to get these actual photos. It should be noted that the government is no grammarian- the word ‘trespassing’ is misspelled on the firing range sign. Oy.
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.