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.
20 thoughts on “First Attempt at Camping with our Casita Travel Trailer Goes Awry”
It’s unfortunate that your first trip out wasn’t what it should have been due to the behavior of others.
It is not bad etiquette to arrive at a campground after dark, unless it’s very late and the potential is there to wake everyone up. On the rare occasions we’ve had to arrive really late (really rare), we just back in, crawl into bed and worry about the rest of the setup in the morning. You by no means arrived late, other than they closed at 5:00, but then they wouldn’t have let you if it truly was “too late.”
As far as the hovering park staff, we’ve never had that happen. They usually escort you to your spot and leave you to set up. It’s actually poor etiquette to hang around someone who’s setting up because there are things you need to do that, if distracted, might be forgotten. And giving you X-number of opportunities to back in was totally inconsiderate and nothing I’ve ever heard of. Plus, it makes me nervous and make mistakes when someone’s watching and scrutinizing what I’m doing.
Here’s to happy camping ahead!
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Marsha, Thank you so much for your comments. I feel a lot better from what you explained. I’m glad to hear that it wasn’t a typical scenario and that next time, we hopefully won’t be pressured with our set-up! Do you have any problems with backing up your Casita, or is it easy now? How long have you had your Casita? Since 2010, right? Thank you again!
Well, Kristin, I’m embarrassed to say I have never backed up the Casita. I always say, next summer when we take it out, we’ll go to the empty area of the parking lot of the grocery store and I’ll practice backing up between the lines. So far, it’s never happened. My husband, on the other hand, is really good at backing it up. He said it’s much easier than the Scamp ’13 we had prior to this.
We picked up our Casita 17 SD at the factory on May 10, 2010, so this year was our fifth summer enjoying it. We haven’t named it, although in the beginning my husband did keep calling it the Scamp 😉
It will only get better.
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Marsha, I’m wondering now if the smaller trailers are a little more difficult to back up, strangely enough. Our friend Bud tried backing up our Casita. He said our Casita was more difficult to back-up than his fifth wheel or boats he’s had, and now you’re saying the smaller Scamp was more tricky as well. That is interesting! I’m sure we’ll get it figured out eventually. Thanks, and I hope you’re having a wonderful week.
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I would like to tell you a secret about backing any trailer, it is totally mind boggling when you have to turn your head to the rear of your vehicle and try to steer a trailer that will go the opposite direction of anything that seems logical. But, here is the trick, put one hand on the bottom of the steering wheel and turn it in the direction that you want the back of your trailer to go! Also, go as slow as you can, if you have to “adjust” just pull forward as much as necessary and correct, again, always have your hand on the bottom of the steering wheel and tur it the way you want the back of your trailer to move.
Thank you for the advice! Those are great tips.
So sorry your first trailer camping experience didn’t work out, but this memory will last a lifetime. If everything went perfectly, you wouldn’t have this funny story to tell for many years to come.
We had many problems backing up our boat years ago, when we first bought, but your Dad was an expert backing in boats and helped us through. It will get easy with experience, but I still have never done it 🙂
Enjoy your next trip. Can’t wait to hear about it. I really enjoy your writing. I felt like I was there.
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Tricia, That’s such a nice compliment to say you enjoyed the writing. Thank you very much! Our fingers are crossed that we’ll have a good story to report next week. Thanks for the encouragement. 🙂
Oh wow, I am so sorry this happened to you! That is absolutely not how it’s supposed to go down. Usually if a manger or host directs you to your site they are there to help you, not criticize and be impatient – no matter what time it is. And no, it is not bad etiquette to arrive after dark. If the guy didn’t want to wait for you he could have just checked you in and let you spend as much time as you needed backing into your site. I am glad at least someone offered to help (although I really hope the neighbors weren’t actually laughing at you). The backing part will definitely get easier with practice. I’ve heard that smaller trailers are more difficult to back up, but over time you’ll get to be pros at it. Good luck and I hope things are better the next time around 🙂
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Hi Amanda, thank you for your helpful response. Your feedback is greatly appreciated. It’s a relief that our experience wasn’t typical. I can’t wait to get out there and try camping again soon! Happy travels. 🙂 -Kristin
Kristin, sorry to hear about your first trip out. I have to say I’ve never had someone watch over us as we setup. That would make me a little nervous. We started out in a popup camper and both the wife and I were not good at backing it up, nor at communicating to each other how to do it. One of our first trips was to Pioneer RV resort in Port Aransas Texas. Its a really nice park, we really enjoy it. Our first trip there however was not a very good one. We pulled in very late, around 10pm. It was very dark and very foggy. The only site they had for us was a Deluxe site. They gave it to us at a standard rate because they were overbooked. Any way we drove to the site and began our attempt(s) to back in and setup. The site was huge! The darkness and heavy fog made it very difficult to see and after several attempts to get us centered on the pad we just decided to stop and see if the power cord reached the pedestal. It did! and who new the power cord was a full 25 feet long!! It didn’t touch the ground either, it hung a full foot off of the ground from the trailer to the pedestal. Well we crashed for the night and woke up in the morning to see that we were surrounded by huge RV’s, very expensive ones. The wife and I felt a little underdressed in our modest popup next to these huge rigs. At any rate we decided to enjoy ourselves. That evening they had Bingo in the Hall. We decided to go. We paid our $10 and got our cards and headed for a seat. One elderly gentleman asked me if I thought I was going to win. I replied “who knows”. He said it would be beginners luck, that he had been there all season and hadn’t won a penny. Well we were lucky and we won two pots, a grand total of $15! Pretty exciting stuff… On our way out at the end of the evening I passed the same guy and said “Hey that beginners luck paid off!! We won $15 bucks!” He just stared at me. Hmm, probably not a good idea on my part. The next morning I went to place our bag of trash at the street next to our site and the same guy from the Bingo game was coming by in a golf cart picking up the bags of trash. As he came up to me I said “Good morning, sure hope I have some more of that beginners luck today!” and he didn’t even make eye contact, he drove right by me and left my bag of trash! I was so surprised by him that I just started laughing. I couldn’t believe this guy. Oh well, guess he’s a sore loser….
