Sleeping in the Car

Am I naive? This summer I’ve been on lots of excursions to the mountains by myself, and I usually sleep in my car. I find some quiet forested side road or turn off, park the car, lock the doors, fold down the back seat and sleep with my legs sticking into the trunk. It’s quite comfortable, the car is old enough that’s it’s not airtight while still not having large enough rust holes to let the mosquitoes in. Then I can wake up at dawn, and get anywhere I want quickly enough that I can take pictures in the early morning light. It really works out quite nicely. No problems.

So now I’m thinking of going on a road trip to Yellowstone. I haven’t been to the states in ages, so I was reading up about longer road trips. I started reading Road Trip America, which is a really valuable site by the way – especially the forums. So I started reading about people sleeping in cars, which seems quite natural to me. Apparently not so to most people. I had to laugh when I read about the dangers of sleeping in your car. People seem really scared in the states. One place even talked about the possibility of private property owners shooting at you. And this seemed to be justified to them. But then I got to thinking, is it really that dangerous in the states? I can’t believe it’s that much different than here. Are people just more paranoid? Or am I just weird and do most Canadians see things the same way?

So anybody on Road Trip America who thought that it was ok to sleep in a car recommended only sleeping in a well-lit truck stop, and notifying the attendant so that they can keep an eye on you. This just seems backwards to me. Then you’re sleeping in a grungy parking lot, surrounded by traffic, with artificial lights blinding you. I would much rather find a quiet gravel road in the country, where you can watch the stars and fall asleep to the sound of wind in the trees, or crickets chirping. And what danger is there? Are there nefarious criminals patrolling backroads, looking for all the poor saps dumb enough to think they’re safe in their vehicle? And what, would they just shoot me, and then break into my car to get at the trail mix? Or maybe they want my sleeping bag to sell on the black market.

So tell me – is this a real danger or are people paranoid?

One thought on “Sleeping in the Car”

  1. When are you planning to go? It’s famous for climbing so if we both practice we could try some routes. Yeah, I’m inviting myself.
    Remember Peter Jenkins and “The Walk West”? He pretty much slept anywhere while walking across the states. He related a harrowing experience or two, but his book probably sold better because of them. And that was a long walk, with plenty of chances for the nefarious criminals to stalk him. A friend of mine hitchhiked across Canada and slept in ATM entrances with a “mostly harmless” sign taped to his sleeping bag. Anyway, I’m thinking that while there may be occasional danger, these people are too paranoid.

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