Monday, January 31, 2011

They Even Greet You

Did you know that you can camp at Wal-Mart?  My daughter made me aware of this fact a few years ago.  We would frequently see RV's in the parking lot of our local Wal-Mart and wondered if they were just squatting for the night.  When Laura was researching a drive across country from South Carolina to Nevada, she discovered that these RV'ers were actually embraced by the folks at Wally World.  That opened my eyes.  

Now, when I travel, I look for the Wal-Mart Campers, as I call them.  I've seen them in the South Carolina towns of Charleston, Mt. Pleasant, Myrtle Beach and even Florence.  They have also been spotted in North Carolina and Virginia in Wal-Marts along Interstate 95.  I'm fascinated by the RV culture and yearn to belong to their club, but this new aspect has me really excited.  Especially when I see them set up in our local Wal-Mart with awnings out, tiki lights illuminated, putt putt carpet and lawn chairs in place.  All as if to say, "We're home!  Stop by for a visit." 

Home for the Night ~ Florence, South Carolina

Research on the internet garnered these facts:

1.  You may stay at most Wal-Marts and it is entirely free. (A few states disallow this camping experience.) 

2.  Please check in with the store manager upon arrival as a courtesy.  They will even make sure to alert security to keep an eye out for you and your camper.

3.  It's best to stay at the 24 hour Wal-Marts (aren't they all?). 

4.  The greeters might even come out and welcome you. 

5. Wal-Mart has finally figured out a way to make use of the far reaches of their parking lot.

6.  Truckers like to see the RV's because they feel as if they aren't all alone when delivering in the middle of the night.  

Who Lives in this Tent? ~ Behind the Wall in Florence, SC

It's not always fun and games though.  Lately, in addition to the travelers in their sleek expensive motor homes, I've seen people down on their luck sleeping in the Wal-Mart parking lots.  It's a sobering reflection on today's economy, but I'm thankful they have a safe place to be. 

Keep your eyes open and see how many of these wayfarers you come across.  Give them a smile and a wave.  One day, you just might see me.  ~Hopefully, I'll be the one with the pink flamingo tiki lights with a cocktail in hand waving right back!

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