We drove into Memphis after the sun had set – our GPS taking us down Elvis Presley Boulevard. In the lights it was all glitter and neon and we weren’t sure what we were looking at. The Man had programmed in the nearest Walmart to Elvisland and we pulled into the huge parking lot and sat in the car for a while – tired.
When we travel with our trailer we head for any Walmart we can find along our route. Not to shop – but to sleep overnight in their parking lots. Most of them allow overnight (camping) as long as you stay around the edges (of the parking lot). They know that more than likely you will be spending money in their store. If it’s not allowed – and in some places it’s against city bylaws – there are signs posted that say no overnight parking (camping). Why would we camp in a Walmart parking lot you ask? There are many reasons people do it – but the first one people say is – it’s free camping. But it’s also a safe and known place to stop overnight as you make your way to your final destination. Most of the stores are open 24hours and have groceries as well as everything you might need along the way. Of course we don’t put out the awning or the camp chairs and only once have we heard someone start up their generator (we were appalled!)
We have our routine down pat after all the trips we’ve taken with our little trailer and car. We pull into the parking lot and we look around for a spot that won’t be in anyone’s way and where we won’t be bothered by cars coming in and out. More often than not - Walmart has security traveling around their lots to ensure the safety of everyone. The yellow lights atop the vehicle can be seen circling the lot throughout the night. Only once have we been told we couldn’t camp and we were asked to leave – but that’s another story for another time.
So we sat for a while – tired – silent – and watched the lights of the security vehicle. The truck circled and circled – coming closer each time and we wondered if we were going to be asked to leave. The Man got out and went into the trailer and I sat in the car and listened to music blaring from somewhere behind us. In a few minutes The Man was back in the car and pulling out our Walmart atlas - it has the addresses of every Walmart in it as well as being an atlas. In a minute he was programming something into the GPS and starting the vehicle.
“What’s going on?” I asked.
“I think we should go somewhere else. You heard the music blaring? The security guard – and this one is a woman – pulled up behind the trailer and got out of her truck and started dancing.”
I know my mouth fell open and I was of course fascinated. While The Man worked on the GPS I watched the security guard as she drove past singing and bobbing her head. Obviously she was having a great time. Obviously it wasn’t going to be a restful night for us.
In a few minutes we were on our way again and the GPS took us 20 minutes across town and into another Walmart parking lot. This one didn’t have any dancing security guards and we quickly unhooked the trailer and set up. In no time we were fast asleep and oblivious to any sounds around us.