Super Bowl Adventure 2023 (Fly Eagle FLY!) And Much, Much More
Updated: Aug 15
As soon as the Eagles won the championship, I booked the tickets to Phoenix. No, we didn’t pay upwards of 10k dollars for Super Bowl tickets, but we were excited for our team and it was a great excuse to travel to the beautiful state of Arizona. The Super Bowl is held in Glendale, Arizona, and Glendale is a great central location. It is 4 hours to the Grand Canyon, 2 hours to Sedona, a few hours to amazing forests and desert parks, 2 hours to Tuscon and 1 hour to Scottsdale. Glendale is very residential, with lots of options for lodging. Scottsdale is another ideal location for a central location. I have stayed in Flagstaff before as well and that is ideal if you are visiting the Grand Canyon. Any of these cities will also have plenty of food options such as a variety of restaurants and grocery stores no matter your cost preferences.
I always use kiwi.com to book our tickets, and this app has only gotten better and better. The ability to search for flexible dates instead of specific dates is particularly helpful for frequent travelers that need to save on airfare, but have flexible timing. It books your tickets and checks you in and downloads your boarding passes. It gives you notifications if the flight is at all delayed.
The expenses of baggage is insane on flights, so we planned to pack only a personal size item. I packed only two outfits and wore most of it on the flight. I packed a boat load of cold and flu remedies, as I tend to get local bugs when I travel. I use True Botanica for my cold remedies. We bought the Tzowla laptop backpack on Amazon and we ordered two. This is the exact right size, ensuring that you would have no trouble getting it on the flight as a personal size.
We always use airbnb and I booked three different airbnbs that cost under $70 a night and ensured that we had access to a washer and dryer as we would be wearing the same clothes through the whole trip! I also located a nearby thrift store, in case we really needed extra clothes. As it was, I wore a sleeve-less t- shirt dress, with a loose fitting light weight sweatshirt over it and leggings, and I was good for the entire trip.
We arrived at our airbnb 3am, Arizona time. If you fly early to mid evening, you can get a decent sleep on the plane and then an additional nap when you arrive at your destination early morning.
Chris, actually was able to go right to sleep and wake up at first light, on his morning adventure to find sunrise. Upon arriving back to the Airbnb after exploring where the big game would be, Chris met our first airbnb canine host, while I slept in.
We had a decent diner style breakfast at The Cracked Egg the next morning. We like to find diners so we can sit at the counter and talk to the locals.
First day - After breakfast we went to the Tonto National Monument which was a good 2 hour drive. Most of the drive was through the Tonto National Forest, which was gorgeous. It is the most visited “urban” forest in the United States. If you have a long way to drive , make sure your scenery is worth the drive. We took such a long, meandering drive that by the time we arrived at the Tonto National Monument, the path to the monument was closed, but the visitor center was open. Tonto National Monument is the remains of a cliff dwelling of the Salado people in the 13th, 14th and 15th century. Isn’t it wild to think of people living in this country during the time of the Renaissance and the Hundreds Year War?
We also stopped by to view the beautiful Roosevelt Lake Bridge. It’s located along the Arizona trail. Roosevelt Lake is the largest lake or reservoir in the state of Arizona. The white Roosevelt Lake bridge is the longest two lane, single span, steel arch bridge in North America.
Flash flooding concerns are real in this part of the country, as we learned when we read about the Rawlings family that lost two children as they tried to cross a usually shallow Tonto Creek, at Bar X. Flash floods can happen in an instant because of the normally dry ground that acts as a slide of the water to come racing your way. So take no chances with crossing creeks in Arizona. Stay on the road! Pay attention to signs.
On the way back down, we stopped by a bar called Jake’s Corner, in Jake’s Corner. Jake’s is the kind of place summed up like this…While we are seated at the bar ordering 3$ tacos, a gentleman walked in and said to the lovely young bartender, “You over served me last week.” And she replied without a hitch, “You’re welcome.” We had a great time meeting the locals and getting the lay of the land. No better place to get ideas for places to visit than the local bar. Jake’s Corner was also setting of a movie, aptly named, “Jake’s Corner” in 2008 starring Richard Tyson and Diana Ladd.
