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Speed Trap -- Salt Lake City, Utah

Posted 05-05-2021 at 09:44 AM by Igor Blevin


I have seen almost no police presence on my blast across Interstate 80 from Sacramento to Salt Lake City, en route to my new home in Knoxville, Tennessee. All across Nevada, I did not see a single Highway Patrol car. None in Utah. Not until I hit a speed trap on the far end of Salt Lake City.

An old fart with nothing to prove, I poked my way across Salt Lake City in the right lane following locals. The flow of traffic is 10-mph over the posted speed, with Believer taking up ranks in the right lane parade. A lot of people were going a lot faster. Believer is the name of my car, a 2015 Midnight Blue Dodge Challenger RT.

On the far side of Salt Lake City, just beyond the junction of 80 and 275, there is a 7-mile-long downgrade featuring a series of 45-mph curves.

My parade has shrunk to 3 cars – a black SUV leading, followed by a small silver economy car, then me in Believer.

The lead SUV held us to 50-mph through the 45-mph curves. Driving downgrade would occasionally cause him to gain speed to around 55-mph, but he would always bring us back to around 50. Being unfamiliar with the road, the pace was a little fast for me in the slow handling Dodge, but I easily kept up.

When the road straightened out, the lead SUV gently sped up, then suddenly braked hard and slowed down. As I prepared to slow in response, the small silver car directly ahead of me violently slammed on his brakes, viciously scrubbing off speed to 35-mph. I jammed my brakes on, running up on his bumper but able to keep from getting too close. It was not a close call, but it must have looked bad.

Parked in the median, facing us, was a white Dodge Charger marked, “Utah Highway Patrol”. Hence the gross overreaction by the driver of the small silver car.

After passing the parked LEO, the dark SUV sped back up to the mph 45-speed limit. The timid driver of the silver car just refused to drive faster than 35-mph in the posted 45 zone, so I just pulled around him and sped up.

My father taught me to frequently check my rear-view mirror for cops. I also check because I pull over for faster traffic. It is only polite. If you want to drive 75 in a 65-zone, who am I to police you? Speed safely. If you want to drive 90-mph in a 55-zone in that new BMW M5 Competition Daddy bought you for graduation, I would prefer you crashed into somebody else.

I glanced in my rear-view mirror.

The white UHP Charger had blasted a U-turn and was rapidly closing on me. They pulled up immediately behind and left of me, sitting on my left quarter panel, just out of my view. They hold all the cards.

They sat there, shadowing me for a good solid 2 miles. That is a good solid 2 minutes of nerve-racking tension, wondering what they are up to, or what they are going to find or create. “I am not speeding and my registration is current, but do I have a taillight out? Is something obscuring my license plate? Window tint too dark for Utah?” You get paranoid.

A cop that wants you will use the flimsiest excuse to pull you over. I once got pulled over by a cop who said, “we got a tip you have opened beer in the car.” LOL. I didn’t have any beer, I hadn’t stopped, and I didn’t know a soul in town. Who would have tipped you off? Nobody. Got a “tip”. Right.

They can make up anything.

I like cops. They have done far more for me than they have ever done to me. Without their protection, society would go to hell in a handbasket, as New York, Seattle, and Portland are sadly finding out. The truth is, I never got anything from a cop I didn’t have coming and cause myself, but face it, they hold all the cards.

I wasn’t speeding so I knew I was good, but nobody likes a cop sitting on their tail. It is unnerving, like going to the dentist.

Cops love suspicious behavior, and not doing the speed limit is suspicious behavior. When the speed limit rose to 60-mph, I smoothly accelerated and set my cruise control to 58-mph. It just feels wrong to drive faster than a cop. Like you are just asking for a ticket. But it’s much better to speed up to 60 than keep doing 45 and look like I am hiding something.

Which I am.

I am hauling 300 pounds of ammunition along with $2,000 cash. Tell me that doesn’t just scream “drug dealer”.

