We were on our way to Texas from central Florida with no plans to mess around along the way but we would be traveling for a few overnights. We called ahead, got permission, and pulled into a Walmart in the Florida panhandle the first evening—it was Thanksgiving.
Their parking lot had a single side entrance and we found a place opposite the storefront, well into, and clear across the parking lot. Without unhooking the car, we fit just forward of a temporary drive-through barrier that led from the parking lot into a large grassy field—our door opened to the field (unusual for us as we usually face their door for safety purposes)—and we parked across our seven required parking spaces. We assumed that barrier was for construction vehicles that needed to go into that field but they could easily cross behind us.
We always enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner but cooking one was out of the question as it was late in the evening. Sandy (wife) talked me into one of the large and tasty (her description) frozen turkey dinners. She went in and bought them. I haven’t had a frozen dinner since about 1960 and after trying the one that night, it will be another 40 years!
But I digress…
After a normal evening, our pseudo-dinner, and some TV, we went to bed. Both of us were awakened about 0330 hrs (that’s 3:30 AM) by two men, standing in a steady rain at the rear corner of our coach, and talking. The were just outside our bedroom window. We listened and they were just having a normal conversation… what they had for dinner, how’s your new car, who won the game, etc. They were not talking about us. What was going on?
We tried to relax and both of us dozed off. About 0550 hrs (that’s 5:30 AM) we awoke again to lots of noise in the parking lot. We peeked out the bedroom window (we had a rearfacing window on our slide). The huge parking lot was FULL of cars, a steady stream of cars was coming in, the two guys were directing cars across the barrier, and had already parked maybe a hundred on the grass field. A quick peek out the front told us a car had pulled into the space directly in front of us effectively blocking us in. What was going on?
Then it hit us—it was “Black Friday”—the busiest retail sales day of the year and, of course, the sale at Walmart started at 0600 hrs! Well, it was stay there another day or try to escape.
I walked around the coach and decided if I could back up about 1-2 feet, I could make the swing out of the parking site, barely miss the car in front, and pull into the main driving lane through the parking lot—unfortunately, heading away from the entrance. I talked with the two guys and offered them my 7 parking spaces if they would stop traffic while I maneuvered out. They agreed.
On our signal, the guys stopped the traffic, Sandy was in the rear watching the construction barrier, and guiding me back. I backed up a bit. (I do NOT recommend backing with your toad attached but this was our “emergency.”) With a dozen or so cars now stopped, Sandy then ran to the front and watched while I made the tight turn to pull out and barely missing the car parked in front of us. Then she jumped in the coach and we crawled around that incredibly tight, totally full, really busy, parking lot eventually worming our way to the exit.
It was the earliest we have ever been on the road.