Saturday, January 12, 2013

Running the ‘security’ gauntlet in Arizona

I wonder if the PM or the President lie awake at night mulling over pipelines, gun control, Afghanistan, or worrying about driving off the fiscal cliff?  Well I can relate.  Last night I laid awake trying to come up with content for the next blog post.  I must have tossed and turned for at least 30 seconds, or even more.

Well, yesterday I was faced with a high-tech security system like never before.  In the past, I have been in top secret military installations, in various RCMP crime labs, adopted a cat, gotten enhanced security clearances at work, and even had my first full body scan at the airport this summer.  I was even in prison once.  I’m not sure if it counts that it was a women’s prison, and I was only visiting a girlfriend at the time who worked there as a guard, but still, yesterday’s security was even tighter.

Here’s how it went down.  I pulled up in front of the non-descript warehouse – like any other.  I don’t think I was being followed, but you can never be too sure.  From a couple of secret locations around the fifth wheel, I produced small bags that contained ‘the goods’.  After a quick look around, I entered the somewhat darkened depths of this warehouse.  I was met by a somewhat shifty individual who smiled knowingly at me and took my bags and put them on a scale.  Then came the security test.  I was asked to produce my driver’s licence, which I showed him.  But that was not good enough; he needed to examine it closely to be sure it was not a fake.  Then he put it in a special scanner, no doubt designed to extract all the hidden digital secrets it contained.  But alas, nothing appeared on the large monitors.  I thought I was a goner and the deal might fall through.  I had been carrying ‘the goods’ for quite a while and wanted to get rid of them before being faced with another border patrol check or the feared California ‘fruit customs’!  Reluctantly, glaring at me, he manually typed in some of the information from the licence and handed it back to me.  Next, I was taken to a nearby table where a strange device sat, emitting a bright blue glow from within.  I was instructed to place my right index finger on the device for the count of five.  I did so, even though the pain was non-existent!  Next, the operator pressed some buttons on the computer and a small printer started to whir and shortly 3 or four official looking documents were spewed out onto the desk.  He picked them up and examined them, then suddenly turned to me and demanded that I sign one of them.  It was dimly lit in there, and I didn’t know how many accomplices he might have, so I resisted the urge to run for the doorway.  Even though I could read nothing on the document, because it was dark, and I did not want to have my reading glasses in my hand if I had to go for a weapon, I did as I was told, and signed my name, ready to whip out my nail clippers or that stun-gun app for my cell phone that I forgot to download, if things started to go bad.  After examining my signature, the operative motioned ominously for me to move over to a large smoked glass window where there was a small slot, and a two way intercom.  I inserted the document I had signed into the slot where someone within took it and examined it closely.  Then he (or she, I couldn’t tell because it was even darker back there) opened a safe or money drawer and carefully counted out some cash, before sliding it to me through the security slot.  Perhaps I was going to get away with this after all?  I took the cash, not daring to count it, and hurried for the warehouse door, finally making it out into the warm, bright sunshine again.  I almost broke into a run back to my truck.  The nightmare was apparently over.  I had my $2.80 in US cash from the Arizona Recycling Center!  Now I can start a new collection of beer cans.  What were you thinking I was doing anyway??

I guess there is a problem with some folks stealing wiring and metal, then selling it for cash, so this is the AZ way of combatting the problem.  But a fingerprint scanner – wow, cool!  I may have to get me one of those for my computer – to keep Hailey from logging on when I am not watching.

Back home, the bottle depot is more concerned that I am trying to sneak non-Alberta cans or milk jugs into their recycling stream.  And they don’t even check my ID!

It is sort of unnerving however to think that there are likely places down here where I could buy an assault rifle with less security checks than the bottle depot?  Maybe not.  And lets not get political anyway.  We avoided the ‘cliff’ and the price of fuel is down, what more could we ask for?  Well, Ok, some warmer weather would be welcome about now.

Had ourselves a cold front moving through here a couple days ago – not sure if Canada was getting the blame for this one or not Winking smile  Plenty of cold up there, I hear, and we do like to share.  Anyway, when the dust storm came through we were camped out in the desert as per usual, in our third spot this year off Ogilby and American Girl Mine road.  Once again, I hooked up the truck to keep from getting sea-sick in the rig, and tied down everything that was loose.


There are tons of old (and some new) mine shafts and drifts in these parts.  Almost every mountain or hill has some evidence of excavation.


Some of the ones close to the road are fenced and/or signed, but most are not.


We took a drive one day up north to the junction of Hwy 78 to see the sights. Many of the mines around these parts are gold mines, and judging by the security around this one, I would guess that to be the case. I never did see a sign anywhere, but the nearby road was called the ‘Vista Mine’ road …


Google Earth image of the mine site.image

There are a lot of pipelines down here as well.  Not really sure what damage a bird is going to do by sitting on these signs, but they are apparently – very unwelcome!


You can look across the line into Mexico from here, so I was a little surprised to see what pipeline company it was!


While ‘bird watching’, I keep having regular sightings of this grey wildcat.


I need a sign for my hummingbird feeder.  It should say, “SHARE – there’s enough for everyone!”  They sure are nasty little bullies, and want to keep it all for themselves.  They will sit back on a nearby perch, just waiting for one of their unsuspecting friends to stop by for a drink, then they attack!


  1. Good grief - a fingerprint for turning in beer cans??? Surely they can see that's not stolen metal. Funny story anyway. Here in Oregon we have to load our own into those devilish machines - normally placed outside with no weather protection. But no fingerprints required haha!!

  2. Glad to hear you're not a criminal. And yes, we too have noticed that those little hummingbirds can get vicious with each other. Except right before migration time - then for some unknown reason they share at the feeder. We've seen it happen in this cycle every year.

  3. See, some folks would be reluctant to give up their prints, and would then just pitch the Recycling in the garbage. ('trash' for you Yanks)
    Seems like a not so very encouraging method of getting people to recycle.
    Once upon a time a knob at The Beer Store didn't want to take my empties (Labatt's Blue, but don't judge me) that had come from the US. I pointed out that I could take them home and wash off the labels if it made him happy.
    He was able to grasp the absurdity of his 'concern'. Beer bottles are beer bottles.

  4. If Arizona had the same recycling laws & programs we have in Ontario I think it would go a long way in keeping the landscape a lot cleaner down here. Always discouraging to find so much litter & trash on the desert floor in many places. Old habits die hard buy many people need to be re-educated to at least pick up after themselves. There, that's my little rant for today. Well, ya got me beat,I've never been inside a prison, girlfriend or not.......

  5. Ha, ha , ha, had me on the edge of my seat wondering what the hell has Ivan got himself into now, until you got to the part about the rcycling center. Bring you stuff to MO we are a friendly country state , they don't even ask for a drivers license, and the price is right. my empty cans are like gols these days. Be safe out there. Sam & Donna..

  6. Those mine shafts would be a great place to drop HACKERS into! The rat's need something to eat.