Captain Trips and I have come a long way since our novice RV days. Having mastered the water system, hydraulic jacks, and rodent control, we move on to sharing tips about where to park, and not, for the night.
1) A Friend’s Driveway.
The cushiest option by far, because inevitably, your friend will offer you the use of their guest room. And we’ve been in some fine ones so far: Ashland, Oregon; Brush Prairie, Washington; and Whitefish, Montana with a view of a lake, wild turkeys, and horses. This parking option means great beds, indoor plumbing, friends who take you on hikes, cook you dinner and mail you your stuff when you leave it behind.
2) A Friend’s Street.
This can be fun. You go inside to cook dinner with your friends,
then you go out for beers together, after which they go to their bed and you go to yours, which is a little bit sad, since your bed is out in the street. Still, you’re also beginning to feel just a little smidge of affection for the RV, and your friends give you keys and lay out towels so you can come in anytime you want and take a shower. This can also be tricky, as it was in Eugene, where the woman whose house we parked in front of collared me one morning when I emerged for the day.
“Excuse me,” she hollered from her front porch. “Can you tell me what the situation is?” I wanted to bite her. When I haven’t eaten breakfast yet, I bite. It’s a blood sugar thing. My daughter calls it ‘hangry.’ So when the woman asked me about the situation, she caught the worst of me. I’m not proud.
Truth is, people can be testy about RVs in their ‘hood, what with the prospect you might be homeless and planning a permanent encampment, which would depress their property values. So just be careful not to step on their grass, which I really, really wanted to do in this case. Because let’s face it. Nothing is more ambiguous than the question, “Can you tell me what the situation is?”
Did she mean the Palestine/Israel situation, the situation of climate change, or the fact that I’d driven all this way and she hadn’t even shown up for my reading? And if it’s one thing RVers without breakfast don’t tolerate, it’s ambiguity. Or people who fear the homeless.
3) A Rest Stop.
The worst possible option for RVers who actually want to sleep in their parked vehicle is a rest stop which doubles as truck weighing station just 15 yards from the Interstate outside Spokane. You can see where this is going.
Let’s just say that between the parking lot lights, the infernal whoosh whoosh of the Interstate, and the coming and going of 18-wheelers, neither I nor Captain Trips slept, and as so often happens when there are so many other things to blame, one of us who shall remain nameless was especially testy, blaming the other one for stealing all the covers, when a simple survey of the bed would have revealed that all the covers had, indeed, been stolen, but not by the person being blamed. If the blamer couldn’t sleep, he might have taken a glance out the bleepin’ window.
In the interest of marital concord, plan ahead. If you don’t, and end up driving and driving into the night desperate for somewhere to sleep, anywhere will be more restful than a rest stop.
4. Elementary school parking lots on Saturday night.
We made this lovely choice last night in Moscow, Idaho, at the end of a charmed day. For a change, the sun came out (our 4th dry day since June 1). I’d had a terrific book event at the University Bookstore, with friends and strangers alike lining up for copies of My Ruby Slippers. Then the Captain and I (harmony restored) spent the day soaking up atmosphere and wi-fi at the best cafe ever, Sisters’ at 3rd and Main.
Chores done, we walked out into the evening air, the Art Walk had started, bands started up at various corners of the closed streets, little kids and grownups started dancing, a man blew glass, newly-walking babies turned in circles until they fell over, another man made wooden bowls on a lathe, and it was altogether joyous. Like a Renaissance fair for real people in a real, 21st century town.
When we finally walked back to the RV, the Little League game at the ballpark across the street had ended, and the groundskeeper–alone under all those lights–was re-chalking the baselines. We climbed aboard our rolling home, tucked ourselves in, the ballpark lights went out, and quiet reined. All night.
When you’re on the road, you can use a day like that now and then. A reminder of how good a town can be when it honors the arts, has great cafes, and knows how to play. And how good it is when the sun shines.