Tuesday, November 28, 2023


Wife afraid of arriving at campground after dark; husband doesn’t learn

Dear RV Shrink:rvshrink
When we started RVing it only took one bad experience to decide I never wanted to drive in the dark again. My husband seemed to agree, but he has a tendency to push the limits of our driving day.

Recently we were headed for a county park at Anacortes, Washington. It was getting late, but we were only an hour from our destination. My husband talked me into going the rest of the way, so we arrived in total darkness.

The road into the park narrowed to one lane, took a hard left and went straight up. We had no idea what we were getting into, and there was no turning around. When we reached the top of the hill it was a dark wooded area. Luckily an angel appeared. A camper stepped out of the dark and motioned us into a wide campsite, then disappeared. We never did get to thank him.

I don’t know how to cure my husband of pushing the limits of light. He says, “Never again.” But then he forgets our bad experiences and away we go again into the night. Can you shed some light on this problem? —Scared of the dark side

Dear Scared:
I’m with you. We made the same decision years ago. Rules are meant to break. It is easy to talk yourself into pushing on when you get close to your destination. If you are familiar with your destination it makes some difference, but you can still have problems along the way which compound quickly in the dark.

Experience usually makes for better judgment. Most RVers have found out the hard way that driving at night is not the safest method of travel. Our maiden voyage years ago ended in a gas station in Corbin, Kentucky. First, the owner of the station had to pull us off the top of an icy mountain in the dark with a wrecker. He told us we would be safe sleeping at the station overnight. His last words before leaving for the night were, “Don’t get out of your trailer during the night. My German Shepard will eat you alive!” We swore we would never drive after daylight again.

Yes, we have broken that rule a few times, but usually we regretted it. So cut your husband some slack on having a short memory – we all have a tendency to forget the bad times. —Keep Smilin’, Richard Mallery a.k.a. Dr. R.V. Shrink

Can’t get enough of the Shrink? Read his e-book: Dr. R.V. Shrink: Everything you ever wanted to know about the RV Lifestyle but were afraid to ask or check out his other e-books.




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J.O. (@guest_31358)
5 years ago

I’ve done it twice now in my RV – travelling with friends (different ones each time). It’s extremely stressful trying to back up a trailer in the dark. I do not plan on doing it again, unless it’s dire circumstances.

Kathy manoff (@guest_31278)
5 years ago

We have arrived at late hours and it’s terrible . But what we use and I recommend day or night.
Use a pair of walkie talkies for parking in your space. It is so much easier for me to direct tom into a space from behind. I can see both sides the overhead space, Also I’m not annoying the other people around us screaming at the top of my lungs.
I have recommended this to others and they have thanked me. It saves a loud argument that the whole RV sites hear. As we are growing older and “smarter” we try to get in before dark.

PennyPA (@guest_30923)
5 years ago

It only took one time of arriving after dark to make me say, “NEVER AGAIN”. Nothing bad happened but there was a considerable amount of stress and, as the driver, it just did NOT “float my boat”. We’ve been full-timing for 10 years and while we’ve come close a couple of times, we’ve succeeded in not breaking that self-imposed rule. Of course, as full-timers, we can take advantage of shorter driving days and “into camp by 4p.m”. Most weekenders don’t have this luxury.

Pat Greenwood (@guest_30841)
5 years ago

I don’t like setting up after dark either, but sometimes it happens. My husband & I last year were driving to a campground in Utah, we had never been to & man was it dark! I was dreading setting up, but the funny thing is, it was our best backing in job we had experienced in all the years we have been camping, it was a tight spot, but only took a couple trys, and it was level and straight! We were so surprised the next morning how good everything looked! So ya just never know, sometimes you get lucky!

Wolfe (@guest_30778)
5 years ago

With a choice, absolutely dock before dark. Now the compensation for not doing that:

If you don’t have a choice or already pushed yourself too late, then carry absurd numbers of flashlights to lay out as alignment markers/illumination, be SUPER careful checking for obstructions and low branches before swinging in, and then TAKE YOUR TIME. People tend to “courteously” rush trying to park, and end up doing damage or screaming at their frustrated mates. If I were your sleepy neighbor, I’d much rather have you light up your site SAFELY and park quietly instead of screaming parking instructions and swearing late at night.

BTW: I use IR cameras, full-coverage sonar, and radios for assistants to whisper instructions… I can’t always help my travel schedule, but I set myself up to land as competently and quietly as possible.

Sherry Dawson (@guest_30905)
5 years ago
Reply to  Wolfe

So far I have not arrived at night, but because I’m a solo Rver I keep 3 neon yellow ropes to lay out to mark the sides and rear of my parking area. The rear one is long enough for me to see in either mirror. I also keep yellow Cyalume sticks (like divers use) to tie to the ropes should I ever arrive after dark. I’ve practiced with this method. They give off a soft, but strong, light and illuminate a sizeable area. I don’t think these lights would wake anyone, but if they do, my neighbors would just assume the aliens are arriving. . .

Tommy Molnar (@guest_30624)
5 years ago

We try to be off the road by 3pm. We call that “cocktail hour”, though we may not actually be having a cocktail. It’s just a term we use. There have been some times (very few!) when we got messed up and ended up being on the road much later than we like, but we’ve never pressed on until it was dark. We will find SOMEPLACE to stop before that happens.

Karen (@guest_30661)
5 years ago
Reply to  Tommy Molnar

Oh gosh, you just spurred some sweet memories! We used to go trailering with my husband’s parents when they were alive. We always had to be off the road around 3, because 4 was cocktail hour and that was SACRED. Yes, we always had a cocktail and a game of bridge. Walk after dinner.

Another tradition was stopping about 10 am for “coffee and…” (usually some small pastry).

This was a routine that made for a nicely relaxed trip!

Pete Almasi (@guest_30601)
5 years ago

Why on earth would anyone of sound mind go on that show?
You get practically nothing and he gets all the gravy.
You would think people that are smart enough to start a business would be Smart enough to stay clear.
What a jerk !

Gail (@guest_31238)
5 years ago
Reply to  Pete Almasi

Hi Pete, would you please clarify? What you are saying has nothing to do with ‘arriving at your RV site after dark.’

Joe (@guest_33257)
5 years ago
Reply to  Gail

Excuse Pete, he was at cocktail hour and had one too many. He forgot what the topic was.

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