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continued from about page .. So with a packed van and a clear plan as far as a destination goes, I jumped on I91 south from Franklin County MA. to I84 in Hartford CN. and headed into a NY/NJ toll free path into Pennsylvania. Swung down and around important landmarks and places associated with the birth of our nation and headed east again to intersect with Maryland and the Washington DC I95 beltways. (below the I95 tolls that litter the george washington bridge to DC cash cow). Climbed on I95 in DC and rode that all the way past Leroy Jethro Gibbs & Abbey’s work at core base Quantico and through the Carolina’s into georgia. Getting warmer but not far enough yet. A pit stop at Pedro’s for some bang bang’s and a good night’s sleep. Some grits in the morning and cruise control set to Jacksonville Florida.
Upon entering Florida I needed to make a decision. Continue down the coast to Miami or cut across to the familiar Tampa area. I choose the later. As I traveled diagonally across the interior of north florida I saw many signs for weekly motel rentals at like $100 a week. Tempted to turn in but not yet giving up on close to the beaches. I pushed on to St. Petersburg where I had lived close to two decades ago. And as you guessed it, since it was now November there was very little in the way of motels with vacancies. I spent the first night in what would become my new stomping grounds in a WalMart parking lot in Clearwater Florida. Went in and used the head then bought some in a van down by the river food and passed out inside the van on the edge of their parking lot under a tree. The next morning when I awoke and sat up there was a dark blue car parked next to me with a young black man passed out across the drivers seat. It was clear that I was not alone in my quest for warmth and a safe place to crash. It will not be my last time sleeping in a WalMart parking lot.
It’s all in the adventure.
Getting my thoughts together and planning my day while sharing a cup of hot coffee with my one time bunk mate before wishing him luck on finding a new home I decided to go revisit my old haunts and see what’s shaking after 15 years. I returned to the trailer park where I once lived with my children and their baby momma only to find that the entire area was one big highway reconstruction site (gandy blvd) and the park was now an empty fenced in lot that some developer bought and never reused. Other known parks in the area where your basic shit hole variety now and couldn’t be paid to live there. So down 4th street north from Gandy Blvd north to the area known as Madison Circle (62 ave north) where I once had an apartment a few blocks away from my favorite tittie club which has since turned into a florist shop. Nothing worth seeing there anymore. From there I stayed on US 92 and headed downtown st. pete. I knew of a hotel that rented rooms by the month down near central street. Arriving at some street festival bullshit the one way streets where clogged with parking, traffic and walkers. Some streets closed off and I got turned around a few times looking for parking and rentals. Turned up nothing. Pulled into several places with signs. It quickly dawned on me that this city was not only congested beyond navigation but it had turned liberal a/f. Refugees from places other than south america and the old soviet republic populated the area with muslim attire and didn’t seam to care about cleanliness or rodent control. St. Petersburg Florida is basically a sanctuary city turned shit hole. With large infusions of tax dollars for capitol improvements and ferries to nowhere it’s like spraying channel #5 on a fresh turd. Even if you cover up the smell on a hot muggy day you still got a stinking turd. Clearly I was not going to live here. . So off west toward St. Pete beach and up the coast. Tourist central where cheap motels with no parking cost you $120 a night. Forget anyplace with actual beach access. Saw lots of pretty people and interesting automobiles. Rolled the windows down and played some Skynyrd at high decibels as the sun started to go down. Just another yankee doing yankee things when in the land of the beautiful ones. . I don’t even know what towns WalMart is slept in that night. But I decided to drive back north up the coast on US 19 the next day in search of proper shelter even if I had to go back interior for a cheap room.
The next morning I gassed up and headed on US 19 north and didn’t give anything a second thought until the traffic cleared. I ended up in Pasco county. North of Tarpon Springs, as soon as you enter Pasco you are in Holiday Florida. Traffic diminished. I stopped at a light and off on the right I saw the big sign. Holiday Travel Park. Monthly, Weekly & Daily.. I turned in. By now I had been in the van for about a week and I smelled like it. So when I discovered that I could get a camp site with water, electricity as well as usage of the shower buildings, rest rooms, laundry rooms, air conditioned club house and free wireless internet access all for a single weekly rate of $200 and the beach three miles away.. I was sold. I pitched my tent and moved everything out of the van and into the tent. Dropped my stake in the corner lot and set up my computer inside the back of the van and slept in my one room cabin on wheels. Dwane’s big adventure had it’s first success.
