September 16, 2022

Views Out the Big Back Window

I’m taking a brief break from documenting our West Coast National Parks trip with two or three miscellaneous posts.  Our friend Patty recently commented that I should do a blog post about the myriad of things we’ve seen out our “big back window.”  The more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea.  So, credit for today’s post goes to Patty!

Years ago, Alan and I were beginning to talk about what our next travel trailer would look like.  We knew the kids would eventually age out from camping with us on a regular basis and we would no longer need bunk beds.  It became obvious that a big back window was going to be a requirement.  Why?  Because every time I saw a travel trailer or fifth wheel with a big back window, I’d say, “Look at that big back window!  I wish I had one like that!”  After listening to me lust after a big back window for at least a couple of years running, Alan raised no objections when I included it as a requirement at the time we began researching new travel trailers.

In 2017, Alan and I drove out to the state of Washington to buy our new Creek Side 26RLS made by Outdoors RV.  The first view out our big back window wasn’t exactly jaw-dropping since we were in the lot at the RV dealership.  But five years of exceptionally memorable views have followed that first not so exceptionally memorable one.

Don't worry.  The views get better.

I understand that not everyone has a big back window (which for the purposes of this post will be referred to as a “BBW”), and not everyone wants one.  Some RVers have big, beautiful windshields in their motor homes, or exceptional views from a dinette or sofa.  Our first travel trailer, a Jayco, had a large dinette window that we enjoyed immensely.  Couple any big window with the fact that Alan is willing and able to maneuver the trailer to obtain the absolute best views from it, and I have good reason to work as hard as I do to snag great campsites.

On a tour of a couple of states in the northeast a few years ago, we went from small to large water views when we enjoyed the idyllic scenery at tiny Half Moon Pond State Park in Vermont followed by a waterfront site at Ausable Point in New York.  Ausable Point is on the shores of 120 mile-long Lake Champlain which straddles the border between New York and Vermont.  Was bigger better?  No, bigger was simply different.  Both the small pond and the enormous lake were just gorgeous.  Views out the BBW have a unique character all their own – much like the National Parks we treasure.

Looking out at Half Moon Pond . . .

. . . and Lake Champlain

While camping at Crooked River State Park in Georgia in 2019, we enjoyed a great site in this immaculate park.  I had worked hard to get it, and the view extended out to the East River.  It was a peaceful and soothing scene to absorb and enjoy while sipping our morning coffee.  Sometimes these campsites are jumping off points for further exploration like this one was – a perfect home base for exploring Cumberland Island National Seashore.  Others are destinations unto themselves.

I didn't even wait to unstrap the recliners before I started taking photos at Crooked River.

The U. S. Forest Service campground, Riverside, in eastern Idaho provided us with just such a destination.  The wild and rugged Henry’s Fork, famed for its fly fishing, had us on full alert watching for eagles and fishing boats from our waterfront site, binoculars at the ready.  While it, too, provided a good home base (in this case to explore Henry’s Lake State Park and Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks), the tumbling water of Henry’s Fork was an attraction in and of itself.  We dragged our camp chairs to the top of a large rock outcropping on our site and enjoyed our dinner with a mesmerizing view.

Looking down at our campsite from our rock outcropping . . .

. . . and enjoying dinner with a view!

Also in Idaho, I landed what was probably our Campsite of the Year for 2021.  A site at an Idaho Power Campground was perched on the edge of Hells Canyon.  Whether we were watching fishing boats being launched at dawn or the play of the sun on the canyon walls, we found the views out the BBW at Hells Canyon to be outstanding.

Just watch those first couple of steps out the back door!

Alan and I are drawn to the waters of nature no matter what they are.  Lakes, rivers, oceans and anything in between delight us.  Whether we are boaters and kayakers because we love the water or we love the water because we enjoy boating and kayaking, I don’t know.  I just know that we’re drawn to almost any public campground with a water feature.  Our waterways provide different views and different experiences.  At Shady Creek Recreation Area in Iowa, I reserved a prime spot with a wonderful view of the Mississippi River.  The variety of birds we saw plying the river entertained us to no end.  We’re not the only ones who take advantage of Mother Nature’s waterways.

The Campground Host said, "That's a great site."  And I thought to myself, "Oh, I know."

At Illini State Park in Illinois, Alan and I took pleasure in watching tug boats work their assigned barges up and down the Illinois River.  The transportation of goods and services via our nation’s waterways has been going on for centuries.  Here, we were witnessing just one tiny moment in time.

Hard working crew members on tugboats keep the barges moving along the Illinois River.

Not every view out the BBW has to be about water though.  Nestled in our site at Sunny Gulch, a U. S. Forest Service campground near Stanley, Idaho, the Sawtooth Mountains impressed us every single time we caught a glimpse of them.  It really was hard to stop looking.  Thank heaven we’ve moved on to digital cameras from film or we’d probably be bankrupt by now. 

Sunny Gulch remains an all-time favorite.