A couple of nights later we noticed they were having an ice cream social in the hall, only a buck a scoop. What a deal! The wife and I head over to the hall and we are about 10 minutes late getting there. As we walk up to the hall we notice its packed, about 200 people. We walk in and are standing in front of the cashier and looking around we couldn’t find any empty seats at first. We began debating on whether to stay or go. There was a little stage and someone was giving a talk about rv stuff. We notice a table that has a few open seats. Well then the cashier says “Did you want to get some ice cream?” Oh but of course we do… so we go through the line and get a couple of scoops and some fun toppings, just enjoying ourselves. Then as we pay and begin walking through the tables to our seats we both notice that several people are staring at us…and not in a “I’m so jealous of that beautiful bowl of ice cream you have there!” kinda way but in a mean way. By the time we sit down we are both feeling very uncomfortable. I really don’t know what we did wrong or to offend anyone but I wasn’t liking what was happening. Just then a lady heads over to the stage and staring right at us makes the following announcement on the mic “Just a reminder, we sell ice cream by table number. Do not just come up and go through the line! You need to be seated and wait for your table to be called” Well….that just ticked me off. When we walked in there was no sign, no greeter with info, nothing. The cashier asked us if we wanted to buy and we said yes. If there were rules then we should have been told up front. She saw us walk in from the outside. Geez…So in my typical manner I decide to push the envelope, “mmmMMmm man this is good ice cream” I say out loud..”Yum yum!” Still getting lots of stares but who cares, I’m eating ice cream. There world is a better place when seen from behind a bowl of ice cream!
The point in this long story is to say, don’t let this get you down. Everybody starts somewhere. There are very very few people that naturally know how to drive in reverse while steering backwards and perfectly park a trailer. It takes practice and lots of it to get good at it. Heck when we brought our trailer home the first time we couldn’t get it in the garage. My neighbor came over and backed it in for me. It took us a few trips out to get better at backing up, set up and tear down. You will get a routine and in time it will be easy. We’ve been back to Pioneer and really love it. And the folks are really nice too we just got off to a bad start.
As for the guide you had just tell him thanks and see you tomorrow at the hall for Bingo and ice cream! I hope your next trip out is an awesome time.
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Mike, thank you very much for sharing your story! So we’re not the only one’s who have had rough starts to Rving then! It sounds like you had quite the experience indeed. Your extension cord idea sounds like a good plan for now.
It doesn’t really surprise me about your bingo ordeal. We play bingo with our relatives sometimes and people can be very serious about their bingo game; it’s pretty funny how competitive some people get actually. In fact, we’re going to play bingo tomorrow. I hope they’re nice to us. 😉
How did you like your popup camper? What kind of rig do you have now?
Thank you very much for sharing your experience with us. I really appreciate the kindness of the commenters on this blog! 🙂
We had a Rockwood 1640LTD popup. It was great, very comfortable. It was easy to tow and setup too. We sold it in ’12 to help pay for a trip to Israel. Now we are looking to buy a full size travel trailer in Feb. A Rockwood 2703WS.
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Mike, I looked up the Rockwood 2703WS; it’s a beauty!
I’ve been full time on the road since August and backing up has been my number one problem! I’ve done it when necessary but it takes me 20 minutes to half an hour to get it right…or at least close to right.
When I check in somewhere I tell them I have a problem backing up. When someone offers to back in for me, I’ve always taken them up on it.
One really nice experience was when I showed up at a park and asked for a pull through space. I told the lady why, and admitted I needed to practice backing up…a LOT. She suggested I practice there because the place was almost empty, the roads were wide, and she promised no one would be watching. I took her up on that offer and struggled into the space after a good 20 minutes.
Eventually I will learn! So will you. 🙂
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Hi Onewanderingspirit, Thank you for your comment. The more I talk to people about this, the more I realize that 1) the smaller trailers can be quite tricky to back up, and 2) I think backing up is really the biggest challenge to rving with travel trailers. I checked out your blog and see that you’ve also started on your Casita adventures this past summer. I wish the best of luck to you with your travels and hope that we all start feeling a little more confident soon. Thanks again for taking the time to give us some encouragement. We appreciate it! 🙂
Oh my you guys are pretty new to this (just saw the date on the post). By now you are pros I am sure and honestly I’ve NEVER had a park person make sure I parked perfectly – geez he could have just said, make sure you are lined up here and left you to it after you told him you were new. As for the neighbors – they were rude and appreciate the guy that offered to help. The little trailers especially are super hard to back up – I had way more trouble with my Scamp than I ever did my big full size 19′ or even the 34′ motorhome. Hope by now you are enjoying it more and more! Can’t wait to follow more of your travels!
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Thank you for your response! We are still learning the ropes but it’s definitely getting easier. The Scamps sure are nice looking. Did you like yours? Thanks again, Kristin
That was a very embarrassing moment that happen to your vacation, It was not a good one but a good experience.For some reason i don’t feel bad about it because everyone of us got it wrong in the first time.It’s really amazing of you two to survive that kind of adventure.I salute you for managing that kind of situation.
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