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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The free campers



There's a lot of people living on the road these days. One end of the spectrum are those with big motor homes who stay in full service parks. They often pay more for their parking space than I like to spend on a hotel. Of course, their expensive sites come with a lot of amenities: game rooms, nice showers and baths, full hook ups, pools, hot tubs, and planned events.

On the other end are those who never or almost never pay for a night's camping. Most people are familiar with spending the night at a Walmart or a truck stop. That works pretty well for those in vehicles they can sleep in. Van campers make good use of such sites, and I've done it pretty often myself. It's a good solution if all you want is a place to park and get a good night's sleep.

Some people have expanded their free parking spots to include areas like abandoned shopping mall parking lots and old industrial areas. Some even successfully overnight in residential areas. To do that successfully it helps to have a vehicle that blends into the neighborhood. Parking late and leaving early helps to stay under the radar. All these places come with the risk that someone might mess with you, either the local police or even local thugs looking for trouble.

On my way south in the car this year I discovered one of my favorite rest stops was full of rowdy young men hooting and hollering in the middle of the night. We drove on down the road until I found a place with a safer feel to it.

What if you are traveling in something that doesn't have four wheels and a roof? There are people who've been living out on the road for years on motorcycles. There's pros and cons to that way of life. It's obvious that they can't just spend the night in a parking lot. They need a place to pitch their tent.

Free camping on Federal land is always good. If you've got a motorcycle it's easy to get off the main drag, drive down an old fire road a bit and camp in a secluded spot. Some of these sites are absolutely beautiful. They also are good places if you want to spend more than a single night.

There are those who seek out abandoned homes. Driving down the road they look for places without mailboxes and weeds growing out of the driveways. Abandoned houses that too far gone for squatters are good places. The ruins of the house make for a good windbreak and the paved areas are nice solid dry spots to pitch a tent.

There are a lot of houses like that in America. Many homes were abandoned in the Gulf of Mexico area when hurricane Katrina did its damage. A lot of rural homes have been left to decay in rural areas where the population moved into cities. The 2008 housing market crash left a lot of empty homes all across the nation.

Like motorcyclists, bicyclists and backpackers look for places to pitch their tent. While they don't cover as many miles as those on a motorcycle, they can push through the underbrush where a motorcycle won't go. One issue is that they are looking for a lot of the same spots that the local homeless population uses. For some people that's fine as they don't mind blending in with them. I think it's safer to avoid them as too many have drug and alcohol issues.

Does this sound like life in a Dystopian society? Guess what? For people in the lower income brackets they are already there. The collapse has happened. It's just not evenly distributed. One thing about the free campers is that they are free. Society's rules no longer work for them so they've bailed on society. Some get what money they need by picking up occasional work. Others may produce and sell arts and crafts. Heck, there are even a handful who live totally without money. That's about as far outside the system as one can get.

Once you've free camped for a while it may occur to you that it's your God given right to be able to live without paying for the privilege. Like the fish in the sea or the birds in the air, man can be free.

-Sixbears

8 comments:

  1. Sounds like if Steinbeck were still around he'd write a book about free campers.
    I don't think I'd want to hang around abandoned buildings and places like that. You might wind up in the stew pot.

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    1. It takes a keen eye to figure out which places are safe. Now imagine having to figure it out night after night.

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  2. Starting to see more people riding old bicycles loaded with camping gear along the highway now. Never noticed it before, though.

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    1. You aren't suppose to notice it now. Everything is fine. Nothing to see here.

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  3. I live just off I95 in NC and work on the road every day. I'm seeing more and more people that obviously live on road full time. Some will setup a tent right off the road in full view, I guess they won't be there long enough to be hassled? Lots of them panhandle but never had any of them give me a hard time. I feel for some because there was a time that I was close to that situation myself.

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    1. People don't realize how quick one can go from having a "normal" life to losing just about everything. Some people figured the game's not worth it in the first place.

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  4. I've given a lot of thought to what I'm going to do after my caregiver days are done. haven't really come up with a good solution yet.

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    1. Every situation is different. At least you can look at what other people are doing and see what appeals to you.

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