|11/11/2021 – 11/16/2021
|University of Arizona
|#24 Utah Utes
Pre-game Record: 6-3
Pre-game Record: 1-8
|Game Time (ET)
|2:00 PM Eastern (12:00 local)
|81 & Sunny
|Jarrett, Al, & Debra
(37 and 18 record)
(31 and 24 record)
|Pac 12 Network
|Length of Game
|15 Yard Line, Second Deck (we found shade)
|Click here for the Arizona Photo Album
Our trip to the University of Arizona is a little different than our usual trip. We decided to extend this trip and play a few rounds of golf in Scottsdale. Al & Debra decided to extend the trip even further and take a spa retreat for a few extra days. But this would not be a silent one. Thank Baby Jesus.
Anyway, due to the long distance travel, our departure was on Thursday evening, a 7pm flight from JFK to Phoenix. After leaving plenty of time for traffic, long snarls checking my golf clubs, and security, I managed to have no issues, except for the car magnets that I have traveled with forever being flagged by security for further scrutiny. I was on the other side of security with plenty of time to spare. I really need to stop getting to the airport so early. But I do HATE airport stress, so it is a tradeoff. JFK terminal 4 is a place that I have lounge access, so all was not lost. I was able to overhear a very curious conversation between two people that had never met before and I managed to have very different perceptions of the people who were speaking. I will just keep that to myself.
After killing time in the lounge and Al & Debra showing up with much better timing than I, we board the plane for the somewhat lengthy flight to Phoenix.
Upon arrival in Phoenix, we picked up our bags and golf clubs at baggage claim, which were already on the belt by the time we got there. Then we headed to the shuttle bus to the rental car center, which certainly seemed quite a distance away.
Now a note about the car that was rented on this trip. I had managed to secure a car with Hertz but due to flight changes on Delta, our flight was scheduled to arrive at 10:40pm. Hertz at this location, is not a 24 hour operation and closes at…you guessed it 11pm. Now, I knew the odds of us landing, getting our bags, and taking the shuttle to the counter and arriving before 11 were essentially zero. But Hertz could not give me any confidence that if I kept our reservation, someone would stay and be there for us to get our car. Given that we had a 90 minute drive ahead of us, Hertz closing would be a problem. Now, ever since Hertz emerged from bankruptcy, they have been great to rent from. But they really dropped the ball here. So I had to reserve a car at Alamo for over $100 more since they are open 24 hours. Seemed like a wise choice since the Hertz counter was deserted when we got to the rental car center.
Now onto Alamo. Alamo’s online presence is not great. The bypass counter options are somewhat weak. But Phoenix is one of the few locations with that as an option. So I checked in online. I selected bypass the counter. But I had the option to add Al as a driver on this reservation, which I wanted to do. That can’t be done without stopping by the counter. Why? I called and was told anytime you add a second driver, you must stop by the counter. Why? I entered all of Al’s drivers license info online. They have everything they need. This should be completely unnecessary. So we had to wait in line for no reason. This is a general problem with Alamo, waiting in line for no reason.
We got the car and headed out on the 90 minute drive to Tucson. In case you are wondering, there is nothing between Phoenix and Tucson. Even at midnight, we could tell there was nothing out there but a boring drive. We did learn that Arizona does have In-N-Out Burger. But we would not make it there this trip. I was not happy about this.
We finally made it to the hotel after a long evening of travel.
University of Arizona
Friday morning came and after a hotel breakfast of waffles and other vaguely edible faux continental “stuff”, we headed out to see the University of Arizona.
First stop, the bookstore, as usual. The bookstore was large but seemed to have very little of the normal offerings. But we each managed to find our usual type shirts, including Debra. I guess she has been on enough Quest trips to have a usual.
After the bookstore we headed out to the McKale Center, home to Arizona basketball. A bit of backstory here. Al had reached out to Arizona officials as we usually do, and we heard nothing back. Something that seems to be increasing in frequency. So we saw that they offered public tours leaving from the Hall of Champions. We figured we would pop in and see if they were still doing these tours. When doing so, it turns out that they had seen Al’s email, so we were able to guilt them into giving us a quick tour around. As an aside, Al concurs that a different strategy is needed next year when reaching out to the schools with an earlier time frame. We shall see if that helps.
