No Trespassing! A Run-In with the CHP

When you’re a fan of old signs and abandoned buildings, there are often a few risks involved . Most of them involve getting hurt by debris laying around. But there’s one risk that can land someone in legal hot water if not careful: A run-in with the police.

On our latest road trip, hubby and I had one of these run-ins. With no “No Trespassing” signs in our sight, we ventured onto the property of an old gas station sitting vacant along Interstate 15 in California.

The sign to the left is one both of us have been wanting to shoot for awhile. We pass it on every road trip into California but never stop, often because we blast past the exit and don’t realize we did until it’s too late and don’t want to turn around.

This time, we remembered long before the exit. Surprisingly, it was after spending the past three days on the road in the scorching desert heat.

Hubby and I intended to make it a quick stop. We looked around at a couple buildings and photographed the sign we wanted to shoot for a long time. The light hit perfectly and the presence of white puffy clouds made for a gorgeous scene.

We walked around for several minutes checking out the sights. The image below is one of the two buildings that stood on the property. I was fascinated by it and knew I had to get a few shots.

After a mere 5-10 minutes and only a handful of images, we started walking back to the car. Just over the fence and up a small hill that lead to the road we heard a car racing into the property, kicking up a lot of dust on the way in. Seconds later I looked over and saw it was California Highway Patrol.

The lone officer parked and said “Come over here now!” through a loudspeaker. My heart began racing. Although I kept my cool and did as I was told, I knew this could get ugly if not careful.

According to hubby the officer had his hand on his gun for a brief moment but quickly removed it when he saw we had cameras. In the officer’s defense, two large cameras could possibly appear to be weapons at first glance.

When we approached the officer he looked at us and said, “Taking pictures, huh?” We nodded and said yes. We were then told it was private property and there were signs indicating no trespassing. Neither of us had seen them.

I muttered out an apology while hubby calmly said, “Oh. I didn’t see them. I’m sorry!” The officer told us the owners were living on the property and they have a conniption fit when anyone trespasses. The shot below is one of the few things I was able to photograph.

We apologized a second time and were told to leave the property immediately. Not wanting any more trouble we did what we were told and got in the car. I noticed hubby had left the tailgate open and let him know so he could close it. Although we had avoided any serious trouble my hands were still shaking and heart was still racing.

When we drove off the property we spied a small “No Trespassing” sign on a post. I wasn’t surprised both of us had missed it on the way in.

Our brush with the law was not what I would call a highlight of the trip but it did leave us with an interesting memory. It also served as a reminder to be careful and pay attention to our surroundings.

I can sit here now and almost laugh at the events that happened. We got lucky this time. Next time? Let’s just say I don’t want that to happen again.


  1. Great story you rebel!

  2. Great story Kim. Loved reading it and I could see the events happening in my mind :). 2 reasons: 1, I did something like that when I was young. 2, I’m an ex-Air Force Cop and had to call people out a few times too. Happy you and Hubby didn’t get into any trouble and got to see what you had been wanting to see too.

  3. Is it wrong that I was reading this and thinking: ooh, how exciting! Do it again! Or, maybe this means I need to step away from the screen.

    • Haha. Nah, not at all. But don’t count on me doing it again any time soon. Getting busted or chased off by the police is not my idea of fun, not when it involves damn near giving me a heart attack (okay, so I exaggerate a bit).

  4. Gorgeous shots and a story to boot. I would have been shaking too. Stopping by from SITS!

  5. What do they expect when they have a teeny tiny sign? Great pictures, I think they were worth the risk :)

  6. I love the photos and what is a great life without at least one run in with the police !

    • LOL! Thanks, Haley! Gotta have a least one pee your pants (or close to it) moment with the police at least once!

  7. I can’t even imagine what those people have to deal with you know Kim! Maybe they have looters coming in all the time because it sits on the highway. It is their properly so I can see why they may often get upset.

    Luckily for you both you were just innocent camera wheeling victims this time so the police officer just gave you a warning to be on your way. Glad you got the shots you wanted though.

    I have no doubt that the signs need to be bigger for no trespassing but even then, if someone wants to they will anyway.


    • Thanks for stopping by Adrienne!

