Saturday, April 24, 2010

Texas Motor Speedway



We have now been to three different NASCAR race tracks with Texas Motor Speedway being the most recent.  This track reminds us a lot of Kansas Speedway- a 1.5 mile "quad" oval- but Texas has steeper banking in the turns allowing the drivers to push their cars to much higher speeds, which makes for a more exciting race.

One nice thing about Texas Motor Speedway is that it is only about 8 hours from Kansas City.  We left our friend Mikey's house Thursday at 7:30 P.M. and arrived at TMS at 3:30 A.M.  We did not reserve a campsite ahead of time so we were able to get two spots right next to each other in unreserved camping for $75 each.  They are open 24 hours a day, so you can show up at any time and get in.



The campsites were pretty small.  One campsite fit our trailer, car, and a 10x10 pop-up shelter, but not much else.  The guys set up their tents in the other spot.  It was pretty cramped for space, but we made do.  We didn't really check out a lot of other camping options, but from what we did see, all of the camping is packed in, so I don't think reserving a spot ahead of time would get you any more space.

The weekend actually started out well with no rain all day on Friday.  The guys went to qualifying while Brian and I went to the merchandise tents in search of a TMS flag so we can add it to our track flag collection.  We ended up finding a flag, but it was so ugly, we refused to buy it.  I never did snap a picture of it, but it was bad.  Supposedly it said "Everything is BIGGER in Texas" with a small TMS logo in the corner, but all you could read was the word BIGGER, which doesn't mean anything to me.  So that was a bummer, and unfortunately you can't find one on the internet.  Maybe we'll be back in the future to try and snag another flag.

Friday night we were able to hang out underneath the 10x10 pop-up since the rain had just begun and the ground had yet to turn to mud.



It continued to rain all night, and Saturday morning we woke up to see that everything was soaked.  The campers next to us had to hang all their clothes out to dry and the guys' tents didn't fair much better.



The Nationwide race ended up being cancelled so Brian and I just hung out in the camper all day.  We did drive to go take a shower at one point- which ended up taking several hours.  The traffic control around the speedway is horrendous.  Probably the worst I have ever seen.  If you get funneled out in the wrong direction, you end up having to drive several miles away from the stadium, only to have to turn around and fight the traffic coming back in, hoping that you don't get funneled the wrong direction again (which is possible).  I think the traffic control was the worst part about TMS.  If you need to go anywhere, make sure to wait until at least 3 hours after any race- we learned this the hard way!

The day of the Sprint Cup race wasn't much better than Saturday.  After a morning and afternoon full of heavy drizzle, they delayed the race until Monday.



Brian and I decided to get out of the camper and go to Walmart and Cabela's to waste some time and buy some much needed dry socks for the guys.  I was impressed with the guys for keeping their spirits up despite the miserable weather- I guess all you need is twelve 30 packs of beer and a game of washers and you are set!



On Monday the rain finally stopped and we got to see some racing!  We were in row thirteen, right about at the exit of pit row.  They were great seats, but I think I prefer to be a little higher up due to the noise.  It was a fun experience, but I can't imagine what it was like for the people without ear plugs!!  You were able to see the whole track down as low as we were, which can be a problem at some of the bigger tracks.


It was a very good race- Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson were fighting on the track, Dale Jr. and Tony Stewart led many laps, and we got to see "the big one" happen right in front of us.




Unfortunately, "the big one" was caused by our man, Tony Stewart, who ended up taking out a lot of the lead contenders including Jeffy (who would have won the race, hands down) and Juan Pablo Montoya.  But of course, Jimmie Johnson made it through the wreck unscathed and ended up almost winning the race.  Luckily Denny Hamlin squeaked out the win.



We could have stayed to see the Nationwide race after the Sprint Cup race, but we decided to pack up and head out.  Lesson number one- always wait at least 3 hours after the end of the race to leave a speedway.  Lesson number two- never, under any circumstances, drive in Dallas/Fort Worth during rush hour.  Can we say parking lot!?  Lesson number three- 169 highway is not meant for a truck and a camper driving in the middle of the night.  Two lanes, lots of curves, lots of deer carcasses and lots of semis do not make for a fun, relaxing, quick drive home.

All in all it was a decent trip.  I think Brian might feel otherwise; he's not one to enjoy being cooped up in a camper all weekend.  I think we would go back, but if we had the choice between Texas and Talladega, we would hands down pick Talladega- they have their camping down to a science (plus it's free with all the space you want!!), and the race is one of the best in the season.  I do want to see other tracks, though.  There's nothing like experiencing a NASCAR race live.


More pics here.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Busy Spring Weekend

I think this was the most perfect weekend of the year.  The weather couldn't have been more beautiful.  Yeah for spring!

We started out the weekend by attending a smoking class held at Backyard Bash and taught by Chris Marks, an eight-time grand champion winner of the American Royal BBQ contest.  This was a birthday present for Brian and it was a blast.  We learned a lot of new smoking techniques that we are excited to try out.



After class, it was still pretty early in the day, so we went and bought 20 bags of mulch to replenish our landscaping.  I was willing to buy bulk mulch, but it was the same price as buying the bags but further away, so we decided on the bags.

Before:

After:


While I was working on the mulch, Brian was finishing up the trailer rebuild.  He built sturdier sides and new latches for the back.  He also set up a tarp lean-to, to keep the rain from slowly destroying the trailer.



We finished out Saturday night watching Ryan Newman, #39, of Stewart (Tony)- Haas Racing, win at Phoenix.  Go #39!



Bright and early Sunday morning we drove to middle-of-nowhere Freeman, Missouri to pick up A LOT of free wood from Brian's co-worker.  I think this wood will last us several years of camping trips.  I'm glad I'm not the one who is going to be splitting all of it!



After unloading the wood, we went to Cripple Creek Rock Company to pick up a few stepping stones for our front landscaping.  This place was amazing!  They have competitive prices and a huge selection; we'll definitely be going back.



While I was setting the rocks in the landscaping Brian was cleaning up the grill and salvaging any parts to clean and put back in it.  We will be replacing pieces that have rusted and disintegrated due to lots of wear and tear over the last 7 years.



We would love to have a new grill, and definitely will someday, but the $700 price tag for the Weber that we want is not in the budget right now.  The $80 for replacement parts will get us by for the next couple of years at least, and our grill really is nice and has done a great job over the years.

Somewhere in this busy weekend we also found time to watch Inglourious Basterds and The Strangers.  Inglourious Basterds was good, but Oscar worthy?  I don't know.  Christoph Waltz and Brad Pitt were great.  The Strangers was intense, but like all horror movies, became unrealistic towards the end.

In just a couple of days we will be leaving for the first camping trip of the year- Texas Motor Speedway for a NASCAR race.  We'll be going with a group of people, so I think it is going to be fun to see what kind of trouble we can get into in Texas.



Stay tuned for a recap of our trip to Texas.

Mulch Madness!