Avoid That Speeding Ticket in Baggs, Wyoming
Welcome to Baggs: pay at the bridge
Cute little coffee place...with no coffee
We were nine days into a two-week road trip that had, so far, included a few days on Route 66 from Illinois to New Mexico, a blowout and a mangled muffler in Oklahoma (another story for another day) and four glorious days in Colorado. We were living the lyrics to America the Beautiful in our 25-foot RV. Leaving our friends in Colorado, our instructions included heading east at Baggs, Wyoming to get to the next desired fly-fishing spot on The Captain's list. What good fortune to roll into the town on which our radar was set and see a sweet little house with a sign promising espresso. The Captain dropped me off at the post office, which was closed anyway, and I walked up to meet him at the coffee joint, which was also some sort of crafty/retail/resale shop. Or maybe that odd assortment was just the décor. Anyway, we were told by the woman in charge of whatever that business was that there was no coffee and she seemed a little surprised that we'd asked. I wonder if that was really just her house? Anyway, it seemed unwise to mention the sign and we got back in the truck to head east, as directed.
In retrospect, they knew we were in town from the time we rolled in. The only other moving car we ever saw was the patrol car that was facing us from the parking lot of the post office as we came back over the little bridge. When we pulled over, it was to check the map. Until the moment he walked up to the driver's side, we didn't even know he was there. The Town of Baggs police officer explained to us in the friendliest possible manner that The Captain had been clocked at 44 MPH in a 30 MPH zone coming over the bridge. This is a good place to mention that, of the two of us, my man is the more cautious (read usually drives a little below the speed limit) driver. The odds of him being the one to get a speeding ticket anywhere were so ridiculously low that I was actually enjoying this for a minute. Then I thought about where we were and how we looked and how there was nobody else around to witness whatever might happen to two aging, o.k. aged, hippies in this little Twilight Zone of a town. We took the $130ish ticket, minus a 10% discount for wearing seat belts, thanked the officer and went on our way.
Back at home we looked up the monthly police activity report for Baggs. Each month went something like this: Citations: 5; Animal calls 3; Arrests 1; Citizen Assist 4; VIN inspections 8; Traffic Stops 27. Now if the monthly full-time payroll for the Town of Baggs is $7,293, as stated on their website, that's about $3,600 per officer. If 27 tickets are issued at $130 each, that's $3,510. Whaddya' know?! Could be a coincidence but my hunch is that Baggs isn't the only town who figures passing travelers into their budget. As much as we love a road trip, we will likely have the opportunity to research this theory further. Better yet, we'll just go with I'm right and keep our money. If we must shell out the fine, at least let us contribute to the budget of a town that serves coffee with its tickets.