Episode 170: Are Walmart Parking Lots Safe for RVers?

In this episode, we talk about Walmart parking lots, one of the favorite overnight camping spots used by RVers when they need a quick place to spend the night.  Over the past couple of years, Walmart parking lots have been linked to story after story about crimes committed there.

Many RVers, in fact, now are worried, or simlpy stay away from them as overnight spots. Is the anxiety justified? We’ll answer a call from a worried listener and do our best to clarify the concerns and let you know our thoughts abut this.

Plus more of your questions, a great off the beaten path report, tips on saving money this shopping season and an interview with Mary Jane Curry on the top gadgets you need in your RV kitchen.

Click the player below to Listen Now or scroll down through the show note details. When you see a time code hyperlink, you can click it to jump directly to that segment of the podcast.

Show Notes for Episode #170 December 13, 2017 of Roadtreking – The RV Podcast:

WHAT MIKE AND JENNIFER ARE UP TO THIS WEEK [2:22]

Mike and Jennifer are both recovering from severe head colds. But the show must go on…

We discuss a major change in direction for the Family Motorcoach Association – FMCA votes to allow owners of all self-contained RVs in 

This portion of the Podcast is brought to you by Campers Inn, the RVer’s trusted resource for over 50 years, the nation’s largest family-operated RV dealership with 19 locations and growing

 JENNIFER'S TIP OF THE WEEK [9:20]

RVers love their pets!  In fact, surveys show that one of the main reasons people buy an RV is so they can travel with their pets.

At a recent RV show in Louisville, we ran into our friends Mark and Dawn Polk, of RV Education 101. They travel with not one, not two but three dogs.

How do they do it?

We whipped out the recorder and asked Dawn for some tips…

Good advice from the Polks!

And be sure to send me your tips and suggestions about any aspect of the RV lifestyle. You can use the “Leave Voicemail” link at Roadtreking.com. Just click it and then use the built-in microphone on your computer or mobile devise to record a message to me. You can do it over as many times as you want, until you are satisfied. And then you just click a button and it comes right to my email inbox.

I love hearing from you!

Jennifer's tip of the week is brought to you by RadPower Bikes ,an electric bike manufacturer offering direct to consumer pricing on powerful premium electric bikes. Now with free shipping

LISTENER QUESTIONS OF THE WEEK [14:17]

Hal is a new Pleasureway owner. He shares his travel plans. He likes the blog post we had some time back from Campskunk on staying in 70 degree weather and moving with the season all year.

Peggy has a 2004 Chevy 190 from Roadtrek and needs to replace some of her old plumbing. She also asks for input on a composting toilet.

And despite some distortion on the call, Teri has a problem with swaying with her Serenity RV from Leisure Travel Vans. She’s looking for advice.

And a caller questioned a recent guest’s worry about crime in Walmart parking lots. Walmart has traditionally been very welcoming to RVers and, in municipalities that allow it, generally allow RVs to park there overnight. Our caller is looking for advice on straying there when needed. [27:36]

Here are some recent headlines a quick Google search returns from over the last year or so:

From Bloomberg – Walmart's Out-of-Control Crime Problem Is Driving Police Crazy

From NPR – Wal-Mart's Crime Problem Overwhelms Police Across 

From JR Security – Wal-Mart Parking Lots Are Virtual Magnet For Crime 

From the publication This Week – Why criminals flock to Walmart

From the NY Daily News – Violent crimes at Walmart top 200 this year as cops slam retailer 

Let me read this from a 2016 story in Time Magazine: Across the U.S., Walmarts have become a regular stop for law enforcement responding to calls. In Camden, The State reported in July that 187 of the police department’s 1,372 calls from January to June this year occurred at Walmart. The Tampa Bay Times found 16,800 calls to police for Walmarts in Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco and Hernando counties in just one year—four times the number of calls to Targets in the area—and amounting to the equivalent of two calls an hour. In Louisville, WDRB reported more than 9,200 calls for police at area Walmarts since 2012, by far the most of any location in the city. In April 2015, a Portsmouth, Va., Walmart was the scene of a fatal encounter between a white police officer and a black unarmed man accused of shoplifting. Police in Amherst, N.Y., recently discovered a meth lab inside a drainage pipe underneath a Walmart parking lot. And earlier this month, criminal charges were brought against three employees of a Florida Walmart Supercenter accused of fatally injuring a shoplifter who was trying to steal $380 worth of DVDs.”

And this from the All Stays RV site and app developer:

There are some issues with parking in Wal-Mart parking lots but it is mostly a safe thing to do. You just to need to use common sense and look around the surrounding neighborhood as well. The location has a lot to do with the safety factor. There are some Wal-Marts in bad neighborhoods of some cities. Look around as you drive near the Wal-Mart store . If there are lots of other nice stores nearby, the police will be around. If there are bars on windows nearby, the police will also be around but you shouldn't be. It is all about what you are comfortable with yourself.”

Mike and Jennifer's take: We have stayed in Walmart parking lots across the country and never felt unsafe. Nor have we had anything but a good experience. Some can be quite bright at night and noisy but, as in everything, examine the surroundings and trust your gut.

Sponsoring this part of the podcast is Van City RV  Bringing You the largest Inventory of class B’ RVs with locations St. Louis, Missouri; Las Vegas, Nevada; Kalispell, Montana and now… Colorado Springs, Colorado..

INTERVIEW OF THE WEEK [41:12]

No matter what size RV you have, storage room is always at a premium. Food preparation products and storage is one area every RVer needs to maximize for efficiency.

