Well, I threatened to do it and now it is done.
In May I finally said goodbye to friends in Orlando, loaded my shuttle-van from stem to stern, top to bottom, and headed up my favorite Ocean route for the North Country. It was an unremarkable trip until I reached the last rest area on the Garden State Parkway. Returning to the van from the facilities I noticed that the right front tire was low. Mainly, it was flat on the bottom! I called my tow service, and within a half hour the wrecker arrived. The driver announced that to get the spare tire to descend from under the vehicle he needed access to the rear double doors to reach the pulley mechanism (News to me!) The only problem was that I have a cargo carrier mounted in the trailer hitch, and it was packed with a huge container carrying all my kitchen gear and microwave oven. Lashed atop were two ladders. It all had to come down into the parking lot!
Tire changed, I crossed into New York on the Tappan Zee Bridge on onto rough roadways with potholes like foxholes. Not the best feelings of confidence with a new and untested spare tire. All went well, however, and in Cromwell, Connecticut I stopped for what was left of the night in a Super 8 hotel. In the morning I turned onto I 91 and cranked it up to sixty. Almost immediately I heard and felt a huge clanking from the self-same right frontwheel.
I limped off the expressway onto US 5 and proceeded very slowly, attempting to keep the horrendous noises to a minimum, and through the light Sunday traffic of church-goers until I reached E.Springfield, Massachusetts. There I found the Firestone garage that I’d scoped-out on line. They’re open for business on Sunday, and it was determined that I had burned out a wheel bearing.
They got right to the work but couldn’t get a replacement rotor overnight, so I left it and checked into Howard Johnson’s until Monday. Repairs complete ($600. later) I resumed my journey and arrived at my daughter’s place in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
I’m still there, but looking for a place on the Massachusetts North Shore where I can resume my studio painting.
There are virtually thousands of recreational vehicles that arrive in Orange County and Orlando each month to visit Disney World, Sea World, Universal , the Convention Center, and myriad other attractions in the environs. There are few private campgrounds, fewer county campgrounds, and still fewer city facilities where RVers might check in. The City of Orlando doesn’t want them….Orange County doesn’t want them. Osceola County doesn’t, either….or Kissimmee. They just want the MONEY generated by these visitors, not the issue of where they will park for the night!
Ask any WALMART manager about the parking of RVs in their lots overnight, and they will tell you that RVers spend lots of cash in their stores and gas stations. They cause no trouble, and have little impact on the shoppers’ activity. Sam Walton, the venerable founder of this phenomenal chain, always maintained that he would not turn away an RV needing a parking space overnight. And that stated policy has carried over the decades, so that all RVers look for a Walmart for their groceries, their automotive needs and for general shopping. The only problem is one created by local governments. WHY?
If RVers have families traveling with them, they might prefer to have the amenities found in campgrounds. But a retired couple, or a single person living full-time in his RV, have no use for slides and swings, wading pools and game rooms. And they didn’t buy the expensive vehicles to have to pay tribute to campground owners with high-priced overnight charges. One could rent a motel room for less, and not use the RV facilities. But that is not what this is about.
I have been a full-time RV traveler for over 35 YEARS. Only recently have the counties,cities and towns begun to flex their muscles (often at the behest of campgrounds) and threatening stores with violations of codes, real or imagined, and the imposition of fines. (Just another REVENUE PRODUCER in tough times??) In one town I am familiar with, there are state statutes cited that have to do with regulations for the operation of a campground. Stores that operate all 24 hours, 7 days a week, can certainly allow their customers access during all those open hours without being accused of running a virtual campground.
But these entities operate under the cloak of secrecy. Taking pictures of “violating over-nighters”, and cowing the stores into measures to come “into conformity.” These are akin to NAZI TACTICS to achieve political will. There have been ANONYMOUS CALLS to Walmart, at different echelons of management, complaining about RVs parking in their lots. From WHENCE COMETH THESE CALLS??
Campground personnel? Jealous non-RV folks? Or could it be S A T A N ?
Walmart needs to MAN UP…and refuse to accede to these nonsense harassment tactics, which amount to nothing but a tempest in a teapot. Anonymous call = UN American, in my view.
We of the RV community, a group in the millions, need to take a circumspect look at whether our motoring dollars are well-spent at places that no longer seem to want and welcome us. And the ACLU and other rights organizations, need to face off against blatantly UNCONSTITUTIONAL ordinances and restrictions.
Lastly, I must mention that Orlando is the infamous city that has ARRESTED AND JAILED people who have tried to feed the homeless and other needy individuals downtown, in a park adjacent to a chi-chi neighborhood. This action ordered by a wealthy mayor, Buddy Dyer, who lives in one of the city’s most affluent areas (previously Tiger Woods hang-out). Will they now start to arrest and jail those who are accused by anonymous callers of parking overnight at the local Walmart Supercenter?
