Friday, August 19, 2016

Cheap sleeps

The first thing you learn when planning a low-budget RV trip is that most Walmarts allow you to spend the night in their parking lot for free. The second thing you learn is that most casinos offer the same benefit.

The Walmart thing is so well known that there are lists of every store in the country along with a notation about allowed parking. Most of the 24-hour stores are okay with it although a few cities don't allow overnight parking anywhere except a street or your own house – and that's assuming you aren't asleep in your vehicle.

I've done a couple WM parking lots now and it isn't too bad, if you can get past the floodlighting that create a perpetual dawn in your rig and the occasional semi groaning by to make a delivery. If you have felines in your camper you also have to put up with being trampled half the night as your travel companions need to race from window to window to watch what's going on.

Most of what they see is late-night shoppers and other sleepy travelers, but I did come across one vehicle that appears to have taken up a permanent residence in the parking lot and they came with a lot of shouting and name-calling in the middle of the night. The cats were enthralled.

Last night I tried my first casino parking and it wasn't bad either. Also flood-lit but much less traffic and there doesn't appear to be any permanent residents, although maybe it was the lot I chose. The Tulalip Casino has signs directing Rvs to a specific area which actually feels welcoming and reassuring – and I imagine it makes them popular with the retired travelling crowd that enjoy a good meal and don't mind dropping a few coins in the slot machines. The lot is spacious with lots of pull-through slots, close to the entrance of the casino.

It looks a lot like a campground without hookups.

I ended up in the employee overflow parking lot along with a few other introverts that all attempted to park as far away from each other as possible. The early arrivers got the prime areas along the edge next to the trees while everyone else kind of staked their claim on a row of parking spots.

It was glorious. No generators running half the night, no late-night partyers making a commotion as they came home, just background traffic noise and the whistle of the train somewhere off in the distance.

I still got the occasional ice-cold paw in the middle of my back since the lighting meant something might be visible, but for the most part the kitties seemed content to settle at one window and wait for the show to come to them.

Sadly this casino does not appear to offer free coffee, but there's always another one a little further down the road.