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Author Topic: Is sleeping in car safe ... when on an extended photo trek??  (Read 16063 times)
bellimages
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« on: December 15, 2009, 04:05:34 PM »
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I'm planning a month-long solo trek through the west (Death Valley, Alabama Hills, Big Sur, areas north of San Francisco). While in the parks, I can sleep in my SUV in their campgrounds. And I have parked on the dirt roads of the Alabama Hills (near Lone Pine, CA). I see that people pull off Highway 1, near Big Sur and sleep. But I've always wondered whether it's safe. Anyone could park a mile down the road, walk to my vehicle, and break a window. Any thoughts on all this? MOTELS GET VERY EXPENSIVE.
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Jan Bell, Owner/Photographer, Bell Images
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"Making the simple complicated is commonplace, Making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity."    Charles Mingus
Paul Sumi
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« Reply #1 on: December 15, 2009, 04:24:22 PM »
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I have "slept rough" in my car some places in the eastern Sierra off of 395 on a side road without incident.  But it's not a thing of which I have made a habit.  Have never tried this in Big Sur area.  I generally either camp in established sites or stay in motel lodging.

If too much motel and hotel lodging busts your budget, and it does sound like you will have camping gear, Google is your friend:

http://www.californiacampgrounds.org/

http://www.camp-california.com/

http://www.reserveamerica.com/campgroundDi...contractCode=ca

http://www.koa.com/where/ca/

http://camping.about.com/cs/campgrounds/a/california.htm
« Last Edit: December 15, 2009, 06:04:08 PM by PaulS » Logged

bellimages
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« Reply #2 on: December 15, 2009, 06:25:49 PM »
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I'm flying out .... so I will not have camping gear. I will ship ahead a Thermarest pad, sleep bag, etc., along with a lot of other stuff. I know that I can stay in campground .... just wondered if anyone has heard of photographers being robbed, or worse yet, beaten
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Jan Bell, Owner/Photographer, Bell Images
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Paul Sumi
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« Reply #3 on: December 15, 2009, 07:22:33 PM »
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Quote from: bellimages
just wondered if anyone has heard of photographers being robbed, or worse yet, beaten

I haven't, which doesn't mean it doesn't happen.  Crime is unfortunately increasing in the NPs and other wilderness areas.  You might also post this question on Fred Miranda's landscape photography forum, which is very active.
« Last Edit: December 15, 2009, 07:24:15 PM by PaulS » Logged

Ray
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« Reply #4 on: December 15, 2009, 07:42:39 PM »
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Quote from: bellimages
I'm planning a month-long solo trek through the west (Death Valley, Alabama Hills, Big Sur, areas north of San Francisco). While in the parks, I can sleep in my SUV in their campgrounds. And I have parked on the dirt roads of the Alabama Hills (near Lone Pine, CA). I see that people pull off Highway 1, near Big Sur and sleep. But I've always wondered whether it's safe. Anyone could park a mile down the road, walk to my vehicle, and break a window. Any thoughts on all this? MOTELS GET VERY EXPENSIVE.

Doesn't this at least partly depend upon whether or not you are a busty, sexy lady or an ugly, bearded man?

I've occasionally slept in my Daewoo wagon whilst travelling in Australia, just pulling into a layby for truck drivers, and sometimes just by the side of the road, miles from anywhere. I never felt nervous.

However, judging by the American movies we see over here, America seems to be a more violent place than Australia. We very rarely get tourists being murdered or eaten by crocodiles, but it does happen of course.

There's a great sense of freedom in just stopping by the roadside when you feel tired and waking up at dawn to the sound of chirping birds. My driver's seat reclines right back, almost horizontally, and is far more comfortable that a hard floor in a tent.
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Peter McLennan
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« Reply #5 on: December 15, 2009, 10:11:41 PM »
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I have spent literally hundreds of nights "boondocking" in various vans all over North America.  If you're sensible about where you choose to "camp", you'll be fine.  In fact, you'll frequently be astounded by the beauty and solitude of your bedroom.  You don't get that in a motel.  The benefits of "being there" when the dawn is breaking are not to be underestimated.  I'll never own a car for this very reason.

Recently, sleeping at a campground called "Dry Cleaners", somewhere in PA, I had my first-ever nighttime encounter with the police.  Once they established who I was and what I was doing, they left. They said "Be gone by sunrise".   And I was.




