Before I wrecked my life and ended up on Florida’s Sex Offender registry I always intended to travel in my retirement. Now, after prison and probation, I am in fact retired, and “free,” and have not given up my dream of seeing natural wonders and historic sites, visiting great cities, traveling to as many places as possible within the restrictions placed on me as a registered citizen.

While I may attempt traveling the world in the future, everything I’ve heard and read about International Megan’s Law requirements makes it sound difficult and even dangerous for a registered person. I therefore decided that my own home country is a pretty big place that, so far at least, nobody can keep my out of. Including all of its states and territories the United States spans half the globe and extends from the arctic to the equator. A guy could spend his whole retirement traveling this great land and never really see all of it.

As many of you may have discovered, however, interstate travel as a registered citizen isn’t as simple as getting in your car and driving away. Unless you don’t mind the prospect of inadvertently violating the registry laws of either your own state or whatever state you’re in at the time and ending up back in prison for a registry violation, it’s crucial to be conversant with and obey the registry laws of every state you plan to pass thru, which for me is every US state and territory.

The starting point for my research was the chart “Summary of State and Territorial Registration Laws Concerning Visiting and Temporary Residence by Adults” available on the Association for Constitutional Sex Offender Laws (ACSOL) website. It’s a good summary chart, but it hadn’t been updated since 2018. Using the state statute references in the ACSOL chart I downloaded every state and territory’s registry laws, read them all, updated the information on the chart and corrected any errors that I found.

I also obtained a list of phone numbers for all 50 states’ SOR offices, and called every state to ask supplemental questions. As you might expect, some SOR offices don’t answer the phone and never call back if you leave repeated messages. Some states SOR offices have outgoing messages that don’t allow you to leave a message but only refer you to unhelpful online FAQ documents. A few states’ outgoing messages say their SOR offices are closed on account of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, I found that when I was able to speak to a real person (which was about half the time) the SOR office personnel were uniformly courteous and willing to provide helpful answers to my questions.

The result of my research is the new and improved Summary of State and Territorial Registration Laws Concerning Visiting and Temporary Residence by Adults” chart. CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW. My plan is to keep re-researching and updating this chart for at least the next ten years (i.e. 2021-2031) while I travel the USA.

However, all of this research – whether the state laws themselves, written responses to letters, or the oral responses by a random person in a state SOR office – may bear no relation at all to what you or I may experience if pulled over by an over-eager redneck sheriff’s deputy because you have a blown tail light. Do you want to be the first person to test the limits of any of this? I’ll bet the answer to that is NO.

So be careful out there, and safe travels!
Legal Disclaimer

I AM NOT AN ATTORNEY. THIS WEBSITE IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE LEGAL ADVICE AND SHOULD NOT SUBSTITUTE FOR QUALIFIED LEGAL ADVICE.

Because sex offender laws are frequently revised by legislatures and reviewed by courts, the most current version of the applicable laws should be consulted and can generally be found by using your search engine to locate the statutes referenced on this site. This website does not include all laws that may apply to registrants in any particular state.


Updated 9/22! State & Territorial Visitor Registration Laws Guide

Click HERE. It'll pop up on your screen in a separate window.

Summary Map Click HERE. It'll pop up on your screen in a separate window.


Updated 9/22! State & Territorial Visitor Registration Laws for FORMER & LONG-TERM Registrants

MANY REGISTRANTS DO NOT UNDERSTAND that most states have registration laws that apply to out-of-state visitors even if you have served your registration duty in your state of offense and are no longer required to register there. Violating these states' laws during your visit can get you caught in these states' registries or even incarcerated EVEN THOUGH you have been removed from your own state's registry!

Furthermore, you may be surprised to learn that some states' registration laws may not apply to visiting registrants who have, in your state of offense, served your registration duty for the number of years specified by law in the state you are visiting - even if you are still on the registry in your state of offense.

Because confusion surrounding this issue will be a growing problem as more and more Americans (including myself) become long-term or former registrants, I have researched the registration laws of every U.S. state and territory related to this issue.

Click HERE to see this new research.


The Traveling Registrant

The Once Fallen website offers this must-read information for all registrants planning to travel. Click here: http://www.oncefallen.com/travel.html

Unwelcome Images

My personal story of prison, probation and ... redemption? is posted on Medium. If you're interested you can click here:

https://therabbitisin.com/unwelcome-images-c06a3760b11a

Your first hurdle:

Permission to leave town

My state of offense (Florida) has a registry law that, like those of many other states, is completely silent on the question of what notice I as a registered person have to provide in the event that I intend to travel out of state temporarily but have no intention of establishing any “permanent residence,” “temporary residence” or “transient residence” in any other state. Instead, Florida’s SOR law reads as follows:

“A sexual offender who intends to establish a permanent, temporary, or transient residence in another state or jurisdiction other than the State of Florida shall report in person to the sheriff of the county of current residence within 48 hours before the date he or she intends to leave this state to establish residence in another state or jurisdiction … The sexual offender shall provide to the sheriff the address, municipality, county, [and] state … of intended residence … The department shall notify the statewide law enforcement agency, or a comparable agency, in the intended state [or] jurisdiction … of the sexual offender’s intended residence. The failure of a sexual offender to provide his or her intended place of residence is punishable as [a third degree felony].”

943.0435(7) FS.

