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Backing up is too hard to do; even deer would laugh

Joyce Walter writes about camping and the challenges of parking a large RV
Reflective Moments by Joyce Walter

My idea of camping is checking into a semi-decent hotel/motel where there is hot and cold running water, flush facilities and meals prepared by someone else. Roughing it would mean no phone or television in the room and having to put a chair under the doorknob to make sure the drunks down the hall can’t get in without making a ruckus.

On our limited, day-long voyages this summer, I find myself wondering about the various styles of recreational vehicles that we meet or pass on the highway, or see nestled into the trees at various parks and campsites in nearby locations.

In my family camping experience, my Dad built a plywood hut to fit the back of our half-ton truck. It was furnished with a Winnipeg couch for the parents and an air mattress with plenty of quilts for me. We had coolers filled with ice to keep our food safe. Each morning Mom and I would made sandwiches for lunch, and in the evening we’d find a campsite along the road and cook hamburgers or hotdogs for our supper. 

It was primitive but it worked. When the truck was traded in, the plywood box remained behind as my playhouse and then as a repository for gardening utensils. It wasn’t until I left home that the parents invested in a factory-made camping unit that fit over the back and cab of the truck and had amenities like a sink, bathroom, fridge and sleeping space for six. 

In today’s RVing world, that camper would be viewed as bottom of the ladder in comparison with the glamorous homes on wheels that one now sees everywhere during the warm season.

I’ve wandered through some of them during indoor RV shows and think to myself that camping wouldn’t be much of a hardship nowadays. The only requirement would be for us to hire a driver to safely get those behemoths safely around corners and into camping spots. I could likely manage driving ahead but backing up would be another matter.

And I don’t think I am the only one lacking in such an important skill.

Just recently, while visiting friends at a provincial park, some of the amusement for the evening was listening to the lady giving directions to the gentleman who was attempting, without much success, to park their large RV. Her directions were not working and we couldn’t help but be amused while some of us surreptitiously checked out the activity at the nearby site.

There was the definite temptation to offer some advice, either directionally or as a driver, but all of us stayed in our space and settled for chuckling quietly. I was especially pleased I hadn’t offered an opinion when later in the evening we got lost trying to find our way back to the park entrance. Our friends laughed and waved in amusement.

On the return trip to Moose Jaw we commented on how much fun it was to sit around the fire pit with friends, several of them young children, and enjoy the outdoors. Even though the fishermen did not return with fish for a fish fry we thoroughly enjoyed the homemade sausage cooked for us under a summer sky.
Along the way home we saw antelope in full view and thankfully did not have a collision with the deer we saw munching on weeds in the ditch.

A wonderful day without having to reverse direction in a extremely large piece of camping equipment. Housemate mourned the fact we didn’t stop for ice cream — but that would have meant putting the vehicle in reverse and I wasn’t prepared to bear the amusement from perfect strangers.

Joyce Walter can be reached at

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication.  

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