January 26, Red River Texas, A difficult encounter with the Arkansas State Police

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Today we left Little Rock and began heading South West towards Big Bend National Park. Our first stop was to visit Hot Springs National Park. It is a different type of National Park as it is set around a bunch of 19th century bath houses. Hot Springs Arkansas has over 40 natural hot springs. In the 19th century the Hot Springs were developed as a place to take the waters, much like the famous Spas in Europe. Over time the springs were recognized as a national asset and the government became involved. This has led to claims that it is the first National Park, however it was not designated as a national park until much later and is in fact the 17th National Park.

After the visit to the Hot Springs we decided to head towards Texarkana Texas. We decided to take the back roads as we really want to see the US from the smaller roads, we want to experience the small towns of our states and try to get to see the country on a more intimate scale. Today we came up behind an Arkansas State Trooper near Camden Arkansas. He was following another vehicle who was running below the speed limit. He pulled over to the shoulder and allowed us to pass. He then pulled up behind us with his lights on and stopped us. I was not completely surprised, the Tiger is a unique vehicle, and our South Carolina Temporary plates are worst for the wear as a result of the two monsoons we went thru earlier. Initially I produced my liscense and proof of insurance as well as the temporary registration South Carolina provides. He asked me to step back to his car with him so I could answer any questions he might have. Back there initially the questioning was standard, where were we going, where did we come from he wanted a great deal of detail on our itinerary. Then the weird questions started, did we have any drugs, guns or large sum of money. At first I thought he was kind of joking around, but when I realized he was serious my tone changed. At that point he said that his training indicated my answers indicated I was being untruthful. This he said was a Red Flag, he also said that a RV like ours traveling on the backroads was a Red Flag. At that point he said to wait there and he went and questioned Ton. Later I learned he put her through the same questions. He then returned to me and said that Tons itinerary did not agree with mine and he believed we were concealing something in the Tiger. At this point I could see where this was going so I offered to have him search the vehicle. At this point he frisked me and moved me to the front of the Tiger and moved Ton to the rear near the patrol car and told her to stand in front of the camera in front of his patrol unit. At this point he searched the vehicle concentrating on the front of the truck and the engine compartment. After spending about 45 minutes going through the vehicle and looking over the outside, he came to the cabin door which was locked. I told him the key was on the key ring in the ignition. At that point he came to me and said that he was going to let us go, even though he had not finished searching the truck. At this point while unsettling I was only mildly annoyed and chalked up the encounter to a young State Trooper on a slow Sunday afternoon in rural Arkansas. But then the guy really frosted me when he ended the encounter by saying that though he did not find anything he was still convinced that we were carrying contraband and were being untruthful with him. I offered to let him continue to search the vehicle until he was content, but he declined.

When we were thinking about buying the Tiger we read many blogs about encounters with the police some unpleasant and most routine. So despite driving a brand new RV, and despite the record check on both of us coming up clean we were subjected to a full search of our vehicle, and left with the final comment from the only representative of Arkansas we ever came across that he expected we were running drugs despite his inability to find any after a thorough search of our RV. I never expected to have it happen here in the US. The funny thing is just a few minutes before the stop we were talking about how Arkansas had been a pleaseant surprise and that we may need to return to explore the Ozarks in detail. Now we will never return.

The moral of the story is if you are driving a RV in Arkansas, do not leave the interstate as it is a Red Flag to the State Police, insure that you and your spouse can recite your previous 20 days destinations in detail both as to location and chronology or it will be a Red Flag to State Police, and make sure that when encountering the Arkansas State Police that you answer all questions promptly and with the same tone of voice or that may be a Red Flag.

Let me end today with a picture of the beautiful sunset we enjoyed in Texas.

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ducksksr@gmail.com travelin tiger 2013