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Road Games Travel Tips: Getaway to the desert sun

Week 4, Sept. 29: Seattle at Arizona Cardinals, University of Phoenix Stadium, 1 p.m. Pacific

SPONSORED – I’ve attended two weddings in Arizona and gone to watch Seattle’s spring training half a dozen times, but it’s one coming-out party that sticks out most prominently in my memory.

This was the site that Seattle’s traveling contingent truly announced itself.

It was a Thursday night in 2013, the NFL Network stage was set up on the field and Seattle’s fans were there demanding to be heard after a 34-22 victory over Arizona.

Seattle hasn’t lost in the desert since, but that shouldn’t be surprising. Plenty of people from the Northwest find a second home down in Arizona.

There’s also a practical advantage, too. Tickets can be more affordable in Arizona than they are in Seattle and the sheer number of flights from Alaska to Arizona makes it a relatively easy road trip.

And for years, Arizona wasn’t an escape so much as an outlet. An opportunity to soak up some sun and stay with one of my college roommates, who grew up in Scottsdale, Ariz., before coming to Washington for college.

That changed a couple of years ago when I found out the desert can be restorative, too. This was something I learned for the first time in 2016 when my wife was in her first year of graduate school and I arranged a New Year’s trip to a spa in the mountains.

I’d never thought of the desert as being beautiful, but I did after that trip. It was peaceful. It was quiet. It was sunny, and by the time we returned to Seattle I felt a calmness that I did not possess when we left.

It was quite a change from my usual trip to Arizona, which was usually focused on an event. It was fun just to be in the desert, and I understood why so many people from the Northwest go back. Often.

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. 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: Sept. 30, 2018. Seattle 20, Arizona 17. 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, going 7-0-1 in those last eight meetings.

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).