By Nanci Dixon
I will admit it, watching folks back RVs into campsites, particularly tight ones, has become a rather guilty source of entertainment. I am not alone. Every head seems to turn to the new camper as they begin their backing up journey.
Someone jumps out to help direct the way in – usually the wife, although I have recently seen several men hopping out, which means in their family the consensus is that the woman in the driver’s seat can back in better (or take directions better… or both). Sometimes no one jumps out and I can only imagine the conversations that ensue. Sometimes the husband jumps out over and over again to check while the wife is sitting in the passenger seat. Those would have been interesting conversations too.
I have seen walkie-talkies, cell phones and, the most fun of all, the hand signals used to help avoid sign posts, electric pedestals, sewer covers, trees and bushes (some work more successfully than others).
I was not the one deemed better to back in, or take directions better either.
Early on, backing the 28 ft. Class C required a bit of learning. Flapping like a bird to indicate “Stop!” “Turn!” “Wait!” did not work and was the cause for a lot of discord. I did find that the universal hand gesture for stopping by cutting across the throat seemed to work well (or maybe it worked because that was what he was actually thinking at that point…).
When we got the 34 ft. Class A, I had already learned that rotating my arm in a circle to signify which way to turn the wheel was useless. I had to be able to determine which way the back end of the motorhome needed to go and then which direction the wheel should turn to achieve that. Back end to the left? Point to the left so the tires pointed left and the wheel turned left. Position myself in the mirror so I can be seen.
When we got to the 40 ft., all aspects of precision backing, turning and direction required an enhanced skill level.
Now we have it down. He lines up the rear wheels, the pivoting point, with the edge of the pad. I walk the site to note any trees, bushes, odd poles or overhead wires. Learned that after a near-hit on a low hanging branch… I usually don’t mention the number of previous near hits.
I stay on the driver’s side so he can see me in the mirror and I can watch the pedestals. Point left to move back end to the left, point right to move the back end of the motorhome to the right. For “Straighten up!” I do two hands about a foot apart moving backward and forward. To continue straight back, I move my hands in a come hither gesture and then leave them at my side while he slowly backs up.
As he gets closer, I hold my arms apart the approximate distance he has to go and slowly bring together. Two fists for stop. Learned that when I was the one pulling into a service bay and the tech was wildly pumping two fists frantically for “STOP!”
Learning a few simple hand signals has been a boon to saving a marriage, avoiding an argument, avoiding frustration and a relief at the end of a long day of driving.
What works or doesn’t work for you when backing your RV up?