. A Fiesta Bowl and a perfect ending to a travel journey : Budget Travel Adventures

A Fiesta Bowl and a perfect ending to a travel journey

Camelback Mountain Phoenix Fiesta BowlI could see death lingering just over the edge a few hundred feet below.  Sweat poured from my brow and my heart raced with every step.

Over the years, more than a few had died here.  Many others needed to be rescued, suffered from heat exhaustion, or weren’t fit enough to finish the journey.

As I looked behind me, I saw the place where I started.  There were more rocks to scale but I had made it.  This was the end of my journey.  It had been a long, tough climb.

The views were spectacular from the top of Camelback Mountain.  After 5 months on the road, the College Football Travel Tour journey had come to an end – a Fiesta Bowl and a perfect ending to an incredible season.

A Fiesta Bowl with passionate football fans

Fiesta Bowl kickoffWith warm weather, sunshine, and plenty of outdoor activities, Phoenix is one of the best places to spend some time in January.

While Phoenix is a city of locals, transplants, college students, and visitors, thousands of college football fans from Oregon and Kansas came to town.  Downtown Phoenix, the nightlife in Scottsdale, and a festive Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, fans were everywhere.

The Fiesta Bowl was truly a party with two great football teams battling it out in the desert for the new year.  While Oregon overcame a sluggish first half, they pulled away from Kansas State and won 35-17.

Yet the game itself wasn’t the highlight.  Like every game I attended this year, this was about the fans.

Kansas State fans were everywhere!

I met a few Oregon fans when I was tailgating at Oregon State for the Civil War.  However, I had no idea Kansas State fans were so passionate and supportive of their team.  Nearly 40,000 fans showed up in Arizona, packed the stadium, and enjoyed the nightlife and the outdoors.

Fans filled the parking lot of the University of Phoenix stadium before the game.  Miles from home, this didn’t stop them from enjoying the tailgating experience.  Games, drinks, food, purple, green and gold were everywhere.

While a drunk man passed out in a women’s bathroom and two Kansas State fans were hit by a drunk driver, I only experienced the positive side of the Fiesta Bowl experience with Oregon and Kansas State fans.

On top of Camelback Mountain, I talked to a couple of Kansas State students who made the long road trip leaving behind the cold and snow for the sunshine and warm(er) weather of Arizona.

On the streets of Scottsdale, the music grooved and the drinks flowed as college football fans celebrated the excitement of the Fiesta Bowl and drowned their sorrows.  Walking into a crowded bar, I quickly made acquaintances with a number of Kansas State and Oregon fans.

From golf to football to hiking, the Fiesta Bowl with Kansas State and Oregon football fans was the best way to end the season.  A few photos from the Fiesta Bowl don’t capture the true experience.  However, the conversations, the people, and the connections are what the sports and travel experience is all about.

The end of the season, the beginning of a new year

Aviva Stadium Notre Dame Navy football Emerald Isle Classic

I’ve been on quite a journey since the first game in Dublin

Standing at the top of Camelback Mountain, I could look back on all that I accomplished.  The journey was over and it was a long, tough climb.

There were times I almost turned around.  There were some slips, falls, and close calls.  In Miami, I almost quit traveling.

There were the highs like hanging out with the Irish people in Dublin and goose bumps at the Air Force Academy.  The middle of the season was the hardest part – struggling to make it to the next point without giving up.

The season finished strong with the best trips of the year to LSU, Oregon State, and the Fiesta Bowl.  As strange it may seem, the Expedia College Football Travel Tour wasn’t about the football games.  The people, the highs and lows, and the experiences are what I will remember.

Even with a series about college football and travel, the most important lesson I’ll take from this series is my own personal travel quote I learned a long time ago – travel is about the journey, not the destination (or even the football game).

Oregon Ducks tailgating Fiesta Bowl

Oregon Ducks tailgating

Oregon Ducks tailgating Fiesta Bowl

Duck fans everywhere!

colorful Oregon Ducks fans Fiesta Bowl

colorful Duck fans!