      I can’t imagine either but it is a location that is seemingly rather ignored by most. It’s not an area of California highway you want to stop at for very long unless you know for a fact there’s a clean restroom and a place to grab a quick snack or drink. This isn’t it! There’s a rest stop not too far from this place so I doubt many actually get off here unless they’re lost and don’t realize it’s closed.

  8. Hi Kim, wasn’t quite the memory you wanted, but thanks for sharing! Visiting from SITS!

    • Hi Whitney! Thanks for stopping by!

      No, wasn’t quite the memory we wanted but it was definitely one worth remembering just for a laugh! :-)

  9. Wait a second…the owners LIVE there? Where? How do they eat/shower/use the bathroom? I’m so curious about their interesting home choice.

    Great story and great pics!

    Stopping by from SITS.

    • Hi Annie! Thanks so much for stopping by! And thanks for the compliment!

      Yes, the owners live there. There’s a house or a trailer of some sort towards the far end of the property so I am assuming they live there. Odd choice for a place to live but hey, whatever works.

  10. I love the Eat sign on the building. Great shot!

    I’m stopping by from SITS. :)

  11. I also live on the west coast and am surprised by the number of posts on Saturday so early. Enjoy your SITS day. I was pulled over by the State Patrol twice in the last six months. The first was for a tail light that had gone out. The second time I had expired tabs. Never got the notice in the mail. Looking into getting a lockable mail box. We have had missing mail. Anyway, twice in 42 years of driving not too bad but definitely not something I want to repeat.

    Love your post. Some cute signs in Washington, too.

    • Thanks for stopping by Sheila!

      Kind of weird you never got the notices in the mail but it was either dumb luck or someone stealing. If dumb luck, even better I suppose. If someone is stealing it, let them pay the bill! LOL. But I’d have to agree with you on one thing: Not something I want to repeat either with the police! It’s a funny memory later but not so funny at the time.

  12. Hello Kim,

    Visiting from SITS :)
    I really enjoyed your post. I lived in Vegas for 2 years (my son was born there) and 3 years in Southern Utah. I miss the West every day (this will be my third year in FL); there’s something romantically dangerous about the West, and your experience just proves it. Thanks for letting me be back there, even if it was for a few minutes.

    P.S. Maybe, next time, you should stick to the Neon Boneyard ;)

    • Hi Silvina! Thanks for visiting and commenting!

      I have no idea why anyone would want to leave the west coast for Florida but that’s just me. :-) Glad you were able to enjoy this side of the country for a few moments. And stick to the Neon Boneyard? Nah. Too easy. LOL

  13. Sounds like it worked out better that the cops came over rather than the owners but I bet you we re shocked. The way you described it sounds straight out of a movie! Nice “captures” by the way :)

    Found via SITS Sharefest!

    • Thanks for stopping by!

      I think if the owners came out we’d probably be dealing with shotgun warnings instead of verbal warnings. That would have really sucked! Thankfully it was a fairly peaceful dialogue and then getting the heck outta there. Glad you enjoyed the pics!

  14. Great story; finally getting a chance to read it. I felt as if I were right there with you; thinking back to the times these things could have happened to me. (when you finally hit New Mexico be sure to check out the ruins of the Frontier Museum off I-40 just east of Santa Rosa. Nothing posted there but the place comes with a creepy feeling of not being quite as abandoned as it looks.)

    I guess if the “estate owners” really wanted to keep people away they could invest in a gate, or maybe some dogs? It sure works for the TX/NM border town of Glenrio; I have yet to get within ten feet of the buildings there because of what sounds like a pack of dogs waiting for a chance to make an entrance!

    • THanks, Tim!

      Creepy location? As in possibly haunted? SWEET! I love places like those even if they do make me scared outta my wits. And you know, I agree with you about the owners. If they were really that intent on keeping people out why not invest in something that DOES keep people out? Seems kind of lame to have a small sign that is barely noticeable then get all pissy when someone steps on the property. Lock it up better or shaddap!

  15. GReat post! I’ve had run-ins with crazy desert people, but (so far) no police. A park ranger once, so I guess that counts. I try to steer clear of any property like this where there are trailers, because you just never know. Wonderful photos and location.

    • Thanks, Peter! Glad you stopped by!

      You’re lucky you’ve had no run-ins thus far with police but those crazy people can be a little scary to run into. Yipes! LOL