Afraid of sleeping out in random parking places after reading this

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garyb1st

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Back in the day, when I would read the local newspaper or watch the local news, there weren't many stories of break-ins, robberies or muggings.  In fact, I'd say it was rare.  But that was in the Midwest and I didn't read the New York or Los Angeles Times.  The only national paper I would look at from time to time was the Wall Street Journal.  The only criminal activity the Journal reported on was associated with Big Business or well known individuals.  Things have changed.  We have Facebook and Yahoo News.  We read about things that occur around the country.  We read about things that happen in Europe and other parts of the world.  We read about things that the Press, in their infinite wisdom, thinks we want to read about.  We also read about RVing things that are scary.  Things like motorhome tire failures resulting in serious accidents.  Or propane refrigerators starting fire.  But is this really a fair representation of the risk.

I watched an interesting YouTube video the other day.  It was Ted Koppel talking about how the news has change.  He said that back in the day, guys like Cronkite, Brinkley and Huntley reported the news they felt we needed to know about.  Today he said reporters are reporting the news they think we want to hear about.  And it's all because of ratings.  There's something considerably more interesting about criminal activity and disaster than a couple of old folks fishing or out for a bike ride.  So that's what we get to see, hear and read about.  The attention grabbing headlines that every news stations hits the viewer with just before the commercial break.  Don't want anyone switching channels when big Pharma is going to talk about their latest new Drug. 

So just like there's a bit of paranoia over the safety of propane refrigerators and driving a motorhome without a TPMS, I personally believe the risk of spending a night in a rest area or Walmart, where the lights never go out, is maybe a bit overstated.  And just like we check our tires periodically and make sure there's no crud in the fridge burner tube or yellow stuff dripping from the cooling unit, we need to lock our doors and make sure only 95 lb. weaklings can skinny through an open window. 
 

Oldgator73

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I didn?t sleep well last night and I was in our S&B house. I?ve stayed in hotels where I didn?t sleep well. Stayed in CG?s, State and National Parks where I didn?t sleep well. It can happen anywhere. Maybe I need to have Gizmo100 stand guard wherever I am sleeping. I heard he?s kinda like that warden in Cool Hand Luke ? One mean little sumbitch?.  ;)
 

SargeW

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That's a very astute observation Gary.  I noted back when I was a very young officer that news coverage was "all about the dollar". I worked a extremely violent area of south central LA. Murders and shooting were a nightly occurrence. And we never saw any coverage on the news, because it just wasn't "good for ratings". 

So gauging a safe location based on news coverage is useless.  You are better off going by ratings of people that have stayed there, like a site like Campground Reviews.com  At least they are honest reviews by campers that have stayed there.
 

Gizmo100

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Oldgator73 said:
I didn?t sleep well last night and I was in our S&B house. I?ve stayed in hotels where I didn?t sleep well. Stayed in CG?s, State and National Parks where I didn?t sleep well. It can happen anywhere. Maybe I need to have Gizmo100 stand guard wherever I am sleeping. I heard he?s kinda like that warden in Cool Hand Luke ? One mean little sumbitch?.  ;)

What we've got here is failure to communicate.

Ditto on the not sleeping well in all kinds of situations....Of course some nights I lay awake wondering just when the "Gator" is going to strike again.

Of course..I may have a solution for that Old Gator....

 

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emjaybee77

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You cannot let your life be dictated by fears.  Make smart decisions, yes, but don't be a sheep and assume that the world is a dangerous place and you need to gate yourself up. 

Dylan Thomas says it best.

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
 

Debra17

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I love boondocking and spend about 95% of time boondocked. The other nights are usually in public lands campgrounds. When I learned about being able to camp out this way is when I decided to become a full time RVer. If I had to stay in commercial RV parks, I would not have made this choice. Everyone is different and that?s just me - not saying one way is right or wrong.

However that being said I am pretty much always out in remote areas or near small towns. I haven?t yet had a situation where I felt unsafe. But I would not want to boondock near a large city or park over night on city streets. There is just too much crime in cities- all of them. I avoid cities as much as possible.
 

Lou Schneider

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nakamuru said:
Well Seattle has lot of people living on streets and living in their cars so not that creepy. Guess it's bit of a cultural thing where outsiders who aren't used to it will consider it creepy. But if your windows are tinted and unseen look like it's part of the crowd then I say it's cool ninja stealth not creepy.