Might as well answer this question now. No I did not spend the next 2 1/2 years living in my van. I moved around the park for like 3 or 4 weeks going from one space to another as this was a busy place and my original lot was scheduled to be occupied by a large bus style rv. I didn’t care about moving around since it was better than a state park type camp ground filled with mosquito’s and gaters. Plus it was family owned at the time and the family was pretty good to me so far. Soon I was told about a trailer that was vacant that I could occupy. My original plan and the plan at this space in time was to stay the winter and return to MA in like April. This trailer was not in good condition. It didn’t leak but it wasn’t awesome with many pieces of plywood covering holes in the decking but with solid footing. Windows had seen better days but they all shut and the doors locked. The plaster walls had been torn out and the place was insulated with foam board to help keep it cooler. She, Roberta, the boss lady said to go take a look at it and see if it was something I would be interested in. .. so I did and it was acceptable shelter for a not so picky adventurer who wasn’t going to see any day below 40 degrees. I was allowed to stay there for a lot rent of $390. (a little less) Turned the power and cable on and I had found the cabana fit for a yank with cold feet. And I had a shitter that I didn’t have to walk outside to get to in the middle of the night.
A message to readers. Camping out in WalMart parking lots is not a sanctioned activity. Do so at your own risk which may include an arrest for vagrancy. It is not a bad choice when faced with options that are undesirable. With that in mind I have developed my own rules to mooching off of WalMart. First rule, don’t make a friggin mess. Use trash barrels and put your dam butts out inside your car. Relieve yourself inside the stores bath room. Don’t be doing stupid shit like getting drunk or smoking meth in their lot. In fact, don’t even smoke a cigarette while there. The glow only draws attention to yourself. Leave the friggin interior car lights off and don’t be using your cell phone as it too lights up the inside. When someone is in the parking lot there should be NO INDICATION that someone is inside that car sitting over there. NEVER spend more than one night crashing in any particular WalMart. Once used, take it off the list for at least a month. Fear not, there is another one ten miles down the road. And if you are asked to leave, shut the fuck up and leave. Don’t be a douchepickle and resist. just leave. And don’t stay on a WalMart lot after the store closes. If it is not a 24 hour WalMart then find another one that is. If there are not any then set an alarm and crash while it is open and at 11PM get out of there.. Staying greatly increases your chances of being discovered or harassed by the police. WalMarts and police talk to each other. Once caught and removed they will be looking for you in other area stores. .. NO Home Depot is not the same thing. Be smart!
So in the spring of 2017 when my original plan was to go home I decided that my time in holiday was going so well that I would sign up for a second lease at the Holiday Travel Park and try a summer RV camping and doing florida shit like Daytona bike week and drunken spring break. So I did not return home and was now locked into a years stay. Did some traveling up and down the east coast of the USA as time and funds permitted and tried to make some interesting friends locally but to no avail. Low quality people with boring ass lives and way too old to be fun or even relate too. Bitchy old men. Sarcastic old broads. General asshats not worthy of consideration. And anyone not in that category or age group are drug addicts and common thieves. Florida is the land of the thieves. .. shortly after the hurricane season in 2017 hurricane Irma swept the golf coast of Florida and gave me a good whack. It was at this time that I learned something about my stay in Florida that was unexpected. First a Florida hurricane is no joke. It tore the shit out of this travel park and we fared better than others. It tore a sheet of metal off of my roof. It tore a clam shell shutter off the front of my trailer. Both where barely hanging on by a screw and slamming around in the wind being smashed against the tin on the sides of it. Shaking, twisting, binding noises. Sheet metal slamming that sounded like a car accident. Crunch, bang, snap. all night long. Pounding rain on metal so deafening that you can’t hear anything else. And it even blew the windows out of my storm door. Blew them out whole by breaking the hardware that held them in. To say the joint was rocking is an understatement. I survived in the face of mandatory evacuations. Some adventure. The next day I walked about the park and home after home was torn apart. Some with roofs completely torn off. And before the water even drained off some jamoke was driving around with his large utility trailer scabbing sheet metal from