Born to Park, or Why NYC Dwellers Love RVs

In the day we sweat it out on the streets of a runaway American dream. And then at night we park.

Mike Guy / The Drive

Day 2: Driggs Avenue, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

It doesn’t take long for the people to start knocking on Camperman’s RV door. (That’s right: I’m Camperman now.) Actually, the day I published my first Camperman story, they arrived. It's a golden late spring evening, and after I put my kids to bed in my apartment, I went down to the Thor, which is parked opposite the park. I've decided to move further away from the Automotive High School. (As a rule, I think it's probably wise not to park an RV near a school.)  

I fired up the generator to watch the Warriors/Cavs game on the living room TV and cooked a nice meal of penne pasta and chicken sausage on the propane range. Just like home! During halftime, with the Warriors up by 10, I looked out the windshield from my perch in the captain's chair and saw a guy with two women outside trying to get my attention. 

I'm not a huge fan of people. But there's not much I can do about a passerby once they lock their gaze on me sitting in the Thor. From the street, if I'm people watching, I'm basically a sitting duck. 

"Hey, I read your story," says the man, who is coming from a bar. He is an unemployed banker from Bath, England. He voted for Trump when he was employed, and now that he's laid off wish he'd voted for Bernie Sanders. He is smoking a cigarette, so he stays outside the screen door, but his wife and her friend—both from the Ukraine—invite themselves in and sit on the couch. 

"I have to say," says the man. "I'm looking at this set up, and I'm feeling pretty envious." That's the baseline reaction from married guys I've talked to: They look at the expansive layout, the kitchen, the widescreen TVs, the artfully compact interior. They sit on the couch and see how far above the sidewalk we are, and they contemplate another life, where the man cave is the home. This place, in the mind of men, has none of the brick-and-mortar complications like mortgages or leases or neighbors that deal weed. They see a weightless, joy-lit future, with a galley, captain's chair and a Ford Triton V-10. The past, which looked to the east, is somewhere else. Who cares, anyway? Home is on four wheels. Go make your home face west—or at least the Upper West Side.

I tell him there are ups and downs, and that all lives can be messy. But if he wants to get his own, GoRving.com is a great starting place. The guy's wife picked up on his suddenly wistful vibe, and I could sense her blanch just a little. But even she couldn't help pointing out the obvious attraction for city dwellers in an RV: "Hey look," she said. "The kitchen is bigger than the one in our apartment."

And that really sums it up. In New York City, we live in compromise spaces in return for something we think is more important: revenue, late nights, a bacon-egg-and-cheese at every bodega. We're already at peace—or not—with being confined. So why not be mobile as well?

Couple of things to note: 

  • I haven’t used the blackwater tank yet. (It’s not lost on me that the tank that holds the piss and shit shares the former name of the shady special ops defense contractor run by that colossal jerk, Erik Prince. But I've done some research and I'm starting to feel less reluctant. 
  • This morning I woke up at 2:45 am to move around the park and find a spot or the following day. A goddamn movie set will be descending on the park next week. I'll try to blend in.
  • Pro tip: Don't set up camp near schools.

Stay tuned for: How to hack into a fire hydrant to fill your fresh water tank.