Friday, January 6, 2012

Fat Point

11 MPH

We are at a truck parking area near I-75 in Punta Gorda, Florida (map). The lot has the feel of a truck stop, but that's not what it is. In fact, we couldn't determine whose lot it is, other than to say it appears to be shared by several businesses on this road, including Pizza Hut, Waffle House, a BP station, McDonalds, and a motel across the street. There are a couple drop trailers here, and even what appear to be "drop" trucks.

We've been here two nights, with last night the busier of the two. When we first rolled over here from our stealth spot Wednesday afternoon, our first attempt was the Walmart about half a mile west of here. I had booked a massage at a place just another mile further west than that, and I figured we'd get parked and I'd just walk over.

Walmart, unfortunately, was clearly posted No Overnight Parking, even though it did not show that way on my list. I would have just parked for the afternoon, to stick to my walking plan, but Jones Loop Road was closed between Walmart and Tamiami Trail. It turned out to be closed at the railroad crossing, and I could have gotten through on foot, but there was no way to know that from the Walmart end, and so we came here instead and I pulled my scooter out to make my massage appointment on time.

As long as we were here, we walked over to the "Pizza Hut Italian Bistro" for dinner Wednesday night. It's been a long, long time since either of us has been in a Pizza Hut; the "Italian Bistro" format has a slightly expanded menu including some pasta and salad items, and like many Pizza Hut restaurants this one also had beer and wine. It was surprisingly good for this type of establishment. This morning we walked over to McDonald's for breakfast, and so we can say we were customers here both nights.

We had figured to do one night at Walmart and one here, but once we got settled here and saw several trucks spending multiple nights (weeks?) we just decided to stay put for two nights. Had we needed to move, there is a small Sunoco truck stop next door and a Pilot across the street, and we could have put some fuel in and stayed at either of those as well. Both of those lots, though, are very small, and we try to stay out of small truck stops to keep the stalls available for the truckers, who really need them. There is also a very nice rest area off this road, just on the other side of the freeway, but Florida limits rest area stays to three hours.

This afternoon we will roll over to our friends' house just a couple miles from here, where we've stayed in the past in their enormous driveway. We'll be there one night, and tomorrow we'll head north to Sarasota, where we have an appointment on Sunday to look at boats. My next post will be from Sarasota.

Photo by Caveman Chuck Coker, used under a Creative Commons license.


  1. Sean, I stay in that same lot a lot, it seems to be safe, although pretty dusty!LOL
    I have never seen or heard of FL saying anything about overnight stays at any of the rest areas. If you have first hand knowledge please let me know. I have spent many nights in rest areas all over Florida with no problems.

  2. Jack, the official Florida policy (and thus law) can be found here. The three hour limit is stated at the end of the second paragraph. Many rest areas, including the one just east of here, are well-posted No Overnight Camping or No Overnight Parking. That said, many folks have gotten away with it, as you have, and there are plenty of stories on, for example, the Escapees board of people asking the on-site security officer and being granted permission. But getting away with it and it being legal are two different things; we've spent many nights, for example, where overnight parking is allowed, but sleeping in your vehicle is not. Solution: don't answer when anyone knocks on the door in the middle of the night.

  3. I guess things have changed in Florida. Back in 2005 we stayed overnight in our motorhome in the rest area on I-75 near Lake City. The Highway Patrol had a substation there and they told me it was OK to spend the night and they patrolled it all night.


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