I just got done drinking and eating at Water Street Brewery and decided to sleep in my SUV in their parking lot since I was drinking and it was close to the gas station so I could use the bathroom in the morning. Now the thing you need to do when you car camp in a parking lot is to check for signs that say “No Overnight Parking”. If it doesn’t say that then you’re typically good to go. However, this parking lot was a tad bit different.
It was around 1:20am when I was woken up by Indy growling and a flash light peering into my back passenger side window. I then dawned on me as I came too that I was being woken up by a cop.
The window was slightly rolled down with my mesh screen over the window so I could talk to the cop though the window. He asked me what I was doing in the parking lot, when he could clearly see I was crashing in my vehicle, being the only vehicle in the parking lot. I told him that I was trying to make it to Chicago from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan when I started getting really tired. That’s when I decided to pull over and sleep rather than trying to continue the 2 hour trip there. Knowing the rules of car camping, I stated that there where no signs stating private property or no overnight parking so I thought I’d be ok for the rest of the night. He stated that this was private property of the brewery and I wouldn’t be able to stay the rest of the night in the parking lot. The only reason why he came down to check out my vehicle was due to it being the only one in the parking lot and he wasn’t sure if I was trying to rob the brewery.
The cop asked for my drivers license and I informed him that I’d have to open up my trunk to get my drivers license. Which meant I’d have to get out of the trunk and Indy would be right behind me or knowing Indy he’d be the first one to get out of the trunk. He said, “Just stay in there until back up arrives. Until then are you the owner of the vehicle because I can look up up that way?” “Yes”, I said. He then walked away to his car to call dispatch and figure out who I am. The flashlight appeared again and I heard his voice saying, “Brittany? What’s your last name and date of birth?”. I gave him that information and he asked if I had been drinking, have alcohol or drug paraphernalia in my vehicle. “Well, officer, I had a beer sampler at the brewery around 9pm, I have beer in my vehicle but it’s in my cooler, and I’m no longer in California where my green card is valid so no drugs or paraphernalia in my vehicle”. He laughed and said, “Ok I believe you.”
It was around that time that back up arrived and the officer asked me to get out of my SUV. Before I was able to open up my trunk he clarified that Indiana was friendly. “Yes very friendly, he’s a trained service dog so his bark is worse than his bite,” I told him. Once Indy heard the ding of the SUV trunk door opening and it was up enough for him to get out he jumped out faster than I could tell him to stay. I could see Indy bee line it to the grass and start peeing then go to the other officer trying to get him to pet him. I shimmied out of the trunk to be greeted by the two officers and Indy still trying to get any sort of attention from them. Apologizing for my attention whore of a dog, I got Indy in the passenger seat and closed the door.
“Sorry for my dog, he just loves to pee on things and get attention from strangers. Also I didn’t know this was considered private property or over night parking wasn’t allowed since there’s no signs stating that”.
I started taking off my window coverings and moved my oru kayak to the trunk, all while talking to the officers. Once almost packed up ready to move on to a new location the new officer on the scene said, “You know there’s a hotel one building down from this brewery. Why didn’t you just stay there?” “Well, sir, I turned my SUV into a camper to save me money while I travel. Spending $100 just to sleep for 7-8 hours seems like a waste when I can fit a perfectly good sized bed in my SUV for free.” “Well, you could always drive down to the police station and park there.” I thought to myself, awe well that’s nice and probably a safe place to car camp. “Where you’d be spending the night in a cell.” “Officer, as much as that sounds like an ideal place to spend the night I’m going to have to do a hard pass on that option as well. I appreciate you looking out for my well being though.” We all had a good laugh and I was all packed up and ready to search for a new place to park and sleep until the morning.
Since I was ready to go the first cop got in his car and drove off. I got in my driver side and as I started up my SUV the second officer pulled behind my SUV and flagged me over. “Hey, now that our cameras are off I wanted to let you know that you can totally stay the rest of the night here. There’s just certain things we have to say when we catch people car camping and the cop that woke you up drove past randomly and decided to see why you were there.” “Are you sure? I really don’t mind having to find a new place to park and I don’t want to be breaking any rules.” “Yes I’m sure. No one will bother you again. It was just a random thing having him drive down in this area anyways. I promise you’re fine to stay the night here. It’s already really late and I’d hate to have you drive when you already clearly stated you were too tired to drive and that’s why you pulled over in the first place.” I thanked the officer and he drove off. The next 5 minutes was me reapplying my window coverings and moving my oru kayak to the front seat, then getting Indy and I cuddled up in the trunk to fall back asleep.
The next morning I woke up around 6am and drove to the gas station up the street. I used the bathroom to take my now famous baby wipe shower. Whenever I use the bathroom at a gas station I always feel like I need to buy something from them. This time I got a bottle of water so I could use it to make my morning shake. While I was at the gas station I got all my ingredients in my blender so I could make my morning shake with my little power converter I bought so I could plug in my blender using my car battery to power it. I started to pulse the blender thinking that would be the best way to not over work the converter and also properly blend my banana. I started pulsing the blender and the converter shifted from the green light to the red light. I turned the converter off and back on so I could continue to blend my shake. This sometimes happened when the converter wasn’t fully charged enough to handle the 175 watts of my blender. When I turned it back on it immediately went to the red light rather than the green light. This seemed odd since it’s never done that before. Then all of a sudden the smell of burnt electronics started encompassing my SUV. That’s when the smoke started coming out of the converter. Soon my whole SUV was almost engulfed in smoke. I rushed to unplug the converter from my cigarette lighter and unplugged the blender from the converter. I then grabbed the converter, opened my SUV door and threw it in the grass while it was still smoking. Working as an electrician in the Navy I knew once something started smoking there was no fixing it unless I wanted to take it apart and replace the parts that burnt out. I decided to throw it in the trash and walked in to the gas station to ask them if I could use their power outlet to blend my shake. Needless to say I need to either buy a new converter or find a gas station now whenever I need to use my blender. Not to mention it took the whole 2 hours to Chicago to get the smell of burnt plastic out of my SUV.
Needless to say I wouldn’t recommend the power converter I bought for my SUV since it blew my SUV fuses two times and well the obvious, it pretty much caught on fire.
Indiana’s Final Thoughts