After our brief stay in New Hampshire, and our first propane fill-up at the Power Equipment store across the street, we were on our way to Maine….but not before Humz got himself a new, tax-free Macbook in New Hampshire. He had been using his old work Dell Workstation which guzzled power and had a battery life of 30-45 minutes and weighed about 800lbs….not optimal for vanlife. We also got a new Camco telescoping, folding broom, which I was as excited about as Humz was for his new Macbook. I have probably used it to sweep the van out more than I have EVER swept our last house!
So with new technology and cleaning power, off to Maine we went! First stop, O-Gunn-Quit (Ogunquit)! Without a schedule or a care, we decided to stop here, because we are the Gunns, and we quit our jobs…so it’s a perfect fit! Little did we know how cute of a town this would be.
We stayed at Pinderosa Camping Area, which has a trolley that stops right out front to take people into the main town area for $2. We stayed at the campground for 2 nights before venturing out to explore the town in the van. After attempting and failing at finding free parking for the van, I would recommend definitely taking the trolley into town, especially during high season. The parking situation detoured us from visiting Perkins Cove, so we bailed and kept heading North to Wells Beach. Feeling like we hadn’t gotten Lucy a whole lot of exercise, we next headed to the Kennebunk Dog Park.
At the Kennebunk Dog Park we struck gold. Not only did Lucy get some dog playtime in, but we met someone who directed us to Gooch’s Beach for sunset; it did not disappoint. A prime parking spot, dogs and surfers everywhere, and a killer sunset. The beach is held back by a metal sea wall, so if your dog is notorious for bolting, they are completely enclosed in the beach area...unless they are fast enough to swim away.
After sunset, Lucy was pooped and napping in her bed in the back seat of the Travato…Which meant we could explore freely without feeling guilty for leaving her in the van, this time in Kennebunkport, just a short 10 minute drive from Gooch’s Beach. We got there just in time for everything to be closing for the night….so we made the best of it by having an ice cream dinner at Rococo Artisan Ice Cream and listening to some live music at the Inn next door.
And then the dreaded question began creeping up: “Where are we sleeping tonight?” It was past 9pm, and without a campground reservation, we were going to have to rough-it. We drove further north to Old Orchard Beach, but I was too scared to just park anywhere, so we decided to do the safe option of finding the nearest Walmart and Wallydocking for the night.
Wallydocking: A twist of sorts on boondocking (To camp in a remote location; To stay in a recreational vehicle in a remote location, without connections to water, power, or sewer services.) Wallydocking is essentially boondocking, but parked in a Walmart parking lot, without any connections, just using the resources you have contained in your vehicle.
We ended up at a Walmart in Falmouth, Maine that was deemed acceptable to stay at by our Allstays App. When we got there, there were already a few RVs in the parking lot, a sure sign that we would not be receiving a knock on our door at 2am to move. So in true vanlife newbie-style, we did 3 slow loops around the parking lot to find/debate on the optimal spot to park in. (It’s usually best to park at the furthest perimeter spot in the parking lot unless someone from the store, or the Allstays App recommends otherwise.) Since we have a dog, we also try to find a spot that opens up to grass/woodchips, so its easier for us to take her out. Bonus points if you're near a trash can for easy dog poop disposal. This sounds silly, but there have been times when there is not a single trash can in the parking lot and we have to stash the dog poop bag under the car until the following morning so as not to stink up the car. Once we even forgot about it, drove away, and then immediately remembered it was there and drove back to dispose of it.
Other tips for successful Wallydocking:
- Not all Walmarts allow overnight parking. On the Allstays App they will show acceptable Walmarts in yellow, and unacceptable Walmarts in red. Still do your research and read the reviews to confirm if you want to stay there. Some people call the store managers to ask if they can stay. We don't and have yet to have a problem. Check the satellite views of the store on Google maps before you get there so you can predetermine what section of the parking lot to stay in so you're not driving around in circles drawing attention to yourself.
- Make sure you pull down all the shades and put up all the privacy partitions in the windows that the Travato comes with. If put up properly, your van will look unoccupied from the outside and you can party it up inside your very own black-box living space. (It also makes it harder to wake up in the morning since almost no light comes through. This turned our dog from a 6am riser to a 10am riser.)
- Don’t use your generator (if you have one)…Wouldn’t want to piss Walmart management off. It’s hard enough to find overnight parking and they’re a major supporter of RVers and Vanlifers. Don't do it and ruin it for the rest of us!
- People say to arrive late and leave early. We have never really followed this. Sometimes we have been too tired to arrive late and just roll in around 6pm. If you're quiet and non-invasive, this shouldn't be an issue, ie: don't set up your camp in the parking lot.
- We also have been known to leave the parking lot at noon the following day. Sometimes it's because we spent the whole morning stocking up on supplies inside the store.