At Home on the Road
The Walmart parking lot in Butte, Montana resembled a campground. More than twenty RVs, campers and travel trailers were parked on the outskirts when we arrived in the late afternoon. The vehicles varied from top-of-the-line, bus-shaped motor homes to old, creaking models that had seen far better days.
Our 1986 Toyota Escaper fell toward the less attractive end of that spectrum and, for the first time on our trip, we shared the Walmart parking lot with a vehicle just like it. That’s how we met Mike and Jane.
We said hello shortly after they parked a few spaces away, and they were kind and welcoming as we chatted about the peculiarities of our aging twin campers. We figured the middle-aged couple were, like the rest of the Walmart population, on vacation, maybe headed just down the road to Yellowstone National Park. But they soon revealed that their Toyota was no home away from home. It was their only home.
A few months ago Mike and Jane moved out of their Butte, Montana apartment as expenses ate up more and more of their meager income. They loaded themselves, their cat and much of their belongings into their small motor home and began their life on the road.
With little money for fuel, they’re not criss-crossing the country. The couple has stayed close to Butte as they struggle each evening to find a safe and legal place to park for the night. After a few nights at Walmart, they reach the limit of the store’s hospitality and must head out of town to stay in a state camping area before beginning the cycle again.
In the video story, they explain what life is like without a fixed address, the factors that led them to it and how they get by in a world that sometimes seems to have left them behind.