So Andrew gave us a tour of the Wildcat facilities. The focus of the tour was the swimming facility, the football field, and the McKale Center along with the Hall of Champions. Thanks Andrew for the impromptu tour and showing us around a bit.
After the tour, we purchased our tickets to the Friday basketball game and the Saturday football game. The basketball game cost twice as much as the football game. That should give you a sense of where we were, the priorities, and what really brings in the cash.
After that, it was time for lunch. Luckily for us, we found a great Arizona school sign on the way and were able to get our usual sign pic taken care of. Normally we forget and have to do this on Sunday morning at the last minute. Andrew had recommended Cheba Hut and that is where we went. It was quite good. I always love when the sandwich is toasted.
After lunch, we wandered around the Arizona campus a bit more. There were a lot of cacti, as you would expect. We also passed by the Wild World of Bugs. I would not describe that as Haley’s happy place. I believe she said “That looks like a nightmare”.
After sufficient time had passed such that we could rationalize it, we had ice cream at The Scoop, which was at the Union in the center of campus. Al rates it up there just behind Penn State and ahead of Wisconsin.
We then headed back to the hotel for some rest from all the walking in the dry heat, which is definitely a thing. I will take 100 in Arizona versus 85 in NYC in the summer any day of the year.
Arizona Wildcats Basketball
At some point it became time to head out to the basketball game. The Arizona Wildcats were taking on the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Yes, that is a mouthful. Thankfully, it is shortened to UTRGV, which is not much better. The final score was 104-50. Arizona is going to be good this year and I am not going off this game to say that. We did not stay until the end, because we needed to leave in order to make it to Mama’s Pizza before it closed.
I am going to let Al tell this story because I can’t quite do this story any justice whatsoever. Mainly because in my mind, we had to go to this place because Al knew the owner when he grew up in West Hempstead, NY. Not because it’s good but because he knew the owner, who would not be there when we went. And the reason he opened it was so that he could bring NY style pizza to Tucson. We live in NY so we don’t need that. But we had to go, so we went.
All I can say is…”It was something”. The fountain was something.
I will let Al say what he wants to say. Debra and I were good sports but we definitely exchanged a lot of looks, mainly, why the hell are we here? Al is treading dangerously close to Target territory with this one. Beth found this particularly funny.
All I (Al) will say is we often tread dangerously close to not finding food after 10PM in many cities, as places close??? Who closes??? So although this has some backstory, all of which isn’t too important as the family barely runs the business anymore, the important thing was we ate.
Saturday morning was a relatively early wake up as kickoff was at noon local time. Of course that meant that ESPN college game day and football started very early as we were in the Mountain time zone. Although the way Arizona does daylight savings time, you can never be sure what time it is there and which time zone you are really in. So the fact that I was unable to sleep was not that big a deal as there was football stuff to watch beginning very early.
After another hotel breakfast, we headed out for the pre game festivities.
Upon arrival on campus and after finding a free place to park, we wandered around a bit. Lo and behold (I have been waiting to put that expression into print), we stumbled right into the middle of the CatWalk, or whatever Arizona calls when the football team walks from the bus into the stadium. I assume it is called CatWalk, but I am really just guessing. And when I say we stumbled into it, I mean that literally. We turned a corner and then we were right on the rope line. There were more cheerleaders and band members than fans, but it was fun. And thanks to all those who tuned in to Al’s live stream of it…Jake. My takeaway was that the Arizona team seemed small and I do not mean in physical size, I mean in physical numbers. A home team should be about 100. This team seemed about 50. Does Al still have eligibility?
After watching that, we wandered the tailgating and other festivities. There was a nice area in the center of campus that had a significant number of tents set up. The alumni band was out playing trying to raise money for who knows what. We walked past the tennis complex which had great views of the mountains. Ultimately we found our way inside the indoor football practice facility which doubled as a tailgating facility. It was mostly empty but did provide some respite from the increasing heat. This would be a great place to hang out if the game was a bit later in the day.
Eventually it came time for us to find our way inside for the game. A noon kickoff does not leave much time for pre-game. We found our assigned seats, but quickly realized they were going to be in the sun all day. So we found some more acceptable seats one level lower with some shade underneath the upper deck. We were not the only ones with this idea.
This game did not seem like it was going to be a close one at first glance. Utah entered as #24 at 6-3 and was facing a 1-8 Arizona Wildcat team that had it’s only win the week before in a 10-3 game against Cal in which Cal was decimated by illness in a game that most likely should have been postponed. But this turned out to be a look ahead situation for Utah who had Oregon the following week.
