Today’s post comes from Candace Sampson of Life in Pleasantville. Last summer we invited Candace to document her adventures in four provincial parks. If you are new to RVing and thinking about giving it a try this year, this post is for you.
When I first planned a trip with Ontario Parks to learn more about our beautiful provincial parks, I was married and had a motor home and had someone drive it.
When the trip began a few months later, I was missing a husband, a motorhome, and a driver (the first and last were the same person). My life had basically become a country song and I didn’t really love the melody.
At that point, I would have rather booked a root canal than continue on this journey. Simply put, I didn’t think I could do it. There are few things in life that I find more terrifying than parallel parking.
It’s a matter of spatial awareness, but to put it into perspective, there could be room to park ten cars and you’d still be terrified of hitting something.
I was now expected to park a 21-foot motorhome, surrounded by trees, people, and small forest animals.
The pressure was enormous.
I had two options: cancel the trip with Ontario Parks or face my fears and do it on my own.
As a role model to my two teenage daughters, canceling wasn’t really an option.
Canceling would have said I couldn’t do this on my own or, worse yet, that I needed a man in my life so I could be adventurous. There was no way she was going to be a role model other than independence for my daughters. So I stuck out my chest, swallowed my fears, and rented an RV.
I am a woman, hear me roar
As the days until our trip dwindled, my roar became more of a moan.
What had I gotten myself into? We were already past the point of getting our rent money back, and my teenage daughters routinely reminded me of the time I hit the roof of the car in a parking lot, or that other time I cleverly made a twenty-point turn. to exit a parking spot. My confidence levels were taking a hit, but I wasn’t going to give up.
The day we left, I spent an hour checking out the RV with the owner. It ran much like an automatic car, so that part was easy. He explained the septic system and how to operate it, but I assured him we would only use the campground facilities. My goal was simple: drive a motorhome across Ontario to four provincial parks without killing anyone.
Emptying a septic tank seemed like stress I didn’t need.
A reason for pride
Our first destination was Murphy’s Point Provincial Park, which according to Google Maps was 1.5 hours from our front door. Google Maps, however, did not take into account that it would not travel at more than 80 kilometers per hour. or that frequent stops would be necessary to control my anxiety.
Actual time to destination: three hours and eight minutes.
Something interesting happened after I successfully parked and set up camp at Murphy’s Point: my confidence skyrocketed. I had just done what I thought couldn’t be done.
Even though the RV was much larger than my car, I drove slowly, talked to myself the entire time I drove, and was surprised to find that I was actually enjoying it. Full of confidence, I even announced that the onboard bathroom was open to the public.
Use it at will, ladies; Your mother is on a roll.
A change of fortune
Everything went well until we got to Charleston Lake Provincial Park and they told me we didn’t have a pass-through site. This place would require me to backtrack.
Turning to my daughters, I said, “Well, I guess that’s it. We have to go home now,” half grimacing, half laughing, and almost completely unhinged.
I drove to the site 90% convinced that when I got there, I would convince some unsuspecting man to park us. But something in me wouldn’t allow it. He had come this far and he was going to make it.
Even at the risk of total humiliation, I will not give up.
Slowly, methodically, with my tongue firmly planted in the corner of my mouth, I backed the RV into its designated spot without damaging a single blade of grass. For many, this is a minor achievement, but for me it felt like I had conquered Mount Everest.
My daughters were very impressed and I can’t say for sure, but I’m pretty sure even the dog was proud of me.
We celebrated with hot dogs and s’mores (over the fire I started, thank you very much).
As with everything in life, it’s important to ask yourself what you’ve learned after facing a fear head-on. I learned three things from this experience:
1) Ontario’s parks are so beautiful that it was worth it to overcome the fear of driving an RV.
2) After successfully driving an RV and emptying septic tanks, I feel like I can even try parallel parking.
3) Now I know that my life is actually more like a rock n’ roll song and that I am the one writing the lyrics.
Check out Candace’s list of 10 camping gems you won’t want to miss.