Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Trip - Dry Camping

We got as far as Vicksburg, Mississippi, yesterday by stopping time (around 5 pm). Vicksburg has several RV Parks to choose from, so we went to the closest one, but the guy said they were full. Then we tried the next one, and that guy said he's full until July 1st, and so are all the other RV Parks in Vicksburg. This is their busy season.

Now, I know the Snowbirds fly south for the winter, but somehow I thought they were all in Arizona. They're not in Texas, because we had no trouble finding a camping site in Tyler. But now I'm starting to doubt the wisdom of planning our trip by going to the South in the winter. It looked perfect on paper, but as someone once said, "There's theory, and then there's reality."

I asked the guy at the second place in Vicksburg if he thought the Wal-Mart would let us dry-camp in the parking lot. He said they would, but he didn't recommend it. "It's not safe," he said.

Well, with us being two women without so much as a taser between us, we opted to skip the Wal-Mart parking lot. Instead, we looked in the directory for the next good-sized town on our route, which was Clinton, Mississippi. They had an RV Park, and I called, but it was after hours. The machine didn't mention anything about being full, just to be on the honor system to pay in the morning.

So we went toward Clinton in the black of night, but on the way, I spotted one of those blue signs with a drawing of a travel trailer on it. I made the executive decision to try that RV Park. The sign at the end of the exit pointed to the left, so I went that way. And drove. And drove. Through narrow residential ruralness with a couple forks in the road and no more signs indicating that there was any sort of spot where we could camp. Certainly not an RV Park. There wasn't enough shoulder for us to park on. And there weren't any driveways or churches with parking lots big enough to turn around in. We were stuck driving away from the interstate and away from the possibility of a campsite in Clinton.

Finally, we saw a small industrial facility with lights on and a wide parking lot. It was the best chance we'd been given, so I swung as far to the right in the parking lot as I could, cranked the wheel hard to the left, and watched to make sure we didn't hit the truck that was parked up against the building. We just made it and then turned back toward the interstate, negotiating the forks in the road correctly (without Gina to help us), and this time we stayed on the interstate all the way to Clinton, even though another of those travel-trailer blue signs beckoned us before our exit.

At the RV Park in Clinton, the office door had a sign saying they were full. We gave up.

Back near the interstate, we looked at the parking lots, trying to find one with enough space to park for the night, and settled on Popeye's Chicken. My mom went inside and got their permission to stay there overnight in the way-back part of the lot, and then we rewarded their generosity by buying dinner there.

It was our first time doing totally dry camping. When we stayed in front of friends' or relatives' houses, we usually got hooked up to some electricity and a garden hose, but last night was just on battery power. A couple lights, pushing the bed out away from the closet, and using the computer on battery power. And for water, we had the jug of drinking water we picked up at Wal-Mart before we left Cisco. It worked just fine. And no bad guys tried to break in while we were sleeping.

This morning, we calculated how far we could expect to drive and looked in the RV Park directory. We found a little RV Park in Alabama that had pull-through sites, so I made a call. They had openings for tonight, so the guy got my name off his Caller ID and said they'd be watching for us to arrive. I can't wait to get a real shower!

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