Camping has an almost mystical appeal for many urbanites. People living the city life often long for the escape into nature after the hectic work week of traffic and 9 to 5 obligations that crowd out real life.
Camping expos fill to capacity with couples dreaming of a retirement on wheels. Touring the country in a traveling get away home is enticing and the very thought of it causes normally sane people to go all starry eyed over the thought of crackling campfires. They wander among the mammoth rigs that are fully equipped for inter-planetary travel.
Envisioning a life free of mundane responsibility, potential campers contemplate budget busting purchases with little real experience of the realities of managing life on the road. I once asked a dealer, “Who can afford these things?” He chuckled and responded, “No one. But that doesn’t stop anyone from falling in love with them.” He went on to explain that a vast majority of the really big rigs come back into the dealership for resale within six months when the bloom is off the rose and the new owners realize what driving one really entails.
We women folk dream of building a nest in a tin cottage while their husbands set up the grill that will cook up the barbecue to compliment the beer. As most new camper owners discover, somewhere between fantasy and reality lies the real truth.
The truth is, sometimes camping is more like cramping. Like when you have to back up the trailer……..that’s a literal cramp in the neck. And a pain in the butt. Some parks provide the courtesy of well-designed pull-through sites to reduce the aggravation of trying to skinny that trailer in between two trees and a boulder. Pull through sites are good for marriages that have a low tolerance for stress. The rest of the parks are designed by some engineering masochist who enjoys the spectacle of seeing campers trying to line up 40 foot rigs with the picnic table, the fire ring and the water/sewer hookups.
Arnie has help with backing up. Me. He handles the drive forward and I back it up. I am assisted by the two large mirrors, a talking bird, a whining dog and Arnie’s dyslexic directions. Little did he know that he married Large Marge who can put that rig into a pencil thin spot between two leaning trees. My preternatural backing skill was a bonus to be sure… as I keep reminding him.
Parking is camping foreplay. Sometimes it goes well and, well, sometimes it just doesn’t. It is high entertainment to watch couples park together. The conversation goes something like this:
Director: No, turn your wheels.
Driver: Which way?
Director: That way? Right.
Driver: Which right……..yours or mine?
Director: Mine……..that way. No the other way…….
Driver: I can’t see you.
Director: Back up………..Now stop……………stop, stop STOP. Why didn’t you stop?
Driver: Were you talking? I couldn’t hear you 40 feet behind me with the engine running.
Director: When I motion like this STOP.
Driver: I thought you were waving to someone. I’ll pull out and start again.
And this is how the West was won. Those pioneer women knew enough to have the men circle the wagons, not back them in.