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Guest

I'm looking for a few places near Santa Cruz, anywhere within a half an hour radius. I've tried searching for dispersed camping sites but no luck. I'm completely new at this. Literally just bought an RV last Friday, four days ago, and I'm setting to leave in a few days. I've read the book by Bob and it was inspiring. Thank you Bob, and thank you to everyone else here who's helped me with their wisdom and knowledge and kindness. Boondockers and vagabonds are nice people, lol. This has been my dream since I was a kid, and I can't believe I've actually gone through with it. Oh boy. 
I went through Santa Cruz recently and found zero places to park/camp. If you travel a bit south, however, you will find the Las Padres National Forest and Kirks Creek Campground. Lots of great places in the Big Sur region.

Guest

It's getting down to the wire. I got a job in Santa Cruz and really need to find a place to park a class C Dodge Tioga RV. I believe it's 19' but I'd have to double-check. Look for a place preferably in the country/off-grid. Any help would be greatly appreciated. 

Since I've got an automatic Corolla, I can't flat-tow it, and I can't afford a tow dolly to get the two front wheels up. So I think I've come up with a solution. Either I drive the RV down first, then take the Amtrak back home and then drive the Corolla down, or vice versa. Driving the Corolla down first might give me the advantage of being able to scope for a place easier, or park in the Amtrak parking lot over night or someplace else, and then going back home on the train to take the RV. Ticket will only cost $44! 

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I'm jumping in the deep end, and man it's nerve-racking and exciting. I don't think I would have ever done this if it weren't for Bob and his website and his book. Wish me luck.
On my first overnight camping trip with my van a couple years ago, I went to Santa Cruz Big Basin. I forget what the camping fee is, but there were quite a few tourists there.

Did you say you have an RV?  If so, I would tell you that the road leading up to Santa Cruz Big Basin is hell-ish! White knuckles for miles driving up there and back down! The one single mountain road is very, very narrow with many blind curves.  That narrow road is NOT wide enough for 2 vehicles to pass at the same time, especially if one vehicle is an RV.  One vehicle needs to pull over to the shoulder in order for the other vehicle in the opposite direction to pass you on the same road.

If you do a search on YouTube, there are some videos that tourists took of the road to that campground.  Freakin scary!  I will never go back to that campground ever!  Seriously.  It's an accident waiting to happen.

Here's the link in case you want to try it, but I don't recommend it:
http://www.bigbasin.org/


Guest

What other options do I have? I'm worried. I think I might go up and down the coastline and try and scope out a place. Worst case scenario, they just ask me to leave right? Or what about going into a state park and going off the beaten path? Like Bob wrote in his book, but I think it may have been dispersed camping or something. 

Can you stealth park with an old 1974 19' Class C RV that looks like a meth lab? Would the places Bob mentions be possible, like 24-hour grocery stores and restaurants, busy apartments, a motel, or an industrial area? I'd just be doing it temporarily until I find a good place outside the city.

Guest

"Now that you know there are 450 million acres acres of public land in the United States that are free for camping, how do you find a sweet spot? Some states, like Wyoming and Utah have vast tracts of public land while others, especially those east of the Mississippi may only have a few pockets of free space.
The best resource I have on the road is my National Geographic Adventure Atlas. Not only does it mark all the developed (usually fee) campgrounds in National Parks, State Parks, Recreation Areas, National Forests and on BLM land, it also shades in National Forests and BLM lands, where you can camp almost anywhere, for free.
 
National Forests and BLM land are both almost always marked with large brown conspicuous signs that say: “Entering Public Lands” or “Entering National Forest”. Once you’re sure you’re on public land, watch for dirt roads that lead off the main road. In National Forests vehicular side roads (as opposed to foot trails or ATV roads) are usually marked by a brown fiberglass post with three or four white numbers, indicating the Forest Road number.
 
These side roads often have multiple pull outs and/or end at a dead end. Any spot that’s out of the way, clear and level is fair game for camping, unless marked with a “No Camping” sign. Ideal spots will be off the road far enough for privacy, have space to maneuver a car, room to pitch a tent and in my case, park a Teardrop  and have a nice rock fire ring already in place."
 
Is this true? This gives me hope. So maybe I just need to find a national or state park near Santa Cruz then?

And I have another question. Can I just claim public land for myself? Stick a stake into the ground and yell, "I CLAIM THIS LAND." I mean come on, there's millions of empty acres. What's a guy gotta do, buy it from the government or something? No one's ever going to use it. I'm going to write my congressman.

Guest

So my new stategy has been going all over Google Maps street view. Still need a good place. Please help.
Worst case strategy if you can't find anything: park at a place to sleep when it's just past sunset and nearly full darkness. Then go to sleep and wake up to move to another spot early morning before everyone else gets up.  If you regularly do this, and regularly find a new and different spot, this will help you to avoid trouble. Parking at the same spot too long is what gets you in trouble with the neighbors calling police and having your vehicle ticketed and/or towed. Obviously, it's a hassle to constantly park at different spots, but this is about as sure fire as it gets for keeping out of trouble.  I know this from personal experience having once owned a 22' Class C Jamboree RV. That RV was a constant headache for me due to parking too long at the same location and getting a bright yellow notice plastered on my windshield saying "WARNING-Violation Notice, etc, etc".  Neighbors didn't like me parking in the same spot for more than a couple/few days, and cited the "72 Hour Ordinance" law. Obviously laws vary in different counties as to how long you can stayed parked in city streets at the same spot before needing to move.  I ended up selling that RV at a loss just because of parking issues.  Now I have a full size van.  I only got the same stupid violation notice one time when a neighbor complained I parked my van in front of their house for several days in a row.  Nowadays, I simply move my van to a different spot every 2 to 3 days, and that now keeps me out of trouble.  Counties keep coming up with more and more strict laws about RV parking in city streets.  It's only getting worse, not better, from what I can tell.

