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vacation

KN, p. 216 “Crime Scene at the Beach”

 

 

A recent vacation week took us to the beach and we were lucky enough to rent a cottage right on the ocean. What a pleasure to wake up to seagulls calling to each other as they found breakfast on the incoming surf at the edge of the broad expanse of sand. Morning coffee was extra special as we breathed in the sea air and planned the day ahead.

 

Aside from all the great sunsets, fabulous seafood restaurants, and much-needed relaxation, we found time to chat about fictional bodies and where to find them.

 

TV shows and movies feature their share of corpses that have washed up on the rocks lining the shores of lakes, bays, or oceans. Any crime scene at water’s edge has its own challenges for the CSI techs processing the area for evidence, and our vacation spot highlighted a few.

 

Consider footprints on the sand:

 

 

 

 


This print had been fully visible until a wave washed it partially into oblivion.

 

 

 

 

 


Sneaker treads next to the barefoot print, showed the traffic on the dry part of the beach just a few feet closer to the dune.

 

 

 

 

 

There was more than one kind of sneaker tread to be seen.

 

 

 

 

 

The sneaker and shoe companies have data bases going back several years indicating the treads and styles of the various shoes they have manufactured. A search warrant or a friendly conversation with the people at the companies will reveal specialty editions of their footwear and the year they were produced. Matching the footwear to the prints on the beach can narrow the suspect list – helpful if the culprit remained in the area and the sneaker was an unusual brand.

 

Consider the tire tracks:

 

 

A windy afternoon caused this tire tread to lose its definition.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This new tire tread was just ten feet away from the footprints.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beach bikes were in use as well. I didn’t have a ruler with me, so Sheila donated her sandal. This gives you some perspective of the width of the tread, essential in determining the type of vehicles near the ‘scene of the crime.’

 

 

 

 

 

Tire companies have data bases as well, and make their information available to law enforcement officers when needed. CSI techs take photos of the various treads for later ID and if needed, make casts of the footwear prints. Read “Is that your footprint?” here.

 

All three vehicle treads were within 20 feet of each other, along with all the footwear prints seen here – and it wasn’t high season yet, when a greater variety of cars, dune buggies, bikes, and shoes would be around.

 

Any crime scene in such a well-traveled place means it will be tough to find the killer. Nature washes or blows away the evidence and the crime scene is compromised by all the foot and vehicle traffic.  

 

Law enforcement officers have to hope for witnesses to the dastardly deed.

 

We turned our attention to the places to hide the body:

 

 

 

This lovely walkway leading from the cottage to the dunes gave access to an area that looked suitable for body stashing. Except that it wasn’t really all that great for anything covert. Three houses near ours had direct line of sight to that walkway, and all had overhead lights strung along their own paths to the beach.

 

Each of the other houses had three floors – ours was the smallest of the group.  That meant that anyone looking out at the ocean could also see anyone dragging a body out to the beach grass next to/under the boards.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But, let’s say that nobody is looking out the window. While it is illegal to dig up the beach grass in the dunes because of erosion programs in most oceanside communities, a killer would have no such concerns. BUT, that Beach Grass (actual name is American Beach Grass) is tough. It’s meant to be, so that it holds the sand in place during stormy weather. It would not be practical or at all speedy to dig a hole in a grass-covered dune in order to hide the body.

 

Maybe that’s why so many bodies in the TV movies are dumped elsewhere and merely wash up on the beach. Then the writers don’t have to worry about how to hide the body at the scene of the crime.

 

 

Photo credits: Patti Phillips at the North Carolina Outer Banks.

 

 

 

 

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KN, p.140 “On the Road – Avoiding Accidents”

 

Hi from middle America!  Sheila and I are on our way to Texas to visit Bridget on an extended Spring Break. The weather has been great – mostly sunny and dry all the way and even a bit warmer than we’ve been used to lately. Not a snow drift in sight, although we’ve seen many bent and broken evergreens along the highways. There were so many fallen trees in one section of Tennessee that the tops of the trees that interfered with traffic had been sawed off, leaving the rest for later haul away.

 

The road crews are busy fixing the potholes created by all the snow and ice freezing and thawing the roadbeds. We’ve had a few delays in Tennessee and Arkansas, but the Highway Patrols are doing a great job of letting us know when to merge into one lane. They use some overhead signs and those portable digital signs. Big flashing letters, nice and easy to read from a distance.

 

It’s about a 1400 mile trip this time, and while most drivers are doing a good job of sharing the road, I think a few of them need to have their licenses revoked. I had a few choice words to say this afternoon while watching some of the idiots, so I thought I’d share a tip or two on how to make the roads safer for the rest of us.

 

Kerrian’s Handy Driving Tips:

 

  • When you pull out to pass a truck, remember that he cannot see your much lower car unless you can see his head reflected in his side view mirror. He has no idea you are trying to pass him if he can’t see you.

 

  • And, it is not okay to cut off a 16 wheeler. Next time you get that close, he just might roll right over you. Your pretty Lexus might get squashed.

 

  • Tip to keep in mind before moving in front of the car you just passed: You should be able to see their entire car in your rear view mirror. The side view mirror is misleading in terms of distance and makes the car seem much further away than it actually is.

 

  • In most states, if there is an emergency/law enforcement vehicle with flashing lights stopped along the side of the road, you are required by law to move over a lane – away from the flashing lights. You will be ticketed if you violate this rule. In addition, in some states, you must also slow down while passing that vehicle. In Texas, you must drop your speed by 20 mph while passing that stopped vehicle. That means, if the speed limit is only 35, you must drop your speed to 15 mph while passing that stopped vehicle.