the streets to go turn in for an extra $20. So typical of the citizenry to try and make a profit from someone else’s loss and steal their shit before they even know it’s been blown away. Yes dirt bags robbing people while their home gets destroyed. *sigh*. So I go to the park office on day two after it hit and someone was inside. I told them about the damage to the trailer and that I had already repaired the shutter with new hardware but wasn’t going to climb on the roof to see. They said they would send someone over and they did. A guy showed up and in about ten minutes screwed the sheet metal back down. Seems it never blew completely off and was still up there attached by a single screw. But fixed.. Storm door window never fixed. .. a week later when the office was reopened after the owners returned from vacation.. yes the rich go on vacation when hurricanes are coming. I was told that I owed them $50 for the man who fixed my roof. I was confused because it is their trailer. And FEMA was in the park collecting data and writing checks.. It was then that I learned that I had just spent a year living in a trailer without the rightful owners permission. I had assumed when they asked me to take a look at it that the park owned it. That they did not charge me rent for it because it was in such poor condition and not rentable condition. But in reality the park has never owned the trailer. They have no title for it. It was left behind a decade ago by someone who presumingly died and no family ever claimed it. So the park just rented it out to continue to make lot rent from it. I was simply told that they didn’t own my trailer that I owned it as far as they where concerned. Which of course I don’t. But nobody seamed to give a crap so I paid the man his $50 for fixing the roof and kept on keepin on. Hey whats a big adventure without a little receiving stolen property charge. LOL
So my lease came up for renewal again and they raised the lot fee to $428 for another year. Now I’m thinking it has been six months since I learned of my no title trailer problem and it has not been registered for like ten years and the county has apparently forgotten about it over time so I’m home free with a free trailer to boot. Lets ride this out and see if I can’t tag some of these younger ladies hanging about the place. There are a few cute ones including the boss ladies daughter who tend to be very conservative in nature. But hey, I’ve gotten luckier before. So I sign up for another year and begin to think about what is next on a limited social security disability budget. Did some improvements to the tin can in efforts to conserve cold air and before you know it the owners sold out to Encore RV Resorts and took their millions and ran. Now I’m not going to blame them for cashing out, but they kind of left me high and dry without a paddle. No title, no bill of sale, no sales agreement or sales contract. Nothing but my word that they gave me the place for free. And no VIN to even apply for a title with. It was removed.. So maybe it was stolen after all. Not by me.. but who knows.
Well the Encore way and the asshat management methods as well as the yes men who they put in charge of robbing people with policy bullshit to drive them out and replace them with higher profit margins and membership fees.. more on that in another post. The Encore way and standards has made this place a living shit hole of greed and personal abuses. More for sale signs than you can shake a stick at. And those are the ones given opportunity to sell before evictions. Wonderful company they are. So after being harassed by their new cunt manager C.K. who wants to steal my trailer and make some money for herself and told I have to remove my window air conditioners because they are ugly and against encore policy and quality standards as well as not being able to put my plants outside my trailer or have a gas grill and cook outside and remove any cinder blocks that may be on my lot. (even if they are holding it up) and a slew of other asshat rules and regulations applied only to the original trailers that where in the park when they bought it (they want em gone so they have more room for their RV membership to come here for twice the money) others not on the must go list are free to do what they like. I’m on the shit list because I refused to stop using my window ac units and used the federal ADA to block them from forcing me to. They dropped it and turned their attention to petty crap like weeds growing (I pay them to trim them by force) and other made up complaints that everyone else seems to get away with. So rather than kill the bitch and her (nose in her ass) man I had decided that I would not sign a new lease next time around (may 1st 2019) and move along with my adventures. I’m not here to fight asshats or go to trial. Not in the land of the thieves anyway. Surely there will be nothing left in my trailer to steal. It’s their soles they sell.
So what next became the question to answer. Dwane’s big adventure part 2