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Captain of the Tailgate: Memorable Tailgates

That time again....time to talk about all things related to tailgating, courtesy of Captain Morgan. We've already covered tailgating food and drink that everyone prefers. Today, I'd like to talk about memorable tailgating experiences.

Now, many of us are spread all over the country and have season tickets to not just Buccaneer/NFL games, but also college games. I've tailgated at several big college  and pro venues.....Texas Stadium, SEC Champ game, Death Valley, Ray Jay, Dolphin Stadium, The Fiesta Bowl, Between the Hedges, The Swamp, Tuscaloosa, The Orange Bowl, Neyland Stadium, and South Carolina, just to name a few. However, my trip to South Bend, Indiana in 2005 for the UT-Notre Dame game was definitely my favorite and most memorable tailgating experience.

A group of 7 of us piled into a friend's big, old Suburban and drove 5 hours from Knoxville to a suburb of Indianapolis, where we picked up an RV (the deluxe size, damned if I can remember the name of it).  Being the only one over the age of 25, I was the only one authorized to drive it.  As fate would have it, I never drove one before in my life.  So.....I get behind the wheel and drive this mother back onto the interstate and to the beltway that circles Indianapolis.  Struggling to keep the thing between the lines with white-knuckle terror, I finally manage to get off the traffic-laden beltway and get onto the two-lane road up to South Bend.  Beautiful.  Corn fields, rolling hills, and changing leaves.  Pretty much what I'd expected to see from watching Hoosiers. 

After a long drive and a few stops, we rolled into South Bend.  Semi-industrial midwest town, pretty much like I imagened it would be, yet charming and welcoming.  We find the campus and then find a WalMart where we can set up shop for the night.  I wheeled the RV into the lot and we set up shop with several other Tennessee RVs.  Beer pong.  Flip cup.  Country music.  Beer.  Whiskey shots.  And it's Friday NIGHT.  Fortunately the wife and I got the back bedroom since I had to sign for the thing (one of the perks). 

We woke up early, to the chagrin of most of the others, cleaned up, and got on the road for the RV lot on campus.  The drive into campus was suprisingly traffic-free and RV lot was very accessible.  I wheeled the RV next to a group of Notre Dame RVs in the RV lot, which was a close distance to the golden dome.  We set up the grill and TV, and got some mimosas going while we cooked breakfast food on the grill.  The Notre Dame fans around us were very, very classy and accomodating. 

After breakfast, a few of us walked campus while the rest stayed and drank.  The architecture on campus was classic, but not severely outdated.  We took pictures in front of TD Jesus, walked through the bookstore, watched the band make its way to the stadium, and generally took in the sights of the campus. 

After going back, pounding some drinks, and collecting everyone else at the tailgate, we made our way over to Notre Dame Stadium.  It had been renovated recently, so it sported a classic look with a modern-day touch.  The game didn't ultimately turn out the way I had hoped, but we had a good time being there and the fans treated us well, both before, during, and after the game. 

So let's hear it, Bucs Nation.  Share some memorable (good or bad) experiences you've had with tailgates and road trips.....