At age 20, I would have never slept in my car in a department store parking lot. At age 50, the story is different…..and hence, the reason I find myself camping at a Grand Junction, Colorado Walmart on a Monday night. Granted, I tried to stop at a campground about 10 miles out of town. It just didn’t work out. Not only was it going to cost a whopping $45 for a site, I had to pay the $9 day-use fee in cash (that’s a problem when the smallest bill in my wallet has a picture of Grant on the front.) So, here I am….at one of the two stores in town. Or maybe there’s actually three stores, but I only checked out two of them before settling on this one.
I made a good choice, by the way….as is evident by the guy sitting outside his camper in a lawn chair with his dog while eating dinner with chopsticks. He thinks he’s at a campground…..and honestly, he might not be wrong. This area of the parking lot is full of overnighters of all types. Not only are there camper vans, motorhomes and trailers, there’s more than a few sedans and SUVs parked here too….all suspiciously full of luggage and gear or displaying full window coverings.
I decide to leave for awhile and return a bit later. When I do, I make one last trip into the store to use the restroom before settling in for the night. After I get back to my car, two people emerge from the sedan parked just a couple of spaces over from me. They, too, make their last store visit for the night while a woman on the other side of me talks on the phone from her lawn chair next to a black SUV. What is it with these people? When she finally finishes her call, she puts up her chair and climbs into the front seat…..to brush her teeth. I think to myself that I should be taking video of all of this just as she spits out her mouth full of toothpaste onto the pavement beside her. Okay, then. That’s probably my que for sleep before I decide to write a book titled “Goodnight, Campers of Walmart” or something to that effect.
The next morning, I sleep in until about 7:30am….well past the time I would normally wake. The fact that I decided to sleep in my car instead of the camper (but had to get up in the middle of the night to use my porta-potty) probably didn’t help. It’s likely I wasted at least two hours of sleep trying to ignore the call from my bladder. Why did I drink so much coffee and water before bed?
I decide to head into the store before taking off and find, when I return to my vehicle, that the man with the trailer is awake and running his generator. He waves at me and says, “Good morning” in true Wal-Camper form. I think I like this guy. He’s not letting anyone tell him he didn’t just stay at the best RV resort on earth. I wave and return the greeting, now wanting all of my parking lot camping experiences to be like this one. But alas, I understand that they won’t be….that all moments come and go….the good and the bad.
New moments and different moments, however, await….