Free Entertainment

 Posted by at 12:02 am  Nick's Blog
Dec 232014

If you’re looking for a cheap way to have a laugh or two, you never have to leave the RV park. All you have to do is walk around and watch folks trying to back into an RV site. It’s some of the best free entertainment you can find anywhere.

Seriously, I’ve seen people make half a dozen or more attempts to get into their assigned site, and then just give up and leave their rig parked wherever they end up. Sometimes not until after they run over the power pedestal or water bib.

We know fulltimers who have been on the road for years who still ask for a pull-thru site when they make a campground reservation, and cringe when they can’t get one. Others can slip into any site as smooth as butter.

Of course, having a good ground guide makes it a lot easier. After 15 years of practice, Terry can get me into any RV site easily because we have a clear understanding of what her hand directions mean, and she’s got an excellent eye. She knows where our motorhome’s pivot point is and can place me exactly where I need to be before I start backing up.

Every vehicle has a pivot point. On an RV, it’s the center of the rear axle. When I’m backing up, when that points gets to the corner of the RV site, Terry signals me to turn the wheel and I slip right in. Then it’s a simple matter of making small corrections as I continue backward to place the motorhome where she wants it in the site. This You Tube video by Mark Polk explains pivot points very well.

Terry makes it a point to stay visible in my mirror at all times, and if she isn’t, I stop and wait until she moves back into sight. If she wants to check something on the other side she signals me to stop and wait first. And remember, this isn’t a timed activity. Nobody ever banged up their RV by backing into a site too slowly!

I have seen people go through all sorts of motions when guiding an RV into a site, flapping their arms in so many directions at once that I wouldn’t be surprised if they took fight. How can the driver possibly know what all that means? Even worse is the ground guide who simply points a finger. A driver is supposed to see that from forty feet away? Point your whole arm in the direction you want the back end of the RV to go. Both arms is even better. The ground guide also has to be aware of what is overhead. Backing into a tree limb can ruin your whole day.

Many times some well-meaning neighbor will come by and try to assist me, but I just tell them no thanks, we can handle it. Occasionally, even after I say that, they still try to “help.” When that happens I just ignore them and focus on Terry, because if they run me into a tree or a low hanging branch, they aren’t going to pay for my repairs.

And never underestimate the value of good driver training, or be too proud too get it. Last year in Tucson I was talking to a guy who said he had a 5th wheel, but was getting ready to sell it because he couldn’t back it up. He told me that his neighbor had to back it in next to his house after every trip. I told him that the RV Driving School had an instructor in Benson, less than 20 miles away who could teach him everything he needed to know. He was all excited and wanted to call right then. I gave him Sharon Del Rosario’s contact info and he said, "A girl?" I told him she wasn’t a girl, she was a woman, and a very competent one at that. An excellent instructor, Sharon has been a fulltimer for years, including a solo with a 5th wheel. His response was, "No girl can teach me how to park an RV!" I tried to convince him that Sharon could, but to no avail. His pride just wouldn’t allow it. As Terry said, "He’s right, no girl can teach him anything. He’s too dumb."

Thought For The Day – Bad things happen fast and we have to live through them slow.

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Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  8 Responses to “Free Entertainment”

  1. Yep – after 7 years, we always ask for a pull-through. We don’t always get one, and that’s OK, but… sure makes it quick & easy! I CAN backup, but some of the sites are so narrow, and on such narrow “streets” that it is just too much hassle. Our 5er is “only” 36′, so not too bad, but I still prefer to do it the easy way!


  2. We recently stayed at Stone Mountain Park in GA. When I saw our site which was surrounded by trees and was very narrow, I was nervous about getting the RV in the site. It didn’t help that people had gathered to watch. There was a family of five that pulled their chairs closer to watch. I think they were even eating popcorn. LOL I am happy to say that I was able to direct my husband into the site in one try. I learned about big hand signals in RV boot camp. One of people watching was visibly disappointed that we made it into the site without any issues.

  3. It’s the same thing about Boot Camp. When we went we were very new, but some people had been RVing for 20 years and they learned a lot too. You can always learn something.

  4. On our recent 6 month trip, Barbara Westerfield guided both our rigs into every spot effortlessly, to the disappointment of many except Tom and I. Being single however, I prefer pull thrus. Not that I don’t appreciate a man stepping up to help me, but often they use guidance systems that are unrecognizable!!! Barb just stood where she wanted my back left corner and I tried to run over her. Worked perfect every time!!!

  5. Nick, a couple of months ago we were arriving at Cape Blanco State Park and sat in the middle of the road for 15 minutes while a gentleman attempted to back a pretty short trailer into a 50 foot spot…..after his 7th try (he was all the way in the site) I thought he was done and drove on by…..his wife became enraged that I hadn’t waited for him to back out an 8th time and try to reposition the trailer one more time, calling me the ‘back end of a donkey’……I really thought 15 minutes was enough time to wait. In reflection, I think she was just taking out her frustration with her husband on me…..:-)

  6. I’ve been backing into RV sites for many yrs. and can say that I am pretty good at it. But I will also admit that there are days that I have a heck of a time getting my 40′ in a spot.
    We also had a lady come up to us after backing into a site and wife guiding me and we got it parked rather quickly. The lady walked over to my wife and said I think that’s a first time I have not seen an argument between hubby and wife when backing in…….lol

  7. Nick, I know what you mean by well intentioned neighbors helping out. I too ignore them and Donna talks to me with a handheld CB as she guides me. We have a cargo trailer behind our 40′ motorhome, so it can be tricky at times.

    Here at Mission Bay I’ve seen a couple of people pull in and start backing into their site alone without a helper. In those instances I’ve offered to help and it was appreciated.

  8. I was a boater in my preRV life. I understand pivot point very well especially when your u have 50 feet of boat in front of you u while you are in the middle of a i t and the pivot point is off the stern of the boat.just standing on the bridge and watching everybody watch youcan be very intimidating however the main thing with boats and RVs is too go slow.backing either one just takes practice

    Merry Christmas to everyone and a happy new year

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