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!
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.
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!
A lot of new traffic light cameras are going into service in Orlando soon. It’s not a good thing; not because they won’t provide millions in REVENUE,…they will, but the reason should be for safety….red light running is rife in the City Beautiful. Every morning one can hear of the accidents at all the usual places, primarily because those idiots are trying to stretch the spectrum from yellow to just-before–RED ! With opposing left-turn traffic, that’s not a great idea!
I grew up in Boston which is known for erratic and crazy driving. There is a major difference between those in the Northeast and those in Orlando. The Orlando drivers are also reckless, self-centered, speed-oriented and unwilling to give an inch, however they lack talent and driving skills. They are just BAD drivers.
In a world of high gas prices and lots of hyperbole about being green, one would think that jack-rabbit starts and stops,and speeding into red lights would become less frequent…given that much fuel is wasted with those practices. Doesn’t matter here! Since I got my license to drive in 1949 I have always tried to save gas by letting up on the gas pedal when sighting a distant red light, or yellow-turning-red. Cruising up to the car ahead with just a modicum of forward momentum can save a tablespoon of petrol, and even extend the life of the drive train of any vehicle. It simply won’t work in Orlando. The reason is ridiculously simple…the drivers here don’t look ahead to the condition of the lights ahead. And if they detect slowing or stopped cars upstream, they jockey to be in the shortest lane….no matter which one has the fewest cars…even to gain ONE DAMN SPACE! It is stupid and maddening! I am in the right-hand lane, generally, where I belong…watching all the action up ahead, and sensing the changing colors of the traffic lights and the relative speed and location of all the vehicles around me. As a light goes to yellow and red upstream, I slow to a cruise, so as to accelerate on the green. BUT WHOOPS…the guy speeding in sees the empty space ahead of me and takes immediate claim to gain a space. I end up braking for this freak of nature (not so freakish in this city, unfortunately), and my gas bill goes up commensurately.
One could play the game, as many here do, of speeding up slightly to prevent this hopscotching activity, and disallowing the creep his favored lane. But that is one more cause for the frayed nerves and some fender-benders.
And human nature (in-human?) dictates that if you need to change lanes or merge into traffic, the oncoming freak will speed-up to disabuse your notion. If you SUCCEED in getting into the traffic ahead of him or her, that jerk will STREAK AROUND YOU, and glowering as if you ruined the day, will pull into your lane just ahead of you to prove, once-and -for-all, that HE REIGNS SUPREME on these friggin’ roads!
So why aren’t these cameras a good thing… because they are NOT traffic officers, and cannot testify in court that you broke the law. You MAY have broken the law…but maybe you didn’t!
I was ticketed in Delaware last year when my RV ticked-off a camera at an intersection on US 13. The resulting color pictures clearly showed my wheels over the line on RED. What was not so clear was the truck approaching and entering the intersection from the right with a load of PortaPotties, and I had no idea if he was going to proceed straight into the intersection, or turn right…but he wasn’t stopping! Instead of proceeding easily and safely through the yellow light, I was forced to BRAKE through the space, and over the line after RED. The official who reviewed the tape agreed with me that a shade of grey existed, and that I could successfully challenge the ruling. BUT….. I’d have to go 1,000 miles to Delaware for the ensuing court date…or pay $125. to avoid doing so. This is wrong. No camera can determine shades of grey; safety officers can do that. I oppose those new cameras on the pretext that there is no actual witness to what happens, and Big Brother should find other sources of revenue. In Orlando, where the State Police hide and wait for the slightest infractions to fatten the coffers (this is a proven published fact), more so than in most other areas, they’ll work less hard, as the friendly lenses vicariously capture the action. Police would be the cause of slower driving and better driving in accordance with the existing traffic laws if the were MORE VISIBLE, moving WITH the flow, and not ALWAYS in the LEFT LANE, exceeding the limit as if they were above the law.
Cameras don’t show this behavior, but you and I know it happens. Who writes those tickets?