Your choice.  To me having to live your life hiding from others is not what I'd classify as cool or desirable.

Boondocking comes from the term "boondocks", WWII slang meaning out in the backcountry.  Places like in the National Forests (where allowed) and the vast expanses of the Desert Southwest.  Not in the middle of a city.

Ne'er-do-wells are lazy, they commit crimes where they are, they don't go searching for hours along backwoods roads and trails hoping to find a victim.

Go ahead and get a camper if you're going to leave the city and it's problems behind.  Don't if you expect to camp for free while playing cat and mouse in the city.
 

Back2PA

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Lou Schneider said:
Boondocking comes from the term "boondocks", WWII slang meaning out in the backcountry.  Places like in the National Forests (where allowed) and the vast expanses of the Desert Southwest.  Not in the middle of a city.


Amen. I think it's unfortunate that the defacto definition of "boondocking" has become blurred, to now include sitting at the curb or in front of Walmart, neither one of which (in my opinion) is boondocking or even camping. Personally I'd like to see a push to "redefine" boondocking back to its original meaning.


There seems to be a large contingent of the van crowd (not to include those in Class Bs that actually are camping) that have glamorized "stealth camping", rather than call it what it is - parking illegally.
 

cadee2c

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You cannot let your life be dictated by fears.  Make smart decisions, yes, but don't be a sheep and assume that the world is a dangerous place and you need to gate yourself up. 

Dylan Thomas says it best.

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

This, very much this.
 

SarniaTricia

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I had the pleasure of attending a Rabbit Show held at a Fair Ground (Indiana)
Turns out there is a bunch of folks that live in their RVs at the Fair Ground... Most are Full timers and a few live in their RV while working out of town.... Really nice bunch of folks!!

I would suggest seeing what you can find "out side" of the city centre... does it make sense (time to get to work?)
Everyone has a different level of acceptable regarding the time to travel to work.  My hubby and I each drive 40 minutes to get to work. We live between the two work locations.

Everything in life is a calculated risk.... if you risk nothing you do not live....
I personally love my RV for being my home away from home at Shows and vacationing with family. 
Full time RV isn't something I'm interested at this time.
 

Warboar

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My old company's office was down in Pioneer Square in downtown Seattle.  What a Shite hole to say the least.  Homeless problem compounded by the drug use made me avoid the office like the plague.  Would have to park in a parking garage two blocks away and walk to the office.  The whole walk it smelled like feces and urine.  Then you had to contend with all the beggars asking for money.  The office used to be located in Bellevue and not far from Microsoft's headquarters. 
When working out of the City of Lynwood's office there was a guy who lived out of his truck with a cab over camper.  He would stay the limit which was around 72 hours or so and then move to a different public area.  He and I would talk quite a bit as he was a Veteran as well.  He had had a pretty hard life after his wife and daughter were killed by a drunk driver and he ended up turning to drugs to cope with the loss.  Anyway he had been clean and sober for quite some time and trying to get his life back in order.  He said that he had been beaten up quite a few times while living on the streets. 

Only place worse than Seattle that i've been to is San Francisco which is an absolute nightmare now.  Which is to bad since it was once one of the most beautiful cities in the US. 

 
 

cerd

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I think it really depends on the area. I think if its an active area with regular traffic, you will be okay. Most of these incidents happen in secluded areas when nobody is around for hours at a time. When there's not a single car around in an urban area, it's probably a bad sign.

Just this past weekend, we arrived to our destination too late to check in. We stopped at a local bar and asked if they knew anywhere that would be open, like a state park where we fill out our own slips, etc. They told us that we would be fine just parking in their lot for the night, so we did. I was a little surprised at how active the bar was at midnight on a Thursday, but aside from waking up to car doors when they shut down, everything went fine. It was actually quieter than the campground that we stayed at the next night.
 

mel s

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donn said:
Thats just plane creepy.  Why other than being really cheap would you want to do that?  I understand Seattle like other large cities has priced the housing market out of existence for the average Joe, but really?  Maybe its time to move out of that mess knows as Sea-Tac and learn to embrace small town life.
Anyone driving a RV who is traveling a long distance and doesn't overnight in rest areas, truck stops or parking lots is wasting $$
 

