State 8: Ohio - July 17, 2017
“Where there is three, there is two. Where there is two there is one;
Where there is one, there is none”
We took off yesterday, and spent the day on the outskirts of the Ohio’s capitol city running some errands, and catching up on computer work. For the first time in our cross country trip, we could not find another Walmart that allowed overnight guests within 60 miles of our current location. What are 2 exhausted vagabonds to do at 10:45pm at night? When preparing for this trip, having a safe and free place to park each night, preferably where we had had permission to do so, was the highest priority. Walmart is always our first choice as they are safe, open 24 hours, literally everywhere, and sell anything you could ever want or need. However, we knew that there would come a point where a Walmart would not be available to us for one reason or another, and we needed to have a plan B. Actually, a humans need for shelter is so paramount, we came up with a plan B,C,D,E,F, and G. When one option is not available, we then move on to the next, and so on. Since Walmart was not an option last light we were off to our Plan B, Cracker Barrel.
Cracker Barrel is another national company that has a long history of allowing overnight guests in their parking lots. We called ahead to ask for permission, and they said we were more than welcome to stay in their lot for the night behind the restaurant. Hip Hip Hooray! We finally had a home, and a place to park Rosie for the night! Cracker Barrel has 640 locations nationwide, which are well lit, safe and clean. Staying at Cracker Barrels for the night does have some negatives. They are not open 24 hours. When sharing their traditionally small parking lots with huge RV’S and tractor trailers also parked there for the night, Cracker Barrel parking lots can get very crowded and very noisy, very fast. In addition, there is an unwritten code that after staying the night in their lot, you should eat breakfast there in the morning as a professional courtesy. However, most of their menu items do not appeal to us as they are neither healthy nor vegetarian. However, the biggest negative of staying at Cracker Barrel for the night is there is no app or websites reviewing people’s experiences sleeping at any location. We do not know in advance what environment we are diving into, which would potentially place us in a bad neighborhood.
The Cracker Barrel in Columbus, OH was located ½ mile off the main road down a narrow dead end street. This was very good because large RV’S, and trucks would have nowhere to turn around, and likely would not park there for the night. To the front of the restaurant was the highway, and to the left and right were two 5 story national chain hotels. The area was well lit, quiet and safe. We parked in the very last row of the behind Cracker Barrel in a parking lot that was shared with the two other hotels. Even though Cracker Barrel gave us permission to spend the night, they were currently closed, and we had no recourse if we were questioned about our presence during the night. By parking near the lot shared by two other hotels, we would be less likely to be questioned as neither hotel would know which one we were a guest of. Our first night sleeping at a Cracker Barrel parking lot was a quiet and restful one, and we would have no reservations about doing it again if and when the situation dictated. You might also be wondering what our options C,D,E,F and G are for free and safe overnight parking options. When and if a need arises in the future to utilize them, we will leave a review of our experiences on this blog and you will be the first to know! J