This past weekend we decided to take our new Casita out for our first “shakeout” camping trip. I wish I could tell you our first camping attempt went smoothly and that everyone was gracious towards us, and that we were well-organized, and knew what we were doing. That’s not what transpired. This is a candid blog. So let me tell you what honestly happened.
We read online in reviews that the Valley of Fire State Park is gorgeous and has RV hook-ups. Therefore, we packed up our truck, our Casita, our dog, and headed out for a mini adventure.
Since we’ve only had the Casita for a week and a half, we decided to take it easy by driving on back roads and old scenic highways, and not take the freeway. Consequently, it took us a while to get there.
The drive out to Valley of Fire was worth the trip alone. The views leading to Nevada’s oldest state park were amazing. We enjoyed going at a slower pace and we had no problems towing the Casita behind the truck. As always, I took a bunch of photos of beautiful nature and sunshine gleaming outside our windows. The open space, mountains, and desert were breathtaking.
However, once we got to the RV campsite at Valley of Fire, we saw a sign that said “campground full.” Darn! Since we didn’t have a reservation (reservations not allowed, except for three group camping sites) we understood that it might be full once we got there. It was time for our contingency plan.
We said to each other, “Ok, that’s fine; we’ll drive to Lake Mead RV Village and camp there instead.” The Lake Mead RV Village was about an hour and twenty minutes from Valley of Fire. So we headed out in that direction.
Well by now, the sun was starting to set and we were wondering if we are even going to make it to our campsite in the daylight hours. We watched out the window as it got darker and darker.
It was around five o’clock when we pulled up to the RV Park; complete darkness was closing in fast.
We talked it over in the truck and decided to go ahead and try to set up camp in the dark. It wasn’t the most ideal situation since we didn’t really know what we were doing, but heck, we had flashlights, and so we should have been able to manage, right? I mean, it was only 5pm on a Saturday evening. It’s not exactly bedtime.
The manager (or staff member) for the RV Village drove up to us in his golf cart and we told him we’d like a camp spot with a lake view. He said he had one available for us, and so we followed him on his golf cart down to the space he picked out for us. As we were driving down through the streets towards the lake, we noticed that the park was very crowded with gigantic, expensive looking RV rigs everywhere. Then someone yelled out as we passed, “Hey, there’s a Casita!”
Once we got to our campsite, the manager told us to back up the Casita onto the concrete pad. Lake Mead was directly in the background. I jumped out of the truck and started directing Mike back into the spot.
Well, being that we are newbies at backing up, of course we were struggling a bit. The manager watched us with an incredulous look on his face for a few minutes and then he said to Mike, “No, you have to get the Casita on this exact line to the right,” as he pointed to an exact straight edge next to a utility hook-up.
After about five minutes of us unsuccessfully trying to back the Casita into the designated space, the manager of the park warned us that we had “one more chance” to get it right. I responded to him that, “We are new to this and it might even take us an hour to get it backed up into the correct spot.” He told me there was no way he was standing there for an hour in the dark. He didn’t appear pleased with our scenario.
To make matters worse, the people in the giant RV next-door were watching us and laughing loudly as we fruitlessly tried to back our Casita into our designated space. Who knows, maybe they were laughing about something else entirely. By this time, we started feeling uncomfortable. I started wondering to myself when the fun actually begins and I started feeling bad for Mike, who doesn’t actually like camping.
Suddenly, another neighbor noticed the commotion and offered to back up our trailer for us, which was very nice. We thanked him and explained how we are new to this. However, by that time, we both felt rushed by the manager, under pressure, and a little embarrassed with all the lookie-loos watching us fail to back up our little egg in a proper or civilized daylight fashion.
I said, “That’s ok. We will leave.” The manager replied, “Okay you can come back tomorrow in the daylight and practice more if you’d like.” **
So that’s what happened. We drove several hours—first to find out that a camping site was too full for us to stay—and then to be told we had “one shot” to back up our trailer correctly. The shot we took was an air ball in basketball terms. Therefore, we went home, with plans to go to a bar instead.
Now that we have that first silly experience behind us, I have a few questions for experienced RVers about RV parks.
1) Is it bad etiquette to show up in the dark to an RV site? I know it’s not an ideal scenario to show up after daylight, but traveling doesn’t always go perfectly as planned. What if things on the road didn’t work out (heavy traffic, change in plans, full campsites, etc.,) and you got there after dark?
2) Do RV park staff usually watch and supervise people with backing up into a campsite? We thought we would be left alone to figure everything out after the manager showed us to our site, and explained the rules.
As soon as Mike and I got home from our failed camping experiment, Mike’s parents happened to call us. We told them the story about what happened. In all honesty, we were somewhat upset about what had transpired at Lake Mead RV Village.
But once we explained the story over the phone, Mike parents laughed and laughed. They thought it was very funny and they seemed to expect that we would run into problems like those that we experienced.
Laughter is the Best Medicine
Mike’s parents’ reaction actually made us feel much better because we realized that it’s all part of the process of learning something new, and that we shouldn’t expect everything to go as planned—not at all. Life is an adventure after-all, and we are working through it. This is all going to be a funny story someday!
We will try again next weekend.
**Note: Upon researching the Lake Mead RV Park online the next day, I saw the office actually closes at 5pm. The manager (or staff member on duty) was probably just about to close the office when we showed up, and that was why he didn’t want to wait with us for too long while we set-up. He was initially trying to help us even though the office was closing. Therefore, I can understand it a bit more now. Also, for those interested in the Lake Mead RV Village campsite, it did get mostly high reviews on TripAdvisor. I did use the bathroom while there, and the bathrooms were very well maintained.