Sometimes the views out the BBW are more about the entertainment to be had than the scenery.  This year, at our annual family vacation at Great Lake Sacandaga in central New York, we had a spectacular waterfront site almost directly across the inlet from the boat launch.  (We have Alan’s quick responses to thank for snagging that particular site on ReserveAmerica.)  The boat launch has the potential for providing so much entertainment that our son, Ryan, suggested to Alan that they make a pot of coffee, settle into the recliners and enjoy the Saturday show.  I could have a field day trying to come up with a title for that movie.  Think “Boat Launch Bloopers,” “Honey, I Broke the Boat,” and “Backing up a Boat Trailer 101” and you’ll get the idea.  Please don't think we're arrogant meanies.  Our hearts go out to all of those who have difficulty at the boat launch.  Been there, done that ourselves.

A busy boat launch = much entertainment!

Our BBW is not all about the entertainment or even the views.  Sometimes our BBW is all about location, location, location.  We’ve looked out that window at a wall of trees or shrubbery for countless good reasons.  Finding campsites in key locations that put us close to family, friends, activities and Krispy Kreme doughnut shops is an important part of my research.

We’ve stared at greenery while attending an Outdoors RV Owners Rally in New Hampshire and finding safety in a city park in Omaha, Nebraska, having outrun a winter snow storm.  Putting up with a wall of Florida foliage at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park landed us within spitting distance of Key West, and the RV sites at rest areas along the Ohio Turnpike are appreciated greatly – whether the view out the BBW is of the rest area facility or the trees at the back of the RV lot.

Always grateful for the RV parking areas on the Ohio Turnpike

We’ve visited Alan’s brother and sister-in-law in Florida and camped out in their driveway, and we’ve accessed the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes in Idaho while staying at Albert’s Landing, a small, private RV park within pedaling distance of the bike trail.  We gratefully sacrificed a view out the BBW there for convenience in reaching amazing sights like this . . .

The Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes near Kingston, Idaho

And enjoying unique experiences like this . . .

Silly shenanigans along the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes

If we’re really, really lucky, we get to savor a view while we’re in a critical location.  We’ve returned to the Outdoors RV factory for service on our Creek Side twice now.  (The closest dealer to us is seven states away, and the dealership from which we bought our trailer is in the state of Washington – even further than the factory.)  Both times we’ve been warmly welcomed and invited to stay in the factory lot and plug into the electric outlet that’s available there.  While it’s never fun to have your rig serviced, it is delightful to wake up to the sunrise out our BBW that’s lighting up the fields and mountains across the road from the ORV factory.

Sunrise at the Outdoors RV factory in eastern Oregon

I don’t take the privilege of RVing for granted.  RVs are costly, gas adds up and maintenance and repairs along the way do impact our budget.  I know that we're lucky to be able to do this.  For Alan and me, the benefits quickly overtake the costs.  To those of us for whom time in nature is essential, the blessings of enjoying that first sip of coffee while watching the sun rise over a lake or a tranquil mountain meadow are immeasurable.  I admit that living life through a big back window is not for everyone.  But it is for me.

Patty, thank you so much for this idea!  I enjoyed every single one of the memories it brought to mind.  It made me realize how fortunate we are to enjoy this lifestyle and share it with friends like you, Rick and Eric.  P.S.  If the girls are going to take on the boys in the Cornhole Tournament, we’d better start practicing!



  1. Replies
    1. Thank you! I must admit - we make good use of it! Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment!

  2. Out the back window, huh? Well, I believe that's a unique perspective for any blog I've read. Perhaps I would have thought of it myself, but not likely. Why? Because we have no back window; that space is jammed with garments, belonging mostly to you-know-who. But kudos, kiddo; I enjoyed this post, as I do all of them.

  3. Interesting timing. While on our recent road trip, we were driving behind an RV with a big back window and I wondered about it. Now I know what an advantage they are!

    1. What you can't see well in any of these photos are the tall windows on the sides of the travel trailer that are right next to the back window. They allow us nearly a 180 degree view out the back/sides. That's the reason we don't mind taking some extra time to position the trailer when we're settling into a campsite - view optimization!

  4. Great post, Mary. I can so relate. We loved our big rear window and agree, there's nothing better than enjoying that cup of Joe while watching a beautiful sunrise in nature. We've been stationary for exactly one year and yesterday just returned from our first quick trip to the high country (Sedona and Flagstaff). Although we enjoyed nice accommodations in a one-bedroom condo, we definitely missed our RV. And as much as we had a great get away, we were happy to return home for snuggles with our 3-week-old granddaughter. No words can explain that kind of joy. Thus, we'll probably remain without an RV for a little longer.

    1. Omigosh! Congratulations to you and your family! Your first grandchild, right? That has to be exceptionally exciting for everyone. Wait! I'm having a vision . . . It's you and Al with another RV toasting marshmallows around the campfire and making s'mores with your granddaughter! Family time is the best, isn't it?!


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