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Old 09-26-2017, 06:15 PM   #1
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Default Stealth-when good or bad

Controversial, I know, but it comes up all the time in all the class b discussion groups.

The first question is why do you want stealth appearance?

Personally, I think there may be two different reasons, one in regard to HOA rules, and another to get around municipality and other rules against camping in certain areas.

In regard to the HOA rules, I think there is some merit to the stealth if both the owner and the HOA look at it reasonably. The HOA rules are almost always based on neighborhood appearance only, so a van that looks like any other vehicle that might be used a personal vehicle would not violate that requirement any more than lots of normal vans and pickups with toppers. Common sense on both sides, I think, could make it work well. Unfortunately, HOAs tend to fill with power hungry types that like to exert their authority, and there are plenty of people that feel that it is OK to try to get around the rules than work with the HOA, reinforcing the need to have strictly enforced rules. Bottom line is that this is really a no real harm issue other than bruised egos and bad judgements that could cost some money.

The second reason, I think, is more problematic, as it often entails intentionally (often but not always) breaking the law and risking police or private security involvement. It also could be consider by some to be disrespecting the residents of the areas you are staying in when there are rules against it. I will certainly agree that sometimes there are rules and laws that seem stupid, but from the side of the local police and residents, the view of them is likely much different. Beach communities and residential areas near major attractions come to mind as examples.

I can't speak for other areas of the country, but here in exurb Minneapolis area where the county Sheriff handles police work, we are constantly requested to watch for unusual behavior in our neighborhoods, and to call if we see anything. In our area, a plain looking van with all the windows covered, parked on the street or in an access road or park, would certainly be considered unusual. I am not a cop, but I would think that approaching a parked van that has the windows covered or blacked out so they can't see in, with out of state plates, in the dark on a deserted street, would be considered a very high risk contact to them. Of course it also takes the deputies away from their regular work, and they likely would send two cars to the situation. Before we moved to where we are now, we lived in the city where on street parking is a large part of the parking available to the residents, and overnight is allowed. The street was often full of parked cars of residents (not ours as we were lucky and had our own parking) and I know lots of the neighbors would be quickly calling about a never seen before van parked there, both from a suspicion standpoint, but also a "that is my parking" perspective (bad reason). You would be legal there, but likely to get a visit during the night, either from a resident or a officer.

Personally, we don't want to cause the areas we are visiting any problems or inconvenience if we can help it, so we don't ever camp on the street or other areas where it is not allowed per rules or laws. If it is an area where there are no rules against it, no problem, just like Walmarts that allow overnighting.

I know many will disagree, and that is fine.

The best reason I can think of for going stealth is because you prefer the way the van looks
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Old 09-26-2017, 08:43 PM   #2
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1. HOA-regulated areas (including my own driveway, extensively)
2. Apartment complexes
3. Various types of private properties
4. Airports
5. Pay lots of every conceivable kind (you paid the hourly fee to have your vehicle there, so why not? My favorite is out-of-town universities when I pay visitor's parking fees to take continuing education courses that I need to maintain my state license)
6. Hospitals
7. Backcountry trail heads
8. DOT rest stops that allow overnight parking (Texas does, as long as the driver does not appear to be "camping")
9. Retailers that allow it (my favorites are Cabela's and "Crack B" in local vernacular... Walmart only as a last resort)
10. Public boat ramps
11. Public beaches
12. State and federal overflow areas where park staff intentionally turns a blind eye to overnight parking
13. Certain mixed-use National Forest lands which are not necessarily intended for "camping" (e.g., hunting muster areas).
14. National Wildlife Refuges where there is no camping but discrete overnight parking is allowed in certain scenarios (this is one of my absolute favorites).
15. Parking lots of mixed or unknown ownership (Crack B sometimes shares these with adjacent businesses)
16. I'm sure there are plenty more still to be discovered... churches are high on my list for future inquiry. For a donation of course.

Those are my reasons for wanting stealth capacity. They are also all places where my husband and I have stealth'd without incident.
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Old 09-26-2017, 08:58 PM   #3
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I think Booster meant a vehicle that doesn't look like an RV ................

Yours looks like an RV.

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Old 09-26-2017, 09:17 PM   #4
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Stealth didnít make into my conversion objectives list which was long. We parked in many places listed in the previous post and never had problems by being who we are. Hiding, perhaps it is harsh word but it is what it is, is just against my grain, like a concealed RV license.

We camp since 1977, we camp in campgrounds, our stuff is out, chairs, lanterns, grills, that is camping.

