It was midnight. We were parked on a desolate road, not a house in sight. We were sleeping in our warm cozy bed against a very chilly night, dropping to a low of 20 degrees.
Earlier we had parked on a dirt road making sure there was plenty of room to drive on either side of the truck. There were no signs posted saying “keep out”, “no trespassing”, or “no camping” and we had seen a couple of hunters parked on the same road earlier in the day. A couple of other vehicles drove slowly past us on the road around dinner time, running their dogs.
The scenery was breathtaking. We had been in the desert all winter, so to see tall pine trees and a small lake (very large mud puddle really) we knew we had found a piece of heaven.
I was the first to awaken to a thumping on the side of the truck.
“Anybody in there?” a male voice called out.
“Wake up, Tal! The police are outside.”
Tal staggered out of bed to find his tee shirt and jeans.
“They’re in the trailer!” an officer shouted to his fellow men. “Police, open up!” he yelled.
“Just a minute!” Tal yelled back as he struggled into his clothes. I got up and put on my bathrobe with nothing underneath. I always want to be visible to the authorities and give a smile to defuse any hostility. It almost always works.
Tal opened the door as I stood peeking around from behind him.
“Do you have any weapons on you?” a sergeant shouted out.
“No,” Tal replied calmly.
“Step out of the trailer,” one of the officers said. There were at least six of them that had gathered around, hands on their weapons and at the ready.
“It’s freezing out,” I whined, like any normal woman would.
“This is our home, we live in this,” Tal told them.
“Do you have ID?” he asked me, they had already asked for Tal’s.
“Yes, I’ll have to get it,” I padded to the back of the trailer for my purse.
“Your truck is smoking,” another commented.
“I was keeping the fire going,” Tal told them.
“Is it ventilated in there?” The sergeant asked.
Tal told him it was, and they were welcome to take look inside. Several of them walked up to the door.
“I’ve never seen this before,” one said.
“I haven’t either,” Tal confessed.
Still, we weren’t winning them over.
“You’ll have to leave in the morning. I suggest you find another place to park.” the unsmiling sergeant said.
“Do you know where there is any BLM land?” I asked.
“There’s nowhere for you to park around here. Your best bet is to go to the next town.”
When they saw our smoke they may have assumed we were a meth lab. That would not be the first time for that to happen. We had been parked there all day, but they waited until the middle of the night to come out and surround us.
“They were probably disappointed when they saw we were just an old couple camping out,” I told Tal.
It was unnerving to be awoken like that and Tal had trouble getting back to sleep. They made us feel like criminals and they made it clear they wanted us out of their tourist town. Never mind that we had been spending our money in their restaurants and stores just like any other tourist would.
One officer suggested that they were supporting the RV parks by not allowing any free parking. I reminded him that at our size of over 65 feet, we couldn’t even pull into an RV park. We were an exception to the rule.
“I’m really sorry,” he said. “You’ll have to leave or be issued a ticket.”
We could stay on forest land for a time, but unlike the desert the forest service has a full set of rules that you have to abide by. We are set up for long term Off Grid, so we are not able to comply without a lot of jerry-rigging that would need to be done, at least at this time.
This is the worst of it for us. The massive amount of rules and regulations that are ever increasing. It’s not really “the land of the free” if you try to park and spend the night on an abandoned road.
I certainly know how the gypsies felt when they moved from town to town. Some towns welcomed the ready made party while others did not.
We have had the same experience. Some towns have approached us like a welcome guest and treated us like royalty. Others can’t drive us out fast enough.
In Vidal CA, Alamo NV, and Ehrenberg AZ, they treated us with kindness and enjoyed hearing about our travels. They brought us firewood, fresh food from their gardens, and gave us gifts they had made or were eager to share. However, do watch out in (not in any particular order) Needles CA, Minden NV, and Williams AZ. If you’re not traveling in a Provost Bus and staying at a swanky RV park you may just be run out of town.
When my daughter was in school a new student had arrived. She told me how no one would talk to her. I told my daughter to talk to her and let her know she was welcome. It’s always hard to be the outsider – the new kid on the block. The gracious person that my daughter is, she reached out to the newcomer.
It is an interesting dynamic that some towns are so welcoming while others are completely threatened by our presence and can’t wait to run us off.
Fortunately, we can leave where we are not wanted and embrace those who understand we are living an American dream of freedom – to roam and explore this great country we call home.