The 1H was a back and forth affair. Utah took the opening kick 9 plays and 75 yards for an opening TD and a 7-0 lead. Arizona answered right back on a Will Plummer 43 yard rush on 4th down for a game tying TD. After a Utah punt, Arizona took the lead on a 10 play drive at 14-7. Utah responded, tying the game at 14. After an Arizona field goal, Utah closed the half with a go ahead TD, to lead 21-17 at the half.
Arizona opened the 2H with a field goal, to get within a point at 21-20. Utah responded with a field goal and after an Arizona punt, Utah finally got some breathing room with a 6 play drive for a TD and a 31-20 lead.
Arizona would make it interesting in the 4Q though. The Wildcats opened the quarter with a FG to close to 31-23. Arizona then blocked a Utah punt and it was returned for a TD. The two point conversion failed and the gap was now 31-29. Utah’s offense then took control of the game, going on a 15 play, 75 yard drive that took over 8 minutes leading to a TD and a 38-29 lead, which is how the game would end.
In the most important part of the game, the sun did not find its way to our seats until early in the 4th quarter. So we were able to stay in the shade for three quarters. This was crucial as it was very hot with a noon kick. Good thing we found those seats under the upper deck. It was quite funny to see the fans congregate in the seats under cover and migrate as the sun moved.
Another note…I am not sure if it is all Utah fans or just the ones near us, but Utah fans are very annoying. They are rude and try to sound like they know what they are talking about but actually don’t. Al already did not want to go to games in Utah and this is not going to help at all. Please send all mail to Al at XXXX@XXXX.XXX. I certainly hope that this was just the fans around us and not all Utah fans generally, because these fans near us needed to be slapped upside the head.
Last game note, the snack options at Wildcat Stadium are severely lacking. And the ones that were there, weren’t good.
After the game, we headed back to the hotel for a bit of rest before heading out for dinner.
Debra was responsible for all dinner choices and reservations on this trip. I do not know how that happened and if this was a role she seized or was defaulted to, but that is what happened. I was not privy to those conversations and if Mama’s Pizza is any indication, I am just thankful it happened. This is a role that can be fraught with danger or an opportunity to be seized. Go for it Debra.
In any event, Saturday’s choice was Wild Garlic Grill in the foothills section of Tucson, whatever the foothills section is. All I know is that it was 25 minutes away from the hotel. Who knew Tucson was that big. And after driving there, I can say the foothills are very nice, have some very expensive homes, and that Debra and Al should be looking for a house there. Right away. It is quite nice.
Back to dinner. We were seated on the patio as the temp had cooled down quite nicely. The menu had a lot to choose from as well as the 97 specials of the day, at least for Al and I, as neither of us could choose. The restaurant thought they were out of the only dish Debra could eat and that she was looking forward to, but it was a false alarm as they sent someone to Whole Foods to pick up what they needed. Al left his dinner to chance and had no idea what he ordered. I went with the Caprese Salad appetizer, a non traditional version as it was more of a typical salad. For a main course, I bypassed the duck dish and the lamb shank dish and went with a crabmeat stuffed salmon special. It was very good, but I can not help thinking I would have been better off with one of the meat dishes. But we were headed to a steakhouse another night and I wanted to be “good” and have a fish dish, plus it was a special. Oh well. I made up for it by having pecan pie with pecan ice cream for dessert.
Ok Debra. You are 1 for 1, as this was a very good choice. Not that I am keeping score, but you know that I am.
After dinner we walked around the plaza that the restaurant was in, mainly because it was on the way to the car. So this plaza is one stop shopping for Al & Debra’s move to the foothills; it has a real estate broker, a kitchen remodeler, rug dealer, a place to pick up some underwear, and a plastic surgeon. If that lineup does not scream high end, I do not know what does.
Normally, this is where the trip report would tell of our travels back home or some random thing that we do before we head back home. But as I indicated in the beginning of this trip report, this was an extended trip. So instead of heading home, this Sunday morning we arose and headed out to The Boulders Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, just a short 2 hour drive from Tucson. But as we planned this well, Scottsdale and Phoenix are very close and we flew in and out of Phoenix. That is called smart planning. Kudos to those brilliant folks at Quest headquarters.