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Ray
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« Reply #6 on: December 15, 2009, 11:25:39 PM »
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Quote from: Peter McLennan
In fact, you'll frequently be astounded by the beauty and solitude of your bedroom.  You don't get that in a motel.  The benefits of "being there" when the dawn is breaking are not to be underestimated.  I'll never own a car for this very reason.

Absolutely! I'll never forget the occasion when I pulled up by the roadside about 1am (or maybe 2am) because I was getting dangerously drowsy.

Woke up at dawn and was greeted by the following scene across the road. A great start to the day! However, I was driving a car. Had a great sleep, and took a shower at the next petrol station I came across.

[attachment=18695:1243.jpg]
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chrisn
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« Reply #7 on: December 16, 2009, 01:50:15 AM »
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There's always the middle ground -- sleeping in the car in a campground. If you're paying for a site, they really don't care whether you pitch a tent or sleep in the back seat. Some might consider it a waste of cash, but you're paying for a measure of safety, plus sometimes the use of actual plumbing and a warm shower. That's how I spent most of my nights in two months crossing Australia.

Either way, sounds like a great trip you're planning. Have fun.

Chris
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k bennett
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« Reply #8 on: December 16, 2009, 06:25:16 AM »
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You can also try parking in a Wal-Mart parking lot. They are patrolled and considered somewhat safer than rest areas and the side of the road. (Not that it's as pretty as the locations mentioned above.)

Wal-Marts usually allow a small number of RVs to park overnight, the idea being that the owners will spend a few bucks resupplying inside.
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Peter McLennan
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« Reply #9 on: December 16, 2009, 10:08:46 AM »
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I will, with some guilt, admit to availing myself of Walmart's hospitality on occasion.   They tend to be noisy and very brightly lit.  Hence, they violate two of my three requirements for a good boondocking spot.  Namely: "Quiet, Dark and Level"
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bellimages
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« Reply #10 on: December 16, 2009, 10:28:20 AM »
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Quote from: Peter McLennan
I will, with some guilt, admit to availing myself of Walmart's hospitality on occasion.   They tend to be noisy and very brightly lit.  Hence, they violate two of my three requirements for a good boondocking spot.  Namely: "Quiet, Dark and Level"

Interesting commentary. And I guess that I realize that no one can predict what "might" or "might not" happen. Campgrounds are the cheapest solution ... pull in, sleep, and take off. Motels are a huge downer, after being outside photographing all day. As a couple of you said, it's exhilarating to wake up in the outback.

Sorry, NO Walmart for me. I wouldn't step foot on their properties!!  LOL
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Jan Bell, Owner/Photographer, Bell Images
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"Making the simple complicated is commonplace, Making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity."    Charles Mingus
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« Reply #11 on: December 16, 2009, 11:20:33 AM »
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Quote from: Peter McLennan
I will, with some guilt, admit to availing myself of Walmart's hospitality on occasion.   They tend to be noisy and very brightly lit.  Hence, they violate two of my three requirements for a good boondocking spot.  Namely: "Quiet, Dark and Level"

A guy (sad that I can't remember his name.  he gave one of the few decent presentations at the crap photo club I used to be part of.) who does a lot of Northern MN photography noted that he likes to use church parking lots as camp sites.  In his case I believe he would sleep in the back of an open pickup truck.  (Could be wrong about that.  That might have been someone else.)
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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #12 on: December 16, 2009, 11:26:46 AM »
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Quote from: bellimages
I'm planning a month-long solo trek through the west (Death Valley, Alabama Hills, Big Sur, areas north of San Francisco). While in the parks, I can sleep in my SUV in their campgrounds. And I have parked on the dirt roads of the Alabama Hills (near Lone Pine, CA). I see that people pull off Highway 1, near Big Sur and sleep. But I've always wondered whether it's safe. Anyone could park a mile down the road, walk to my vehicle, and break a window. Any thoughts on all this? MOTELS GET VERY EXPENSIVE.