To save money (and calories) we opted to do breakfast in the airbnb. All I needed was a rice cooker and a stop at the grocery store for steamed vegetables and hard boiled eggs. We bought a a cheap cooler sack to bring snacks and drinks and picked up tuna and granola to keep us mostly satisfied most of the day. Food budget can eat up vacation money real quick. An appetizer type dinner is plenty for eating out.
The next day we drove a bit more north to the Tonto Natural Bridge State Park. A natural bridge is just that. A natural way to get from one side of a waterway or cavern to the other. It resembles an arch. The Tonto Natural Bridge State Park has several hiking trails that are not long, but may be steep, some have steps. All views are gorgeous. So, it is an excellent choice for a good and hardy, scenic walk without worry. We couldn’t walk underneath the arch because of flooding concerns.
We decided to drive up the mountain on route 260 for more scenery and it did not disappoint. By the time we got back down the mountain were were starving and there didn’t seem to be that much open in the town of Camp Verde. We ended up at an Italian restaurant that served you several layers of silverware, cloth napkins and said, "Good evening, Sir.” It was pretty decent food and actually excellent wine. It was called Moscato and the staff was lovely, even though I am sure we looked a bit ragged. We shared the cheapest pasta dish on the menu and I enjoyed the expensive wine.
The third day we went to Lost Dutchman State Park. The lost dutchman was actually German and he wasn’t exactly lost. He went looking for a fabled mine and his partner was killed, by whom, we do not know, possibly by the real German “Dutchman” himself. The fabled mine and the mysterious death lends the name Superstition to the mountain and mountain range. The hiking path, called the Treasure Loop Trail from the visitor center to the mountain itself is about an hour and a half and an hour and a half back with a total of six miles round trip. This is a totally manageable hike for those that don’t hike that often. The view is spectacular, with the focal point of the mountain up ahead, at every step. It is slightly uphill for a healthy walk, but nothing too steep.
The Goldfield Ghost Town was a gold mining town in 1892 and was abandoned five years later when the gold was gone. In its heyday it had a population of 4,000. There were salons, shops, breweries, shops, a brothel and a school. Everything you might need in 1892! Today, it is a super cute tourist stop, perfect for a walk through, or longer if you have kids. We went back there for dinner as they had a saloon, so we thought it might be a cute place for dinner. We sat at the bar and ordered from the cowboy-like bartender. We took a look around and saw interesting signs that indicated the political climate of the area. There was no mistaking that the place was conservative leaning and liberal hating. Nevertheless, the burger was pretty good and we felt like we did the saloon thing.
We topped off the evening with a scooter ride through Phoenix and a stop at the Super Bowl Experience at the Convention Center. Scooters are fairly easy to operate and to ride and you get to your destination much quicker! The only issue with the scooter is that they are kind of “smart scooters". Sometimes it knows when you are riding where you shouldn’t. You’re supposed to ride them on the street, not the sidewalk, for example. If the gps system locates you in a place where you shouldn’t be, the scooter will stop working.
But it’s not hard to walk it to the place where you are supposed to be. Scooters are banned in some states because you are going at a speed faster than walking, but less than a car. So, as far as I can tell, they can be hazard on the sidewalk zipping past people and they can be a hazard on the road, as you are not able to move at the rate of a slow car. Regardless, be careful and watch where you are going. If you have a phone, all you have to do is use the QR code and a credit card, and voila! It’s pretty easy as long as you have a good phone, like everything else in life now requires a good phone.
The Super Bowl Experience is an interactive football festival for fans to participate in exhibits and games of all sorts. We were in Boston when the Eagles won the Super Bowl in 2017, and Chris went to the Philadelphia Super Bowl Parade and the conclusion is that the USA really loves their football. The Super Bowl ring here from the Philadelphia Eagles 2017 win has 219 diamonds and 17 green sapphires, representing the team's 2017 regular season and play off results.
The fourth day, we had to check out of our airbnb and then check into our next airbnb in Cottonwood. We spent the afternoon in Scottsdale, perusing the Super Bowl shenanigans and parties and meandering through the city. Old Town Scottsdale is where you want to be for maximum walkability and interest. Scottsdale is a few miles east of Phoenix and a great place to stay for maximum walkability. We went to a small history museum about Scottsdale and were were fascinated with the small town history. It always starts with a family, and this family was Winfield Scott, his wife Helen and their mule “Old Maud.
