I was brought up to always defer to authority, to never act without permission, to assume all things are forbidden unless expressly allowed. Fortunately, I broke out of that submissive training. Mostly. Some of it still sticks with me.
I’ve been living in the Rolling Steel Tent for almost three years, camping all over the West. More than a hundred different places so far just this year. But even though I know it’s fine and legal to camp on public land (within minimal rules), my inner groveling child still asks, “Is it okay to be here?” It’s like I want a ranger to come by and give me official permission.
It’s the same with free campgrounds. Nothing’s ever free, right? Maybe I just didn’t see the pay station. I’m going to get rousted in the middle of the night.
Some nomads probably think I spend too much time in pay campgrounds. “Dude, you’re throwing your money away.” Could be, but sometimes it’s worth it to not have that permission-seeking kid fretting all night.