We grew soft over the holiday break, sleeping in a real house with floors and doors and 4G wifi communications. Our route to Phoenix had us stopping to camp on BLM land at Saddle Mountain but by the time we arrived, the skies were dark and the California rains had caught up with us. The gas station at the Interstate 10 exit was already flooding and the long straight road to Saddle Mountain was empty and pocked with potholes. Web reviews warned that the road led to another, smaller dirt road with only a few turnouts and some steep-sided gullies. We bailed on the BLM and kept driving until we found Buckeye, AZ with its big wide Walmart parking lot. We asked management, as is customary for Walmart overnighting, if we could stay and they said it was fine as long as we parked on the periphery of the lot. We found what we thought was a nice spot near a tree…and apparently a speaker that does not turn off.
Gg: Hi! No sleep Nancy here! Do you know why I am No Sleep Nancy? It’s because we slept in a Walmart last night and music played all night long. So it went like this: When we first came into the parking lot, I thought the music playing through the speakers was nice. (I also thought that thought was a short word, like thot). Also, I thought the music would turn off when Walmart closed. I learned something…Walmart’s don’t close! For a little while, I used my coloring book that I got for Christmas. Then I listened to a CD with headphones for a while. But when I tried to sleep I just could not.
Elian continues: We couldn’t sleep with the bright lights beaming in through the windows, and there was constant music playing. We tried to shrug it off. 8:00. 9:00. 10:00. 11:30. Finally, we had had enough. Dad got up and drove us to another part of the parking lot, where we finally got some sleep.
It was actually 1am before we gave up trying to muffle the sounds of Bruce Hornsby, Christopher Cross, the Pointer Sisters, and some sort of Hall and Oates cover band singing Private Eyes. Some of the songs were catchy, in a 70s soft rock kind of way, and for awhile we figured we could drift off listening. But this Walmart had its own form of musical torture in mind, stopping each song midway before a long silent pause (is it off? is it over?) and then, louder, beginning a new song only to stop it again midway. We moved to the middle of the lot, where the half-songs rang in our ears for a while before we adapted to the welcome sounds of the cars and carts of late-night shoppers. We hope but really don’t care if we upset the management, who we think might have been laughing and watching as we parked under their peripheral speaker system.
We are now in Phoenix, far from the lights and muzak of the Walmart. It is rainy and cool but fortunately we are in a nice home that we’ve rented to spend the week with grandparents, who’ve flown in from Massachusetts. We anticipate another relaxing week with space to spread out and spend time with family. Then on to Kartchner Caverns State Park near Benson, AZ, where we will round out January.