We had lunch at Cien Agaves Tacos and Tequila. There was a good crowd for pre celebrations for the Super Bowl. We found seats outside at a counter style bar.
We left early afternoon because we had to get to the next airbnb in Cottonwood before 7 or so before it gets dark since we were staying in a glamping style airbnb. There would be no lights as it is a “dark sky” neighborhood. This promised to be a beautiful night for star gazing.
Cottonwood is about two hours north of Scottsdale. It’s also much colder as it is higher in elevation. The drive was stunning. Arriving at the airbnb was even better. Gorgeous sunset view with no lights to distract from the view. It’s a tiny, well built structure in someone’s front yard complete with fire pit. It had a bench for optimum viewing of the valley. We soon met not just the owners but our neighbor on the property, someone in a tent with a dog. He was moving from Florida to Arizona and was on the hunt for a job and an apartment. Soon, the night sky was visible with an amazing unobstructed starlit view.
The next morning was 35 degrees, but the airbnb structure was warm. Having coffee on the tiny veranda with the amazing view made me want to travel 24/7. Our friendly neighbor and dog made the morning complete. The structure had a tiny rice cooker where I was able to steam some vegetables to go with my continental breakfast that we had bought the night before.
After enjoying the morning, we set out for our day and started at Montezuma Castle. Montezuma Castle is a well preserved dwelling built between 1100 and 1425 by the indigenous peoples of the southwestern United States. There is a short pleasant walk to the monument from the visitor center. There are volunteer guides at the monument to engage your imagination in how the indigenous people here lived their days. It is almost as if you can see the people living in the dwelling, as if they are living in a high rise apartment, and the path where you are standing, filled with crops.
Next, we went to Montezuma’s Well, which was about a half hour away. This park contained more trails to walk. Montezuma’s well is a large sink hole. At least five species are found exclusively here due to the unique composition. It was undrinkable, but it was used for irrigation. There are walking paths to view the ancient irrigation canals, with lots of information regarding the native American way of life in the form of guides and makers of plants.
Of course the use of the name “Montezuma” is a misnomer, having no connection to the Aztec Emperor, except in the imagination of the European discoverers.
Another sweet walk was Tuzigoot National Monument, a pueblo ruin that had you feeling like you were walking in their homes. It was surrounded by beautiful scenery that you never tire from.
On our way home to Cottonwood, we went through Jerome. Jerome was founded as a mining town in the late 1800's and closed in the 1950's. It somehow manages to maintain is western feel. Artists and writers turned the ghost town that Jerome had become into an enclave of creativity. Driving through it, you can see the rich history of mining along with gorgeous vistas and steep roads as it is built into the side of Cleopatra Hill, a 5,200 foot mountain. It's definitely worth a return trip.
Getting home, the scenery didn't stop. We built a fire in the firepit with our tenting neighbor and enjoyed the outdoors.
And said goodbye to Nate and Leela the next morning.
The 2023 Super Bowl was played at State Farm Stadium in
There is a large entertainment complex right outside the stadium. It’s called Westgate entertainment complex and it was filled with fans. There are lots of restaurants and food shops around the center. I am sure that when it is not the Super Bowl that you could get a seat at any of the restaurants around there, but on this day, of course, they were all booked up with outrageous prices for the excited fans. The spread of food from what we could see, looked amazing, but at 250$ a person, we were satisfied with hanging outside with of all the various people that had come to see what’s going on, and we made all kinds of new friends.
We found a little coffee shop called Yummy Yummy in the Westgate complex which had really good food with normal prices.
We watched the actual Super Bowl at Dave and Buster’s, which had really good food. It was a phenomenal game and it could only have been better or more fun if we had won. As it was, Kansas City Chiefs won and the fans were happy… there was closure, after a friendly competitive spirit between the two fan bases.