Apparently, the drafters of Florida’s SOR law – and the many similarly worded statutes of other US states – never anticipated that a registered person would ever leave their state for any other reason than to establish a “permanent residence,” “temporary residence” or “transient residence” wherever they're going. Therefore I assume that I and many of you could legitimately assume we would be within our legal rights to just leave our state without telling anybody as long as you have no intention of, and scrupulously avoid, establishing any kind of residence that would violate your state’s statutes.

However, I DO NOT recommend doing this under any circumstances.

Why? Because there’s a 120% chance that your local sheriff’s department believes you have to tell them you’re leaving and where you’re going no matter what your state’s SOR law says or doesn’t say. Suppose you get pulled over somewhere for having a blown tail light. The sheriff’s deputy looks you up and discovers you’re an out-of-state registered offender. Next, he calls local law enforcement in your home state and asks, “Hey, did y’all know this guy was here?” They of course will say “No, we didn’t even know he left our state and we think that’s a registry violation – he is an ABSCONDER!” at which point you’ll be arrested, handcuffed and sent back to prison.

I don’t know about you, but that’s not how I want to spend my vacation.

Therefore I strongly suggest that you visit your local sheriff’s department or registry office and inform them of your intention to travel. I did this for the first time in October 2020, and have traveled out of state frequently since then, each time making sure to do so “within 48 hours before the date he or she intends to leave this state.”

Having gained some experience with traveling while registered I offer you the following advice:

Always notify your local law enforcement of your intention to travel and provide as much detail as possible about your travel plans. In particular, it helps to have at least one specific destination for your trip. Your local law enforcement is expecting you to have a destination. You probably do have at least one destination, and if it’s not a friend or relative’s home you probably had to make some kind of reservation ahead of time. Either way you know at least one address where you’ll be, so give it to the staff person behind the glass. They will feel more comfortable with this even if your plans include extended time to get to and return from the specific destination(s), during which you’ll be enjoying yourself.

I have found that if I give a general description of your travel, like some of the states you’ll be passing through, the staff person will happily enter that onto whatever form their filling out as “additional notes.” This may actually help you in case you get pulled over someplace because when the sheriff’s deputy calls your home state it’s all right there in the computer.

Recently I established a summer home in Iowa. Unlike Florida and many other states, Iowa’s registry law explicitly, but clumsily, addresses out-of-state travel. It says:

“[A] sex offender, within five business days of a change, shall also appear in person to notify the sheriff of the county of principal residence [i.e. the principle residence in Iowa], of any location in which the offender is staying when away from the principal residence of the offender for more than five days, by identifying the location and the period of time the offender is staying in such location.” 692A.105 IS.

While I was at my new Iowa sheriff’s department registering, getting photographed, fingerprinted and providing a DNA sample, I took the opportunity to ask how travel was going to work in my new state. I pointed out that although I can always provide a destination when traveling, there is no way I’ll be able provide locations and addresses ahead of time for every campground or motel room I might be staying at along the way.

The lady behind the bullet-proof glass stated that their policy for this type of travel is that I will need to keep a travel log for each trip, which I will need to turn in upon my return. This just shows how local sheriff’s departments come up with some policy to deal with these situations. As you know from reading elsewhere on this blog, I recommend you always keep a travel log as well as all receipts just in case you need to prove your whereabouts, so this sheriff’s department requirement, while ridiculous, turns out not to be a problem for me or anyone following my recommendations.

Thursday, December 29, 2022

 Travel clarifications Part 4

Dear Janice and Chance:

My name is Bruce a.k.a. Atwo Zee, Registered Traveler.  I am writing again, this time to offer clarifications to one of the questions about domestic travel that came up during your monthly ACSOL zoom meeting on December 17, 2022.

At that meeting there was no overview of domestic travel because Janice, who usually gives that overview, had some internet connectivity problems. However, during the question & answer period after Chance’s overview of international travel, someone asked as follows (paraphrasing): he said that now that he has got himself removed from California’s registry he would like to leave the state. He asked about state(s) where he might get a reasonable deal as a former registrant.

Chance, you correctly warned that every state has its own laws governing former registrants from other states. Some states will put you right back on their registry no matter how long you’ve been off California’s registry. You recommended that before moving to any other state one should consult with a qualified attorney in that state about the consequences of a former California registrant moving there.

I strongly agree with that, and I would like to say more on that subject. And as some of you may know, I have been researching the registries of the 50 states and 5 territories for several years now, so please let me offer a few insights.

My offense occurred in Florida, which has lifetime registry for every offense right down to public urination. True fact: you can leave or even die, but Florida never takes you off its registry. Two years ago I bought a summer home in Iowa, in part because I want to travel domestically and Florida is not very centrally located for that. Iowa, it turns out, is one of seven states that puts you on their registry either (a) for the amount of time they would require, or (b) for the amount of time required by your state of offense (Florida in my case), whichever is MORE. Therefore they put me on lifetime even though the time period for an in-state offense like mine would be ten years! The good news for me is that due to a quirk in Iowa law, I am allowed to apply to get off after 5 years. Yey! Of course, whether they will approve me is a separate question.

HOWEVER: So – if I get off Iowa’s registry I’m “free to go,” right?

