Monday, April 4, 2016

4/4/16-Ran Out of a WalMart Parking Lot

Texas Trip-Part One, continued

In my last two posts I mentioned the delays along the way from AZ to TX that were necessary for my health. The delays also made improvements to my trip and brought wonderful surprises! This post is about the night before I arrived in Denton. When you live in your home, unexpected travel extensions are usually not a problem. You just find a safe, legal place to park and get a good night’s sleep.

As I pulled in to Graham, TX, I realized I was getting tired and needed to stop for the night. As it turns out, I found a great place to park in Graham, but I did NOT get a good night’s sleep.

I scoped the town for a safe place to park overnight, and found a few spots I thought might work. When I stopped for gas, I also asked the clerk for a recommendation. She shrugged her shoulders and said, “Most people just use Walmart.” I personally have issues with that as a default. Not because it’s a Walmart parking lot, but because I think a lot of people abuse the privilege. Still, I needed supplies so I went to Walmart and checked with the manager on duty while in the store. She was awesome and so friendly!

She said, “Hon, you park here and rest up. ‘Folk’ do it all the time and you are welcome to stay as long as you need until you are safe to be back on the road.”

A Side Note: I did not for one second take her offer to mean I could set up camp there. She was being generous and I’m certain she meant that I could stay for a night (or two) – at the most. The few that abuse this hospitality are ruining it for the rest of us.

Please, stop it. Enough said.

Because she seemed genuinely concerned, I couldn’t help but wonder if I looked as tired as I felt. I was looking forward to getting a good night’s sleep. I thanked her and when I got back to the van I moved it to the perimeter of the parking lot, away from traffic and the bulk of customer parking, and settled in for the night.

A few hours later...

In the middle of the night I was brutally awakened from a deep, peaceful sleep to a group of teenagers pounding on my van. They were also egging my van while yelling obscenities. From what I could tell there were about 7 of them in 2 bubba trucks. They were shouting things like, “There better not be any of our friends in there you pervert.”

It was cold that night so I had turned my heater on. It in turn had fogged up the windows. Idiot kids.

The take home lesson: After receiving approval (check), park in a well lit area (check), near other overnight visitors (oops), and where you can be seen from the street (oops).

Back to the event...

With my awesome setup (thanks again Colvin, Bob, et al), I was able to leap out of bed and roll out within a few minutes – without leaving the safety of my van. In the meantime, the troublesome teenagers had sped off as they shouted, “We’ll be back. Get out of our town.”

I was eager to do just that. With my adrenaline pumping, I drove to the next major town almost 2 hours away before I stopped to check on the van and wash it. (Thank you Colvin for staying on the line with me, in the middle of the night, grounding me and making sure I was okay. Once again, you’re my hero. Muah!)

The whole thing really rattled me. It wasn’t just that my van was vandalized, I felt violated – my home had been invaded and my security threatened. I was very grateful however when all of the eggs washed off and there was no permanent damage. The van got a good, long scrubbing, while I too began to let the fear roll away.

Several days after this incident a friend who is a veteran of fulltime vandwelling pointed out to me that I probably could have just stuck my head out the door, told them to knock it off, inform them that I had the manager’s approval, and emphatically state that they needed to leave before I called the cops. His thought was that once they saw it was just an older lady trying to get some rest that would have been the end of it. (I’m proud to say he is still alive even after the “older lady” comment.)

The truth is he’s probably right, but in the thick of it, being awakened from a dead sleep, I couldn’t think that quickly. And, since (as previously mentioned), there are so many overnight campers at WalMart giving the rest of us bad images I don’t know that I would have called the cops anyway. That would have contributed to the plight of overnight campers being seen as a problem. With more and more WalMart stores putting up signs prohibiting overnight parking, I decided it was best just to move on. You know, since I can.

After washing the van, I was still unable to sleep and ended up driving all the way to Denton which was just another 2 hours away. I found a great place to park in Denton, in an area I knew well, and I made sure I was next to other overnight truckers. I set my alarm and got a few hours sleep before I headed to the storage unit.

As you know from my previous post, I ended up staying on-site at my storage unit for 5 days with the manager’s approval. I got rid of everything I owned that wouldn’t fit in my van, and you can read my previous post (here) for the details on that arduous, life-changing process.

After Denton, Colvin treated me to a wonderful stay at a nearby State Park. Whew! It was much needed. Thanks hon! Stay tuned for info on my Texas Trip-Part Two. In the meantime dear readers, KOKO!


  1. If something like that happens to you again, lay on the horn of your car... Make lots of noise. That could help...

    1. That's a great idea croshayallday. Will do! Thanks!

    2. I'm a lady trucker and drove solo for over 30 years. I know lots of tricks... ;)

    3. I have a friend that was a trucker for years, large rigs, cross-country! She now operates a trucking company she and her husband own so she no longer drives. I am so proud of you pioneering women. Please continue sharing your tricks, hints and ideas. Awesome! :))

  2. Oh Debra that is just awful, to do something like that and make those remarks. It just sickens me how some people are, young or not they know better. Think just moving on was the best thing to do and with your setup move to drivers seat and take off. ;)


    1. Thank you, Tina. It was the best thing for me, for sure, at the time. HugZ!

  3. that would have scared me silly and i would have done the same thing you did. men don't think like we do and they are also more able to DEAL if they stick their heads out, with kids these days they might have seen and old lady. SORRY and decided to do some real damage... i vote for what you did and am glad you had a happy ending to the tale of woe.. blessings

    1. Thank you compadre mine! They def would have seen an "old" lady, LOL. I'm glad I didn't take the chance and move on. I like happy endings too. :))

  4. Hi ! I'm new to your page, you are a brave lady traveling & living solo, I DO admire you, no doubt ! That was a nasty, scary attack U suffered. Those kids probably took you as male, a sexual predator living in a van, thus all the insults; nevertheless, they were way off mark !! Glad things improved relatively rapidly for you, true, there are los of advantages been able to turn the ignition key & GOOOO.
    Be blessed & happy trails.

    1. Thank you! I love that you get the blessing of being "able to turn the ignition key & GOOOO"! Thank you for the support and for stopping by! :))

  5. Yeah, the thing I sometimes worry about is young, bored, ignorant, drunk locals.

    1. Hi Al, "bored, ignorant, drunk" is a bad combination at any age. Ha! :) I could have handled it better. I'm learning. Colvin and I enjoyed seeing you in Lone Pine. Safe travels!


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