Newspapers as diverse as the Wall Street Journal and the Montana Missoulian have featured extensive articles about the use of Wal-Mart parking lots by RVers for overnight camping. Ah, the great outdoors!. “We don’t travel town to town,” boasts one parking lot enthusiast, “we travel Wal-Mart to Wal-Mart.” While the media shows photos of people in bermuda shorts lounging outside their RVs savoring this sea of asphalt, the Montana newspaper also ran an RV story that didn’t make the national press. Missoula County Sheriff’s officers detained 36 year old David Barlow while he was hooking up his 5th. wheel trailer in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart store. Police suspect Barlow in the rape of an 18 year old Missoula woman on August 19th. Television stories about the alleged rape prompted a caller to inform police that a tan pickup truck driven by a Utah man named Dave was parked with a trailer in the Wal-Mart parking lot. According to the Missoulian: “When deputies arrived, Barlow was hitching his trailer to leave, having been booted out of the lot by Wal-Mart personnel.”
You meet the nicest people in the parking lot at Wal-Mart! One RVer was quoted as saying “I didn’t have to bring any clothes on this trip. I’ve bought so many along the way, I had to get hangers at the last stop. We’ve pretty much got to shop every day. Because of The Wuz. You know, it wuz one price, and now it’s another.” Because of all the attention the media is giving to these RV Walmartians hovering around the Mother Ship at night, some communities are now making it a condition of Wal-Mart’s permit that its parking lot will not be used for overnight RV parking. Local campground owners who depend on RV campers to survive are of course thrilled by Wal-Mart’s “we’ll leave the parking lot lights on for ya” policy. So was David Barlow, who described himself to police as a salesman from Hooper, Utah. Another asphalt adventure at Wal-Mart.