Flea-bag Campers

Flea-bag Campers
Letters to the Editor of the Daily Gleaner

Hi all

I should know better than to open my mouth but there are times when I just get annoyed at politicians doing dumb things.

The letter to the Editor in the Daily Gleaner was edited (probably due to length) and missed several important points as a result.

Here it is in its complete form.

Mike

Letters to the Editor
Daily Gleaner
Fredericton NB

Dear Sir or Madam:

This letter is in reference to Walmart allowing campers to stay overnight in their parking lots. It is my opinion that Walmart does not compete with campgrounds, it attracts business to local companies, and makes the roads safer at the same time.

Speaking as a couple who have RV’ed extensively, we have spent at least one night in a campground in 49 states, 10 provinces, and 1 territory. When we travel it is often both as “flea bag campers” as Mr. Haines of Harding’s Point Campground calls us, and as customers of campgrounds.

I do not believe that Walmart offers any competition to private campgrounds. When we use Walmart parking lots as rest stops, we are “making miles”. We arrive late, leave early, and short of riding out Hurricane Isabel in the Walmart parking lot in Syler City NC, have never spent more than one consecutive night in the same Walmart parking lot.

Walmart has a special edition Rand McNally that lists all their store locations with directions that are easy to follow. It is never far from the navigator’s seat and it allows those of us who are “making miles” to find a reasonably safe and level place to stop, often with supper from the deli within minutes of stopping. A tired driver off the road fast is something I appreciate and you should too. We also know that Walmart will anchor surrounding business if we need or want other services.

When we are “making miles” we are not interested in a campground. They are usually farther from a highway, closed by the time we get there, and are not open when we want to leave. Private campgrounds are harder to find, close early, and cram transients into small cramped quarters that are often too narrow for two large rigs to put out pop-outs on both sides and too short for today’s longer rigs. Today’s taller rigs sometimes have problems with overhanging trees. Entering an older campground at night in a large rig is not the same as driving a car into a hotel parking lot.

The discount hotel coupon booklets available in most rest stops and tourist info centers provide good directions to hotels near the highway, are open terrible hours, and short of a dump station (which we probably don’t need because we dumped at a campground before we left) provide more services than most private campgrounds for less cost.

When we arrive at our destination we will settle into a campground and explore an area. While Walmart parking lots are not on our list at all, private campgrounds are becoming our last choice. Private campgrounds are shifting more and more to seasonal campers who have the best sites, leaving transients crammed into the leftovers. Often the transient camaraderie that is so much fun in state, city, provincial, and national parks is completely lost in private campgrounds. The seasonal crowd does not always welcome transient campers. Our opinion of private campgrounds is that they are usually extremely overpriced, unfriendly, cramped, and are often run by people with little understanding of the needs or desires of their transient “flea baggers”.

Next time Tourism and Parks Minister Joan MacAlpine-Stiles drives by a Walmart and sees one of those bright and shinny new “flea baggers” (which probably cost more than the median house in Fredericton) she should ask Mr. Real Robichaud, Executive Director of the Tourism Industry of NB, to knock on the door with a welcome wagon attitude. They are tourists. Rather than telling those “flea baggers” they aren’t welcome, present them with an advertising package of all the neat stuff in the area. If you ask them to leave, the Walmart in Houlton is only an hour and a half away.

Michael MacDonald
Oromocto NB


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