My experience with parking by the side of a road is that you're far more likely to have the police knocking on your window to see if you're OK than have a random miscreant with a tire iron attempt to do you harm. I've never been attacked, but I have police officers inquire to my well-being on several occasions. I generally tell them that I was getting sleepy while driving and pulled over to take a nap so I could continue to drive safely. Most cops would much rather you pull over (out of traffic of course) and take a nap for a while than continue driving, fall asleep, and wrap yourself around a bridge abutment.

If you're concerned about safety, make a plan to deal with a mugging attempt. Have some means of protecting yourself near at hand if it should be necessary. A gun is the most effective, but can cause you legal problems if you get caught with it in the wrong jurisdiction. However, there are may other things that can make effective weapons: Mag-Lite flashlights, tire irons, baseball bats, and of course a Ka-Bar. When you park, readjust your mirrors so that you can see the most likely avenues of approach from behind the vehicle. If you are in the vehicle, keep the key in the ignition, and whenever possible park so that you can leave the area without having to back up. Even if you are approached by a thug with a gun, your chances of surviving unharmed are pretty good if you can simply turn the key, put the vehicle in gear, and floor the accelerator to leave the area.

And don't overlook the use of your vehicle as a weapon. If the situation is such that using deadly force is justifiable (such as someone shooting at you with a gun), if you run over the miscreant you're no more likely to get in legal trouble than if you used a knife or gun to defend yourself--as long as you refrain from running him over repeatedly. This is especially true if the miscreant is blocking your exit path. The other practical consideration is that if you make it clear you intend to run them over, they are going to move to get out of your way, and shooting with any accuracy while running, especially under the added stress of "OMG he's going to RUN ME OVER!", is near-impossible.

I've done it and not had problems, but I generally either park along a road where anyone wanting to attack me is going to run a significant risk of being seen by passing drivers, or in isolated locations off-road where the chance of anyone noticing me (whether they have ill intent or not) before I leave is very slim. I wouldn't recommend trying it in South Central LA, or any other urban area where gunfire after dark is the rule rather than the exception.
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Geoff Wittig
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« Reply #13 on: December 16, 2009, 12:03:55 PM »
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Quote from: Jonathan Wienke
If you're concerned about safety, make a plan to deal with a mugging attempt. Have some means of protecting yourself near at hand if it should be necessary.

 The other practical consideration is that if you make it clear you intend to run them over, they are going to move to get out of your way, and shooting with any accuracy while running, especially under the added stress of "OMG he's going to RUN ME OVER!", is near-impossible.

Umm, yeah. About that. Maybe not so much.
Jonathan appears to be an active duty Army officer, so this might color his perception here a little, what with combat training and familiarity with weapons and all that. But dealing with armed intruders by trying to run them over? In our area a very nice suburban fellow tried that with his wife and kids in the car a few years ago, and was killed by a bullet to the head.

I'm all for not putting oneself in danger unncecessarily in the first place, and avoiding confrontation involving lethal weapons as much as possible. There's little to gain beyond bragging after about the 8th beer when you're older and wiser. Presuming you haven't been incarcerated for running down someone with your car before realizing it was just a Jehova's Witness trying to force the Watchtower through your window while you slept.

Just sayin.
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #14 on: December 16, 2009, 12:37:27 PM »
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Years ago, while traveling through Europe as a student, I used to sleep in the car at rest stops (simple ones, just parking, restrooms and running water) along major highways in Germany, Austria and Italy. Nothing eventful ever happened. However, upon returning home, I read about someone got mugged and killed in one of those very same rest stops I used (in Italy, I believe). Go figure.
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Slobodan

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« Reply #15 on: December 16, 2009, 02:23:11 PM »
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First to go off topic: Say what you want about Walmart but THEY not the government have done more to bring drug companies back to reality. Especially when you see how much money drug companies lobby at Congress to prevent Canadian sales or any type of price oversight and of course Congress happily drinks that expensive wine.

