When Harvey Mickelson purchased a campground in northern Arizona with his wife, Jo Ann, 33 years ago, he never thought he would also find a way to help couples keep their marriages intact.
But, according to a press release, Mickelson has, the release continued.
A sign on the door of J & H RV Park in Flagstaff describes the service as follows: “Marriage Saving Valet RV Parking Available: Inquire Within.”
As Mickelson and other campground and RV operators know all too well, most Americans have difficulty parking their RVs, especially if they have to back their units into a campsite.
And when you combine the size of their vehicles with their lack of parking skills, especially when backing up, frayed nerves and a shouting match between husband and wife is the likely result, not to mention a few damaged utility pedestals, fences, trash cans, water faucets, tree branches and other things that might be in way.
“When we tell our guests that they will have to back into their campsites,” Mickelson said, “they look at each other like, ‘Are we going to have a fight?’ ”
Mickelson, who worked as a truckdriver before going into the campground business, soon found it was easier to simply offer to park their RVs for them.
But he finds a lot of humor in the difficulty spouses have when it comes to communicating with one another about how to park their RV.
“I tell people I’ve been thinking about teaching classes — One on how to give directions and another on how to receive directions,” he said.
But joking aside, Mickelson has seen enough RV parking incidents in his park to know he can minimize damage by parking the rigs himself.
“Over the years, we’ve had to change from chain link fences to wood fences to masonry,” he said, adding, “Masonry doesn’t move when you back into it.”
Of course, while Mickelson’s “marriage saving valet RV parking” concept is unique, growing numbers of campground and RV park operators across the country are finding it worthwhile to offer parking services for guests who shudder at the thought of backing their rig into a campsite.
But while parks that do offer RV parking do so as a service, some park operators insist on it.
“We get some people who say, ‘We don’t need any help.’ Those are the ones we worry about,” said Bob Stafford of Green Acres RV Park in Mesa, Ariz.