I want to share some things today about what I do out on the road. The first four weeks of this trip have been relatively easy, besides the scary snow storm in North Georgia (read my blog Catastrophic, Feb 12, 2014). I have had a base of operations at my ex in-laws in Cape Coral, Florida. Donnie and Eva have been wonderful to me. Opening their home, letting me come and go as I please, making sure that I was taken care of (they’re probably counting down the days until I leave, secretly). They have helped make everything else a breeze. I have been able to figure out what I need to accomplish everyday without having to worry about where I will be sleeping and eating. That is all about to change in about a week and a half. I will be hitting the road heading to Arizona.
I decided to take a three day trip to the Orlando area this week to hit three games at the Nationals, Braves and the Astros stadiums. I wasn’t going to get a hotel on this trip. I will try to find a place to set-up camp or sleep in the car on occasion. I want to get used to it – figure it out before I do it full time. Monday night I went to a game in Viera that finished late. I was told that you can sleep in the parking lot of Walmart, so I thought I would try it out. It was late and I was tired. I thought I would take a few hours nap and then hit a Waffle House to type up the story for the next day. Problem #1- the Walmart I went to didn’t allow overnight parking. Problem #2- I realized that it would be bright in a parking lot, so I purchased black towels and a sun screen for the front window to block any light. Anyway, I was kind of excited to do this little adventure so I located another Walmart down the road that did allow overnight parking. I pulled into the lot about 11:30 p.m. Seeing that there was a group of campers and cars that were doing what I was going to do, I parked by them and set up shop. I eased the passenger seat all the way back put some pillows on the floor and some around the seat arranged the towels in the windows and the sun screen in the front window, it worked out beautiful and I was really comfortable. It felt strange to be doing this and I was waiting for the cops to show at any time knocking on my window. The cops did show up an hour later but they were just pulling someone over for not stopping at a red light. The driver decided to pull into the lot instead of pulling over on the street. That episode woke me up with their flashing lights, but I ‘re-settled’ and relaxed now that the cops had departed. Still I felt strange and I couldn’t get back asleep. So I read for a little while and then sleep took over. About 4 a.m. I heard a Jeep Wrangler come into the lot. The passengers were really loud and obnoxious. I got a little scared and decided to leave. I took everything down really fast, jumped into the drivers seat, turned the key over and nothing! The guys in the Jeep were now parked a few spaces behind me, loud and sounded drunk. I decided to find some courage and yelled over to them if they could give me a jump, they were yelled back, “Hell Yeah”
Cory and Tim were from the “Hills of Tennessee” (that’s what they told me), with a thick southern drawl, down in South Florida looking for some side work, also getting away from the cold. They laughed. They were drinking some “weak ass” shine they bought at Walmart. They were whooping it up and I felt kinda felt bad for the other people that were sleeping. I was laughing pretty good, I asked if they had jumper cables since I didn’t, they didn’t, I was bummed because I would have to wait until Wal-Mart opened to get a set. Cory said, “Well hell son, dat der Wilmar is open 24/evan”, I laughed to myself. These guys had a certain charm about them that I really liked. I was worried the cops would come and arrest them. We went into Wal-Mart and got the cables. The whole time Cory, was flirting with every woman, using the same line, “hey der pruty lady, I need to getcha nerburr”, all just laughed and seemed to love his gentleness that came out of him. We got the car started, but Tim predicted it wouldn’t happen since he thought it was the “alla-naa -or”, but was quick to admit he was wrong. I thanked them and left. They were very helpful and I hope I cross paths with them again. I gave them a card with my website on it. They said they would “foul” me. (Please note I am not trying to make fun of them, I am just trying to get their accent down, most anyone would love to be around these two!) That was Monday night.
On Tuesday I went to a Atlanta Braves game at Champion Stadium at Disney. A friend of mine, a “Facebook” friend from Ashland, WI, lives in Orlando. He said that he would be at his shop after 3:15 p.m. with his daughter Hana, if I wanted to stop over since I was in the area. I say “Facebook” friend because I haven’t seen Brian in 30 years. I was friends with his younger brother whom I graduated with. Brian is a huge baseball fan and also a “Dodgers” fan. When I was younger he would show me his baseball card collection and Dodger memorabilia. I didn’t know him very well and didn’t hang out with him since he was older. But I always liked the fact that he took the time to talk to me and since we had that bond of liking the Dodgers back in the late 70’s, I always remembered him. His memory of me was fuzzy, but I got to know him a little bit the last couple of years through Facebook.
I stopped over at his motorcycle shop and met him and his daughter, she is 9 and adorable. She totally has him wrapped around her little finger. First thing I noticed when I walked into his shop besides all the motorcycles, was what was playing on his TV, Kens Burns baseball documentary. Brian said he loves to have it on in the background during this time of year when spring training begins, “everything is new and the excitement of the season is upon us”. We talked about people we knew from Ashland and where they are or what happened to them. He made coffee that was some of the best I have had in a long time. After about an hour he asked if I wanted to get something to eat. I said “I did, but need to eat and head to a Starbucks to get the blog post written for the day”. (I have a self imposed deadline of 8 EDT). We ate and when Brian got up and went to the bathroom, I asked Hana if she liked baseball. Brian had just taken her to her first baseball game last week that she will remember. She looked at me as only a cute nine year can that melts your heart and says, “not as much as my dad does…” she went back to eating her soup, I chuckled. Brian asked where I was staying as we were leaving. I said, “I hadn’t figured it out yet, I was going to give Wal-Mart another try.” He said you can stay by me. I told him it would be a couple hours since I had to write of the story, he said, “no problem”. When I got to Brian’s home, which was in a neighborhood that I can only describe as Midwestern compared to other neighborhoods in Florida, it was about 9:30. We stayed up until 1:30 a.m. talking baseball and about our life experiences. The time flew by, I enjoyed it and I was very grateful to get to know Brian.
Brian you have done a wonderful job raising your daughter. She seems to be a very confident, well adjusted nine year old. Thank you for giving me a place to sleep and shower, and I appreciated the conversation! I am over my word count so I have to cut this off!
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3 thoughts on “Day 26 “Sleeping Arrangments””
[…] around and saying to myself that I was at Dodger Stadium. I thought about my friend Brian Roberts (Day 26 “Sleeping Arrangements”), he would have loved this, I made sure to text […]
John you are brave to sleep in the Walmart parking lot. I’ve actually considered the option a few times when Ive had a short time between shifts but Ive always gone home. Can’t imagine you got too much sleep with all the lights and noise, and Walmart is a 24 hour place. Well take care, safe travels and enjoy the next games.
Thanks Paul! It wasn’t as scary as you might think, the noise wasn’t that bad and I will definitely utilize the lots again.