After the two hour drive, we were able to definitively confirm that there is absolutely nothing between Tucson and Phoenix. Doing the drive during the day, we saw only marginally more than we did doing it in the dead of night. Lots of cacti, desert, hills, mountains, and rocks, some of which form some very nice configurations.
Anyway, we arrived at The Boulders, checked in, and dropped our stuff at the villa that Al & Debra had reserved. Then we headed out for lunch. We were under a bit of a deadline as Al and I had a tee time reserved.
Lunch was at The Grill which was overlooking the golf course. After a most excellent club sandwich, Al and I headed to the golf course and Debra headed to the Spa.
Golf – The Boulders South Course
Al and I checked in and were assigned to our 1:10 tee time on the South course. After warming up a bit we headed out. I will not bore you all with the details of our round. I will generically say that Al played better than I did on this trip. After being convinced by the starter to play the Blue/White combo tees, Al shot an 86 and I had a 100. The course was very nice with excellent scenery, and no not that kind. There are some great pictures in the photo gallery of our golf adventures.
In terms of critters this round, we did not see any rattlesnakes. But we did see a bobcat and a herd of javelinas. One javelina even picked up my ball before deciding it was not to his liking and put it down. The next shot, I will admit, was one eye on the ball and one eye on the javelinas. Good thing I did not learn until the next day that these can be very aggressive animals. In case you are not familiar, javelinas look like wild pigs. But they are not in the pig family, not that it matters in the least.
I will sum up by saying, nice golf course, poor golf. I was disappointed that I played so poorly and lost so many balls. I did not go looking for many balls if it was not on the green stuff. A $3 ball is not worth coming face to anything with a rattlesnake, but it would have been better to hit the ball straighter. It did not help that we were not familiar with the course.
The only other thing I will add is that this round took much longer than it should have. There was no reason that teeing off at 1:10, we should not have been able to finish. I did not play the 18th and Al did but I do not know how he was able to see his ball. This was definitely a 4:45 pace which was too long.
Debra’s dinner choice for Sunday night was Spotted Donkey Cantina, a restaurant on property at The Boulders. It was another good choice as Debra upped her hit rate to 2 for 2. After closing down the place at I think 9pm, we headed to the Discovery Lounge. After a few drinks there, the last call was at what seemed like 10pm. It is Sunday, but it’s a resort, so I am not sure what is up with that.
Anyway, back to the villa for some sleep. Al & I had a tee time in the morning and I was playing 36 so I needed some rest.
On Monday morning Al and I headed out for a morning tee time at Troon North. It was an 8:05 tee off as I had to be done in time to grab some lunch before my afternoon round. It was a short 15 minute drive from The Boulders to Troon. After grabbing a quick breakfast at the snack stand, we headed out on the morning round on the Pinnacle course.
Unfortunately for me, it was much the same as yesterday. The round started with a quadruple bogey and did not improve much leading to a 102. Al had another 86. It was yet another round with lost balls and lots of desert. The course was fantastic. I would say a nicer course than the Boulders and with a better pace.
After finishing 18, Al headed out back to The Boulders to spend the afternoon being a good husband and spending time with Debra. I played so well in the morning that I contemplated not bothering with the afternoon round. But what else was I going to do? Certainly not lay by a pool as that is just not me. After grabbing some lunch, I headed off to the Monument course for my second 18.
I was paired with a couple that lived at Troon. It was an enjoyable round, not the least of which was because I finally played better shooting an 89 and not carding anything over a double bogey. Not great, but not as horrible as I had been playing. The couple I played with had some great stories including telling me about a house on one of the holes that became infested with rattlesnakes when the owners went away for a few months. I inquired as to how one stops something like that from happening if you live in Arizona and got a lesson on critter walls and the businesses that rattlesnake proof houses. I think I became cured of my desire to live in Arizona. They also are the ones who informed me of just how aggressive javelinas can be, especially if there is a baby in the group. I am glad I did not know that the day before. The couple departed on the 13th hole in order to make it home in time to prepare for a big pickleball tournament they had that night. So I played the last 5 holes by myself. I still had a group in front of me so it was not quick, but I enjoyed it. However, if it did get attacked by a critter, I was going to die, as no one was going to be able to call and get me help as we had not seen the group behind us in hours.
