I’m sure you’re wondering what, exactly, I’m all excited about. Well, I accomplished two things today that I’m rather proud of. But, before we get to that, let me tell you about what I’ve done so far.
I woke up at 6, having slept so soundly that someone could have hitched up the fifth wheel and driven it and I wouldn’t have noticed. I said yesterday that I was exhausted, and I definitely needed that nice, uninterrupted sleep.
It was a beautiful start to the morning: sunny and mild. Check out was at noon, so I messed around, lazing in bed for a while then running to the closest Lowes for some stuff.
I got back with just over an hour til the noon deadline. The next campground check in starts at 3, so I didn’t want to get moving too early as there is only 150 miles to drive. What I didn’t count on was my neighbor.
Hitching and unhitching are not difficult procedures, but you have to do things in order and pay attention. These are large, heavy objects that are going to be pulled at 65 mph down bumpy roads. A mistake could be serious.
To hitch, I have to first pull in all the slides, which means nothing inside is in their way, make sure the interior is secured (like the shower door, the bathroom door, etc. Then I retract the rear landing legs, followed be extending the front legs to make sure the pin clears the hitch. This is after I had to air up a tire (again) after making sure the tires were all in good shape. Once the pin is high enough, I back up so it’s positioned over the hitch. I cannot see the hitch from the driver’s seat, so I use a WiFi enabled camera for help. If I nail the backing up part–and today I totally nailed it–then I lower the front onto the hitch, lock the hitch, secure the safety chains on each side, take the jack blocks off the front legs, raise the front legs manually, plug in the trailer to the 7 pin connector, attach the emergency brake line, pick up the chocks (if I can, sometimes I have to move the trailer off of them), unplug the shore power cord and stow it in the bed of the truck, do a final walk around and then get in the truck, extend the mirrors out, hit tow mode and the exhaust brake and off I go, making sure the GPS has the next destination plugged in.
So, like I said, it’s not difficult. But being distracted can lead to inattention and mistakes. My next door neighbor at this campground was an older couple from the Detroit area. They have a class C, and apparently it was only their second time out with it. The gentleman was fascinated with my hitching procedure. He wanted to know why I did certain things, what was next, and all about my travels. He was very kind, but I was on a time limit and found myself almost making some bad mistakes. My friend Jerry, who is going on this Alaska trip as well, once told me he strongly believes in check lists, like a pre-flight list pilots use. At the time I was somewhat cavalier about it–I’d never had an issue before, so felt I didn’t need it. I’ve changed my mind. RVing people are a friendly lot, by and large, and the novelty of a single female traveling around seems to be a big draw for people to come talk to me. I don’t mind it, but I can see that the potential for a missed step in hitching or unhitching is high.
Check list it is.
So, I pulled out right at noon, without having dumped my tanks. I wasn’t too worried about it; almost all the places I’m camping along the way are full hookups. Anyhow, if you’ve read my post on the route to Washington, you’re aware I was worried about the Mackinac Bridge. My aunt Cheri crossed it last year when she and uncle Lynn were visiting a whole bunch of the USA in their fifth wheel. She told me it was no big deal.
But….it started raining right around the approach to Mackinaw City. And the radio station dedicated to bridge info spat out in its AM static that there were “strong winds” and that the bridge authority was warning high profile vehicles–which includes RVs like mine” to be very careful.
The bridge offers a free service where one of their workers will drive your rig across for you, and believe me I was thinking about it. But as the bridge drew nearer–and it is an impressive sight, to be sure, I couldn’t help but notice the many RVs of all types coming across from the UP. And if they were ok, surely I could do it. Right?
So, up I went. At 20 mph. Hazard lights blinking. And you know what? It was totally fine. I never felt uncomfortable or at risk. In fact, I took a few pictures:
When I got across to the UP side and pulled up to the toll booth, I gave the lady a big smile and declared “I made it!” She laughed and asked if I’d really been worried. Oh, she had no idea.
Sadly, the rest of the drive along US Highway 2 was rainy. But, oh man the views of the lake are astounding. Beautiful drive, punctuated by all kinds of little homemade stands. Near Gould City, I ran across this gem:
If I wasn’t pulling my trailer and it wasn’t raining, I’d totally have stopped. But, I kept going.
I got to Manistique around 3:15pm. Perfect timing. The campground was easy to find and had a great area to park while you went in to register. Now, besides crossing the bridge, I had another source of anxiety today; my reserved camp spot was a back in. The KOA in Gaylord was a pull thru. But when I reserved my spot at the Manistique Lakeshore campground, I was totally in love with the idea of a spot backing up to Lake Michigan. They have a few pull thrus, but they aren’t nearly as nice as the beach sites. When I made the reservations a few months ago it seemed like a great idea. But here I was, and to make it worse it was a site that required backing in on the blindside: i.e. the trailer turns to the passenger side of the truck, so you can’t see anything with your mirrors. Since I drive alone, this is a significant issue.
As I approached the office, I told the young lady that I was worried about backing up alone. Some campgrounds have an escort service and they’ll help you back up. No such luck here. I was going to ask her to switch me to a pull thru–several were open, as the holiday weekend was officially over for campers–but she told me it was “easy” due to the way they have them angled. I sighed and decided to give it a try.
Well, my site is 35, and I will say that there is plenty of room in terms of the road to maneuver. However, I utterly and completely failed to get positioned properly, made a right hash of it and decided to drive around the loop and try again.
The second time was, if anything, far worse than the first. At one point I think I was more likely to end up in the neighboring site than my own. It was an utter disaster, people were waiting behind me to get past, and I wanted to give up.
As I circled past the office for the third time, my only thought was that surely she would not argue when I showed up the next time and allow me into a pull thru. As I approached the site again, I was very disheartened to see that some worker had positioned a utility vehicle in a parking space directly across from my site, giving me far less room. I had a momentary hope they had been dispatched to help me park, but that was a pipe dream. No idea what they were doing, except maybe selling tickets to watch me fail again.
Taking a deep breath, I decided not to pull as far forward as I had the last two times, said a prayer, concentrated on my hands (which are at the bottom of the steering wheel when backing a trailer) and….
IT WORKED. LIKE A FREAKING BOSS!
I’m even straight in my site. It was thoroughly amazing–I’m still not sure what I did, but I DID IT. And the site is all that it’s cracked up to be:
So, as I listen to the waves crashing against the shore, I’m very thankful that I kept trying. I overcame two fears today, had a lovely journey to Manistique, and even more than yesterday feel comfortable with what I’m doing. Tomorrow is supposed to be rain-free and I’m hoping to take advantage of it. Night everyone!