WRONG! Yes I’ll be free to go – but ONLY in Iowa! As soon as I cross into another state – say, Illinois or Minnesota or Missouri – either as a visitor or if I move to that state – I am immediately subject to that state’s rules. Why? Because most states’ registry laws require you to comply and register < if you have EVER been convicted of a registrable offense in ANY state > – NOT if you are on or off the registry in any other state. So if I wanted to get myself off the registry in a second state – for example, Georgia – I would have to move to Georgia, get on their registry, and then follow their procedure to get off. If I were successful, then I’d be “free to go” in Georgia and Iowa, but every time I traveled back and forth between those states I’d have to follow the “visitor rules” for all the states in between – AND whenever I would travel anywhere else in this great land of ours I’d still have to follow all those state by state visitor rules.

On the Main Page of this site I have two charts, “State and Territorial Visitor Registration Law Guide” and “State and Territorial Visitor Registration Laws for FORMER and LONG-TERM registrants.” This second chart gives you state by state rules for if and how you can apply to get off each state and territory’s registry, including relevant statutory quotes and references. I created this chart because, as time passes and America’s registered population grows and ages, issues related to travel and interstate movement by former and long-term registrants will only grow.

As I said, most states registry laws require you to comply and register if you have EVER been convicted of a registrable offense in ANY state. However – there are a ten states whose registry laws say generally that any offender required to register in their state of offense is required to register in that state. Presumably this means that if you are NO LONGER required to register in your state of offense you would not be required to register in these states. These ten states are: Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Idaho, Maine, Missouri, Ohio, Rhode Island, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

However, I echo Chance’s recommendation that before moving to any other state one should consult with a qualified attorney in that state. I would also recommend calling that state’s SOR office to obtain a confirmation in writing that you would not have to register if you moved there.

California is one of the largest, most beautiful and varied states in the U.S. If you are fortunate enough to get off California’s registry and you are “free to go” in such a place, my advice is make the most of it and don’t leave. Consider this – if I do manage to get off Iowa’s registry that’s where I’ll have my freedom. Not that I haven’t come to love the Hawkeye State – I have – but it ain’t California!

I hope this information is helpful.

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

 Georgia

Historic Dahlonega, GA

From the 50 State Visitor Guide :

2019 O.C.G.A. §§42-1-12 through 42-1-19

Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. r. 140-2-18.

Registration Triggers and Deadlines:

Registration required within 72 hours of establishing a residence or entering the state. §42-1-12(f).  Visitors: registration required if in the state for 14 consecutive days, or for more than 30 days in calendar year.  §42-1-12(e)(7). Per SOR office, residency & presence restrictions applying to visitors are those applying to you in your state of registry. Updated Aug 2022.

Residency/Presence and Other Restrictions:

Registrants may not reside, loiter, or be employed within 1,000 ft. of child care facility, church, school, or “area where minors congregate” defined to “include all public & private parks & recreation facilities, playgrounds, skating rinks, neighborhood centers, gymnasiums, school bus stops, public libraries, & public & community swimming pools” §42-1-12(3).  Certain employment restrictions apply.  §§42-1-15 through 42-1-17.  It is a misdemeanor to intentionally photograph a minor in Georgia without parental consent.  §42-1-18.

Visiting Registrants once placed on state’s registry ARE NOT REMOVED. (per Rolfe Survey and confirmed by state registry office).

Duration & updates:

Life.  Sexually Dangerous Predator updates every 6 months.  All others update annually within 72 hours of birthday.

The World of Coca Cola. My advice is skip it.

Most recent visit: November 2022

Georgia’s SOR statute states that registrants may not reside, loiter, or be employed within 1,000 ft. of a child care facility, church, school, or “area where minors congregate.”  The term “area where minors congregate” is defined to include “all public & private parks and recreation facilities, playgrounds, skating rinks, neighborhood centers, gymnasiums, school bus stops, public libraries, & public & community swimming pools” §42-1-12(3).  That’s a pretty tough set of rules. 

Furthermore, according to the person I spoke to at the Georgia SOR Office in 2020, these rules apply to visiting registrants even during the 14 consecutive days or 30 aggregate days per year before you have to register in that state. According to that set of rules, you can go to any of the state’s tens of thousands of churches – even historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta – to pray during your visit to Georgia, but you can’t “loiter” within 1000 feet of one!  Suppose you check into a hotel for the night in Georgia, only to discover that it’s within 1000 feet of a child care facility, church, school, or “area where minors congregate?”  Suppose the hotel has a game room?  What then?

The good news is you would also be prohibited from visiting Stone Mountain State Park, Georgia’s now-infamous monument to the Confederacy.

However! When I called back to update my state-by-state research in August 2020 I got a completely different story.  This time the nice lady at the Georgia SOR office said  residency & presence restrictions applying to visitors are those applying to you in your state of registry. By that rule, in my situation I would follow the rules for either Iowa or Florida, depending on which state I had reported my travel from. 

Also, according to the state SOR office, national parks and forests are “out of our jurisdiction,” and there are quite a few of those, especially in northern and central Georgia.  Since most of my cross-country travel plans involve camping overnight at national park or national forest campgrounds, that’s good news for me.

NOTE:  Georgia is one of about 15 states where there is no procedure for removal from the registry upon returning to your home state.  So be extra careful.

In November 2022 I visited the North Georgia mountains together with family, coming from Florida.  I did none of the driving on this trip. Instead I was a passenger with my ex-wife while my daughter and grandchildren rode in a separate car.  We stayed for five days at a timeshare.  It was very nice.

