All of the major highways into California have an agricultural inspection station. “Border Protection Stations” is what the state officially calls them. (Cue the theme to Dragnet.) Traffic is funneled past uniformed officers who inquire as to whether you have any produce obtained out of state. The point of these stations is to intercept and prevent insects and other pests (the state’s melodramatic term: “invasive species”) that might damage California crops from entering the state.
When I was a kid and we were returning from our periodic out-of-state camping trips, we passed through these stations. I didn’t know about agricultural pests then, and had no idea what the point of these stops was. I only knew that very official-looking uniformed officers were asking my father questions about the contents of our vehicle, and he was expected to answer. It was easy to imagine we were smugglers moving through customs with our illicit cargo cleverly hidden, never to be detected. The long road trips were a little more fun with these flights of fancy.
Nowadays, these stops are more of a minor annoyance, breaking my 70+ mph pace down the interstate. Still, as I inch the truck forward in the line of traffic toward that uniformed officer, I glance down at the Nevada-purchased banana on the seat beside me. As I eye my bright yellow contraband, a little of that childhood fantasy creeps up on me, and I do what any good smuggler on the verge of detection would do—I eat the evidence.
76 seconds @ f/8; ISO 200; 21 mm; LOTS of xenon flashlight on structure and foreground