We never used our RV vehicles as full timers, but even if we would, being holed up is just not my cap of tea.
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Old 09-26-2017, 09:26 PM   #5
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I think Booster meant a vehicle that doesn't look like an RV ................

Yours looks like an RV.

Not enough to concern many people. The T1N Sprinter series of Interstates were so rare that most folks haven't even set eyes on one (including our local RV repair shop - ours was the first they'd ever seen).

The Class Bs with the RV-style swoopy-doopy painting on the sides... THOSE are RVs, without question. Ours is ambiguous enough so that people generally ignore it.
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Old 09-26-2017, 10:04 PM   #6
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Crackers Barrels can have several RV parking spots available. Just ask the manager if you can park overnight. Just park with all the other RV's at Walmart. We've always gone in and asked permission.

There's no need for a stealthy looking RV at those places. It's not camping, no mats or BBQ's outside etc. It's just a simple overnight stay.
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Old 09-26-2017, 11:18 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by InterBlog View Post
1. HOA-regulated areas (including my own driveway, extensively)
2. Apartment complexes
3. Various types of private properties
4. Airports
5. Pay lots of every conceivable kind (you paid the hourly fee to have your vehicle there, so why not? My favorite is out-of-town universities when I pay visitor's parking fees to take continuing education courses that I need to maintain my state license)
6. Hospitals
7. Backcountry trail heads
8. DOT rest stops that allow overnight parking (Texas does, as long as the driver does not appear to be "camping")
9. Retailers that allow it (my favorites are Cabela's and "Crack B" in local vernacular... Walmart only as a last resort)
10. Public boat ramps
11. Public beaches
12. State and federal overflow areas where park staff intentionally turns a blind eye to overnight parking
13. Certain mixed-use National Forest lands which are not necessarily intended for "camping" (e.g., hunting muster areas).
14. National Wildlife Refuges where there is no camping but discrete overnight parking is allowed in certain scenarios (this is one of my absolute favorites).
15. Parking lots of mixed or unknown ownership (Crack B sometimes shares these with adjacent businesses)
16. I'm sure there are plenty more still to be discovered... churches are high on my list for future inquiry. For a donation of course.

Those are my reasons for wanting stealth capacity. They are also all places where my husband and I have stealth'd without incident.
A lot of those places are private property, it appears. Do you always make sure to get permission?
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Old 09-27-2017, 03:02 AM   #8
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Often the rules in municipalities are meant to keep bums from living on the streets. They'd rather drive out the homeless than address the real problems behind it. We, who are just travelers and actually spend money in these places, get caught up in it. The rules is the rules as they say, and they can't make exceptions for us, as much as they may sympathize.

As I've often said, it's not really the appearance of your RV that is something to concern yourself with. "Stealth" in the common sense, is a delusion.

The trick is to not draw attention to yourself and not be a nuisance. You don't park in front of upscale homes. You don't squat in tourist spots in peak season. You don't linger in one spot more than a day. Use some common sense and you'll very rarely, if at all, have a problem.
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Old 09-27-2017, 09:10 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by InterBlog View Post
Not enough to concern many people. The T1N Sprinter series of Interstates were so rare that most folks haven't even set eyes on one (including our local RV repair shop - ours was the first they'd ever seen).

The Class Bs with the RV-style swoopy-doopy painting on the sides... THOSE are RVs, without question. Ours is ambiguous enough so that people generally ignore it.
I am an average Joe in recognizing RV or not RV and this Airstream has attributes of an RV in my judgment; Airstream name, solar, roof vent, awning, antenna, RV windows, straight (indeed not curvy) graphics, walls penetrations etc.
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Old 09-27-2017, 12:29 PM   #10
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Several folks have stopped to ask about my van. Without exception, all assumed it was some type of camper van. I was at a store yesterday parked on a similar angle as this older photo. The comment was "Your van looks to be in good condition, what year is it? Followup comment was "......... camper vans don't get much use in the winter.

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Old 09-27-2017, 01:38 PM   #11
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I am an average Joe in recognizing RV or not RV and this Airstream has attributes of an RV in my judgment; Airstream name, solar, roof vent, awning, antenna, RV windows, straight (indeed not curvy) graphics, walls penetrations etc.
This gave me my first smile of the day. You are about as far from average Joe as anyone whose content I've ever read.


