As a child, my mom, dad, and two brothers used to travel by RV from Washington State to Southern California. I have vivid memories of stopping at inspection stations southbound.
The inspector would question my dad about what produce we had in the RV, sometimes they even asked my dad to open the travel trailer and have a look themselves. If they found suspect fruit, my dad, not wanting it to go to waste, would hand it to one of us to eat.
For those of you that have never RVed through the agricultural portions of The Golden State, California Border Protection Stations (aka inspection stations) are checkpoints located on popular routes entering California where state inspectors check vehicles with the hopes of stopping the spread of invasive species that could decimate local crops.
In my adulthood, California inspection stations have continued to be part of my RV travels as my wife and I, having raised two children and now as empty nesters, frequently travel through California each fall. After years of stopping at the stations, we have been well trained to answer the normal regiment of questions. Where are you coming from? Do you have any produce? Where did you purchase it? Can we inspect your RV?
One time, as we entered Blythe, CA, via westbound I-10 on a recent excursion, we came upon a sign informing us that there was an inspection station ahead. I started thinking about what produce we had with us and where we had purchased it (many times we have been allowed to take produce items across that had been recently purchased in a neighboring state. So keep that in mind if you ever travel to California.)
Stopping at the station and rolling down the driver’s window, I was greeted by an inspector. However, rather than asking the standard questions, the first words out of the inspector’s mouth were, “I want to see your firewood.”
I was taken aback from the normal regiment of questions. What was even more disturbing was he didn’t even ask “If I had firewood?” Either they had gathered intelligence ahead of time or I looked like a campfire kind-of-guy, but either way, she was correct. I did have firewood in the back of my truck. Inspecting my scant supply of wood, she stated, “It isn’t enough to worry about” and sent me on my way without ever asking about any produce we had.
First they wanted our fruits and vegetables, now my firewood. I can only guess what they will ask for next! Negotiating the ever-changing world of pest carrying vegetation, this was just another adventure in RVing.