Thursday, October 20, 2011

Turn Left, NO your other Left!

I'm not ashamed to admit there is something slightly wrong different about my brain.  I know I'm dyslexic, I can't spell, and I am left handed.  My mind mixes up letters, sometimes reading "saw" as "was" and seeing a "6" as a "9".  But hey, I'm an artist!

Sometimes I have to concentrate and feel which hand I use to write, before I can be sure which is Left and Right.  It is almost as if it is a new discovery each time, instead of something I know.

My family has often laughed at me when we are going somewhere and I am the driver.  If I'm told to turn Left, I might turn Right, and they tell me "No Mom, your other Left!

Or if I'm in the passenger seat and giving directions, I am better to just point which way to turn rather than to say "turn left" or "turn right."

I have always just bluffed my way thru life with this.  I understand maps, but following them can be a challenge.  The only time I have experienced driving with a GPS lady giving me directions was in a driving rainstorm and she totally confused me.  I would have been better off on my own.

Given that, I was quite unsure of myself about helping Craig back into the driveway.  I was also quite sure, that based on past experience, he didn't trust my giving directions either.

I'm not going to go into details, but it did not go well!  

We got her parked, but a neighbor walking down the road stopped to see if we were in trouble!  By that time we had just gotten thru the worst, and Craig was in the clear to just go straight back. But I'm sure the whole mountain heard us getting to that point.  

Sound travels miles across the hills! 

One of our problems was that  we had not agreed on what the hand signals meant, nor what or how to communicate.  I kept telling Craig which direction the back end needed to go, and he kept telling me that was useless, because all he could do was steer the front end.  He kept asking which way he should turn the wheels, and I could not tell him.

I need to say I had asked him for some practice time in a parking lot before we tried this on our own, but he didn't think it was necessary.  So this mess was his fault too.

We might have done OK in a big open place, but the tight curve of the driveway bordered by a soft soil drop off on one side, and an RV denting stump on the other requires skill, cooperation, and patience.  

We got it in, but we were very upset with each other. 

  I am determined that we can, and will do better!

People learn things in different ways.  Some can transfer knowledge easily from one situation to another.  I cannot.  I can drive a car and I can it back up. (All right I did back into Craig's car some weeks back)  But, until yesterday I could not have told you which way to turn the steering wheel to make the back of the car go left or right unless I was sitting in the drivers seat and doing it.  

I say "until yesterday," because now I know!

My toy RV came in the mail yesterday. Using it has a learning aid will help me be a great RV parking guide!

I realized that to give Craig the information he wanted, I had to think in terms of which way to turn the wheel, and not just which way I wanted the back end of the RV to go. 

 I needed to learn to think in terms of clockwise, and counter clockwise.

 I took a pair of white cotton photography gloves and marked both sides with words, a big letter, and arrows.  If I put them on the correct hands, my mind and eyes won't get confused.

I marked all of the corners of the toy RV, and used tape to make little direction arrows.  
I then went out to my van and moved the van in each of the directions I had marked. 
Back end to the right, back end to the left, etc.  At each point I noticed which way I was turning the wheel. 
 I got out and looked at the front wheels to see which way they were turning.  I noted all of it on the toy RV top.

Now I know that to move right you turn the wheel clockwise, and to move to the left you turn the wheel counter clockwise.  Not "earth shattering" information, but for someone who has my kind of mind, a real challenge,

I have also written this on my kitchen white board.  I will see it often like a big flash card.  

I think the headsets will also help a lot because I will know if Craig is understanding me or not.  

He will have to learn to trust me, and to go slowly.  

Patience and cooperation.

I asked Craig if we could just drive the RV to the entrance of the driveway after the stump is removed, and practice backing it back in, but he said it would not be good for the engine to idle it that much. I had read something about not running the engine on idle for more than ten minutes in reference to starting it up at least once a month. So I guess we won't be able to try all of this until the next time we go on a trip.

Meanwhile we both can play with the RV toy.  I can practice giving it backing up directions,
 and Craig can rearrange the furniture.  

(It has a working slide too!)

Note:  funny what you learn about people reading blogs! Craig likes colorful PJs.  I call these his clown PJs. He picked out the fabric and I sewed them for him.  


  1. Ohhh, you got me. I'm soooo confused. I too have problems with left & right, but I ALSO have problems with clockwise & counter clockwise! But I did laugh big over the rearranging of RV furniture!!! That was funny ;-) Good luck, I agree, head sets would probably help a lot!

  2. Merikay, you're a hoot! Craig the mobile Suzy homemaker... :)

  3. hey,,, there are a lot of ways to do things... whatever works for you both... just do it!

  4. Don't beat yourself up - this stuff is complicated! Your determination means everything. That's way more important than any stupid "sense of direction".

  5. Reminds me of when we started out & the reading of the map -- hubby kept saying I needed map reading lessons...LOL! Love the rearranging of furniture & the clown PJs.

  6. I would often tell my husband left when I meant right, but I always pointed in the right direction, so he should have just looked at my hands. He teased me about this a lot.

  7. I'm lucky - I married a man who has backed trailers with boats on them all his life. So he knows how to put that fifth wheel right where it belongs with a little help from me. But the motorhome was a different ballgame. You back a motor home the opposite way you back a pick up with a fifth wheel and he always had to make a couple of starts to get it going the right direction. He's glad we have the fifth wheel back. So it just takes practice and more practice.

