Hitch my ride
Friendly Salesman: “Congratulations, you are now the proud owner of a Cub Supamatic camper trailer! Welcome to your new home away from home. Here are the keys…Err, have you ever towed anything before?”
Me: “Umm. No.”
Friendly Salesman cautiously looking around: “Great. Look. How about you let me back it off our property and then she’s all yours.”
And so began our experience towing our camper trailer dubbed Siberian Tiger by Finn.
For me, towing a camper trailer touches on several distinct yet intermingled points of driving anxiety. First, I don’t particularly like to parallel park, or really anything that involves reversing. Second, I’ve never really enjoyed changing lanes either. Even when I drove Honda Accord. My preference is to wait for what some may describe as 60 car lengths of open space before changing lanes. When I’m in a parking lot, I’m the kind of driver that doesn’t mind walking and heads down to the far end of the lot to avoid having to worry about negotiating my way into a smaller space.
Enter Siberian Tiger. Now my already over-sized vehicle takes up twice as much space, and the last thing I hear at Cub is to be careful – the trailer has a bad habit of “jack knifing” when you back it up (thus they didn’t want me backing it up on their property… eek!)….and parking this thing in a lot – forget about it! It’s fortunate, I think to myself, that I’ve already had three days to negotiate the congested and unfamiliar streets of Sydney driving on the opposite side of the road, navigating the manual shift with my left hand. Without those all important driving days under my belt, my first few hours towing a 1.5 ton trailer through rush hour traffic might have been stressful. 🙂
What’s that – I’m drifting left? Well now the giant steel box behind my car is too….
As I tried not to jack knife the camper, and tried not to drift left, I kept thinking to myself: If something goes awry and I am face to face with law enforcement, I will just carefully explain that I am en route to driver training, where I will learn to park this puppy, drive it though water, and into the bush….but unfortunately I know nothing about driving on concrete at the moment…
“Yes, Officer, I know. Look, I am very terribly sorry, but I am right now on my way to driver training to learn how to tow this thing…I do feel badly about what I did to that little red Prius, but he was trying to pass me on the right….”
Speaking of driver training, we just spent the weekend learning as many ins and outs about 4wding through Australia – including towing the trailer through bogs and down steep hills. Thanks again to Ian, Robert and Dave for all their helpful hint! Here’s a pic of Cave Lion and the trailer navigating a ditch
Miranda covered the course in detail her post, but what caught my attention was that backing trailers down a hill is risky business. Campers “can have a mind of their own” I was told, and that a slip in grip at the wrong moment can result in broken thumbs if you aren’t careful..
So naturally as soon as our instructor Dave went off to fight brush fires … (yes, seriously this happened – he was beeped (the fire squad beeper), called in, came back and said “I’m terribly sorry but I need to go help put out a fire – I’ll be right back. And he was!).. as soon as Dave left us alone to fight fires, we set off trying to tow our camper up steep hills (to see if we could do it on our own). Now, so far going uphill was not much of a problem for Cave Lion, so after we did about five steep ones ourselves, our confidence got up, and we tried an even steeper one. I’m not sure what happened, but we found ourselves 3/4 up the hill, vertical, and out of horsepower. The car stalled, and we now had to practice our reverse key start solo with the trailer hitch and steer backwards down the hill (engaging the clutch at all on this surface at this angle would have caused us to lose traction and steering ability, still sending us down but with no control)…Yikes! We made it and decided to return to flatter terrain and make camp until Dave returned!