Following the guidance of the Georgia SOR office, I was governed on this trip by the rules that apply to me in Florida. That meant I was able to take my ex to Amicalola State Park and show her Amicalola Falls, which she really liked. She wanted to take the family to supposedly historic Helen which in my opinion is completely ruined by tourism, so I went along with it and pretended I really liked it.  I will say we had lunch at a pretty good German restaurant.  The next day we went to Dahlonega, which I like a lot better.

On my previous visit in April 2022 I entered Georgia from Tennessee in the morning, enjoying a beautiful mountain drive through Chattahoochee National Forest.  I stopped to see De Soto Falls – very nice. Then I continued to Historic Dahlonega, which at that time I hadn’t been to for long time.

After a nice lunch in Dahlonega I continued on to Atlanta, where I visited the World of Coca Cola.  That was a mistake.  I was expecting an interesting factory tour like one finds at Pabst in Milwaukee, Jim Beam in Tennessee or Hershey Park in Pennsylvania, but no such luck. The World of Coca Cola sucks.  It’s all advertising and no education. And it’s right next door to the Georgia Aquarium which I’m sure would’ve been a better bet.  Oh well. 

Afterward I had an early supper at the Varsity, Atlanta’s culinary must stop.  Then it was southeast bound to the Lake Sinclair, the southernmost campground in Oconee National Forest, the southernmost national forest in Georgia. Very nice, secluded and has hot showers.  The next morning I made my way southward toward Macon, I-75 and back to Florida.

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

 Nevada: An Open Letter

Las Vegas Metro Police Dept.

From the 50 State Visitor Guide:

Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. 2019  §§179B and 179D (Effective Oct. 1, 2018)

AWA Compliant

Registration Triggers and Deadlines:

48 hours for initial registration and updates; updates may be in person.  §§179D.460, 479D.480.  However, Nevada SOR office states that visitors for less than 30 days are not placed on the SOR registry but on a separate “visitors registry” that is not public. Visitors must “check in” within 48 hours & provide info to law enforcement. Return to “check out” when departing the state. The “visitors registry” including the dates of your visit(s) is available to law enforcement agencies only.

This SOR office info updated & confirmed Apr. 2021.

Confirmed by Las Vegas Metro Police Dept. Oct. 2021.

Also: North Las Vegas Police “OffenderWatch” Safety Tips:

https://sheriffalerts.com/cap_safety_1.php?office=54127

“Do I have to register as a sex offender in North Las Vegas if I am only visiting? Sex offenders who will be visiting North Las Vegas and will be staying in North Las Vegas for more than 48 hours, must register as “Sex Offender – Visitor”.” (emphasis added)

Residency/Presence and Other Restrictions:

No statewide restrictions.

Duration & updates:

15 years to life. §179D.480.

Procedure available for removal from registry after departure.

 

Hey look!  These guys are open weekends & holidays!

Most recent visit: October 2021

Dear Janice & Chance: 

I have been listening in on the ACSOL monthly call-in meetings since you took them virtual on account of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. For a while you began each meeting by announcing a list of potential discussion topics and gauge interest by asking participants to vote on them by virtually “raising hands.” Travel (domestic & international) was always a top vote-getter at every meeting.

Every month, while giving your overview of domestic travel issues before taking questions, you stress the importance of not staying in any state long enough to trigger their requirement to register. Of course I strongly agree with that advice.

Every month, including the Oct. 15, 2022 meeting, you use Nevada is an example of how careful everyone should be, because Nevada state law allows only 48 hours for initial registration, one of the shortest grace periods of any state. §§179D.460, 479D.480.  Nevada, and especially Las Vegas, is a major travel destination for everyone and especially Californians because it’s so close. You must be constantly inundated with questions about Nevada.

What you don’t seem to be aware of is that Nevada is one of a handful of states that, by policy, treats a statutory very short visitor registration requirement as a “duty to check in” but holds SO visitor information separately pending a commitment to depart within a specified time (up to 30 days); your info becomes part of a “visitors registry” that is not made public. Other states that do this are Alaska, South Dakota and Rhode Island.

I first became aware of this separate “visitors registry” while calling every state SOR office as part of my research in 2020. The nice lady at the Nevada SOR office told me all about it. Then, following your advice to not necessarily accept at face value anything some random person at a SOR office says, I called back in April 2021 to re-ask the question, and the same nice lady took my call. She even remembered me from my previous call. She gave me the same answer, with a few additional clarifying details.

And yet, there seems to be nothing on the Nevada SOR website about this, and month after month I hear you emphasize that no registered person should ever be in Nevada for more than 48 consecutive hours. You often say, “Folks, just leave Nevada overnight, get a receipt somewhere to prove it, then go back to continue your visit.”

Again, I strongly agree with that advice for any state that doesn’t maintain a separate unpublished “visitors registry.” Tennessee is an example of such a state with a 48 hour grace period, and if you read my posts about Tennessee you will see I emphasize the importance of watching the clock there. I guarantee you, nobody wants to wind up on Tennessee’s registry.

But what about Nevada? On my October 2021 Southwest trip, I decided to put this state to the ultimate test. I was passing through Nevada anyway on my way from California to Utah. So, restricting myself to two partial days in-state and foregoing all the potential sins and delights of Las Vegas, my one and only stop was the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. My sole purpose was to find out if they knew anything about this separate unpublished “visitors registry."