If they hate the hungry and homeless…..it seems they also HATE RVers...even if they’re not penniless.
So it is just after midnight, and I’m moving east on the Connecticut Turnpike, I95. I’ve been driving since before noon, having left Petersburg, Virginia at late morning. I wanted to get through Richmond after rush hour, past the DC beltway before the afternoon rush (timeless), and out over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge for a peaceful drive through the Maryland farm lands. That put me in Newcastle, Delaware at about 6 PM, but as I again headed for I95 near Wilmington, the traffic was not bad. Rush hour was over, around Philadelphia, going north, and the highway was hassle-free.
To digress; as I passed the Chester,PA Harrah’s Casino, I noticed a guy approaching the ramp for the highway on a HOT Kawasaki motorcycle. I was doing about sixty, but soon I spied him in the rearview, screaming up the road. He passed me like Roadrunner passed the Coyote…..Bwaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh! A minute later he slowed slightly to veer off toward the airport when it happened. Maybe he had won big at Harrah’s, and was tearing up the pavement in sheer exhilaration, but a WAD OF BILLS flew out of his pocket, hit the tarmack, splashed up into his backdraft and fanned out into the landscape. As I went by, a couple of HUNDREDS leapt over the right side of my windshield. I COULDN’T STOP! And the few cars in the lanes behind me hadn’t seen the paper bounty as it scattered toward the guard rails. This guy never realized his loss and I stared as he slowed for a cruiser, then re-accelerated out of my sight as I went up the bridge ramp past Philadelphia International.
Oh,woe..the mis-(missed) fortune!
Anyway, it is after midnight. I picked up the first real truck traffic on the NY Thruway, as it comes south and crosses the Tappan Zee Bridge (FIVE BUCKS TOLL for my little Saturn!), and it increased ex-potentially as I escaped the Bronx and entered New England. From the line, and to West Haven, I was literally surrounded by semi’s, threatening my rear bumper, pulling out and around with a whisker of room between surfaces, slowing and moving in unfathomable right lane convoys, flying past in the passing lane at 20 MPH over the limit. Then construction near New Haven closed all but one lane. The jockeying and intimidation really shook me as I hoped for some recognition in this bunch of BROTHER-TRUCKERS!
Whenever I visit a WALMART SUPERCENTER, which is a frequent experience for all RVers, I carry my refillable drinking water jugs in to the Culligan or Glacier water machine, to fill them from the water source with filtered, reverse-osmosis-treated, and delicious H2O. The cost per gallon is usually about 27 cents (by comparison,the Walmart drinking water is at least 78 cents in a throw-away jug!).
NO MORE!!! Walmart, in its constant profit-driven impetus, has removed those consumer-friendly machines in favor of their own supply of 5 gallon pre-filled jugs, showcased in huge racks that take up more floor space than the water machines, and which disallow the green-minded of us, a convenient system of providing the drinking water we can store effectively.
Is it about floor space in their newly-designed stores? Is it about aesthetics in removing those dispensers? Is it that re-fillers bring in their own recycled bottles and jugs? Is it about a pure profit motive?
I vote for the latter! The machines are installed, inspected and serviced by the manufacturer/suppliers. That the machines are not emblazoned with the WALMART logo may be a source of irritation to the world’s largest retailer.
They should be ashamed at this grab of one of the most important green-related activities that we RVers, and home owners could exercise. I won’t be surprised that their response will be mute.
I’m not picking on Florida….I just happen to spend a lot of time there. My observation pertains to other places as well, but here goes.
Maybe you have noticed what I have about driving in Florida. It doesn’t seem to matter that the roads are generally adequate to handle lots of traffic. If you are attempting to enter a road by crossing two lanes to get headed in the other direction,… you cross to the median….AND WAIT…AND WAIT…AND WAIT. The traffic may be thin, but do you think ANYONE cares that you are waiting to join the fun? They cannot be bothered to move over to where they are supposed to be in the first place. The ONLY lane they ever deign to move their precious butts in.. is the PASSING lane! So we wait.
Hence, my contention, that all the four lane roads are kind of worthless if every selfish creep is only using the left lane, and you can’t get to the right lane ’cause they won’t let you in. If it were an occasional thing you could grin and bear it with a few choice expletives sent their way. BUT it seems to be the rule. And the police are the worst offenders…the right hand lane does not exist for the police. So the multitudes (poor drivers take note) use their example, and refuse to get-the-hell-over except when passing.
What if there were traffic cones in all the right lanes throughout the state. Wouldn’t make a lick of difference….it would just enable what is the habit, and expected practice of these NASCAR rejects. There isn’t a car they DON’T want to pass as soon, and as fast as they can. So, I guess my whole premise may be wrong! These boobs are not just born to pass…they’re always PASSING SOMETHING…. so they don’t have to get-the-hell-over for anyone. Makes perfect sense to me.