Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Tiny Home Tuesday ~ Road Homes

My middle daughter called the other night, telling me about the 2005 Airstream trailer she bought last week. In between my excited interrupting questions, she managed to get out that it was all the original woodwork, but definitely needed a big cleaning as it had been sitting for years without attention. "Where are the photos?" I demanded asked. She'd get some to me, promise. In the meantime, I was looking up 20 foot long 2005 Airstreams and came across this article by Jakob Schiller along the way.

Ever since I got my little Turtle motorhome, I've been asked "Do you know you can park overnight in WalMart parking lots for free?" Since I avoid shopping in WalMart for 99% of my shopping, sign petitions against their treatment of employees and blatant monied overrun of local governments in locating their stores, regardless of historic sites etc., my using their parking lots for overnighting would seem hypocritical at best and creepy at worst. Well, worst would be more than just creepy but you get the idea.

I'd rather be here

Jakob Schiller, a writer for Wired, looked at the subject with a writer's curiosity and a camera in hand. This is a partial excerpt from his article.

J.D. Gilkey sold the family home and has been driving around the country researching his family's genealogy. He says his travels have brought him to 500 Walmarts in the U.S. and Canada. "€œChristmas of 2011, there were about nine of us in the Walmart parking lot in Albuquerque,"€ he says. "Christmas Eve I put a note on everybody'€™s door to come over in the morning, and I fixed Christmas breakfast for everybody."€

Bob Floyd, right, with his dog Tank. "€œMy wife is in a wheelchair. She had a stroke in 2006, and we were planning to leave on a trip around the United States. It took us '€˜til 2013 for her to get strong enough and for us to figure out how to do it. It took us six weeks. We just came up from the Grand Canyon that afternoon, headed for Birmingham. The guard came by and checked on us every two hours to make sure we were alright."

From left: Megan Hoffman; Sophia Stauffer and her boyfriend, Alex Daby; Deanna Bunch and Kerouac (dog). They were traveling from Prescott, AZ, to Montana. Each of them plays at least one instrument, and they fund their travels by "€œjamming" on street corners. Sophia describes the nomadic life as an opportunity to "€œdo what I want to do and not have to worry about all the bills and worry about what's happening next."

Joe Torpey has been alternating between stays in a Walmart lot and spots in the woods for the past seven years. Due to a back injury he received several years ago, he'€™s had a tough time finding work. "This car saved my life,"€ he says of his 1998 Ford Taurus station wagon. He fears that his car will break down, because he doesn'€™t think he'll last living on the street.

"These are the best years of my life," says retiree Leroy Morris. He lives off social security in his small R.V. with Maggie, his dog. He stays in the Flagstaff Walmarts in the summer and winters in southern Arizona. 
(note: Of course he's happy! It looks like his motorhome is a Toyota mini, like the Turtle!)

 Al Van Abbema sold his house to live out of his R.V. He travels around the mountain states in the warm months and spends the winter in southern Arizona.

These are only some of the photos and mini stories in the article, which goes into more depth and is an interesting read of another facet of American life. Reading it, for me, was like walking into a (no, not a WalMart) public library and getting vignettes of a selection of people in there, with their stories hard or happy. Or both, as is usually the case with humanity. A dream field for a PhD candidate in Sociology.

It is another kind of tiny home living. I won't say never, but even though I'm still not drawn to spending any overnights in a WalMart parking lot - or any parking lot for that matter - at least if that has to happen I know there will probably be  some interesting people nearby. And maybe Christmas breakfast.

Now I'm just waiting on some Airstream photos!

Have a take to the trails Tuesday. Do something ticklish.

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