No Overnight Parking


We’d been on the road almost all day, so when we pulled into the Wal-Mart parking lot, I really only wanted to eat some dinner and go to bed.

As I drove through the parking lot, I gave a cursory look for signs prohibiting overnight parking and saw none. I pulled the van to the perimeter of the parking lot, on the edge of an embankment. A metal barrier kept cars from rolling down into the trash-strewn gully, and there were certainly no signs there telling folks they couldn’t park overnight.

While cooking and eating dinner, we saw several people walk up the embankment on a well-worn path between the railroad tracks below and the Wal-Mart parking lot. About one couple, The Man said the fellow seemed a little twitchy, but the woman was clearly methed out. More people came and went within 30 feet of the van, but no one approached us to start a conversation.

The Man watched people come and go and saw some of them walk out into the field beyond the tracks. Then he saw a light bouncing around in the field and concluded people were living out there. While we got ready for bed, we saw a new-looking car rolling next to the railroad tracks. Only railroad vehicles are allowed to drive next to the tracks, The Man said. What is going on down there? he wondered. We decided night time was not the right time to go down there to explore.

We’re locking the doors tonight, The Man said before we crawled into bed. He’s not usually one for locking doors, even at night. Heh’s confident he and the fiercely barking, protective dog are capable of scaring off any bad news that comes around.

I might sleep with my knife, he said, referring to the giant knife he uses to peel the bark from wood before carving it. We laughed about what he might shout at anyone who messed around our van in the middle of the night.

We went to bed around nine o’clock. I was exhausted, and I think The Man was too. I fell asleep quickly and slept deeply.

The Man said I woke screaming. Someone had knocked on the van and dragged me from a wonderful place of oblivion. Was it someone high on meth? Was it the police?

Who is it? I said loudly as I moved to the side window.

Wal-Mart manager, a male voice said. There’s no overnight parking here.

Oh. Sorry, I said. We’ll leave. We didn’t see any signs.

There’s one on the pole behind you, he said,

Ok. We’ll leave, I said again as I groped in the dark to find my clothes.

When we had pulled in, I’d noticed the lack of RVs, 18-wheelers, and van dwellers in the lot. In New Mexico, Wal-Mart parking lots often look like truck stops or RV parks, but I just figured not many people wanted to stay overnight in this not very scenic part of Colorado. Frankly, I was so tired, I hadn’t given it much thought.

Before we’d gone to sleep, I had seen another rig parked a couple rows behind us. It was a nice-looking pickup with a fancy slide-in camper. The camper’s stabilizing poles were down, so I figured the driver was in for the night. However, when we left, the pickup with the camper was already gone. I don’t know if the people in that rig were asked to leave or took it upon themselves to go.

There was still one rig parked in the lot when we left. A shiny, new-looking camper trailer was hooked up to a shiny, new-looking (matching) pickup truck. No lights were on in the trailer, and no one was in the truck’s driver seat looking like I felt–sleepy, disheveled, and a little bit frantic. I didn’t see the Wal-Mart manager knocking on the camper door, and I wondered if he’d done it so quickly that he’d been able to make it back into the store in the time it took me to dress and climb into the driver’s seat. Maybe shiny new rigs get to stay overnight. Maybe it’s not considered overnight parking if folks roll in after midnight. Maybe the people in the camper hadn’t answered the manager’s knock and could truthfully say they hadn’t gotten the no overnight parking message I’ll never know.

Luckily, on our way into town, I’d seen a billboard advertising a Love’s travel center only a few interstate exits from the Wal-Mart. The Man and the dog never got out of bed, but I managed to stay awake long enough to drive us to the truck stop. As I drove through the Wal-Mart parking lot to the exit, I saw the one no overnight parking sign I’d managed to miss on the way in. That store might want to invest in more signs so the night manager doesn’t have to go out into the dark to knock on vehicles.


About Blaize Sun

My name is Blaize Sun. Maybe that's the name my family gave me; maybe it's not. In any case, that's the name I'm using here and now. I've been a rubber tramp for nearly a decade.I like to see places I've never seen before, and I like to visit the places I love again and again. For most of my years on the road, my primary residence was my van. For almost half of the time I was a van dweller, I was going it alone. Now I have a little travel trailer parked in a small RV park in a small desert town. I also have a minivan to travel in. When it gets too hot for me in my desert, I get in my minivan and move up in elevation to find cooler temperatures or I house sit in town in a place with air conditioning I was a work camper in a remote National Forest recreation area on a mountain for four seasons. I was a camp host and parking lot attendant for two seasons and wrote a book about my experiences called Confessions of a Work Camper: Tales from the Woods. During the last two seasons as a work camper on that mountain, I was a clerk in a campground store. I'm also a house and pet sitter, and I pick up odd jobs when I can. I'm primarily a writer, but I also create beautiful little collages; hand make hemp jewelry and warm, colorful winter hats; and use my creative and artistic skills to decorate my life and brighten the lives of others. My goal (for my writing and my life) is to be real. I don't like fake, and I don't want to share fake. I want to share my authentic thoughts and feelings. I want to give others space and permission to share their authentic selves. Sometimes I think the best way to support others is to leave them alone and allow them to be. I am more than just a rubber tramp artist. I'm fat. I'm funny. I'm flawed. I try to be kind. I'm often grouchy. I am awed by the stars in the dark desert night. I hope my writing moves people. If my writing makes someone laugh or cry or feel angry or happy or troubled or comforted, I have done my job. If my writing makes someone think and question and try a little harder, I've done my job. If my writing opens a door for someone, changes a life, I have done my job well. I hope you enjoy my blog posts, my word and pictures, the work I've done to express myself in a way others will understand. I hope you appreciate the time and energy I put into each post. I hope you will click the like button each time you like what you have read. I hope you will share posts with the people in your life. I hope you'll leave a comment and share your authentic self with me and this blog's other readers. Thank you for reading.  A writer without readers is very sad indeed.