  8. In regards to leaving the Motor Home idling 10 minutes at a time....two summers ago I started up the rig, forgot I had done so and went to town on some errands. Returned home nearly 5 hours later and the Motor Home was still sitting there contentedley purring away:))

  9. Sounds like you're getting it all worked out; and that's what counts.

  10. Can you go to a big parking lot to practice? My husband is a super backer upper too but...our rule is if you can't see me in the mirror it is not my fault!...

  11. it is all a learning curve..eventually you will be laughing about all the 'first adventures'!!

  12. From what I've read, you just have to decide which hand signals you'll use and what they mean.

    The other night when I was backing up in the dark, the woman in the next site came out to help. She gave me hand signals to tell me WHERE I needed to be putting the rear end, not how to turn the wheel. If I turned the wrong way, she corrected me, then I turned the right way. Slooooowly backing until I was in the right place.

    You guys just need to practice, the more you do it, the better you'll get. Kimbopolo's right, don't beat yourself up, Merikay. You're a team. Like anything else, you'll get better as you go along. I'm sure most couples with big rigs went through this in the beginning.

  13. Merikay you continue to amaze me. That is so creative to figure out how to make this backing up thing work for you. You'll both figure it out together and be old pros before long. I do agree with you though - a large empty parking lot would be a nice place to practice.

  14. I don't know if Gayle and I still have it right. If I don't see her in my mirror, I stop and I will not move an inch till I see her.....

  15. Oh boy! Now, I would say that the driver should be in charge of what to do to make the wheels go where they want. That becomes a muscle-memory kind of skill, just like driving a car.

    When I direct Annie, I get behind the Duck and make airport traffic signals with my arms, which she sees in the camera. Annie translates that into wheel movement. But, any agreement that works for you both ... works for you both!

    Now I'm thinking about it harder. If you tell him the back end needs to go right, doesn't that also mean his wheel needs to turn right? I forgot you're in an A.

  16. Just keep practicing, it will get better. Our first couple times out, we were NOT in sync, but since then, I feel like we have gotten a little better working together each time. Of course, now we have a several month hiatus for the winter months, so hopefully we will remember something by next May! :)

  17. You are so creative. I would not have the patience to figure it how the way you have. We've been RVing for many years, and still have a rough time once in a while. It comes with the territory. Kevin is always telling me he has to be able to see me in the mirror. But, then he starts moving and I have to run around so he can see me. Then, I can't always see where the RV is going. So, now before we start, he has to tell me where he wants me to stand so he can see me. Then we go from there. You'll find a way that works for you guys. Everyone seems to have their own way of doing it. In the meantime, maybe you'll discover a new furniture arrangement for your Alfa :)

  18. I'm with the "good luck duck" - the driver should figure out how to turn the wheel according to where the ground person tells where the back end to go.

    That way if you have someone else helping you are more likely to get the job done ;-)

    We also use airport type hand signals.

    Good luck - this is one of the hardest things and I'll have to admit there are still sometimes words...

  19. I had to laugh reading your post. It reminded me of times helping Al back a boat trailer into the water and our first few scuba dives. We had to learn how to communicate and it sometimes let to arguments! Yes, underwater arguments.

    You guys will get it figured out.

    I just tell Al where I want the rear of the coach to go and he is in charge of how to turn the steering wheel.

    I think when you get your head-sets it will help a lot. Barney highly recommended them!

  20. I agree it's the driver's job to control the steering wheel. You, as the spotter, can only say where the rear of the motorhome needs to go, it's the driver's job to make it go there.

    Backing a motorhome is the same as backing a car, just a really long and wide one. The steering wheel movements are the same.

    If it helps, Craig should start with his hand at the 12 o'clock position on the steering wheel. If the back end needs to go to the right, then he turns his hand to the right; if it needs to go left, turn the wheel to the left. Exactly like in a car.

  21. Merikay, that is fantastic. I have a grandson who has the same problem. He has to figure out things differently from us and we wind up being confused, but as long as he can work things out I love it.

  22. What a great idea. My question for you is where did you get the toy RV...that would make a great gift for our Christopher, age 3. And it is cute to boot. Love those jammies..very colorful.

  23. I love the way your mind works! I too am directionally challenged as R&L though I'm not dyslexic with anything else. However don't ask me about north or south unless I have the map out. You are so creative with the toy RV, gloves the labeling that is too cool!

  24. Another one who agree's you tell the driver where you want the rear-end to go and HE figures out what to do with the steering wheel.

    For me I just point and hubby knows what I'm saying. If it gets hairy then it's HIS job to get out and do a walk around.

    Love the RV toy!! Cheers! ~M

  25. It was great meeting you and Craig at the wedding. I too have thought about getting the toy. I may still do it. Fifth wheels are even more challenging. It does help to practice in a parking lot with setting out cones in a line for backing up and to place them to simulate where you have to park it.
    Love the PJs Craig.

  26. just be sure that craig listens to you! john did not listen the other night and two wreckers and a repair bill later, we were not on friendly terms till today. i just read to john the suggestion that if unsure, both get out and look over the situation....

  27. I totally agree with Anne:

    I agree it's the driver's job to control the steering wheel. You, as the spotter, can only say where the rear of the motorhome needs to go, it's the driver's job to make it go there.

    Backing a motorhome is the same as backing a car, just a really long and wide one. The steering wheel movements are the same.

    If it helps, Craig should start with his hand at the 12 o'clock position on the steering wheel. If the back end needs to go to the right, then he turns his hand to the right; if it needs to go left, turn the wheel to the left. Exactly like in a car.


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