That's why we asked Mary Jane Curry, a Personal Chef and the RV Recipes writer for our roadtreking.com RV Travel Blog, to help us identify the best products we can get that will save space and efficiently use the RV kitchen. In this report, we visit her in her RV and she shows us her favorite Must-Have Products for the RV Kitchen.

Here's the full length interview, in video, with Mary Jane demonstrating the items she recommends:

Check out gear page at http://roadtreking.com/gear You'll find direct Amazon links to the exact products Mary Jane shows in the video.

The interview of the week is brought to you by SunshinestateRVs.com, where every new or used Roadtrek motorhome is delivered to the customer free, anywhere in the country

TRAVELING TECH TIP [57:33]

Steve Van Dinter

By Steve Van Dinter
Verizon Wireless

Tis the season of giving and that also means there’s the biggest opportunity to snag some savings. So grab your smartphones because I’ve got a couple of apps that are going to come in quite handy as you hustle and bustle around doing your holiday shopping.

First up…an app called ShopSavvy. Let’s say you’re browsing at Best Buy and decide you want to buy a new FitBit. Before making the purchase, let’s make sure you’re getting the cheapest price by using ShopSavvy. Open the app, scan the product’s barcode and app goes to work checking other physical store locations and online to see how much it’ll cost elsewhere. And then you can decide if the savings are worth another stop along the way.

And if you decide you’re making the purchase at Best Buy, I’ve got one other app for you to check out. It’s called RetailMeNot. This app will use your phone’s GPS and know which store you’re visiting. Then it’ll check online and physical ads to see if there are any coupons or discount codes you can use to save even more money. I was recently at a mall in Cleveland and used the app to save shoppers anywhere from $10 – $50 on a transaction. And it’s so easy to use!

Last but not least, consider using your phone to check out. Samsung Pay, a free app for most newer Samsung phones makes it easy to pay with your smartphone at pretty much any store that allows you to swipe a card. In addition, Samsung Pay has additional deals at some retail locations, not to mention promotions and incentives for using your card. For instance, if you have any Gap Brands credit card and add it into Samsung Pay you’ll get up to $20 in gap gift cards just for paying with your phone.

This part of the podcast is brought to you by Verizon, which operates America’s most reliable wireless network, with more than 112 million retail connections nationwide.

OFF THE BEATEN PATH REPORT [1:00:10] 

By Tom and Patti Burkett

Patti and Tom Burkett

If you were a West Virginia coal miner, life was especially hard in the early 1930s.  The Great Depression had pulled the bottom out of the coal market, and there were no jobs to be found anywhere in the region.  When Eleanor Roosevelt visited a friend in Morgantown, she saw the terrible conditions in which out of work mining families were living and determined to do something about it.  She began to plan and to prod her husband Franklin.  In 1934, the first New Deal town was begun on 600 acres of farmland near Reedsville.  It was eventually named Arthurdale after the man from whom the property was purchased.
Each mining family was offered a few acres of land, a kit house, a refrigerator, and a cow.  The family was required to build the house, learn how to farm, contribute to community efforts, and support themselves through the work of cooperatives.  Over time, Arthurdale included a forge, a furniture factory, a weaving cooperative, a tractor assembly shop, and one of the regions first gas stations.  One hundred sixty two houses were built from kits supplied by the Hodgson and Wagner companies.  The homes had indoor plumbing and electricity, a rarity at the time.
Eleanor Roosevelt made this one of her pet projects.  She visited the community often, and became well known to the residents, who squabbled over the opportunity to partner with her at the square dances always held when she was in town.  Each year she attended the school graduation and handed out diplomas.  She insisted that each resident be paid a living wage, and help establish and promote the cooperatives.
At its peak population, the industries were producing a substantial output of high quality products and might have succeeded but for the limitations of its location.  There was no easy access to shipping for the furniture, tractors, rugs, and farm goods produced, so the experiment eventually failed.  Some families moved away, others took jobs in nearby Morgantown as the roads and economy improved, and in 1947 the government sold off its assets and left town.  There were. eventually, more than six hundred New Deal towns, some more successful than others.  Among the best known are Roosevelt, New Jersey and Greenbelt, Maryland.
In 1985 a group of local citizens bought the crumbling central core of the historical village and began to restore it.  Today you can visit the administration building, the forge, the gas station, one of the original Hodgson houses, and the community hall where Eleanor Roosevelt square danced.  The work here is currently being enhanced by the efforts of Americorps historians who are conducting research and restoration work.  Jane, our enthusiastic and knowledgeable guide, remarked that the organization would be happy to provide a campsite and electrical hookup to anyone willing to volunteer some time to the effort.
Of the one hundred sixty two buildings originally built here, all but two are still standing.  Many of the residents are descendants of the coal miners who arrived in the years following 1934.  As travelers, we often visit nicely restored historical sites with finished museums and manicured lawns.  It was exciting, here, to see such a project in its early stages.  Some work is finished, but much remains to be done.  The bones of buildings are waiting to be put back in service.  Stacks of photos and historical documents sit on tabletops, undoubtedly hiding hidden treasures.
There’s even one of the original Wagner kit houses for sale at an attractive price.  Since our sticks and bricks house was built from a Sears kit, we were intrigued with the notion of about having our own piece of history in this place where our national government flexed its muscle on behalf of struggling citizens. We’ll definitely be going back.  Head south from interstate 68 on US 119 and look for West Virginia 92 south.  You could find us there, Patti and Tom Burkett, working on a fixer-upper off the beaten path.

https://arthurdaleheritage.org/

This part of the podcast is sponsored by Steinbring Motorcoach, Roadtrek’s newest dealer and a third generation family business in Minnesota’s beautiful Chain of Lakes region built on quality motorhomes and excellent pricing and service.

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