9 Responses »

  1. Meth users around, and your guy doesn’t want to lock the doors????? COME ON, Blaize! Don’t go back to having some guy make your decisions for you. It’s YOUR van, YOUR life, and all the guy does when someone is out there is wake up screaming (probably scaring his dog).

    About a week ago, an acquaintance and his girlfriend were the victims of a violent home invasion. They didn’t believe in locking the doors until they went to bed. Well, the gangbangers arrived about 11 p.m. They charged through the unlocked door (all were armed with guns), beat the shit out of both of them, forced them to open the business safe, stole all the money (considerable) and several guns. They smashed the guy’s foot, breaking several bones (his little toe may have to be amputated), probably to prevent him from chasing them.

    PLEASE — you’ve been doing well. Don’t slide back into the poor habits that got you in trouble the last time, when you ended up homeless and destitute. It could be worse the next time, like gang-raped and DEAD. You’ve proven that you can make sound decisions — you’re not just a dumb, timid little puppy on a leash –THINK!

    • Thanks for your concern, Sue.

      If you read the post, you know that we DID lock the doors the night in question.

      If anyone tried to rob us, they would be very sad to see that we have nothing worth stealing. We don’t carry guns and we certainly don’t have a business safe, unlike the people you mentioned. I wonder how the “gangbangers” knew those people were worth robbing.

      And as far as “poor habits” that got me in trouble the last time? I ended up “homeless and destitute” because the man IN the van when the doors were locked was beating up on me. All of the violence in my life has happened WITHIN closed and locked doors.

  2. My son is an over the road trucker, currently on a Walmart account. He is allowed to park but said the managers are cracking down on vans and RVs. It would seem they would like the business….

    • Thanks for your input, Just Me. From my experience and what I understand, each individual Wal-Mart makes its own rules about overnight parking, sometimes influenced by local laws and ordinances.

  3. Blaize: “And as far as “poor habits” that got me in trouble the last time? I ended up “homeless and destitute” because the man IN the van when the doors were locked was beating up on me. All of the violence in my life has happened WITHIN closed and locked doors.”

    I would suspect that most of the violence in your life came from your poor choices. I would bet money that your last guy was a serial abuser and beat on you repeatedly, but you stayed with him until it escalated to the point it reached. Those were your choices. Your current guy is sounding more and more like a parasite — I’ll bet you’re supporting him and he doesn’t contribute anything. He can’t even train his dog to walk at heel or come when he’s called. If he’s still around when you go back to work, he won’t. But he sweet talks you, says he loves you, and asks if you have a few extra bucks you can spare.

    Many, many women were raised to think they are third-class citizens with no value. As they got older, girls were taught that a woman is nothing without a man, that if you can’t ‘catch’ a man, there’s something desperately wrong with them. With that firmly embedded in their mind, they get desperate and try to get ANY man — a deadbeat, an abuser, a junkie, a criminal, a serial killer, etc. ANY man will do. And they keep doing this over and over and over and over, and wonder why their lives never change. Although you hide your face and name (a good thing), I know what you look like: every woman I’ve known (including family) who followed the same self-destructive path.

    I don’t see any place here where I can unsubscribe. Can you take care of that for me?

      • Sue, I am trying to delete your subscription, but I don’t see the user name “Sue” in the list of subscribers. If you can send your user name or the email address you are subscribed under, I can work on deleting your subscription. You can send me a private message at

        Alternately, you can block the blog updates through your email account, or just delete them without reading them.

        • Sue, (if you are still here or getting notices that I am replying to your comments) tried and tried and tried to figure out how to unsubscribe you. I don’t know how to do it from my end. However, if you to any of the email notifications that a new post has gone up on this blog, scroll all the way to the bottom.You should see an “Unsubscribe” link. Click there, and that should walk you through the process to unsubscribe.

          Clicking on that link should work for anyone who no longer wants to be a subscriber to the Rubber Tramp Artist blog.

  4. To any of my readers who saw Sue’s comments…

    I just want to say publicly and on the record: Sue made a lot of assumptions about me and my life from reading the same things on this blog that everyone else has read. She’s never met me in person. She hadn’t met The Man either, as far as I know.

    I don’t know where she got the idea The Man is a “parasite” and I’m supporting him and he’s contributing nothing. Those accusations are simply not true. And because they are not true, I’ve not said anything like that in the blog. Those accusations come directly from Sue’s imagination.

    Several of my friends have met The Man in person and know him to be a sweet, kind, caring, giving, sharing person. I don’t think my blog posts have portrayed him as anything less. If any of my blog posts seem to say he is a “parasite,” then I am remiss.

I'd love to know what you think. Please leave a comment.