Apache Camper Blog

  • Published on Mar 16, 2016
    RV's and Sports - The Perfect Fit

    PLAY BALL!

    As we enter into March Madness, I start thinking about all the sports opportunities that there are to use your RV, and I get a little carried away with all the possibilities. 

    Here in Nebraska, we may be known for our football, but our Sports/RV season really begins with baseball season.  Omaha has been home to the College World Series since 1950 which is an incredible 66 years.  It is as much a part of the fabric of Omaha as Warren Buffet is.  I always smile when I think about the series, all the greats who have played in the games, and all the varied people who travel hundreds if not thousands of miles to see their favorite teams.

    The original stadium was Rosenblatt, and just south of the parking lot at that stadium was a dirt lot where the RV’s parked which was eventually dubbed “Dingerville”.  This was the place full of joyful baseball fans who drove their rigs just for the opportunity to experience the World Series.  The most memorable of the campers who came to Omaha were the LSU fans who brought an infectious sense of festival to the activities.  There are stories that have become folklore about the amazing gumbo, the creole flavors, and the wonderful characters who showed up.  Not to mention the pet rooster of one wacky camper. 

    Not too long ago, it was decided that Dingerville was to be eliminated – which brought outrage not only from the campers, but from the residents of Omaha who loved seeing the community of RV’s along 13th St. for so many years.  Soon after that decision, it was announced that a new ballpark was to be built in north downtown Omaha.  The impact has been huge, but the Series made a fairly seamless transition to T.D. Ameritrade Park, and the RV’s still come.  Now it is a much more “civilized” RV experience with paved lots, plenty of vendors’ tents, and a large area with food tents, live music and plenty of other activities for young and old alike.

    It is always a sad day in June when the Series ends, and all the campers roll out of the lots around the stadium.  On the bright side, we always know that they will be back next year!

    One of the sports that our snowbird customers attend earlier in the year are the spring training camps situated in the southern part of the U.S.  One customer in particular drives his Newmar motorhome to Florida, and for a blissful (for him) few weeks, he sits in the stands, cheers on the Yankees and studies the stats, and watches the action.  This is becoming more and more popular.  What better way to go south than to hear the crack of the bat, sit in the warm Florida sun, and enjoy all that the area has to offer?  This customer stays in the Tampa area and travels to other camps in Florida occasionally.  This was their dream, and now they are able to live it.  Combining retirement with pursuing athletic teams is starting to become more mainstream, and a great way to see the country.

    One of my family members goes to Arizona every year to do the same thing, but he is a die-hard Cubs fan.  Win or lose, he follows them and loves the spring training time of year.  That is their main vacation every year, and from the looks of the Facebook pictures they post, they have a blast, meeting with friends made in prior years, new friends and other family members. 

    RACING AND RV'S

    Also in early spring is the start of NASCAR.  This phenomenon is unique to the United States and one where the fans are probably some of the most loyal, following their drivers from racetrack to racetrack if possible.  The RV crowd shows up in droves for the opportunity to not only camp outside the racetrack in a special area, but also the coveted infield RV parking.  Our friends from Florida, John and Gigi own a toyhauler fifth wheel and pull it all over the country to attend as many races as possible.  They have been to Homestead, Daytona, Bristol, Talladega, and the list just keeps growing.  They load up the camper, hauling their trike motorcycle, and of course their beloved dog Joe Friday.  They have this worked out to a fine science – from the amount of water to carry, to the food and yes the beverages to have on hand for a week of racing frenzy. 

    The mood is always electric, and the campers are friendly and courteous to each other.  Something you wish you saw more of in real life.  My husband and I had the opportunity to join John and Gigi at the Kansas Speedway a couple of years ago, and I can vouch for the excitement level.  We loved watching the driver’s semis roll into the speedway, seeing the amazing variety of campers that show up, and how they all set up their areas.  We didn’t have RV parking on the infield, but we were in the RV area outside the main gate.  We saw high end motorhomes, campers that we were surprised were still on the road, travel trailers, and fifth wheels.  Old campers or new, the occupants were RVers through and through.  Since we were “dry camping” the majority of campers had generators, but used them sparingly due to the noise generated.  We actually used a portable solar panel to keep the batteries charged for the weekend, and it worked out great.  Even though we had a generator, we didn’t need to use it all weekend.  There was a water truck that went around and for a fee, re-filled your RV and emptied the grey water.  That was a welcome relief for those of us who had smaller holding tanks.   

    The Kansas Speedway had shuttle buses running from area to area, and there was even a casino on the grounds that the shuttles ran to.  We definitely stopped into the casino – just couldn’t pass up the buffet.  The food was great, but as usual with a buffet, too filling. 

    Nascar is one of the most RV friendly sports in our country.  This is one experience that if you have a chance to attend, you need to try at least once.  Another place to visit is Charlotte, NC where the NASCAR museum and hall of fame resides.  We had a chance to visit this place last year, and the memories it brought back of the classic races of my childhood were exciting to see. In my opinion NASCAR is a definite bucket list item for an RV’er. 

    Another part of the racing phenomenon is the dirt track and the sprint car racing in places like Knoxville, IA.  My husband and his best friend go every year with an RV so that all the adults can sleep more comfortably.  The racetrack is loud, dusty, but still every bit as exciting as the NASCAR events.  Even my daughter loves to attend.  Recently my husband and his friends had an opportunity to meet Jeff Gordon, and were impressed with how friendly and polite that he was.  This type of meeting is much more likely at the sprints than a NASCAR event because this where the NASCAR drivers come to relax and simply enjoy the sport.  You can see their love of the dirt track when you see them at one of these races.  These races are where they grew up, and where they learned the sport. 

