The parking algorithm

First, here's what we're working with. [Click images for larger view.]
Note that the access road does *not* actually continue down toward 20 anymore,
although old remnants of the roadbed still appear to exist.


The parking area is an arc-shaped clearing, wide enough for a full face-in/face-out row down either side of its through-road with full parallel access for everyone. It is pre-cleared and inspected for tire hazards before people arrive, and is lit for all of the main arrival and departure nights to make it easier to see what to do.

For better handling of possible issues or emergencies, we would appreciate every owner placing a sign on the dash indicating whose vehicle it is -- possibly including all its keyholders and/or responsible people. What if someone notices your dome light left on? Now they know who to find. If you have a notion of where you're sleeping, that would be useful to include as well.

As a side note, the "steep bit" of the mountain road up the hill is where some drivers have traction trouble. Including yours truly, whose tires are usually up over 50 PSI, but that's just me. Take as much of a run at it as you can from the sharp turn but DO NOT just floor it and spin the wheels, as that gains you nothing. Build a little speed and keep the pressure on through the steep part as it curves -- just enough to keep moving but not slip if possible. Don't stop unless you start hopelessly spinning and wind up unable to move forward, and DON'T TAILGATE each other up this stretch -- let one car make it up at a time, as it may *not* make it and have to back down for another try. Be patient, there's plenty of time. And guidance and/or driving help is available from the staff if needed.

If some amount of drive tire deflation is needed for better gravel traction, a brief stop at the Abode barn near the end of Darrow Road's pavement is a convenient place to let some air out before attacking the final mountain ascent. Be aware of any lowered ground clearance if you do this. Air pumps to restore proper pressure before your eventual departure are available at the top.

Refer to this picture and the text below for full explanation of the parking-packing methodology.

The darker green band is the woodsy perimeter of the parking area.

The basic idea is to alternate directions, and get the right-hand [passenger] sides of the vehicles as close together as possible and leave only enough room on the left side for a driver to swing a door open far enough to safely get in and out. Find the end of the row on either side and follow the model to add yourself as the new end. Be patient if others ahead of you are still working their way in. In the narrower parts of the clearing near the middle, it may take a little back-and-forth shuffling to get lined up right.

  • Useful mnemonic: if you come along and see the Butt of a car you'll be parking next to, you'll want to Back in next to it. See Headlights? Then you'll go Head-in.
  • It is useful to know how to back up using your external side mirrors to align the approach angle and rear of the car. You can see exactly how close you are on either side, just like truckers do when slotting into a tight loading dock. This skill comes in *really* handy if you have to back down the steep part of the road. Practice beforehand in a quiet area, and do what truckers call "GOAL" when you aren't sure of your dimensions or proximity -- Get Out And Look. You can safely get very close to another vehicle without contacting it if you move carefully.
  • Fold the passenger-side mirror if possible, as shown on the blue, white, and grey cars. It gains an easy six to twelve inches, and it matters. Yes, that sounds like it also conflicts with using mirrors to back -- but if the back-in is already lined up correctly, nice and close with the wheels straight, the mirror can get folded in just before the final move past the other vehicle. Have a spotter help if you aren't sure at that point.
  • If the mirrors can't fold, you can do a slight angle-in trick like the black car to still put the right-sides closer together and leave more exit room. The tail of the black car and nose of the green one are closer together, but there's more room where the drivers' doors are. If any of the nose-in cars here back straight out, they won't interlace mirrors, and sometimes vehicles of different heights can pass mirrors right over each other safely. Also remember that when going head-in, it may be possible to steer the front end of the car over a slightly curving path to clear another mirror with yours, but still wind up with your front end closer on the passenger side. In general, move SLOWLY and watch for any interference.
  • If you take a passenger with you when going to park, they might want to get out just before making the final move as it's easier than having them clamber over the hump and out the driver's side.
  • As the overall angle changes around the curve of the parking area, adaptations obviously need to be made. Try to go straight toward the edge wherever you are -- don't diagonal-in because that will lose a lot of space a couple of cars later. On the inside arc, the corners of the cars toward the weeds can almost touch. On the outer, longer sweep, the corners of the cars nearest the central path can be closer together but leave just enough room to squeeze past when walking so you can get *to* your vehicle! Above all, make sure the car(s) next to you will still be able to pull out without interference. Tight clearance is okay, as long as it's still *clearance*.
  • Do not spin wheels and rip up the grass or gravel. Feather the accelerator gently to move. If conditions are wet and traction is poor, line up and take a small run at where you need to be but ONLY if there's safe room to do so including any rocking that uneven ground may produce in the process. Or, just don't go as far in. But in general, pushing as far in toward the parking area perimeter as possible is helpful, especially on the outer arc.
  • When you place your ID sign, make sure it is OUTSIDE of any sun-shield you install in the window so it's still externally visible.
And again, don't be afraid to ask for help if you aren't comfortable maneuvering your own vehicle at close quarters. Some people will be on duty to help with parking, but not to micromanage it. Our best efficiency depends on your good sense.

And like the webpage says -- CARPOOL!

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