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.
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 have been an active RV enthusiast since 1960. My first trip across 5 Provinces of Canada, in a ’55 Chevy, my wife and I sleeping “into” the trunk from the back seat, was my first RV trip. It led to many drawings for vehicles converted to RV use. Ultimately, it led to nearly 37 years of full-time RV living (including the present day).
There were not many Walmarts, then. No Walmart Supercenters. But there was Sam Walton, and as his empire took shape, he espoused that he would never disallow an RVer an overnight parking space. It was good business, if nothing else. RVers are very loyal customers, and reward the stores , buying most of their traveling needs, and making fuel purchases at their gas stations.
I began reading Trailer Life and Motorhome life in the early 70’s. My champion was the owner and publisher Art Rouse. He took a courageous stand that probably cost him his position,ultimately. He insisted that the Trailer Life Campground Directory indicate the locations of federal, state, city and other local camping sites that were NOT associated with private campgrounds and associations. The opposition was angry and spiteful. Many advertisers pulled their listings and display ads. They wanted all the business, not just most of it. That controversy nearly broke the publishing house, and after Art took on an Emeritus position, the new folks in charge (sons!) kow-towed to the CG interests.
Well, fast-forward to the turn of the century, and to 2011. The inheritors of Sam Walton’s realm have evidently decreed that Sam’s promise to RVers no longer matters. ” Those in RV’s must find camping facilities for their rigs for the overnight stay!” seems to be their new mantra.
Campground groups have descended on cities and towns decrying the old Walmart practice as “bad for their business” , and fomented the passing of ordinances and restrictions preventing what is called “OVERNIGHT CAMPING”.
Let’s be clear…most of these are UNCONSTITUTIONAL measures, and are based on supposed state statutes which really do not apply to the situation. But the CG groups have cowed the authorities into actions that boost their bottom line.
Let’s be clear on another point. People living in their RVs are not CAMPING! The RVs have all the amenities of the houses in which most Americans live. Fortunately, or unfortunately as the case may be…Many RVs are much more luxurious! They are self-contained and sanitary vessels, and pose no threat real or imagined. When I first motored south from New England to Florida in the mid-70s, one could check-in with the manager at any supermarket, from Albertson’s to Publix et al, and permission to spend the night in the parking lot was almost always extended. We bought the evening groceries there, and what ever supplies we needed for the next day’s trip. Has this concept completely escaped the consideration of today’s super chains? Or KMart and local markets with big parking lots that stand empty at night?
I know that personally, I reward the merchants who welcome me. I avoid being where I am not welcome. That makes perfect sense, and is self-defensive with all the new NO RVS signs popping up all over. Florida has finally had the full effect upon me. This is the last year I will visit Orlando, in particular. It has become anti-RV, almost entirely. This resort area wants and needs business. But it does not welcome RVs any longer. There were two HUGE campgrounds in Orlando back in years a bit. They’re gone. The KOA land is still for sale. The other is now developed into commercial businesses along Interstate 4. If you WANTED to find a local campground in Orlando, you would have a difficult time. I know of a few not too far away, but all of them could never contain the RVers traveling from all over North America to this area! You can insert the LAS VEGAS area into this context. Once welcoming…now disdaining the business generated by those visiting in their own rigs.
Sam, you had the business sense, and the horse-sense to embrace the budding RV phenomenon. If only your family and assigns had the same foresight!
While driving from Las Vegas to New Hampshire this past two weeks, I sent Email to friends describing the roadscene. This post is a compilation of those observances. It was a relatively quick trip, for almost 3,000 miles; two weeks at an average of 215 miles per day, although I stayed for two days at Flagstaff and Springfield, MO. I only made a few side trips, and nothing very far off my route northeast.
The object was to get to New England for a visit with my daughter, a side trip to Loon Mountain (in the White Mountains of NH), a get-together with friends in Boston, and an appointment with the surgical team that replaced my right wrist, just nine weeks ago.
My love of the “blue highways” had to be filed under ‘too slow for this trip.’
I had spent about a week in Las Vegas, where I rescued my vehicle from storage. A long-time friend who is a gambler now living in Nevada , was in a ‘ slot tournament ‘ at Harrah’s on the Strip. I had flown in from New Hampshire, post surgery, and stayed at the Imperial Palace for two nights. I wanted to be sure that my vehicle was roadworthy after eight months of being stored in the sun. Doug came into town a few days later, and we visited for a few days.
I was spending my nights out at Las Vegas Bay campground, on Lake Mead. It is a beautiful desert site just 20-odd miles from the Strip. The story goes that the once –Las Vegas Wash operators of the nearby marina complained to Lake Mead Park Service that the name didn’t compete with the Boulder Beach and CallvilleBay marinas, for inducing boaters to use the facilities. The name was changed to the more attractive Las Vegas Bay, although today, there is not as much water in Lake Mead, and the marina has closed except for storage. Eleven years ago, I remember that there was a small gulch with water that some campsites bordered, but it’s a dry gulch now. There are two mens and womens comfort stations, and potable water is available, but no showers.There is a campground Host on-site, and the Rangers have a station near the marina. From the distance it appears as an oasis, with palms and desert blooms. The views from the campsites are of the distant mountains, Lake Mead and broken gulches and ravines.
Sunrise is spectacular, as are the sunsets, and the nights are peacefully quiet after a day in the city. The howl of coyotes is not uncommon.
After a week, with the maintenance chores complete, I drove south to the casino town of Laughlin. I went just after sunset, so as to travel in the relative cool of the evening. Approaching Searchlight, NV (Harry Reid’s hometown) it was cool; the town is up high, as the name suggests. Then up into the mountains, before a plunge down to the Colorado River. Laughlin is a pretty sight in the distance, as you descend to the bridge to Bullhead City, AZ. After that 100 miles, I stayed on the Arizona side for the night.
Next installment is (Part 2)