Dear RV Shrink:
I am very upset with my husband. We were just fined $150 for illegally parking overnight in a Florida marina parking lot in the middle of nowhere. He says it is partly my fault because I should have seen the sign. I’m 78 years old. I’m just happy if I can see tomorrow.
I told him when he decided to spend the night there that it didn’t seem right. If it was legal, why weren’t there several other RVers enjoying this same spectacular view of the Gulf of Mexico?
My husband is tighter than a wax doll’s ear canal, so he convinced me it was fine. When the officer rousted us in the middle of the night and issued a ticket, he pointed out a sign about the size of a small business card. I think it bordered on entrapment. I could have stayed at the Ritz for that kind of money (well, not quite).
I have been giving my husband the hot tongue and cold shoulder for a week for trying to put the blame on me. Do you think I should be mad at him or the Florida authorities? —Too Old to be Caught Parking in the Panhandle
Dear Too Old:
If you were parked where I think you were, I wouldn’t place the blame on your husband. I’ve seen that sign and it always left me with the impression that the county couldn’t afford a normal-sized sign or they had other motives.
Your experience is something many of us dedicated boondockers have experienced. Usually it is a verbal warning, but these are hard times and many local governments are feeling the pinch and pinching more people to plug up their economic plumbing.
There are areas that you should always be suspect. The whole state of Florida is one of those areas. It does not have the wide-open spaces and massive federal lands of the western states. It is brimming with RVers in the winter who have already worn out the boondocker welcome.
If something looks questionable, and you have internet and cell connection, call the local authorities and check. You would be surprised how many nice places exist for safe overnight parking by just checking in with the local authorities. They can also give you a heads up if there have been any problems in the area lately. Many small towns have city and county parks that are free, or reasonable, just to welcome visitors.
Part of the problem today is that those same authorities are dealing with their own residents who have lost their homes and have moved into these parks with RVs as a means to survive.
So, c’est la vie! Scat happens. You will make it up with the next dozen free nights you can find. Think of boondocking like geocaching. Most of the time you find a treasure, but on occasion you get skunked. I know it stinks, but you just got skunked. —Keep Smilin’, Richard Mallery a.k.a. Dr. R.V. Shrink
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