We checked into our next airbnb, with a new canine companion, who we promptly needed to give a treat. The next morning we set out for Saguaro National Forest near Tuscon in the Sonoran desert. First, we went to the museum and read all about the National Forest. It was raining off and on, but when it stopped we were able to walk around outside for a bit. Central to the appeal of this park is the Saguaro cactus. The saguaro cactus can grow to over 40 feet tall! Since it was raining, most of our tour was from the car. The landscape of the land of cacti is the kind of landscape that you just can’t stop looking at. Driving past the cacti gives you the feeling that you are passing by hundreds of people, waving their arms, or raising them in salute, or animatedly talking to each other, amidst the backdrop of the desert horizon.
We wanted to hop down to Tuscon, just to say we were there, as the weather wasn’t conducive to a full exploration. We looked up a bar restaurant in the area and decided on Brodie’s Dark Horse Tavern. It was a colorful, rainbow laden bar featuring wings and fries. We weren’t aware that this was a gay bar, but as a straight couple, we couldn’t have felt more comfortable and welcome.
Our last day we went to the Capitol building in Phoenix. Arizona became a state in 1912, and as the new government expanded, offices were relocated to adjacent buildings and additions, so the 1901 portion is allocated to the Arizona State Museum. We really like history and, especially local history, so we enjoyed this museum. They had exhibits on the Buffalo Soldiers, the Iron Riders and the Rough Riders. The Buffalo Soldiers were African American soldiers that were sent to fight the Native Americans in the Wars of the Frontier. They were known to be unusually brave and dedicated. Many of them went on to be protectors of the National Parks. The Iron Riders had a much more palatable job, they were African Americans who rode bikes 1,900 miles from Fort Missoula, Montana to St Louis Missouri to see how effective it would be to move troops by bicycle. The Rough Riders were comprised of a variety of men from the New Mexico territory, the Arizona territory and the Oklahoma territory sent into combat in the Spanish American War. . Theodore Roosevelt was a colonel in the Rough Riders. Though we might question the morality of the wars, or any wars, these men deserve admiration for the fortitude to do what they were told was right.
They also had an exhibit on the Arizona Ship, which was a battleship hit by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. It lies at the bottom of Pearl Harbor.
Martin Luther King Jr was the center of some of the exhibits because on March 19, 1993, NFL owners voted to remove the Super Bowl from Phoenix after Arizona voters failed to make Martin Luther King Jr Day a recognized holiday. It wasn’t the first time that Arizona voted to not make Martin Luther King Jr Day a holiday. In addition, there are exhibits about the making of the frontier into what it is today and the establishment of the National Parks.
We had to be at the airport by 6pm for our 8pm flight, and we had to return the rental car by Turo, so we had to clean out the car and dump all of the food that we had leftover. We pulled over to a convenience store and immediately, 2 people asked me for spare change. We didn’t realize that we were in an economically disadvantaged area, but we then gave all of our food to the people in need. When we left we looked on a map describing neighborhoods, and we realized that we had stumbled upon a part of Phoenix that has quite a bad reputation, though I felt perfectly safe and respected by those we encountered. Even though all was well, it is a reminder to be aware of where you are and where you are heading.
We opted to use the rental car app Turo due to the wild and wildly unpredictable rates on conventional rental cars. We used the app to find our preferred car and mileage allowances and price and picked up our car from a very friendly guy that makes part of his income through rental cars. I really like the idea of supporting small businesses and businesses utilizing the sharing economy. Other than needing to take pictures of the car, it was a really easy transaction and returning it was just as easy. As we waited for our Lyft to take us from the rental car home to the airport, we chatted with the car owner. We flew into Las Vegas from Phoenix and then had to wait until midnight to get on our plane, It wasn’t super comfortable waiting in the airport, as it was so late, but, then it was easy to fall asleep on the plane. We then flew straight to Washington DC and landed at 9 in the morning. Then we took a bus into Baltimore and waited in the train station for a bus that will take us back to Philadelphia. Once we were in Philadelphia, we had to take a few busses to get close to our car. Though, it was an adventure, next time I would find a direct flight to Philadelphia, or stay a night or two in either Baltimore or Washington DC, depending on which airport you fly into and I might also consider driving to Las Vegas, if you can get a good rate on a rental car.
To sum it all up
Here are the places we visited
• Tonto National Monument
• Tonto Natural Bridge
• Lost Dutchman State Park
• Montezuma’s Castle and Montezuma’s Well
• Saguara National Forest
• Capitol building and Capital museum.
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