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Saturday, December 7, 2013

No More Free Parking



Okay, it's been a while since I've done the car living thing. Now it's van living, so one would think it'd be easier.

In some ways it is. On my southward trip, it wasn't too hard to find legal or at least semi-legal places to park for the night. Of course, what was I getting? A place not too far off the highway where I could shut down for a night's sleep. A vacation destination it was not.

It wasn't that many years ago it was possible to stay overnight, for free, in tourist areas. People think they can pull into a Walmart and spend the night. While it's possible in a lot of places, don't expect to do so near the beach. My lovely wife and I were looking into maybe spending a free night somewhere on our trip down south. Homestead Florida used to have some free overnight parking at big box stores. My information tells me that's no longer allowed.

Florida used to have some free campgrounds in the Everglades. The only free ones I could find are out in the back country that require a hike. Very basic drive to sites with nothing but primitive pit toilets charge money. Might as well stay someplace with services.

It wasn't all that many years ago that there were places to park overnight in the Florida Keys, for free. One could park for the night at a number of places and no one would bother you. That's over. Last time I was in Key West, I discovered that even places I used to be able to park for a few hours now have meters. Forget about trying to spend the night.

There are a couple things at work here. Governments are hurting for revenue, so they are charging for anything they can. Campgrounds and hotels put pressure on big box stores to close their parking lots at night. Then there is the general hate and fear of the gypsy, vagabond, or homeless person. Anyone living a different lifestyle is suspect.

Camping in general has gotten more expensive. My lovely wife and I can manage it for a week, but we used to go camping for months at a time. That's no longer in our budget. Between my income going down and prices going it, we feel the squeeze.

There are people who stealth camp. Right now that works best with minimal gear. Backpackers can head into the brush and disappear. Even kayak campers, if they are careful, can find places to hide for the night. That doesn't mean one won't run afoul of the law or private security. Most of the time a person will be told to move on. However, this is Florida, so one could also get shot. The risks are higher than they used to be.

A boat at anchor is still free, but there are areas that have put in mooring fields and banned the practice. Even so, it's a big coastline and there's still prime anchorages. As long as a boat meets Coast Guard safety standards, there's not a lot to worry about. I hear that some of the more popular hobo sailor areas get raided by the law. As long as there are no drugs on board, there isn't a lot they can can to you. It's just harassment. The guy with big mansion on the water, who has to look at the decrepit boats, pays the law's wage through taxes. Some of my favorite anchorages are away from those mansions, so we haven't been bothered -yet.

I do miss all the free camping spots I used to go to.

-Sixbears

16 comments:

  1. Big Brother don't like it when you hide.

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  2. Nope nothing is free in coastal areas but the memories.Its all about getting as much money as they can before you leave.

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    1. It's gotten a lot more expensive in recent years.

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  3. It's a dreadful state of affairs and it's a worldwide situation. Mankind has sold its soul and worships the god of greed. I sympathise with you and your wife Sixbears. I believe you can't even get into one of your national parks without a booking. You even have to have a booking to go kayaking on some of your rivers. Look what's happened to this stupid world and weep for how it was and will never be again...

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    1. I do weep for our children and grandchildren. They don't know the freedom I grew up with.

      The line in the sand for me was when they started charging to park to go hiking on public land.

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  4. Welcome to the new reality pal.

    Here on the Left Coast you can't even visit the State or Federal parks that WE PAY FOR without a thirty dollar a year permit.

    You like to fish?
    You have to have a parking permit to park on the side of the fucking road, I kid you not.

    Forget trying to camp overnight.
    Walmart has private security patrolling their lots 24/7 around here now.

    If you try to pull over and get some sleep you will be rousted by the local cops. Guaranteed.

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    1. . . . and I heard it was supposed to be better out west.

      In NH on my lake, it's still possible to launch a boat and park for free. Too bad the rest of the world isn't like that.

      I'm always searching for cracks in the system where a poor boy like me can play.

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  5. Indeed, my wife and I really miss the west. Out there there is plenty of free camping on BLM and Forest Service land. On the East Coast in general, not so much. Getting to be harder on a boat too here in Floriduh.
    If only I could get over the aversion to the cold, we'd be gone in a flash back out west with our RV....
    Have fun with the crazies in Key West !

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    1. I've a lot of National Forest land in NH and used to do a lot of free camping on it. Even did winter camping in my younger, crazier days.

      Of course, one government rule change and your life gets messed up.

      They seem normal enough to me in Key West -except for the other tourists that is. :-)

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  6. You can still park free at the Wal Mart here. Or on the beach in Kleberg County. Nueces County beaches will cost you a $12 parking sticker, good for a year.

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  7. The San Juan Islands have a ferry one pay for but there are pristine places to camp, if one can muster up the courage to ask the millionaires people who man their homes while they are at homes in the desert southwest for most of the year..It costs for most national parks here but we are old now and the passes for Washington state are very low.One can ride a huge metro bus, train, light rail system called the ORCA PASS FOR LITTLE MONEY, it is called ORCA FOR THE MANY ORCAS IN THE WATERS OUTSIDE OF SEATTLE, AT senior costs one can ride it for many many miles, but live on it no, but many communities have hostel type living places for those with no cash..Used to be one could camp at many places they put in PARKS FEES AND GOT RID OF THAT..we have lived in our community 35 years we went to a lovely lake and got a fee of $60.00 a ticket our neighbor was the printer for the county and could not believe we parked where we did, there was no warning no signs, we have never been back, no one uses that place at all cause they fine you to park there how is anyone to ever see the lake use the lake or get to the lake...it is just the sign of an ever increasing government that has to tax, fine and make sure no one can use any of the beautiful areas anyplace!

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    1. Wow, $60 for parking in an unmarked spot. Not good.

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  8. I don't find it to be a new problem. In the mid- 1970s, a friend and I visited east central New Hampshire with a small motor home in the winter, expecting we could just park somewhere. Not the case. A local with a .30-06 rifle discouraged us from parking by the side of the dirt road near his house. So we tried closer to civilization, in the parking lot of a shopping center. The police rousted us from there around 6 a.m.

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    1. Two attempts to spend the night. Two encounters with armed me. Not good. It's gotten worse since the 70s too.

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