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Road Games Travel Tips: Resort to the southwest sizzle

Week 4: Seattle at Arizona, Sept. 30, 1:05 p.m. Pacific

SPONSORED – Arizona always felt like spring break to me.

That’s because one of my college roommates is from Scottsdale, Ariz., and later moved back, which meant just about every trip I’ve taken there is tinged with that special sort of gluttony that college guys are known for.

Whether it was a visit for spring training or a trip to brighten up the winter, my recipe for Arizona tended to start with 10 solid hours roasting in the Arizona sun before we’d turn ourselves loose on the outdoor patios at places with names like Dos Gringos, which is actually the name where I’ve spent at least three too many afternoons.

It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I found out relaxing, how restorative, a vacation in the desert could be. It was January 2016, my wife was in her first year of graduate school and Seattle was playing its final regular-season game of the year.

We flew down to Phoenix over New Years and spent three nights at the Camelback Inn. It’s a beautiful resort with a spa and close to several great hikes through the desert, and for the first time I felt like I really understood why people spend entire winters there. It’s dry. It’s warm. It has its own type of barren beauty.

And for years, Arizona has served as a home away from home for many Seattle fans, who get a break from not only the Northwest weather, but the Seattle ticket prices.

In fact, it was Arizona where Seattle’s fans made a national reputation. This was back in 2013 and Seattle was approaching the midpoint of a championship season and beat Arizona on a Thursday night, and Seattle fans gathered around the set for the network’s football telecast and chanted. And chanted.

Five years later, Seattle fans haven’t stopped coming to Arizona, and for good reason. It’s a great place to rest up and then revel in some football.

Arrival: Alaska has six flights daily from Sea-Tac to Sky Harbor Airport except on Mondays when it has six. The Phoenix airport is just south and east of downtown Phoenix.

Stadium: The stadium is in Glendale, which is kind of like a Seattle team playing its home games in Tacoma. There’s a great entertainment development right next to the stadium once you get there, but it won’t ever be mistaken for being in downtown Phoenix. Then again, given the sleepy nature of downtown Phoenix, that’s not a terrible thing. If you want to walk to the game, there’s a Renaissance Hotel next to the stadium. But if you really want to get the allure of the desert, choose one of the spas located in the surrounding area. The Camelback Inn is spendy, but worth it. If you’re looking for more nightlife, Scottsdale is your best bet while the more adventurous could consider a trip to Sedona.

Last time here: Nov. 9, 2017. Seattle 22, Arizona 16. Seattle hasn’t lost at Arizona since 2012, which was Russell Wilson’s first regular-season game with Seattle. There was a 6-6 tie mixed in there, but the desert has been downright hospitable for Seattle recently.

Dining: Carolina’s (1202 East Mojave Street, Phoenix, 602.252.1503) is my favorite place for tacos. It’s more like a cafeteria than a restaurant, located near the airport with homemade tortillas. Tacos Chiwas (1923 East McDowell Road., Phoenix, 602.358.8830) is equally fantastic. Don & Charlies is a classic steakhouse, and before you sneer at that, remember how many from the Midwest spend their winters here. It’s great. (7501 East Camelback Road, Scottsdale, 480.990.0900).