To the OP: Curtains, Curtains, Curtains, Curtains!!!  Once I rigged up curtains I could drive into a nice neighborhood at nighttime park along a quiet safe street, go to sleep without the self consciousness that some suburbanite might make judgement upon me for sleeping in a car during my travels.  If it's a rental car maybe test out some of those suction cups used to hold up 'baby on board' signs with nylon string and some sheets. But one thing for sure have Curtains

jeff
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #16 on: December 16, 2009, 06:17:11 PM »
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Quote from: bellimages
I'm planning a month-long solo trek through the west (Death Valley, Alabama Hills, Big Sur, areas north of San Francisco). While in the parks, I can sleep in my SUV in their campgrounds. And I have parked on the dirt roads of the Alabama Hills (near Lone Pine, CA). I see that people pull off Highway 1, near Big Sur and sleep. But I've always wondered whether it's safe. Anyone could park a mile down the road, walk to my vehicle, and break a window. Any thoughts on all this? MOTELS GET VERY EXPENSIVE.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crime_in_the_United_States

Cheers,
Bernard
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bradleygibson
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« Reply #17 on: December 16, 2009, 06:52:27 PM »
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My wife and I do this extensively as we travel and shoot.  While sleeping on the roadside or other places close to where we wanted to be at dawn, we've only ever had issues with the police (2x).  Others we have met have been helpful & pleasure to have met.

Wal-mart parking lots are indeed too bright!
« Last Edit: December 16, 2009, 06:53:08 PM by bradleygibson » Logged

Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #18 on: December 17, 2009, 12:35:42 PM »
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Quote from: Geoff Wittig
Umm, yeah. About that. Maybe not so much.
Jonathan appears to be an active duty Army officer, so this might color his perception here a little, what with combat training and familiarity with weapons and all that. But dealing with armed intruders by trying to run them over? In our area a very nice suburban fellow tried that with his wife and kids in the car a few years ago, and was killed by a bullet to the head.

Try shooting a moving target with a pistol--it's very difficult. Scoring a headshot past 15 meters when the target isn't moving is challenging for me, and I consistently qualify Expert. Doing so on a moving target is much harder, and adding in the stress of having a vehicle about to run your ass over puts that firmly in the "dumb luck" category for the shooter.
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I'm all for not putting oneself in danger unncecessarily in the first place, and avoiding confrontation involving lethal weapons as much as possible. There's little to gain beyond bragging after about the 8th beer when you're older and wiser. Presuming you haven't been incarcerated for running down someone with your car before realizing it was just a Jehova's Witness trying to force the Watchtower through your window while you slept.

I'm not suggesting that you should dally in the area if you're in a vehicle and someone is shooting at you so you can try to run the shooter over. Being elsewhere quickly should be your top priority. But if the shooter is between you and getting the hell out of dodge, trying to avoid hitting him will increase your chance of being injured, for two reasons.

First of all, maneuvering to avoid hitting the shooter is going to slow you down, meaning you're spending additional time in the danger zone. This is always a bad idea. Second, swerving to avoid the shooter increases the odds you're going to lose control of the vehicle and either roll it over, crash into a tree or other obstacle, get stuck in a ditch, drive over an embankment, or something else along those lines. This poses a high risk of injury from the vehicle crash, with the prospect of either being trapped in the vehicle or having to escape from the vehicle and then deal with the shooter while injured as the rotten cherry on the excrement sundae.

The same logic applies here as when unexpectedly encountering a deer in the middle of the road--it's far better to hit the deer then to swerve to avoid the deer. If you hit the deer, your vehicle will be damaged, but the odds of you being injured in the incident are very small. But if you try to swerve or brake radically to avoid the collision, the odds of hitting something more substantial than the deer or rolling the vehicle go way up, and the odds you will be injured go way up as well. Replace "deer" with "armed criminal" and the argument for not avoiding the collision becomes even more compelling--if you hit the criminal, the odds of him shooting you or engaging in any further hostile action toward you drop to near zero. But if you swerve to avoid the collision and lose control of the vehicle and crash, now you're probably trapped in a disabled vehicle on top of being injured, and the criminal can pretty much do whatever he likes to you.

And if you're too stupid to tell the difference between a JW offering you a Watchtower magazine and an armed assailant shooting at you with a firearm, you shouldn't be wasting oxygen, let alone driving.
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #19 on: December 17, 2009, 02:34:05 PM »
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Quote from: Jonathan Wienke
Try shooting a moving target with a pistol--it's very difficult....
Jonathan, I tend to agree with most of your logic in this post, but one thing bothers me: yes, shooting a moving target is difficult when the movement is perpendicular or angled to your line of sight, but when the target is moving straight toward you, isn't it actually easier to hit it, given that it is only getting bigger and bigger as it gets closer to you? Stress aside, of course.
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