Nearly arrested for trespassing on military base

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Randy Savicky
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Nearly arrested for trespassing on military base

Ok, maybe the title of my blog post is a bit exaggerated. Anthony Graffeo, a TMC co-worker and I were in a business trip (hence no blogging for past couplr of days) when we got off of Research Turnpike in Huntsville, Alabama and used our "trusty" AVIS paper map to determine we had to make a right turn. Unfortunately, the AVIS map didn't take into account the off ramp which circles you in such as way that it changes the orientation. In any event, we drove for about a mile when when all of a sudden we were going through what appeared to be a toll booth. When we got closer, a uniformed policeman asked Anthony (the driver) "Pass please?". I thought he could tell that we were driving a rental car, so I handed him our AVIS rental car paperwork. He said "No, you need a military base pass. Please pull over to the shoulder."

A second officer then asked Anthony for his license which he promptly wrote down on a sheet of paper on a clipboard. Anthony asked, "What did we do?" and the officer explained "You're in a restricted area."

Great...

"You've entered the Huntsville NASA Marshal Space Flight Center and Redstone Arsenal".

"This sounds pretty serious" I thought to myself, "Gitmo here I come!".

There were no warning signs, no turn abouts to avoid entering the base - nothing. I showed the officer our "trusty" AVIS map with a highlighted yellow line showing how we were trying to get to Days Inn. He then processed to give us directions, which was a positive sign, but I still wondered if Anthony was going to get a ticket. He told us they were going to keep Anthony's license and return it on the opposite side of the road to ensure he doesn't go on the base. The turn around was 1/4 mile towards the base, but there was nothing stopping us from continuing towards the base.

Me pondering, "So if I was Al-Qaida with a fake ID I could simple give my fake ID over and get access to the base?"

Of course, the guy holding the licenses knows it shouldn't take longer than 3-5 minutes for cars to pick up their license after turning around 1/4 of a mile up the road, so I suppose they could sound the alert if a long period of time elapses. For all I know, there's a second checkpoint as well.

Moral of the story?
Rent a car with Hertz NeverLost. Unfortunately, the Alabama Hertz car rental in the airport didn't have any cars with NeverLost. We asked...

Why is it that no other car rental company offers a GPS system? Hertz offered this system like what - 10 years ago? How is it that none of their competitors have copied them yet? Many people would be willing to pay an extra $10/day.to have a stress-free driving experience.

I think it may be time to buy a TomTom Go portable GPS device to take on trips or just take my iPaq which runs Destinator1 GPS software on it. (though the GPS Y-connector has been a bit flaky causing the iPaq to not charge when pluggied into my cigarette lighter. :( <sigh> Sounds like it might be time to spend $500-$700 for a new portable GPS device.



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