Oregon Duck flags Fiesta Bowl

Oregon Duck flags

Kansas State fans tailgating Fiesta Bowl

Kansas State fans tailgating

Kansas State fans tailgating Fiesta Bowl

LOTS of Kansas State fans

Kansas State fans tailgating Fiesta Bowl

40,000 of them!

ESPN College Gameday Rece Davis Lou Holtz Mark May Fiesta Bowl

ESPN’s College Gameday at the Fiesta Bowl

Oregon Ducks pregame Fiesta Bowl

Oregon Ducks ready for kickoff

Kansas State football team Fiesta Bowl

Kansas State football team runs onto the field

Kansas State field goal Fiesta Bowl

A Kansas State field goal

Kansas State football QB Colin Klein Fiesta Bowl

Kansas State QB Colin Klein and the Wildcats offense

Oregon Ducks offense Marcus Mariotta Kenjon Barner

The highly offensive Oregon Ducks with the ball

Kansas State QB Colin Klein Oregon defense

Kansas State QB Colin Klein attempts a pass

Oregon Ducks cheerleaders

Oregon Ducks cheerleaders

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Filed Under: College Football Travel TourFeaturedKansas State UniversityUniversity of Oregon


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  1. Tanya says:

    My family and I go up to Phoenix all the time. Its nice to get out of town even if its only an hour and a half drive. We live in Tucson so its not too far. Ive never hiked there yet but I’ve heard its a tough one.

    • When I got to Phoenix, I didn’t realize Tucson was so close. I’ve never been there so I will have to get down there and visit the University of Arizona. Lots of great hiking in the area. However, I am sure it is a very different experience in the heat of summer!

      Any other places or hikes that you would recommend?

  2. The Fiesta Bowl reached its Zenith in 1998 when Tennessee beat Florida State to win the BCS Championship. The game and bowl has gone downhill ever since. I am surprised to see they are still playing it.

  3. Michelle says:

    I am so jealous of your College Football Tour. As a huge college football fan, this is right up my alley–travel and football. Alas, I missed almost all of the bowls this year because I was out of the US. [It’s OK, my team didn’t make it to a bowl so I wasn’t missing anything crucial]

    • I had a lot of fun doing the tour this year. Beginning of the season and end of the season were definitely the highlights for me. One of the best bowls of the season, the Outback Bowl, included my team (South Carolina) so that was a great game to watch. Who is your team?

      • Michelle says:

        My first footabll game was Tennessee vs Alabama when I was 8 years old at Neyland STadium. I have been a Volunteer ever since. Carolina is my #2 team and I alway cheer for them except when they are playing Tennessee.

        • That was definitely a big rivalry! Tennessee has gone down since then (sorry if that hits a little close to home) but Alabama is stronger than ever. For me, South Carolina/Clemson was my rivalry. Outside of Auburn/Alabama, it is probably the most hated in state rivalry in the country (as you probably know). I love college football season. And while I miss it now, Fall will be here again soon!

          Go Gamecocks! :)

  4. Zubi Travel says:

    The stadium looks really nice and I bet it was a great crowd there, even an European like me would have enjoyed such a spectacle.

    • As an American, I love European football so maybe we should trade places. I’ve seen Barcelona play at the Camp Nou and watch games and highlights every weekend. I am a big fan of your football too! :)

  5. The Guy says:

    Some great action photos there.
    I’ve only ever been to pro-NFL games but many Americans tell me they prefer the college version of the game. Your post clearly demonstrates the passion that many have for that level of the game.

    • NFL football is played at more an elite level. They are bigger, stronger, and faster. However, college football has more passion – especially in the South. There’s something about being on a college campus that stirs raises the energy level. Many of the people that go to the games grew up rooting for those teams or invested 4 years or more of their lives there. When rooting for a team was a big part of your life, you are that much more exciting. Tailgating is a cultural event and so much fun.

      Definitely check out a college game if you get the chance. If you’re in the States in the Fall, let me know where and I can recommend a game!

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