 

  • It is not okay to drive to within 5 feet of somebody’s rear bumper at speeds of 75 mph. We’re not playing bumper cars out here.

 

 

  • It is not okay to weave in and out of traffic, going from lane to lane, while trying to create a third lane out of two. We’re not playing the supporting roles in a James Bond/Jason Statham/Vin Diesel movie.

 

  • We saw three, count ‘em 3, tractor trailers jackknifed on the highway today. One was being hauled out of a ditch. It was still upright, but had tried to avoid a car that cut him off. The truck driver went off the road to avoid killing anyone. That’s what the cop said as we stopped, waiting for the tow truck to maneuver. The driver was fine, but the side of the truck was damaged and he was really annoyed. Further on down the road, the car involved had been caught and that driver was being ticketed.

 

  • Quit texting on your cell phone while you are driving. If the message is that important, pull off the road to text. Better yet, de-stress and turn the phone off.

 

  • Unless you have hands-free capability for your cell phone, if you’re driving, DO NOT ANSWER IT.  Some states are moving toward completely banning the use cell phones while driving. In most states, if you’re under the age of 18, it’s illegal to talk and drive.

 

  • Click on the link below to see which states prohibit cell phone use and under what circumstances.

 

http://www.ncsl.org/research/transportation/cellular-phone-use-and-texting-while-driving-laws.aspx

 

  • If you are hauling an open trailer, please tie down whatever you’ve got piled up. Great big bales of fabric/clothes that come flying off the truck and land on somebody’s windshield or on the roadway are not any fun at all to deal with. Flying missiles coming at you at more than 70 mph? Not to mention all the cars now trying to avoid the swerving traffic dodging said junk? Then we get into bumper car territory.  With real damage involved.

 

  • Lock up your car when you leave it to get a cup of coffee. Your vacation stuff can be seen thru the windows and while you are waiting in line, thieves can steal not only your iPad, etc. but the car itself. Expensive cup of coffee.  In case you thought your possessions in the car are covered by insurance, think again. Click on the link below to find out what may or may not be covered. Most of it isn’t. At all.

 

http://www.carsdirect.com/car-insurance/does-my-auto-insurance-cover-theft

 

 

Other Tips for a happier driving experience

 

Before you get on the road, check the tires for air pressure. Properly inflated tires can actually increase gas mileage.

 

Join AAA. No, I’m not a paid advertiser for them. But, as a part of their service, they provide free maps and route suggestions and hotel discounts. If your car breaks down along the way, they can usually provide help in under an hour.

 

If you have a long drive ahead of you like we did, stop every two or three hours. Plan the trip so that you split up the stops for food and gas and bathroom breaks, etc. We used to do all the necessary things at the same stop, but found that we were exhausted at the end of each day. The body needs to move to function at top form. That means getting out of the car to stretch periodically.

 

Legs cramping up while driving on a long trip? That probably means that you are dehydrated. Take along a case of bottled water for that long drive. An adult should drink about 4 of the 16 oz bottles of water during the day. Trust me, since we’ve changed our car travel routine, we feel pretty good at the end of our 7-9 hours on the road each day, rather than exhausted and cranky.

 

Take snacks. Exits with access to food can be few and far between in middle America. We drove through a section of mountains the other day that had almost no exits and therefore, limited food or coffee, for almost 100 miles.

 

Road trips can be great fun. Just use some common sense and think about that risk you take when trying to save a minute or two. Is it worth it? Or would you rather arrive at your destination in one piece?

 

Most of all, enjoy the ride.  🙂

 

*Photos by Patti Phillips

*Kerrian is a fictional character, but everything mentioned in this post actually happened during a three-day period of our road trip to Texas during March, 2015.

 

 

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KN, p. 16 “What time will the hurricane hit?”

 

 

After I posted the last hurricane entry (p. 13) people asked what to do if a hurricane hits while they are on vacation.

 

What happens if you have spent a boat load of cash upfront and a storm moves in? Do you leave? Do you stay put? And that biggie – will you get your money back?

 

Most hurricanes have a lead time of several days, so if you haven’t left the States, but are worried about approaching storms, call the resort yourself and find out about their bad weather policies. Didn’t get the phone number when you booked? Google it.

 

Questions to ask: Does the resort have its own safe area to wait it out or will the guests be evacuated to a larger, safer place? If you can juggle your plans a little, ask the manager if you can delay your arrival. Don’t risk going through the travel agency on this, because the information may not be accurate unless you deal directly with the hotel itself. As for refunds, if you paid for travel insurance when you first booked the trip, you might be able to get your money back. Don’t be shy about asking.

 

If you’re already onsite, don’t buck the odds by taking an excursion if the hurricane is due to hit that day. Sounds obvious, but some travelers have an adventurous (translation = reckless) mindset. The price tag of a rescue operation – several thousand dollars – being added to your checkout bill, should make you think twice. Besides, it’s more fun to stay put. Quite often, guests can enjoy a full-blown hurricane party, safe behind concrete walls built to withstand the ripping force of 150 mile an hour winds.

 

If you are off site and the storm moves in more quickly than anticipated, veers off course, you get a flat tire, you get lost, etc., getting to high ground to avoid drowning in the rising sea is the best idea. Get out of the car, find some solid cover and pray, because you will never be able to outrun a Class 4 or 5 hurricane, once the storm has reached landfall.

 

*Photo by Patti Phillips

 

 

 

 

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