When Scott and Jackie Dunkel left Millersville last weekend and headed south to New Orleans, two Super Bowl tickets in hand, they took all the comforts of home with them, including satellite TV, Internet hookups, a king-size bed and the kitchen sink.
Actually, these veteran recreational-vehicle road warriors didn't leave "home" at all — at least not their vacation home. They made the 1,000-mile jaunt in their 45-foot, 45,000-pound, seven-miles-per-gallon Holiday Rambler Navigator. It's nearly as long, sleek and imposing as a Greyhound luxury coach, and has more square feet of living space than your average vacation condo.
"It basically looks like a bus — it is a bus," said Scott Dunkel, 58, an independent sales consultant who scored Super Bowl tickets from a friend who won them in the Ravens' lottery but couldn't go.
"We've been RV-ing since 2004, and we love it," said Dunkel, who met and fell in love with Jackie back when they were in college. "We really enjoy having everything with us, and we really have met a lot of friendly, accommodating people who like to help you."
When they spoke from Louisiana by cellphone Wednesday, the two were still getting the lay of the land in Cajun country. Sporting matching Joe Flacco No. 5 Ravens jerseys and with their RV decked out in Ravens flags, they felt they were settling in nicely.
The couple set up camp just outside New Orleans, on a 10-acre farm belonging to some friends and fellow RV fans they met through the 50-year-old, 90,000-member Family Motor Coach Association,, an organization that helps RV enthusiasts organize trips and hook up with fellow motor home owners. The Dunkels previously hosted the friends at their home in Millersville.
"A while back, they parked their RV in our driveway … and stayed awhile when they were visiting their nephew, who is attending the U.S. Naval Academy," he said. "We gave them a 50-amp power hookup, and we went to the Navy game together.
"Right after the Ravens won the AFC championship game, we got a text from them inviting us to come down to Louisiana," he said.
"It's a beautiful, secluded area with lots of room for our RV," he said. "Our friends used to have horses and still have the barn, and they have a separate building that their motor home is in, and their own nice ranch-style house."
Dunkel said his Louisiana hosts had treated him and his wife to Cajun cuisine and were planning to show them around the outskirts of New Orleans.
For the Dunkels, the trip has been doubly exciting. The longtime Ravens season ticket holders have never spent much time in New Orleans, though they've traveled far and wide and attended RV rallies all around the eastern United States.
And though they've done their share of tailgating, this is their first time to a Super Bowl.
The game will no doubt be the highlight of their trip, but it's really just the first leg. After New Orleans, they will spend some time in Florida, then attend their son's wedding in Charleston, S.C.
As for the days leading up to the Super Bowl, Dunkel said pro-Ravens sentiments were running high in and around the Crescent City.
"There's a lot more Ravens fans down here, from what we hear," he said. "I've been watching the local television stations, and for whatever reason the local folks aren't big San Francisco fans.
"So it's going be probably 80 percent Ravens fans at the game," he said with no small amount of satisfaction. "When they play the national anthem, you'll probably here everyone yelling 'O's!' when they get to that part of the song.
"It's going to be something."