RV subculture brings temporary homes to the Plains
Cindy Thrash, owner of Cindy Cakes, stands under the shade of her canopy tent at University Station Motor Coach and RV Resort.
It's Friday, and like other home football game weekends, RVs have been piling onto University Station's more than 500 lots all week.
Near the entrance, pop-up tailgates and TVs tuned to ESPN are packed side by side.
Further into the park, past the golf cart traffic, RVs are parked on plots of land filled with trees, flowers and small wooden buildings.
One backyard has a small putting green, while a few spaces down the road, another has a full two-story, one spot RV parking garage.
The shadow of Thrash's tent provides a small amount of protection from Alabama's September heat for her; her father, Earl Willis; family friend, Bob Duke and the baked goods she is selling. Sept. 6 marked her second week at University Station, and the distinctive atmosphere is already obvious to her.
"It is really a tight-knit subculture here," Thrash said. "I saw someone at 6 a.m. planting new shrubs, and that's what they do, they make this a home."
The atmosphere isn't the same atmosphere of an average home. It is more like a community that fulfills all of the residents' needs without leaving the park.
On Thursday nights, University Station shows a movie. On Friday nights, a band will play, with dinner provided. On Saturdays, breakfast is served before the game. Before people leave their lots Sunday, a church service is held from 9-10 a.m.
Across Highway 14 at Auburn Legends Luxury RV Resort, owner Russ Hart said he built the park for the home atmosphere.
"I wanted some place that was kind of permanent," Hart said. "It's easy. You own your lot. It's like a second home. You just unpack your car, get your chairs out and you're good."
Hart's children went to Auburn, and he has spent the last 15 years bringing his RV to tailgate. He went from housing his RV on Wire Road to the hay field and then the old Alpha Psi house.
After Alpha Psi closed their house for its new location, he began to look for property to start his own RV resort.
In 2010 he built Auburn Legends with 67 spaces, a clubhouse and a pool.
The design reflects the comfort side of RV life, with full power and water, as well as Wi-Fi and grounds maintenance.
Four years later, the park is growing, and Hart sold four lots the Friday morning before the San Jose State football game.
When the lot owners come with their families for the weekend, the atmosphere is calm and family-oriented.
Hart said he believes the RV culture is only going to grow and is selling spots with the future in mind.
"With this park, we try to make something here that people will have for a long time," Hart said. "They will bring their children, and their children will have it and just keep going."