The shot shown above was a drone shot, which gives a certain feel. Viewed from the ground, the vaulted solar panels become more visibly prominent. The number one guess that average Joes give as to the van's function is storm chaser (in fact, that's what I nicknamed it as a result). They think we took what might have been an ordinary cargo van of some kind, and changed it into a professional tracking vehicle. They think I work for the National Weather Service or something.
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Old 09-27-2017, 01:54 PM   #12
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If I see an awning, I think "camper." Without an awning, side cutouts could be for use when working (think welder, dog washer, mobile windshield repair, etc.). The rooftop A/C could be for a transportation van (perhaps an airport taxi). I was an adult in the 80's when EVERYONE had graphics on their van so I don't even find that particularly noticeable unless it includes the name of a well-known camper company.

But the awning gives it away, IMHO.
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Old 09-27-2017, 02:13 PM   #13
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Fortunately the average Joe is not as well-versed. Of course Class B owners can readily ID all makes and models of Class B - that comes with the territory. But it is not so for the general public.
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Old 09-27-2017, 02:16 PM   #14
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+ 1 on the awning as a tell.

Curtains and blinds indicate living space also.
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Old 09-27-2017, 02:47 PM   #15
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Here I am being stealthy again. Hidin' in the hood, blendin' in with the red rocks. Got away with this for 3 days.

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Old 09-27-2017, 03:07 PM   #16
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I think this conversation is interesting, but is not really about the original question and topic. It has drifted to about the van look parameters and where folks stay when not in campgrounds, which is where these discussions nearly always wind up.

In a much shorter version, the question was if folk want to make their vans stealth to get away with something that is likely illegal at worst, or a likely inconvenience or irritation to the local population at best. That sounds harsh, but I think it is worth thinking about. If that is the reason for the stealth desire, how does that fit into the entire dynamic of camping and the reputation of RV owners in general?

It is interesting that there have been no comments, I think, that say they always ask for permission on private property, or check the local laws before parking on the street or parks, and an inquiry about it was not responded to. Also interesting are comments about staying away from certain types of areas where it is more likely you would be questioned, with the inference it is OK if you don't get caught doing something that you might not be supposed to be doing.

With more and more RVs on the road, I think this whole thing is going to get to be more and more an issue over time, with more and more rules getting stricter and more tightly enforced. We have already heard of some very strict rules about stopping for even short times on the street in an RV, which are likely overreactions to things that have been going on in the jurisdiction. I would hate to start seeing 5 minute stopping rules show up all over the place, and more ordinances banning Walmarts and such from allowing overnighting, but I also would not be surprised to see it happen.

I think the next time I run across one of the local Sheriff deputies, I will ask them about how they look at the situation here (a park we go walk around is a common place for them to take their lunch, or do their paperwork so I see them fairly often). It could be interesting to hear their side directly. It might also be interesting for others to ask their local police what they think about it. With things the way that things currently are between the police and some of the public, I would think any encounter with law enforcement in the middle of the night could be a risk, not because of anyone doing anything intentioanlly, but just because both sides are likely to be on edge about the encounter. Minneapolis had a woman shot and killed by police a while ago, by accident it appears, because an officer misinterpreted her actions. She had, in fact, been the person who called them and was going out to talk to them when they showed up, It startled them when she walked towards them out of the dark.
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Old 09-27-2017, 03:31 PM   #17
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+ 1 on the awning as a tell.

Curtains and blinds indicate living space also.
It could be partially a geographic perception. In the south, awnings are used on all sorts of vans and trucks - it would be suicide not to have them. Food trucks, mobile service vans, utility vehicles, you name it. Awnings are by no means restricted to RVs. Not even close. Here's just one example.

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Old 09-27-2017, 03:41 PM   #18
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...

I think the next time I run across one of the local Sheriff deputies, I will ask them about how they look at the situation here ...
I did this in my area - not Sheriff, but I did question the local police department. Their bottom line was that, if the vehicle is:

(1) Legal (license / registration / insurance / mechanically operational)
(2) Is parked on a public street where parking is allowed
(3) Is moved at least once in every 24-hour period

Then they basically don't care unless there is suspicious activity visible with that vehicle. They have so many bigger fish to fry that they are simply not interested in looking into it.

Now, I could create trouble for myself if I defied common sense and went to park in high-crime areas, for instance. But that's not what stealthing is all about (except among the unwise who tend to be defiant at heart and seem to be compelled to push the envelope).
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Old 09-27-2017, 03:43 PM   #19
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Here I am being stealthy again. Hidin' in the hood, blendin' in with the red rocks. Got away with this for 3 days.

Very nice spot, but is it boondocking stealth?

I think I see a power pole and sewer connection
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Old 09-27-2017, 03:53 PM   #20
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Here I am being stealthy again. Hidin' in the hood, blendin' in with the red rocks. Got away with this for 3 days.

+1


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