Backing Sh*t Up

We spent a gorgeous weekend at Loyd Park, where we met some fun folks who had gathered for an annual spring fling event. As we observed a guy trying to maneuver his rig into his campsite, we got into a conversation with his wife about the trials and tribulations of backing in. We shared tales of failed attempts, near misses and flared tempers. We agreed that there is so much drama associated with parking an RV at a campsite that Mark Burnett should consider producing a reality show called “Backing Sh*t Up.”

Here’s the premise: “Backing an RV into a campsite looks so easy on TV. We see the pros flawlessly execute a back-in maneuver in one grand, sweeping movement. But somewhere between “drive” and “reverse” there are always a few adjustments – and one great story. Communication breaks down, tempers flare, relationships suffer. This is real life, and Backing Sh*t Up proves that what starts out as relaxation and recreation can quickly spiral to shouting and stress.”

There are millions of descriptions on the web of how to back up an RV, complete with diagrams and videos. Nearly all of them are designed to make it look easier than it actually is: “These tips, tricks and helpful tools will get you backing your trailer like a pro in no time.” “With a little practice, you’ll be backing in at the campground like a seasoned veteran.”
“Backing in a trailer can be tough, but these tips will make it easier.” You get the idea.

You’ll also find other, more ominous comments: “For many new campers, few things are as scary as backing your RV into a tight, or even a not-so-tight, space.” “Backing up a trailer can bend your mind, break your nerve, and leave you sweating bullets.” “Backing a trailer has probably contributed to more than one failed marriage.”

During our five-plus years of camping, we’ve certainly experienced our share of drama whilst backing our trailer into a site. For a couple years, our achievement at Yellowstone National Park was the benchmark: “If we can park this thing at Yellowstone, we can park it anywhere,” we said, with pride. Then, when we faced an even more daunting challenge at Rocky Mountain National Park — one that led to a regretful temper tantrum in the middle of the street — we set a new standard.

Backing a trailer into a campsite is more art than science. It can be done solo, but it’s usually best to have two people working together. Mirrors and backup cameras are helpful, but having a good spotter is essential — not to tell you what to do but to keep you from whacking something you can’t see or, worse, getting the trailer too close to the bumper of the truck and jackknifing.

There’s a scene in “The Long, Long Trailer,” where the camp host cheerfully offers to set up the rig for the happy couple. Those days may be gone, but we’re thankful that we’ve gotten to a point in our camping life where we can park in almost any spot quickly and easily, with a minimum of directions and very little stress. (By the way, if you haven’t seen the movie, it’s well worth your time. We roar with laughter, even after repeated viewings.)