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Monday, August 30, 2004
In the wee hours of the morning I found myself driving around a nice Chicago suburb looking for a place to street-camp for the night. After a bit of searching I found a suitable spot and parked the van. I immediately retired for the evening, taking care to not turn on an interior light, or leave the van, with the goal of keeping a low profile. Well, it wasn't anymore than 10 minutes when two cop cars show up. I immediately hit the floor, hoping they would just shine their spot lights on my van and move on. Well, after the little light show I heard two car doors slam and I knew the gig was up.
Shortly thereafter I heard a knock on my double-doors and soon I found myself out on the lawn with two flashlights shining in my face. I went through the drill of explaining myself, all the whys, whats and whens. I'm getting pretty good at this, I've had enough practice.
One of the cops was somewhat amusing however. She certainly wasn't the sharpest knife in the drawer for she wasn't understanding my simple explanation as to why I was in the neighborhood. She actually thought my intention of driving to Chicago was to sniff out an internet connection. She questioned me, asking me why I just didn't stay in Portland Oregon to hook up to the internet. I almost laughed at her. Scary thing was she was packing a gun so I refrained from pissing her off. I then re-explained myself and she finally got it.
But she wasn't through just yet, she then went on to accusing me of stealing my internet connections. In response I told her I wasn't doing anything illegal, the airwaves are public access. She then said she wasn't going to be the "internet police" tonight (oh, geeze, thanks...). They told me about a local internet café that I should park at for the night. But of course they followed up that suggestion with, "don't tell anyone we sent you". I then asked if there was a crappy neighborhood I could park in, somewhere where folks wouldn't give a damn who parked there and their response was "you wouldn't want to park there, you'd get a different sort of visitor".
They finally took leave of me and I was on my own once again. I decided to get out of Dodge, so to speak, or at least far enough out of their precinct to avoid another encounter. I'm beginning to find that, when traveling east of the Mississippi, successful scouting for a sweet street-camping spot is not a science, rather, it's an art with a good measure of luck thrown in on the side.