Movers today don’t move ammo. It is considered to be “explosives”. Back in the 1950s, when life was normal and sane, movers just moved your guns and ammo. They were just another household item. Today it is a political hot potato, and they won’t touch them. So, you are on your own and it is a huge hassle. Everything about guns and ammo is a huge hassle today.

I would have preferred to give all my ammo away to friends, then stock up again in Knoxville. But noooo. We are in yet another massive ammo shortage. You can’t buy ammo anywhere right now. It is just not in stock. If I don’t bring it, I won’t have it. Another plan ruined. I have to bring all my ammo with me, instead of giving it away and replacing it later.

Is it just me, or is life actually getting more stupid by the day?

In the end, I decided to pack all the ammo in my trunk and cover it with black bath towels, to avoid prying eyes. I packed everything in boxes as close to the rear axle as I could get for good weight distribution, then discreetly covered everything with towels similar in color to the rest of my cloth trunk liner. Behind my suitcases and other travel gear, nobody will ever see it or notice what I am carrying.

The $2,000 cash is because my current Sacramento bank has no branches in Knoxville. My closest bank branch will either be in Nashville or North Carolina. I need spending cash until I open my new local bank account. What if my credit card doesn’t work for some reason? I am just trying to cover all contingencies against unplanned disaster.

Like my Scout Master said, “Be Prepared”.

So, I am hauling 300 lbs of ammunition and $2,000 dollars cash in a dark colored muscle car with California plates, being tailed by the Utah Highway Patrol through a speed trap.

Please don’t pull me over. Please.

My ammo is legal and my money is legal, but it would have really made some Smoky’s day to pull over a car and find 300 pounds of ammunition and $2,000 cash. For the brief time while I was being detained as a potential California drug dealer, Smoky would have been in blue heaven. Oh, I would have been let off post haste, but I have never been in handcuffs and I don’t plan to start now. I don’t think my old shoulders can take it.

At some point they got bored tailing me and pulled right up next to me. The Officer in the passenger seat looked over directly at me. I was tempted to smile and wave, but I just looked ahead and ignored them. It is not wise to poke the bear.

Then out of the blue, they careened to a stop in the median.

Problem solved, but not over. Like a horror movie, this has a double ending.

I know how sharks hunt. They test their prey for weakness, then act disinterested before they return to attack.

I stayed on cruise control at 58-mph, knowing the Utah Highway Patrolmen were likely to give me enough rope to hang myself by giving me a little lead, and then come up behind me again when I was speeding. Only, I am not interested in speeding. I am just cruising to Knoxville, guys.

Just a few miles down the road, the speed limit turned to 80-mph. I began to understand the reason for the speed trap. Locals fight those downhill 45-mph curves for 7 miles, their cars automatically picking up speed as they descend, all the while knowing that a few miles up the road the speed limit is 80-mph.

The Utah Highway Patrol is there to catch the ones who jump the gun.

I could no longer see the UHP Charger behind me, so it was either waiting or coming up slowly. I soon came upon a scenic vista parking lot, pulled in and parked. Now If the UHP returned, I would not be operating my vehicle, hence no ticked or reason to search. Even better if they passed me and went on ahead so I knew they would not be following me the next 20 miles.

30 seconds later, the UHP Charger pulled into the vista parking lot, full gumball machine of lights blazing.

Heart attack city. What did I do wrong? Or what do I have showing that will give them the excuse.

My heart leapt into my throat. There is 300 lbs of ammo and $2,000 in the trunk and I’m a sitting duck with the UHP parked nearby.

A moment goes by, and no Officer. I am still confused at why they have followed me into this parking lot. I don’t know what I did. I tried to sit there and play it cool, but after a while I just had to look.

3 stalls over, the white Charger is sitting behind a small beige car and Trooper Hooper is at the driver’s window talking to the driver. He has found other quarry.

I gently fired up the Hemi engine, dropped the transmission into reverse, and verrry slowly backed out of the parking stall. I then pulled forward and accelerated gently onto eastbound Interstate 80. I was never so glad as to leave that white Dodge Charger behind me.

Does somebody have a Valium, please? Remind me never to speed in Salt Lake City, Utah.
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