I will say that the Monument course was the nicest of the three courses that I played in Arizona and it was not because I played the best. I think it had the best scenery and the most character. And the fact that I did not get stuck behind the huge boulders in the fairway did not hurt.
After golf, I headed back to The Boulders for the last of the dinner plans that Debra had made, at least that I was involved in.
Monday’s dinner reservation was at Bourbon Steak located at the Scottsdale Princess. After the 20 minute drive to the Scottsdale Princess, we were transported to a winter wonderland, as the Scottsdale Princess was very heavily decorated for Christmas. Heavily! It’s not even Thanksgiving yet.
We were seated at Bourbon Steak. I had steak. Al had steak with a trio of sauces. Debra had a side dish medley, I think. It was very good. It is not going to crack into the top 5 of Quest steakhouses, but it was very good. I would say that Debra was a solid 3 for 3 in picking restaurants. And kudos for being a vegetarian and picking a steakhouse. I have not done the tally historically, but I think Debra’s restaurant picking is better than our game picking and it is certainly better than Target’s picking at anything and especially better than his hotel picking.
After dinner, we wandered around the Scottsdale Princess hotel a bit to take in the winter wonderland. This certainly seems like a 5 star hotel. But take note, The Quest could never stay here, because the doors open to the outside and not to a hallway.
Tuesday was my day to return home. Al and Debra had planned to return back to NY on Wednesday but actually pushed it to Thursday. I awoke early and headed out to the Phoenix airport. After returning the car, I took the lengthy shuttle bus to the terminal and boarded the uneventful flight back to JFK. It was actually a nice flight as I had the seat next to me open. I think it was one of two or three open seats on the entire flight. Thank you, Delta! Or am I really that scary to sit next to. I will leave it there.
Al & Debra Remain
But just because I went home, does mean the trip ended. Al & Debra remained for two more days. So I will let Al pick up the story here.
There really isn’t much fit to print for the remaining few days, although it was soooo bad, we decided to stay an extra day! Spa treatments, poolside lounging, a short hike up to Overlook Point, and even an additional round of golf with some of the Salmon Sisters ( @aksalmonsisters ) family members (dad and grandpops, both very good golfers btw), completed the days. We ate dinner one of the nights at the hotel’s main restaurant, and I’d have to say, it was pretty poor. Should have known when we got there and it was empty. The last night we ate off site at an Italian restaurant. The owner was more than thrilled when two people with Italian names came through the door. It was very good, and worthy of a second visit if we are ever back. The name eludes me, maybe it was called Pomodoro….but I can tell you it was definitely next door to the Horny Toad Bar. We also had to switch Villas on the last night due to a scheduling snafu by the hotel, but they moved us to another private villa where we were tucked away into the boulders and had javelinas outside in the morning begging for food. They weren’t really begging, and they were below our balcony, but they were there again looking like pigs, but not actually being pigs.
Trip back to NY was with the usual notation that Delta totally sucks. First, botched the upgrade reservation, instead seating us in the middle of the plane, almost in the last row. Upon arrival back to NYC, the crew at the airport must have not known we were coming, as the gate was occupied. There were plenty of other gates open, but nope, we needed to wait on an active taxiway waiting for this one plane to move. Seems pretty safe. Once we were “close” to the gate, they realized the gate mechanism was the wrong size, and thus the plane had to be backed out and re-positioned. To make matters worse, my golf bag was absolutely the last item loaded at the bag claim for the day. No doubt it was last, the morning crew handed it to me. But needless to say, it wasn’t the end of the world. All in all, we decided after this trip that we will go back to Scottsdale soon as the weather was phenomenal, the golf was great, and it was far enough away from NY that no one could find us. As for the Quest, I think we are highly considering not only going south on the last trip of the year, but always extending it into a golf weekend trip. Who doesn’t need a vacation from a vacation?
The Utah Utes finished the regular season at 9-3, 8-1 in the Pac12 South, winning the South by 2 games. Utah beat Oregon for a 2nd time in the Pac12 championship game and secured a Rose Bowl spot in the process, where they would lose 48-45 to Ohio State.
Arizona would finish the year at 1-11. Needless to say, there was no bowl game for the Wildcats in 2021.
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For our Arizona photo album, Please click here. You can view as a collage or run as a slideshow. There are comments to explain what is in the photo but most are self explanatory. Thanks to Google, I can no longer embed the slide show with comments.
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