johnny January 13th, 2008
It’s been quite a few years and I was usually busy reading while Dad drove us to the next destination in the family RV, but the best I can remember, we’d often drive until late in the evening and then find a parking lot relatively close to where we were going, park overnight and then ask the manager if it were OK to park there the following day. Sadly, this is not as effective in this day and age – at least not on the East Coast. So many counties and towns have passed laws against overnight parking that it takes some research ahead of time if you don’t want to sleep in the Lowes parking lot, with your slide in, under the bright sodium arc lamps, half dressed just in case the cops show up to roust you.
The modern way to find a camp site is to use the internet. Granted, you probably won’t find a great boondocking site posted on the internet, but in an area of the country where boondocking is highly frowned upon, you can find most of the legal places to camp. When bandwidth is available, you can see some pretty decent satellite imagery and get an idea of just how feasible boondocking might be in a given area. You can also look up who owns the land in question in many cases via the county clerk’s office.
While I was expanding my search area from our location and looking up each park that was near the coast to try and find us a free place to camp, Jenn decided she wanted to camp on the beach and went straight to the county parks, only one of which was located near the beach. Having two laptops means you get to do research and still be overruled. =)
We ended up driving down A1A for an hour and a half or so to Long Point Park, which is a little south of Melbourne. This is really a beautiful campground. Their rates range from $17-27 depending on whether or not you are a county resident and what kind of campsite you want. As we were just planning to stay overnight, we went with their overflow sites, which are situated around a small marsh pond. The view was nice, but if we go back and stay for a week or two, I’ll definitely have to get one of the waterfront sites.The campground is a bit further from the beach than it appears on their official map… which is not only not drawn to scale, it is not drawn to shape either. However, the park is surrounded by the Indian River, and most of the campsites extend right out to the water. A few folks were putting in canoes directly from their campsites.
We decided to walk out to the nearest store after dinner and joked the whole way about the horror movie aspects of it. Walking down a dark, wooded road, the park Ranger locking up while telling us some of the island’s ‘ominous history’, the lady checking people in that mentioned the unsolved murder at another park the previous year, the gas station attendant that wouldn’t let us use the restroom because they had closed it already, the unmoving silhouette of the guy sitting in the dark, closed section of the gas station… good creepy fun!