If there’s one thing I always say about police registry offices it’s this: “The person sitting at the desk behind the bullet proof glass is without a doubt the least knowledgeable person in the whole building.” That was certainly the case here. She had never heard of any “visitors registry.” However, with a little prodding I was able to get her to go ask her supervisor about it, and when she came back a few minutes later she smiled cheerfully and said, “Yes, there is a visitors registry, and as long as you check in within 48 hours of your arrival, and give us all the information about your visit, and come back to check out before you leave, you will go on that visitors registry.” So as far as I can tell Nevada’s unpublished “visitors registry” is a real thing.

You may be wondering why any state SOR office, whether in Nevada, Alaska, South Dakota, Rhode Island or elsewhere, would go out of their way to create a separate visitors registry when it’s not spelled out in state law. As a person who worked as a government bureaucrat his entire career (until I ruined my life), I’m confident I know the answer: work avoidance.

You see, these states have very short visitor registration requirements, but they also have standardized procedures available to remove you from their registries after you leave (unlike Tennessee, Florida and 13 other states that keep you on their registries forever in order to pad their numbers and get more federal funding).

What this means for a SOR office (or sheriff’s department) bureaucrat is that any time a visitor is forced to register, they have to do all the work of adding that person to their registry and posting it on their website. Then as soon as that person leaves the state they have to do all the work of removing that person from their registry and their website.  That’s double the work for somebody they really couldn’t care less about. Thus is born the separate, low effort “visitors registry.”

While I was updating all my state by state research in August 2022, the nice lady at the South Dakota SOR office came right out and confirmed this when she said, “We have hundreds of sex offenders coming to the Sturgis Bike Rally every year.  They typically stay more than three days but less than a week.  Why would we want to register all these people and then have to remove them a few days later?”

[As an aside, I was amused by how the SOR lady’s description of the Sturgis Bike Rally made it sound like an annual sex offenders’ reunion.  Hey, maybe NARSOL or ACSOL should hold next year’s national conference in Sturgis during the rally and make it official?]

The SOR lady stressed that all they are asking is that visiting registrants staying more than three days come in from the summer heat and check in at the local sheriff’s department, then check out when you leave.  No harm, no foul.

Meanwhile, I have no choice but to point out that you are giving incomplete information about Nevada (and Rhode Island, which you often mention) on every monthly ACSOL phone call.

Sincerely,

Atwo Zee, Registered Traveler 

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

 Manitoba (well ... sort of)

International Peace Garden Entrance. U.S. Customs station is in background at left.

From the 50 State Visitor Guide : North Dakota

N.D. Century Code 2021 §§12.1-20-25, 12.1-32.15, 12.1-34-06

Registration Triggers and Deadlines:

3 days for initial registration of “residence” (not defined).  3 days for registration of “temporary domicile,” defined as being physically present in state for more than 10 consecutive days, present in state for more than 30 days in a calendar year, or at a location for longer than 10 consecutive days. §12.1-32.15(1)(h), (2).

Visitors: Per N Dak. SOR office, visitors must register if in state 10 consecutive days or 30 days per calendar year.

Residency/Presence and Other Restrictions:

Residency Restriction: “High-risk” offenders may not reside within 500 ft. of a public or private school. §12.1-32-13. 

Presence restriction: May not knowingly enter school without permission, subject to exceptions. §12.1-20-25.

Duration & updates:

15 to life. Frequency of updates determined by AG. §12.1-32.15.

Updates: Homeless – every 3 days. §12.1-32.15(2). Others vary.

International Peace Garden: September 2022

If you want to dip your toe into Canada and pretend you have beaten the restrictions on international travel we registered citizens face, there is the International Peace Garden, which straddles the border between North Dakota and Manitoba.  

Driving past the U.S. Customs station on my way to the International Peace Garden entrance. 
Turn left before you get to the Canadian Customs station which is in the far background in this photo.

From the U.S. side, travel north from Dunseith, ND on U.S. 281 right up to the international border.  The park entrance is actually a few yards (oh, excuse me, meters) on the Canadian side, but it’s purposefully located between the two Customs Stations.  You’ll drive right past the U.S. Customs Station, then turn left into the park entrance just before you get to the Canadian Customs Station.  Pay your $25 entrance fee and TADAAAH! you’re in Canada – no questions asked!

I took the nerve-wracking precaution of stopping at the U.S. Customs Station to make sure all my paperwork was definitely in order and I wouldn’t get hand-cuffed on my way back into the U.S.  I offered the guy at the drive thru window not just my driver’s license but also my registry sheets from both Florida and Iowa which proved that I had permission to be in North Dakota on the day I was there.  

He was very easy-going and after looking me up on his computer handed everything back to me and said there was no need for me to have stopped on my way to the Peace Garden, only on the way back.  In fact when I did come through on my way back he was very friendly and asked how did I like it?  “Very nice!” I said.

So there you go.  I have done the nerve-wracking part for you, my fellow registrants, so now you can drive right past the U.S. Customs Station without breaking into a cold sweat.

Formal Garden with international boundary marked in bricks and water feature.

Now let’s talk about the Peace Garden itself.  The central portion which runs along the U.S. – Canada border comprises a formal garden surrounded by a scenic drive.  There are a conservatory and interpretive center, a sunken garden, sculptures, a 9/11 memorial and a peace chapel.  Two other scenic loop roads branch a few miles (kilometers) from the central drive, one into Canada and one into the U.S.  

