Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Wal-Mart "Mart-docking"... To Camp or Not To Camp

With George’s mom settled into Rehab we decided to move forward to Wisconsin to visit my best friend, Sue and her family.  This has been a trip that we have looked forward to for about a year.

We pull out of Indianapolis about 9am and plan to get as close to Wisconsin as we can.  It is drizzling rain and we expect to travel in the rain for much of the day.  When we got to Wisconsin there were significant areas of Road Construction.  One section had a 1 hour 45 minute delay and a second area had about a 30 delay… ouch!  Before we left, we had mapped out our route.  As we are traveling, we realize we need to adjust our route… partly because of the Road Construction and delays and partly because there are no Truck Stops on the original route.   We knew we would need to get fuel before we get to Washburn, WI.  We were also struggling finding a campground that our rig fits in.

We regrouped and headed up I-94.  I am really starting to feel tired but have been struggling to find a campground to stop for the night.  As a last resort, we will stay in a Wal-Mart parking lot. 

We prefer to not stay in Truck Stops for several reasons.  (We have NEVER had any issues and have NEVER had a trucker make us uncomfortable.)
  • ·    Truck Drivers have to take mandated scheduled breaks.  If there are limited spots and we are taking a parking space, they do not have a place for their break.
  • ·    It is always loud.
  • ·    Traffic comes and goes all night.
  • ·    By design, the parking spots are very close together.
  • ·    It is July, so it is HOT; truck stop means no power—so no electricity.

I literally could not find a campground that would be easy to get into for the night.  So we decided to check into the possibility of parking for the night in a Wal-Mart parking lot. 

We have several “rules” when we stay in a Wal-Mart parking lot.
  • ·    We always call to make sure they allow Overnight Parking in their lot.  (The only times that we have been told no are either due to construction in the parking lot or because the city has ordinances that prohibit overnight parking outside of campgrounds.)
  • ·    We park as far from the store as possible.
  • ·    We never park in or extend into any driving lane or roadway.
  • ·    We would never pull out an awning or chairs or grill.
  • ·    We generally go shop in the Wal-Mart.  We do not stop at Wal-Mart because it is cheaper—because it is not always cheaper.  We will stop at Wal-Mart because we cannot find a campground and we need to come off the road SOON.
  • ·    Remember this is a parking lot… Not a campground.  If we stop we are stopping for a break to rest/sleep, not to set up a temporary home.

Having looked, unsuccessfully, for a campground; we found the Wal-Mart in Tomah, Wisconsin.  I called ahead to get permission to park for the night.  I spoke to the manager who told me they “were more than happy to have us stay”.  He told us to “come in if there is anything you need, but otherwise make yourself at home.” 

We pulled into the parking lot and there were several large parking areas near grassy areas.

They even had several trash cans conveniently set up in the outlying areas of the parking lot.  There is even a small stone patio area with several benches and picnic tables set up.  We have stayed at campgrounds that were less welcoming than this Wal-Mart.  We were more than happy to do some shopping at the store and we also bought a pizza at the pizza restaurant across the street.  The Wal-Mart is far enough away from the highway and street, that it is a relatively quiet place to park.

We enjoyed a great pizza and a beautiful sunset.  We settled in, watched a little TV and had a good nights’ sleep.

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