It was time. Time for my first trip. I was truly terrified, but in a conversation with Cassidy, who I mentioned in an earlier blog, she shared that her first tow was towing horses at age seventeen. She said I would be fine. I thought, well at least I don’t have any horses that are going to die today.
She was right. Seriously, I simply followed the advice I had learned to search for in my various Facebook Airstream Groups. Confidence comes with practice. The advice I found most helpful for me personally is listed here:
- Get an equalizer hitch put on to distribute the weight and cut back on the possibility of sway.
- Get comfortable driving the truck alone first.
- Have your favorite trucker take you out for your first spin in a parking lot for practice.
- Practice turns, backing up into spaces, breaking everything in the parking lot to get the feel for it.
- Your side mirrors are your friends. When backing up don’t smash them, they stick out. If you do smash them, super glue will work until you get them fixed.
- There are plenty of others nearby who would like to be your friends and will help. Tell them what you need from them. Be precise.
- Know your hand signals and connect by cell phone to your spotter so you don’t miscommunicate.
- Know the trailer will go in the opposite direction of what you are used to.
- Hold the steering wheel in the bottom middle and steer from the bottom in the direction you want the trailer to go…. Good one that got me out of my head.
I’m sure I’m missing a few good ones. But seriously, my favorites are the ones I learned on my own:
- Not all help is help. If they are not superb at towing themselves, they are not going to know what to say to guide you.
- When in doubt Get out…. And look.
- Go slow.
- Use the Jake Break on hills. (It slows you down with the engine like a semi… pretty cool.)
Also having those checklists when you’re forgetful like me is helpful, as well as locking everything down, having one cabinet packed full and another empty is better than two half full. Wrap your breakables in towels and tuck them into your bedding.
So anyhow… all of that is technical stuff you can find if you search online.
I’ll just add a little more of my story and lesson learned that you might not hear elsewhere. From this view I gained a new respect for the road. You know those people who drive small cars and are super impatient to get to very important destinations, likely more important than anyone else’s on the road. I call them “Zippers”. Yah, they zip in and out of traffic trying to get ahead of everyone, with no respect for big rigs or other drivers in general. You usually end up passing them at a stop light when you get off the freeway. Yah,,, actually that used to be me. I have to confess, I used to be a zipper! But with my new found trucker view of the road, I have been reformed. I apologize to anyone I may have offended in the past. Would you believe I even saw one person, while driving down the freeway, pass a water bottle to the person in the next lane? I thought dude, do you even realize there is a three quarter ton truck hauling another ten thousand pounds behind it that cannot stop on a dime? Is your life really only worth a bottle of water? Also, WAZE does not have a setting that says, I’m driving a 27 footer. Hey WAZE how about it. So if you use it or any other app for directions, think ahead because the app won’t take into account whether the on ramp is too small and twisty or the turn is too sharp. Don’t get yourself in a jam. Just reinforcing my most valuable lesson, go slow. I think that is the most important lesson in towing. You can correct any bad move you were about to make, as long as you haven’t made it yet.
Also, the actual hooking up of the hitch, is really no big deal. It just looks bad ass. But in reality you just follow the steps, one after the other. It’s much simpler than it looks.
And the best part about it is you get to enjoy the ride, the view and the serenity. I’m a city girl for sure but wow! It was so amazing to wake up in the middle of the desert in Joshua Tree and look out at the desert. There is a beauty there that touches the soul in a way that is unexplainable in a blog. You’ve gotta just go there. There is nothing like having nobody around you, being able to keep all of your shades and windows open and just take it all in. There will definitely be more trips to come.