At the North American Game Warden Museum

Unfortunately all the developed facilities, including the campground and rental cabins, are on the U.S. side.  These also include a game warden museum, an international music camp and performing arts center, and a Masonic retreat and auditorium.  Mental note:  there’s absolutely no food available at the International Peace Park, so you’ll have to bring it all with you.

Peaceful picnic area in Manitoba

I guess Manitoba doesn’t feel like spending much money on this park because on their side there are only a few picnic areas and hiking trails.  Unfortunately for registered visitors this means you can only camp on the North Dakota side.  You’ll always be subject to that state’s visitor rules because you’ll spend at least part of every day in North Dakota and as with most states you must assume that any partial day will count as a full day towards your stay there.

North Dakota’s visitor rules are about average among U.S. states and not too tough to live with.  You get ten consecutive days (including partial days) or 30 days per calendar year, which in this very special situation means that even though park rules allow you to stay at the campground up to two weeks you really can’t stay more than nine days (including getting yourself into and out of North Dakota) because the tenth day would trigger an obligation to register in this state and you don’t want to do that.

International Peace Garden map

In theory, of course, if you were able to hike over into Manitoba and “primitive camp” there for two consecutive nights and a full day spent outside of North Dakota, you’d be able to return to your campsite on the ND side and restart the clock to extend your stay.  The trick would be having a permit with a receipt from the park office to document your out-of-state excursion, and therein lies the rub.  If Manitoba had any intention of letting you camp overnight on their side, surely they’d have a campground there for you to use.  So what makes you think they’ll give you a permit to primitive camp along one of their hiking trails?  Nothing.  And without a dated permit you’ve got nothing to prove you were ever out of North Dakota when you emerge from the Peace Garden and go back through U.S. Customs several days later.

And now to permanently extinguish any lingering fantasy you may be having about whether you could check into the Peace Garden, walk across the border and disappear into Canada to escape America’s registry.  First: there is, actually, a Manitoba provincial park abutting and surrounding the Peace Garden on their side.  Whether there is some kind of electrified fence preventing you from leaving the Peace Garden over there I do not know because I didn’t check and of course I didn’t ask such a nakedly suspicious question.  

But even if there isn’t, what the hell would you do once you got into Canada with no ID and no passport and no nothing else?  Apply for political asylum based on the unconstitutionality of your U.S. registry status?  No.  According to the RTAG (Registered Travel Action Group) site, Canada doesn’t discriminate against registered people.  Instead, their policy is to not let ANY convicted felon of any kind into their country.  Once you get caught (which you will) they’ll arrest you and toss you back across the U.S. border where you’ll be immediately arrested and sent to jail.  Is that really how you want to want to spend your vacation?

Having said all that, it is fun to dip your toe into a foreign country at the International Peace Garden.  Also, I believe this isn’t the only border-crossing, toe-dipping opportunity along the Canadian border and perhaps even the Mexican border.  I think I will see if I can find some others and report to you on them too.

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

 Lakota Nations:

First Nations tourism in the Dakotas


"My lands are where my dead lie buried."  Crazy Horse 1877

From the 50 State Visitor Guide : North Dakota

N.D. Century Code 2021 §§12.1-20-25, 12.1-32.15, 12.1-34-06

Registration Triggers and Deadlines:

3 days for initial registration of “residence” (not defined).  3 days for registration of “temporary domicile,” defined as being physically present in state for more than 10 consecutive days, present in state for more than 30 days in a calendar year, or at a location for longer than 10 consecutive days. §12.1-32.15(1)(h), (2).

Visitors: Per N Dak. SOR office, visitors must register if in state 10 consecutive days or 30 days per calendar year.

Residency/Presence and Other Restrictions:

Residency Restriction: “High-risk” offenders may not reside within 500 ft. of a public or private school. §12.1-32-13. 

Presence restriction: May not knowingly enter school without permission, subject to exceptions. §12.1-20-25.

Duration & updates:

15 to life. Frequency of updates determined by AG. §12.1-32.15.

Updates: Homeless – every 3 days. §12.1-32.15(2). Others vary.

From the 50 State Visitor Guide : South Dakota

S.D.C.L. 2021 §§ 22-24B-1 through 22-24B-36

AWA Compliant 

Registration Triggers and Deadlines:

3 business days for initial registration and updates, §22-24B-2; however, state law includes Saturday as a business day. §37-24-1(2).

Per the S. Dak. SOR office, there is “wiggle room” in the 3 business day registration requirement for short term visitors, especially if you are passing thru on a road trip and not staying in one location for more than a few days. If your stay in any one place will exceed the 3 day requirement, visitors should “check in” at local police or sheriff dept. and provide info about intended length of stay.  Supposedly, if not more than 5-6 days you will not be required to register. “Check out” upon departure.

Residency/Presence and Other Restrictions:

Residency restriction: “No person who is required to register … may establish a residence within” 500 ft. from school, park, public playground, or public pool. 

§22-24B-23. “Residence” defined as the address a person lists for purposes of the sex offender registry.

Presence restriction: “No person who is required to register” may “loiter” within 500 ft. form school, park, public playground, public pool, or library unless registrant committed offense as a minor and was not convicted as an adult. §22-24B-24.  Petitions for exemption possible. 

Supposedly, short term visitors who check in & check out according to the procedure described above (Registration Triggers & Deadlines) would not be “required to register” & thus not subject to these restrictions during their visit.

Duration & updates:

10 years to life; Petition to remove – 5 years.

Updates every 6 mo. §22-24B-7.


