There are thousands of Wal-Marts across the U.S. that allow overnight parking for cars RVs. In some cases this had led to the development of whole communities.
Brooklyn writer and photographer Nolan Conway got to know some of these people while living out of his car for 3 weeks in Wal-Mart parking lots across Arizona.
“Within a week of being surrounded by these people I became lonely and unhappy. It’s one thing to stay in the Walmart parking lot, but it’s an entirely different experience living there. You can also feel quite vulnerable sleeping in your vehicle,” Nolan wrote via email.
Nolan plans on showing his series, “Waking Up At Walmart,” in galleries soon. We’ve got the highlights here.
'My wife threw me out, because I'm a drunk,' Sal said. 'I drink too much vodka.' He currently works odd jobs and lives out of his pickup truck.
This is Caleb Gooker-Craig from Austin, Texas. He is a painter on an 11,000-mile solo bike trip. 'I was riding through to check out Walmart, and I met an older guy who invited me for a glass of wine. He let me sleep between the truck and his R.V.,' Caleb said.
For the last 7 years, Joe Torpey has lived between Walmart parking lots and the woods. He has had a hard time finding work due to a back injury. 'This car saved my life,' he said inside his 1998 Ford Taurus station wagon. His worst fear is that he will have to live on the street if his car breaks down.
Captain John inspects the shocks on his recently acquired R.V. His mum offered to buy him some property, but he declined. Ever since he lost his job as a merchant marine captain, he's been living out of different vehicles working odd jobs.
Dave Gooding, Liz Deno, and their dog Shaggy are from Georgia and are on their way to Montana. 'You meet a lot of good people who like to help out,' Liz said.
Stephen Pike and his girlfriend Christina are travelling around with no destination in mind. The night before they were kept awake by a street cleaner driving in circles through the parking lot.
Sheldon and Jackie Britton are on their way to Milwaukee for the 110th anniversary of Harley Davidson. 'I have full sized walk-in closets. I even have my china if we're entertaining somebody,' Jackie said.
Travelling with their dog Kerouac, these musicians fund their trips by jamming on street corners. This nomadic lifestyle is seen as an opportunity to 'do what I want to do and not have to worry about all the bills,' one musician said.
J.D. Gilkey drives around the country researching his genealogy. He has spent the night in 500 Walmart parking lots. 'Christmas of 2011, there were about 9 of us in the Walmart parking lot in Albuquerque ... Christmas Eve I put a note on everybody's door to come over in the morning, and I fixed Christmas breakfast,' he said.
Arther Ellis bought this school bus on Ebay for $US2,500. He is driving it from California to his home in Fairfield, Texas.
'These are the best years of my life,' said retiree, Leroy Morris. He lives off social security checks in this small R.V. with his dog, Maggie. He spends summers in various Walmart lots in Flagstaff and winters in Southern Arizona.
'We sold everything we have and decided to find, as we put it, our American dream,' said Josiane Simpson. She, Jared Holfeltz, and their son Gabriel are currently living out of their car.
Al Van Abbema sold his house to live out of his R.V. He travels around the mountain states in the warm months.
Jack Spano and and Dawn Lovingood are Army veterans from Colorado. They are in Flagstaff, Arizona visiting the veteran's hospital.
Rick Keller is 75-years-old and said he doesn't live in his R.V. for economic reasons, 'I belong in the woods.' He comes to Walmart on the weekends to restock. 'I just pray that the Lord keeps me alive one more year, because these are such exciting times,' he said, referring to the Arab Spring.
Will Buffit works on exterior detailing of semi-trucks and trailers in Arizona. Even though he owns a house he prefers to live out of one of his 3 mobile homes most of the year.
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