I have an awesome dad. I am lucky that my father has chosen to invest time and energy into his only daughter. He trudges across the country and even half way around the world to watch me race. He stands around in the heat, the cold, the snow, the rain and all else to support me. It doesn't matter that when I was doing triathlons, he could not name all three sports if a gun were to his head. It doesn't matter that he was driving all night until 3:30 AM or just getting up at 3:30AM, with the generous compensation of a cup of coffee, he made it happen.
I would like to think that the teardrop has taken us to a whole new level of our relationship. Finally we have something in common to discuss: towing capacity, structural integrity and sewage. As it turns out, only your father is willing to deal with your sewage both at 36 months old and 36 years old. All the while we brainstorm ways to increase storage capacity and minimize risk of objects becoming ballistic missiles while in route to the next destination.
One of his first tasks was to teach me how to back the camper. This is a complicated process that I have decided boils down to turning the steering wheel in the exact opposite direction that you hope the trailer ends up, saying a hail Mary or two, pressing on the horn to alert near by strangers that they are in imminent danger of being run over by a miniature camper, closing your eyes and hitting the gas.
The first task was backing out of the driveway where I had abandoned the trailer in the night before in the dark, too tired to consider my first lesson. The driveway is about 40 ft long. It might as well have been 40 miles. I know for a fact the neighbors were peaking out their windows what in god's name we needed to run over repeatedly as I pulled forward and back desperately trying to get the trailer to go any way but sideways.
In reality it took about an hour is a WIDE open parking lot to finally get the hang of it. I turned to my father and beamed.
"Bet you didn't think that you would be giving driving lessons again 20 years later?"
"Of course," he tells me, "to my grandchildren!"
Well if I am not giving them grandchildren, I might as well multitask.
Releasing me onto the world, I have been learning to negotiate highways, byways and increasingly narrow ways. I was proud to nail my reverse park job between two garbage cans and down a 75 foot drive. While I still feel a shot of anxiety any time the option of anything but pull through parking presents itself, I was starting to feel pretty confident that I could worm my way out of most things.
Ikea is a phenomenon unto itself. The store that prides itself on maximizing small spaces has to have one of the largest footprints of any modern store. The irony.
Showing great discretion, I parked at the far end of the parking lot where there was exactly one other car many spaces away from mine. If nothing else, I will get my 10,000 steps a day in with this thing if only to avoid any other interaction with another vehicle. Unfortunately, after an hour of shopping, I came out to find my car cuddled up to a Mustang and a Civic. In front of me, a minivan and truck have assumed position and in spite of my dwadling, no one appears to be coming to claim them.
I make a concerned effort to pull forward and make the sharp 90 degree turn but at 25ish feet long, there ain't nothing sharp happening. Unfortunately, backing up has now become a blind turn into the Mustang.
Then I called dad.
Hyperventilating, I quickly explain the situation while cars drive by, slowing to look for a parking space and seeing the awkward angle of car and camper, quickly drive off. This only adds to my embarrassment as it is so obvious that I am now pinned down in a GIANT Ikea parking lot.
Dad does his very best understanding dad routine, suggests just unhooking the camper and pushing it back and re-attaching. Yes, yes. This sounds wise.
I get out prepared to go through the routine and as I look at the hitch, it occurs to me that this process of unhitching, pushing and re-hitching will take much, much longer than I want now that it is starting to rain. At that moment, yet another Mustang pulls up to my other side. While at first I question the driver's wisdom as it seems that every other car has pulled clear of me, I decided that this would be the man most motivated to help me as his car is now also in the line of destruction.
Indeed, when I explain the situation, he hopped out of his car like it was on fire. Guiding me 6 inches closer to the other Mustang in order to avoid his own Mustang I am sure was just a coincidence. But I am proud to say that in one try, teardrop and Chief were lined back up and on their way. Crisis resolved.
All I can say is thanks for a father who thinks that girl power includes learning to drive a stick and backing a trailer!