Sitting Bull's grave standing guard over the Missouri River

Most recent visit: September 2022

Native American nations can be fascinating places to visit, but make no mistake – you might tell yourself you are entering a sovereign nation when you cross the reservation boundary but you aren’t.  You’ll still be bound by the registry laws of whatever US state you’re in.  

Nor should you get any funny ideas if you are of native ancestry that you can somehow escape your registry status by moving to the reservation of whatever tribe you belong to.  You can’t.  As you must already realize, the oppression of the registry will follow you onto the reservation whether you’re a visitor or become a resident.  That’s why I have placed the registry laws of North & South Dakota at the beginning of this blog entry, rather than any tribal registry laws.  They don’t exist.

Another point that must be clearly made to anyone planning to travel to Indian Country is that you are NOT going to a tourist attraction.  This is not Pennsylvania Dutch Country where you as a tourist are invited to gawk at the locals driving their buggies and eat at an expensive smorgasbord.  To the contrary, you are about to enter upon a place where quite frankly you don’t belong.  Your visit is merely tolerated, and as far as I’m concerned that is as it should be. 

Despite this lack of an invitation, however, on my road trip to the Dakotas I wanted to travel through as many reservations as I could squeeze into the time allotted.  These included the following:

Crow Creek Lakota Tribe

Lower Brule Lakota Tribe

Oglala Lakota Tribe (Pine Ridge)

Crazy Horse Memorial and Cultural Center

Three Affiliated Tribes

Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Nations

Spirit Lake Tribe

Standing Rock Lakota Tribe

Cheyenne River Lakota Tribe

Akta Lakota Museum and Cultural Center

Based on television news and documentaries, I think most first time visitors to First Nations reservations would expect to find widespread rural poverty.  However, many reservation towns appear to be at least as prosperous as nearby equivalent off-reservation towns.  This may be partly owing to the fact that the businesses in these reservation towns have not been overrun and killed off by suburbanization and predatory outside chain stores like Walmart or Olive Garden or Home Depot.

Instead, with the exception of a few Dollar Stores and convenience gas stations, you will find locally owned businesses and food co-ops serving local people.  The towns I traveled through had almost no restaurants, and although the food stores often had prepared food counters inside them, don’t expect to find any interesting local cuisine there.  It’s just the usual fried chicken, overcooked hot dogs on rollers and chips you would find anywhere else.  

Apparently prosperous reservation towns I passed through included New Town (Three Affiliated Tribes), Fort Totten (Spirit Lake Tribe), Timber Lake and Eagle Butte (both Cheyenne River Lakota Tribe).  If you’re looking for rural poverty try Lower Brule (Lower Brule Lakota Tribe).

Either way there is one thing that all these towns have in common, at least to my eye.  They are exceedingly plain, almost devoid of any architectural adornment.  Many if not most of the homes in these towns are manufactured housing, and the site built homes are also seemingly devoid of any architecture.  Commercial buildings are mainly unembellished corrugated metal, often with dirt parking in front.  Functional yes, and as I said often seemingly prosperous, but nothing more. No one is trying to impress you.

But yes, you will find plenty of casinos.

The rural lands on the reservations look about the equivalent of nearby off reservation lands, consisting of farms and ranches.  Just don’t expect to see buffalo roaming anywhere because they’ve been long ago replaced by cattle just like everywhere else.  Beef – it’s what’s for dinner.

The Native American Scenic Byway passes through the Cheyenne River Lakota Reservation, sometimes criss-crossing the Lewis & Clark Scenic Byway (remember – the Missouri River, the European invaders’ main highway, bisects both North and South Dakota).  This scenic byway is absolutely stunning in its stark beauty. You’ll think you are driving through the set of Dances With Wolves … because you are.

One other point about reservation tourism – turn on your radio!  Most First Peoples have their own radio stations these days, often NPR affiliates, and there is nothing like driving through the set of Dances With Wolves with authentic Native war chants blasting on the tube!

Lastly, notice that neither of the two cultural centers I visited on this trip – the Crazy Horse Memorial and Akta Lakota Museum – are on reservations.  They are both definite must-sees for any reservation tourist, but the message of their locations is clear.  Yes, we want to tell our side of the American story, and we’re quite ready to fill up the nearby interstate highways with billboards to lure you in, but aside from that we want nothing more than to be left in peace like we should’ve been in the first place.

The only historical monument I saw on Native land was Sitting Bull’s Grave, which is right near the boundary between the Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Lakota reservation, fittingly in the middle of nowhere keeping guard over the Missouri River, a few miles from SD State Road 20.

 Travel clarifications Part 2

Dear Janice and Chance:

My name is Bruce a.k.a. Atwo Zee, Registered Traveler.  I am writing again to offer clarifications to a couple of things you have been saying about domestic travel on your monthly ACSOL zoom meetings, most recently on September 17, 2022.  

Janice, when you give the introductory presentation at each monthly zoom meeting you usually talk about which states have the shortest and longest time periods available to visitors without triggering an obligation to register.  You correctly point out that the objective of every registered traveler should be to never stay in any state long enough to be required to register because it complicates one’s life enough to be registered at all, why would you want to find yourself registered in multiple states?

