If I am honest, to call my family trip around the Rockies in a campervan, the nightmare campervan trip is slightly unfair. However, for anyone who has ever seen the film RV starring Robin Williams, many of the things that went wrong in that film also happened on our trip, at least we didn’t end the trip with the van in a lake.
There are countless parts of the trip that were also brilliant. Our stops at Whistler, Banff and Jasper all fit within that category. However, whilst these are unforgettable, the subject of this blog post is the many times during that trip that things went wrong and often comically so.
The first few things to go wrong were nothing major and were mistakes that you might expect first time campervan users to make. On the very first day we noticed that there was liquid shooting from the side of the campervan as we turned corners. To begin with, my dad thought that it must be fuel coming from the tank, assuming that he had incorrectly put the cap back on. Luckily, when we stopped, it turned out that it wasn’t petrol that had been leaking all over the road but just water from the freshwater tank that we had filled incorrectly.
We put that first mistake down to experience, not quite expecting so many more to follow in the course of our 2 week trip. The next mistake was another one that I am sure many first time campervan users have made, but very much not a mistake you want to make.
It happened as we went to empty our black water tank. For anyone who is not very experienced with campervans, that is the water and other substances that come from the toilet in a campervan. You have to unload it in special places at campsites so that it can be dealt with in the proper manner. One of the first times that we did this, we made the terrible error of opening up the black water pipe before it was firmly secured into the part for disposal. This led to some of what I’ll call sewage substances, coming out of the tube and had to subsequently be washed by us into the correct hole for disposal. It is safe to say that this was a mistake that was only made once.
The next few mistakes are not only the most comical, but also the worst. As we arrived at Lake Louise, we decided to park up the campervan before getting out and going for a little walk. So, we found the area of the car park that was set aside for campervans and went about trying to park. Our campervan was a fairly large one. It was a 6 berth and must have been around 25 feet in length, so could be difficult to manoeuvre. Yet, this was a few days into our trip and by now we had parked the van a few times. Although, on this occasion it all went wrong.
Canadians are known to be some of the nicest people on the planet and on this day that was certainly true. I presume that nobody else has ever been evicted from a car park, but that is what happened to us. After about 15 minutes of putting people’s lives at risk due to the atrocious attempt at parking from my dad, a lovely car park attendant walked over to the window and in the politest way, asked my dad if we could please leave the car park as we were causing a scene and making it difficult for everyone else.
As if being evicted from a car park was not enough, we then had to turn around so that we could try and park somewhere else. So, as we turned around at the edge of the car park, we hit a small bump in the road. Hitting the bump caused one of the cabinets in the kitchen to fly open. As we turned around, the cabinet door flung open, all of the bowls in our rental campervan fell out of the cupboard and smashed all over the floor.
If all of this was not bad enough already, the worst error was still to come. For the first time in the trip my mum was driving the van in Banff. We were driving down the high street in Banff and went to take a right turn down a side street to find somewhere to park. I just remember my dad shouting “watch out for the…” and then there was a crash as the campervan hit a bus parked on the side of the road.
As we had gone to turn the corner, the van had got far too close to the bus and ended up colliding with the wingmirror, tearing it off. This was then followed by about a two hour period spent first having a lovely conversation with the driver of the bus, and then a conversation with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. It turned out that the bus we had crashed into was a tourist bus that at the time was full and about to take 50 people into the mountains from Banff. The crash had rendered it unsafe to drive for the day, so we had inadvertently ruined the day of 50 tourists.
After the stop in Banff, we managed to largely avoid incident. There was one time that we almost crashed into a bridge, and another where we got lost and nearly ran out of fuel on our way to a fuel station but on the whole nothing bad happened. We were able to replace the broken bowls and the bus driver was lovely about the whole incident so the only people that we caused a problem for were those unfortunate tourists waiting for the bus.
So yes, it wasn’t the nightmare campervan trip, but we certainly made a number of mistakes along the way. Although, I wouldn’t change it if we did it all again as each one of those mistakes has made for a brilliant story and something that my family will always laugh about.
Image Credit: Piqsels