My Teenage Visit To The French Laundry Gardens

Most of the towns in the Napa Valley have a strict 10pm curfew for anyone under the age of 18. Cops can (and back in my day, would) stop anyone they thought was under 18 to figure out what they were up to.

Yountville, being a rich tourist town, was a particularly bad place to be out wandering around if you were a teenager.

But for some reason, one of the favorite parks my friends and I liked to hang out in was in Yountville.

Other kids probably drank or smoked pot when they hung out in parks in the Napa Valley late at night. We’d play on the swings and go down the slide backwards. If any of my friends were drunk or high, I didn’t know about it.

Usually we’d have someone who was the lookout, who would tell us to hide when the cops swung past on patrol. We would hit the dirt, or hide behind the slide, and the police cruiser would just drive on by.

Except that fateful night, we must have been too loud or something, because the cruiser stopped, and the cops got out of their car.

Another of our safety measures was to park a couple of blocks away. So as the cops started heading over to the play area, waving flashlights around, we got up and ran like hell in two different directions attempting to circle back to the car.

Unfortunately, there were two cops.

Even more unfortunately, I’m not really designed for speed. I had a head start, but I had chosen to run AWAY from the car, and the cop was quickly gaining on me.

So I cut through the French Laundry garden area.

The cop didn’t see me make the turn, and I gained a little more time. I was thrilled; I was going to make it! The car was just around the corner!

And that is when I fell flat on my face in the French Laundry garden.

The sound of me hitting the ground alerted the cop to double back, and he was hot on my heels as I scrambled to my feet and took off again.

My friends had made it to the pickup truck we’d traveled north in, and slowed down just enough for me to jump in the bed and with a squeal of tires, we were out of there. A half mile away, we pulled over and rearranged the seating so everyone had a seatbelt, and then headed home.

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