    KIDS, ATHLETICS AND AND OTHER ACTIVITIES

    Onward and upward.  We have covered racing and baseball, but we seem to have forgotten about the kids who are in athletics – the golfers, the soccer players, the kids in track and field, and yes even the band kids.  All these activities involve traveling at one point or another, and we have several parents who simply buy an RV to follow their kids from field to field, competition to competition, or just across town to have a cool place to rest in between matches.

    As the mother of a former band member and high school golfer, the camper would have come in pretty handy – the state band competition where it was cold, dreary and of course rainy – not a driving rain, but one of those persistent misty rains.  We stuck it out in the stands, but if we had a camper to escape to in the parking lot, at least we could have warmed up.  Then there was the district golf tournament which was again chilly, but also had what felt like gale force winds at times.  (The scores weren’t the greatest due to the wind). 

    Then there are the soccer parents particularly those with the kids on the elite teams who travel from state to state, city to city.  These parents can be strained financially pretty substantially not just for the equipment, but for the travel expenses, not to mention the hotel rooms.  Those with RV’s have found that they save so much money by not eating out, staying in campgrounds, and parking near the fields, that the camper was one of the best investments that they could have made.

    There is one other way to enjoy your RV, and this one entails following your team across the state of Iowa in an event held annually called RAGRAI.  Every year a new route is charted through the state, and the bicycle teams start on the west side of Iowa and end up on the east side - whether by the southern route, the northern route, or the winding route.  Excitement hits fever pitch when the event nears every year in mid to late July.  Some people make only one leg of the trip, but some hardy souls actually make the entire trip.  This year is the scenic southern route.  The RV's follow the bikers throughout the trip for a cooling spot, place to sleep at night, or as a chuckwagon.  Lots of fun and a totally unique experience.

    FOOTBALL!!

    Okay, you have been patient with me and now onto what every Nebraskan looks forward to every year – FOOTBALL!!

    My husband loves college ball.  He is a die-hard Husker fan and takes it pretty seriously – our entire basement is decorated in red and black and Husker memorabilia.  From signed footballs to our framed poster of the Rose Bowl with our tickets, to the ever present Wheaties box with the picture of Tom Osborne on the front.  Our family like many others take our camper to the games, but unlike some, we usually try for the away games.  Point in fact was our trip in a Georgie Boy motorhome loaded with 8 people that we drove from Nebraska all the way to Pasadena.  While we didn’t actually camp in the camper due to the number of people along on the trip, we did park outside the stadium in RV Row, getting there at 5AM to set up.  What an experience that was.  It was one of our grand RV adventures, and one that we will never forget.  We got out the crock pots, coolers, grills, raised the Husker and American flags, and settled in to watch the spectacle that was the Rose Bowl.  We spent all day meeting other Husker fans and watching the parade of vehicles pour by our spot.  Everyone talked about taking the national championship for Nebraska.  Our hopes were high, our team had a Heisman winner in Eric Crouch.  Well, history will fill in the rest, but the ride home was a bit quieter than on the way out..

    We have had the chances to attend Husker games in Colorado, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas.  We have followed the Big 8, the Big 12, and now the Big 10.  Through good times and bad, the Huskers have one of the most loyal contingents of traveling fans in the country.  Our fans even managed to “Red Out” Notre Dame stadium years ago.  No trip is too long for a Husker fan, especially those of us with RV’s.  We have taken truck campers, motorhomes, travel trailers and fifth wheels – no matter the RV, it works great for tail-gating, a hotel room or whatever you need on the road or at the stadium.  There was one year that we went to Iowa  State and were short 1 ticket, so I volunteered to stay in the motorhome and watch the game on TV.  Now THAT was the way to see a football game with snow falling outside.  All the conveniences of home without any effort, the game was televised on network TV so I could pick it up in the camper easily in the olden days of over the air broadcasts.  When everyone arrived back at the camper, they were frozen.  I on the other hand was perfectly comfortable.

    While we haven’t had the opportunity to follow the NFL games, we do travel to Kansas City every so often to see the Chiefs play.  This is where tailgating gets serious – I feel like an amateur compared to some of these groups.  Gourmet cuisine, linen table cloths, and custom drinks.  I have watched the TV shows about the NFL tailgating, and when I retire (someday) I would love to travel around to a few of these.  Sometimes even without actually tailgating you can simply walk through the RV area, meet some fun people, some characters, and fanatic fans.  The smells are amazing, it is loud and boisterous, and the anticipation of the upcoming game has everyone in a party mood.

    Omaha had a semi pro team for a time called the Nighthawks which we followed while they were in existence.  We still have all the gear from those times.  It was quite a production with live music, amazing fans, and games that were great fun to watch. As with any campout or tailgate, food is the great connector.  Once you lay out a spread, all of a sudden, everyone is your friend.  But just like with any other camping event, everyone is friendly and courteous.  Sometimes, camping is a little bit like stepping back into a kinder, gentler time where people used manners, respected their neighbors, and weren’t afraid to walk around at night.  We all look out for each other.  

    So, no matter the sport, no matter the activity, there is a use for an RV.  Adventures, great times, old friends and new friends are just waiting for the next game.  In the meantime, Go Big Red!!

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