Backing up Nightmare!

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On the way to SoCal after a trip to Northern California, we were driving through LA.
As we rolled through LA, Dawn radioed me to say it looked like something on the cargo carrier on the back of the trailer was going to fall off, so we exited just after dark near the LA Zoo. I found a place with road-side parking and fixed the issue. I hopped back in the truck, and we turned around to get back onto the highway a mile or two back.

A key issue to understand is, since we hit California, my iPhone GPS has been tripping out, so I can’t really use it for maps; Dawn usually drives in front of me so we can follow the map on her phone, but we were out of our normal order because of the stop, meaning I was in the lead.

As we drove back toward the highway, I noticed we were near the zoo. All along the drive, I expected to turn to the right to get on the ramp to the highway, so when I passed what appeared to be a dark and poorly-marked onramp on my left, I continued driving. Once Dawn and I realized we had missed the ramp, I said we’d just go down the road and turn around or “make a block.” We passed some soccer fields and a parking lot I almost tried to turn around through, but I just knew there had to be a road out. It wasn’t until we drove up on a chain link fence enclosing a dog park, that we realized we were stuck! To make matters worse, cars were entering the same road (that we now know was Zoo Drive) directly in front of us.

My first thought was to try to turn around, but with cars parallel-parked on both sides of the road and nowhere to pull or back into, that wouldn’t work. Then, I tried pulling up the inlet road and almost got hit head-on despite my bright lights and flashers! 

I finally pulled forward into the dog park, and we got out to talk. A man came over to tell us he had seen semi-trucks do the same thing many times. The last time, he said he had driven behind the semi with his flashers on as the truck drove backwards in the right-hand lane.

After a quick chat, Dawn and I decided that was our only option. What followed was an hour of the most stressful slow driving we’ve ever done! Dawn drove forward with her flashers on while I drove the truck and trailer (~65-feet long) in reverse with my flashers on. Along the way, cars, motorcycles, bicycles, and people came from every direction in front of us, in between us, and behind us! Many times, I had to roll down my window and direct people to pass me on their left because they were trying to squeeze between our rig and the cars parked just a few feet away! (7:09, for example)

At one point, I tried backing into the parking lot for the soccer fields, but I had to stop when I heard the cargo hitch on the back of the trailer digging into the concrete! (13:54 on the video)
When it was all done, our kids plus our friends’ oldest daughter had narrated the whole thing from the suburban, and we made it safely to our destination…just an hour and twenty minutes late! The saving graces of our nightmare were Dawn’s cool head, my calm focus, and our Midland X-Talker walkie talkies. It would’ve been really nice to have a backup camera to help, though!

Now, Dawn leads out, I have a new iPhone, and I finally installed the backup camera I had bought just before we left Texas! As they say, “hindsight is 20-20!” I just never imagined I’d have to literally use hindsight in our 65-foot rig!


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