Oldgator73

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mel s said:
Anyone driving a RV who is traveling a long distance and doesn't overnight in rest areas, truck stops or parking lots is wasting $$

I agree. We are destination campers and often travel 12+ hours a day. We stay at rest stops, truck stops, Walmarts (although that is getting increasingly dangerous). Just can?t see paying money for a few hours in a CG.
 

cadee2c

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Amen. I think it's unfortunate that the defacto definition of "boondocking" has become blurred, to now include sitting at the curb or in front of Walmart, neither one of which (in my opinion) is boondocking or even camping. Personally I'd like to see a push to "redefine" boondocking back to its original meaning.

When I park at walmart overnight, I call it wallydocking.
 

cerd

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Oldgator73 said:
I agree. We are destination campers and often travel 12+ hours a day. We stay at rest stops, truck stops, Walmarts (although that is getting increasingly dangerous). Just can?t see paying money for a few hours in a CG.
Again, that depends on the location. You'd have to pay me to stay overnight at a walmart in the heart of any major city and I probably wouldn't sleep. I like the unofficial checklist to see what kind of neighborhood you're in.

1) If all of the pumps are prepay or credit only, thats a mild warning. If you have to enter your zip code at the pump just to get gas, thats a big warning.
2) Size of the key to use the gas station bathroom...no key is good, small keychain is a warning, and any keychain too big to fit in your pocket is a red flag.
3) If the gas station has bullet resistant glass or the local businesses have metal bars over the doors and windows
4) If the schools and churches in the area all have enclosed yards or look similar to a penitentiary

If I see more than two red flags, I won't even stop for fuel after dark.
 

John From Detroit

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Well if you note my screen name (John from Detroit) used to be John IN Detroit)

Interesting thing about Detroit.. Yes there are many neighborhoods which fit the "Not nice" description of the original post But just a few blocks away are very nice neighborhoods in many cases.

The rule when parking at a Flying-J (Usually decent areas) Or Wal*mart (mixed) or Cracker Barrel (Usually decent) is .. If you feel uncomfortable (I have in a couple spots) MOVE ON.

For example. the local Wal*mart to where I am now.... MOVE ON.
 

Oldgator73

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cerd said:
Again, that depends on the location. You'd have to pay me to stay overnight at a walmart in the heart of any major city and I probably wouldn't sleep. I like the unofficial checklist to see what kind of neighborhood you're in.

1) If all of the pumps are prepay or credit only, thats a mild warning. If you have to enter your zip code at the pump just to get gas, thats a big warning.
2) Size of the key to use the gas station bathroom...no key is good, small keychain is a warning, and any keychain too big to fit in your pocket is a red flag.
3) If the gas station has bullet resistant glass or the local businesses have metal bars over the doors and windows
4) If the schools and churches in the area all have enclosed yards or look similar to a penitentiary

If I see more than two red flags, I won't even stop for fuel after dark.

In that last bunch of years I have not come across any fuel pumps that do not ask for your zip code when using a CC when fueling. To my knowledge all pumps are either pre pay or debit/credit card.
I have not had to ask for a BR key at any place I have gotten gas. But we usually stop at the big convince stations like WaWa or Royal Farms.
By the time I am ready to stop for the night it?s pitch dark out so i?m Not seeing school and church properties.
What I do is look at the parking area under consideration. If there are no other RV?s there, I don?t stop.
If there?s a sign prohibiting overnight parking, I don?t stop (Duh).
On longer trips like the 4 week trip we took in June we will stop at rest stops or Walmart?s in between staying at intended destinations. We will also stay at a few hotels along the way.
It?s all a matter of what you are comfortable with. I can only say what we do.
 

jayc2640

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We stayed overnight in a Walmart once.  I didn't like the noise, the discomfort of not having slides out, no shore power, etc.  I may be spoiled, but we usually stop for the day between 2:00 and 3:00 pm.  So, we're in the campground for more than a "few hours".  I'm retired, and if I can afford to stay in a campground that is secure, has shore power, sewer, wifi, and maybe even cable, I'm going to do it.  To each his own.  Those of you who like rest areas, Walmarts, truck stops, etc., more power to you.  It's just not for me.
 
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