Guest

Thank you. Strangely in a way, maybe sometimes it's kind of safer to try and park a class C rv that sticks out like a sore thumb in the city, and maybe sometimes it's harder to do it in the more rural areas, where the locals notice anything out of the ordinary much more readily. Harder to blend in and camouflage. I sort of practiced looking just in my area today, not Santa Cruz, and passed some industrial areas, and quiet residential and commercial areas, and I thought to myself, "I bet if I parked and slept here, no one would really notice or care." Kind of counter-intuitive. 

Oh, but my dream is to find some beautiful secluded spot. Away from all this noise. My heart and soul needs it. I wish I could just bawl out my eyes night and day. I'm tired. And I miss her. What the hell is it that we're looking for? I mean come on, some of us do this not because we need affordable shelter or not because it's fun, but because we need to. And we look for truth in nature, in ourselves, in poetry and books, in philosophy. But God is the only one who can fill that damning void. 

So anyway, I got into contact with someone from an ad on Craigslist. She lives out in the forest/mountains. She told me she might know someone who might have a place for my RV, and I'd pay something like $200 a month. It hurts, because Bob in his book talks about how he's only spent $10 or however much, in years. So man, that hurts, especially having so little money. But, it would still save a lot of money. And every chance, I'll be hunting for that beautiful, perfect spot insane writers spend writing at. And it will cost what it ought to cost: free. And we can be free from every single prison, including the prison of this body and this life. Encumbered by flesh. Heh, sorry. Anyway, I know what the meaning of life is. It didn't take decades of meditation, or an LSD trip, a climb up Mount Everest, or a near-death experience. It is in the eyes of every single human being on this planet. And it is to do good, to save life. Salvation. 

Maybe I'll put out an ad on Craigslist, like some others have. More likely to be in the city, but hopefully just temporary until I find a place. Worse comes to worse, I know someone who knows someone who might let me park in front of their residence. Lol, real adventurous "Into The Wild" right there, huh? In front of an upper-middle class home in a safe neighborhood. Possibly even gated. Don't even have to worry about bears and coyotes. How daring and adventurous. Maybe some teenage kids might pelt some rocks at my RV, or try to smoke pot inside it while I'm at work. Just like Thoreau, really. 

I re-read Into The Wild some time ago. I have no doubt in my mind that if Chris were an atheist, whatever he went through, at the end of his life he believed in God. I was an atheist once, but I swear I was actually an agnostic, or really, I believed in God, I just didn't know who or what He was specifically. I believed that there must be something more. And I believe all of us, even atheists, believe that. They may reject the notion of a traditional Judeo-Christian God, and who wouldn't with the state of things, but I believe the overwhelming vast majority of atheists are actually agnostics, and believe in something else, something more. Just not knowing what. 

Chris McCandless' last words were: "I HAVE HAD A HAPPY LIFE AND THANK THE LORD. GOODBYE AND MAY GOD BLESS ALL!"

I find that so sweet and sincere and beautiful. So desperately beautiful. What does a man go through when he slowly starves to death, and in complete awareness of his imminent death? There's something so comforting and relieving about death. So hopeful and yet hopeless. He handled his death so well. He seemed grateful, so grateful, and okay. Like that terrible movie, American Beauty, where Kevin Spacey says at the end that he was so grateful for every stupid little insignificant moment in his life. But oh, his beautiful wife and daughter. Oh I saw a child today in a cart, and she shouted to her mother, "Faster mommy!" And I thought, "Yeah I'm ready to die. This is a good moment. Nothing could be more beautiful." Lol. My God, more than enough. I've had more than I've deserved. It's just so beautiful those little things. The joy of a child. What could be more? What could be more. 

Anyway, I need a place to stay.
I think you are getting yourself worked up...

So many people are living this way, we just don't notice because we are too busy with our own lives or choose to ignore it.  Have you heard that the native americans didn't even see Columbus's ships coming because it was such a foreign concept to them? They only saw the water rippling out in a strange way. I think Vandwelling is similar. Unless it's forced into people face, they will just walk right past.

The fact is, there are laws in place for so many things that just about everyone is in violation of at least one of them. If sleeping in your vehicle is the only one they can catch you breaking, you won't get a ticket. Worst case is maybe be asked to move along, in which case, you say, "I've just arrived here for a new job and am looking for a place to stay, is there somewhere I could park that might be more appropriate in the meantime?"  Even the nastiest cops I've talked to will suggest a campground or industrial area or parking lot that won't mind my presence. Just be honest about the situation, No shady attitudes or lies. No one has ever gotten a ticket that I know of. It's not practical to charge people money or put them in jail because they are living within their means. Especially when it's a rising trend and there are literally hundreds of thousands doing it.

As far as stealth goes, I bagged the idea 18 months ago.  People get more upset when they are suspicious of someone than when they think their lifestyle is a bit strange. JUST MY OPINION, but I sleep better at night with people knowing I'm in there sleeping, not coming up with their own ideas about meth labs, kidnapped kids, theivery, etc.  I also enjoy myself more when I'm not hiding constantly.

Good luck to you. My advice is to not waste a quarter tank of gas looking for the perfect spot every night. Just don't stay in one place for more than 10 or 12 hours at first, get to know the area, and you'll find which spots are good and which are busy, cop infested, and full of snobs who don't support it. I think you'll find that most will respect you when they know what you are doing and envy your freedom.

-Noah
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