Greetings From: Brush, Colorado

By Michael Boyink / mike@douglascountyherald.com

There are RV driving schools.

They teach people used to driving small things how to drive big things. Navigating corners. Passing other vehicles. Following at a safe distance. Entering and exiting campsites.

But I didn’t go.

Mainly because I can be cheap. And I was cocky.

Our RV was a towable – a fifth wheel.

I had towed trailers before. Starting with a garden tractor and lawn cart before I’d even earned a drivers license. Then utility trailers and Jeeps flat-towed behind other vehicles.

So I watched a few YouTube videos and hit the road.

And did OK. 

Oh, I clipped a few curbs. And tagged the roof of a covered picnic table. And, at times, took more than one try to get into a campsite.

But we played it safe. We choose the smallest RV we thought we could live in. We stayed in places designed for RV’s. We used Google satellite view to preview routes for problems.

My main goal?

Don’t back up.

If we had to turn around I’d look for circle drives. Or corner businesses exits on two streets. Or just a big parking lot.

It’s not that I couldn’t back up.

I just didn’t like to. I didn’t have a backup camera. The RV completely blocked the rear-view mirror. Using my side mirrors, I could see alongside it when we were going straight but not when turning.

Most of my backing up was just to get the RV into a campsite. Most RV parks have pull-through sites, but they usually charge more for them. 

And I’m cheap, remember?

On this day, campsites weren’t even on my mind. We had just wrapped up a visit with friends in Colorado Springs and were headed back to Michigan. 

Our plan was a day of interstate driving, overnighting in a truck stop, then another day of interstate driving.

Our interstate driving turned into interstate parking.

A nasty accident had traffic gridlocked.

After what seemed like an hour an officer appeared at my window.

“There’s an exit a mile back. Can you back up that far?”

“Can I turn around?”

“No, too messy.”

He looked at me. “Can you back it up?”

I looked at him. 

My wife and daughter looked at me.

I did what any red-blooded American male would have done.

I nodded.

The officer walked on to the vehicles waiting behind me.

It took a couple of minutes.

Then, like some slow motion backwards turtle race, we all started backing up. Semis. Cars. Trucks. And me, with 35’ of RV hitched to the truck.

We all gave each other plenty of room. Especially anyone towing. 

I was wobbly at first, over-correcting when the trailer started to veer off. 

But I learned. I kept the centerline visible in my side mirror and used it as a guide, keeping the trailer parallel to it. My corrections got smaller and smaller. 

I traded a “isn’t this ridiculous” look with a semi driver doing the same thing. Mrs. Boyink got out to take the photo you see above.

I spotted the exit.

I backed onto the overpass that the exit fed traffic under. 

And after a mile of driving backwards using rear-view mirrors, the officer re-appeared.

“The accident’s been cleared. Drive on.”

All we could do was laugh. And be thankful for the practice backing up.

Looking back, occurs to me that while a photo may be worth 1000 words, those words may not tell the whole story.

Or even the right story.

In the picture, it looks like we were driving normally, making good time down the expressway. 

But the reality is just the opposite. 

Remember that while navigating this marketing-driven, social-media-promoted world. People, families, relationships, churches, businesses, careers – anything can appear successful at a quick glance. 

But the reality might be just the opposite.

Located about an hour and a half northeast of Denver, Brush, Colorado is home to the world’s largest amatuer rodeo. Learn more at brushchamber.org.