I completely agree with that logic.  However, you have often mentioned Hawaii as a state having one of, if not the longest, visitor grace periods at 10 consecutive days or 30 per calendar year.  About that you are mistaken.  Actually several states have this 10 consecutive day standard, including Montana, North Dakota (where I traveled earlier this month), Washington, Wisconsin, New York, Vermont and South Carolina.  Several more states have an even longer 14 or 15 day grace period, including Colorado, Minnesota, Kentucky, West Virginia and North Carolina.

Of all these states, some also impose an overall limit of 30 cumulative days per calendar year, but others do not.

During the September 17 zoom call a man raised his hand to say he had spoken to the Oregon SOR office and they said they had no specific time period, just don’t make your visit permanent.  I am here to tell you that’s what the Oregon SOR office told me too – on two separate occasions.  That’s because Oregon’s registry law is silent on the subject of visitors and unlike some other states the SOR office has chosen not to impose a limit by fiat.

Oregon is not the only state completely lacking a visitor time limit.  Pennsylvania, for all that it has been in the news lately for having its entire registry found unconstitutional, never had any limit either.  I even visited a PA registration office to talk to an officer in person to confirm this, which he did.  However, they do define “residence” as being a place where a person is domiciled for more than 30 days per calendar year, so there’s that.  U.S. territories having no specific time limit include the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and American Samoa.

Of the remaining 48 states and two territories with consecutive day time limits, the longest is 30 days.  This generous time limit applies in Virginia, Guam and the US Virgin Islands.  By the way, none of these three places has a limit per year, so you can leave and return to re-start the clock if you need to or want to.

Monday, September 19, 2022

 North Dakota


Bison herd roaming in Theodore Roosevelt National Park

From the 50 State Visitor Guide

N.D. Century Code 2021 §§12.1-20-25, 12.1-32.15, 12.1-34-06

Registration Triggers and Deadlines:

3 days for initial registration of “residence” (not defined).  3 days for registration of “temporary domicile,” defined as being physically present in state for more than 10 consecutive days, present in state for more than 30 days in a calendar year, or at a location for longer than 10 consecutive days. §12.1-32.15(1)(h), (2).

Visitors: Per N Dak. SOR office, visitors must register if in state 10 consecutive days or 30 days per calendar year.

Residency/Presence and Other Restrictions:

Residency Restriction: “High-risk” offenders may not reside within 500 ft. of a public or private school. §12.1-32-13. 

Presence restriction: May not knowingly enter school without permission, subject to exceptions. §12.1-20-25.

Duration & updates:

15 to life. Frequency of updates determined by AG. §12.1-32.15.

Updates: Homeless – every 3 days. §12.1-32.15(2). Others vary.


Hot air balloons rising at dawn above Medora, ND

Most recent visit: September 2022

North Dakota’s visitor rules are about average and not too tough to live with.  You get ten consecutive days or 30 days per calendar year, which should be enough for most visits – unless you’ve come seeking your fortune as an oil worker, in which case you’re establishing a residence anyway and will need to abide by North Dakota’s relatively mild residency and presence restrictions.

Taking advantage of North Dakota’s longer (10 day) visitor time limit as compared to its southern namesake (3 days), I entered this state via U.S. 85 on a Saturday afternoon, the weekend after Labor Day, hoping to find a campsite available at Theodore Roosevelt National Park – South Unit, even though I did not have a reservation.  Oh well!  “Campground full.”  But fortunately there is another campground just outside the national park entrance, appropriately named Medora Campground after the town where it’s located.  They had a few sites available so I snapped one up.

The next morning was bright and crisp, and I noticed to my surprise that there were hot air balloons being readied for flight in the open fields outside the entrance to the campground.  Hurrying over to have a look I joined a big crowd of people gathered to watch at least a dozen balloons all taking off at once!  Apparently this was some kind of event that I knew nothing about ahead of time.  What a sight to see!

Once all the balloons drifted off into the distance I entered Roosevelt National Park, taking the Scenic Loop Drive (part of which has been closed for a couple of years for reconstruction, so right now it’s not a loop road).  Spectacular Badlands and wildlife, including a couple of herds of bison.  About an hour’s drive north is the National Park North Unit, also spectacular badlands with a scenic drive and lots of great overlooks to see.  

This national park is not very famous but it should be.  The North & South Units are separated by Little Missouri National Grassland, named after the river that created these two regions of badlands.  This is where a young Theodore Roosevelt came for solitude and solace after his mother and first wife died in rapid succession.  Later as president he remembered this beautiful place as he was creating our national parks system.

So far, so good for North Dakota.  But I have to say – after Teddy Roosevelt everything was downhill.  The closest town to the North Unit is Watford City which, like Minot which I also passed through, is an oil boom town where a seemingly endless collection of crappy mobile homes, strip commercial garbage, truck stops and equipment maintenance companies have been vomited across the landscape.

I stayed at two state parks while in North Dakota (Fort Stevenson & Graham’s Island) and I have to say they were both very nice, clean and well equipped with hot showers and flush toilets.

I also passed through two Indian reservations, Three Affiliated Tribes and Sprit Lakes, which I will describe in a separate blog post that treats the Sioux Nations as something separate from either South or North Dakota – because they deserve special treatment.  Lastly, I visited the International Peace Garden which strattles the boundaries of North Dakota and Manitoba!  I’m going to write separately about that too, because … well because it’s the only chance I have to write about a visit to a Canadian province, that’s why!

  Travel clarifications Part 4 Dear Janice and Chance: My name is Bruce a.k.a. Atwo Zee, Registered Traveler.  I am writing again, this time...