I know football doesn’t have a lot to do with gardening, but it is a passion of mine.
My husband and I have decided to tour all 32 stadiums. It’s a lofty goal, but why not? It will also give us a chance to tour the country.
By the way, I am a huge Detroit Lions fan and my husband roots for the Cowboys, so all of our visits will coincide with one of our two teams playing at the stadium.
Order of Favorites
(Not counting AZ – since family lives there, it’s not a fair fight)
Our Sixth Stop – Oct 2016 – Houston
After our epic road trip this year, we decided to keep our football trip a little simple. We took a quick road trip to Houston to see the Lions and Texans. Although Houston is only a few hours drive, we had never really been. Our previous trips included a trip to the Passport office, a one day trip to see the Lions/Texans eight years ago, and a one day trip in 2015 to see Garth Brooks. We had never stayed over night or eaten a real meal.
We decided to stay downtown, ditch the car and just walk around. We enjoyed some good food and beer. I also enjoyed the various beehive inspired water fountains.
Saturday afternoon we went to Saint Arnold’s Brewing. The inside of the brewery is like a massive warehouse with insanely long picnic tables. Groups of friends, couples, and families showed up with picnic lunches and games. There was live polka music and a warm , welcoming atmosphere. On the weekend you pay $10 for an 8 ounce glass and four poker chips which are traded for various beers.
The highlight of the game probably came before it started this time around.
Our former president, George Bush Sr, performed the coin toss.
We sat in the end zone again this time and had 6th row seats. Before the game I, along with other Lions fans, walked down to the first row and had the opportunity to interact with a few players. Ziggy Ansah, Sam Martin, and Mel Grey even signed my Stafford jersey! We also had our picture taken by the Lions media, and ended up on the Detroit Lions Instagram.
This game ended up in a loss, but the Lions finished at 9-7 and are going to the Playoffs!
Our Fifth Stop – Oct 2015 – New Orleans
We had unseasonably warm weather in San Diego, and then unseasonably cold weather in New Orleans. This year’s football trips ended up being an interesting experience. On top of the strange weather, I had appendicitis and spent 4 days in the hospital the week of our trip. I left the hospital on Thursday afternoon and then we left for New Orleans Saturday morning. This affected our trip a bit, mainly being limited on my food choices, and not being able to drink a sip of alcohol. My clothing choices were also a bit strange, as everything had to be baggy, and I hadn’t really packed for the cold weather.
We loved New Orleans, from the moment we arrived, we were already talking about when we could come back. Our next visit won’t be for a football game, but who needs an excuse to go to New Orleans? The food is reason enough.
We flew out with our friend’s Rudy and Laura. We flew out in Rudy’s plane, which is a small 4 seater. It is very different from flying commercial. The flight took a little bit longer, but the experience was well worth it. We stayed in a historic home about a 10 minute walk from The French Quarter, a 10 minute walk from The Superdome, and a 5 minute walk to the Street Car. The location was absolutely perfect, especially since we didn’t have a car.
I was a little limited on food, no oysters, nothing too heavy, nothing too spicy, and no fried foods, but I definitely wasn’t suffering. Everything we ate was so amazing – redfish, crawfish, gumbo, jambalaya, chicory coffee and beignets at Cafe Du Monde (my only fried food cheat).
We also took the street car and wandered around The Garden District.
Peyton and Eli Mannings childhood home. Pretty awesome to think the two boys threw the ball around this yard years ago.
This cool house was built by a mogul from Iowa. He represented Iowa corn in the hand made iron fence. I’ve never seen anything like it — impressive.
The game was Sunday night. This was our first primetime game, and what a place to watch. The superdome is one big party, with everyone singing and dancing. These fans know how to have a good time. We were in an area with several Cowboys fans, so we had some camaraderie. This was also our first game sitting in the end zone. We loved it. This may be where we get seats from now on. It was so cool watching the plays develop from the end, rather than the 50 yard line. The game ended up with an 80 yard touchdown pitch and catch (in overtime), which you could really appreciate from the end of the field. Also, to send the game into overtime, the Saints missed a field goal by bouncing it off the goal post. This happened only a few yards away, and the sound was so loud.
Takeaway – Love this city! How have we been in Austin for over 10 years and not made the short trip? We’re already planning another trip (or 2) in 2016. The food is incredible, the people are friendly, the city is lively, the architecture is beautiful, cities don’t get any better than this!
Our Fourth Stop – Sept 2015 – San Diego, CA
The weather in San Diego is perfect year round, so we we’ve been told. We managed to go during a very rare heat wave. There’s nothing like 90 degrees to make you aware that a city has no trees or shade of any kind. I had been to San Diego before, but did not realize what an arid place it is. They actually only get around 12″ of rain a year, and in the current drought it is only about 6″!
We did manage to get in some fun, we just did it before 1pm, where we hibernated in the hotel room tip sundown.
We stayed in the US Grant Hotel, which is a Historic Hotel, and was really nice. It was just on the edge of the Gaslamp district, and only a block from the Old Town Trolley Tour stop.
Speaking of the trolley tour, I definitely recommend it. It makes stops at Coronado Island, Balboa Park, Old Town, and the Midway Museum.
We had some good food – Mexican at Coyote Cafe in Old Town, and of course Oysters
The game was interesting. It was hot! The stadium is in the barren wasteland of inland San Diego. Luckily they gave our free towels, as we were drenching them at putting them on our heads and necks to try and stay cool.
We had an early 21-3 lead, and the rest of the afternoon was spent watching it slowly dwindle. We eventually lost 33-28. The one fun thing is that there were tons of Lions fans. Aside from Detroit, I had never been to a game that felt like a home game. The entire away side was full, which was incredible. We could see why the Chargers are looking to move, as this was by far the worst stadium we’ve been to.
Takeaway — Nothing stood out as really amazing about San Diego. We had a great trip, but due to the weather and the dreadful stadium, we put this one last on our list.
Our third stop – September 2014 – Charlotte, NC
I have to admit I didn’t know much about Charlotte before we decided to go. I imagined it being closer to Savannah, which we visited a few years ago. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Aside from eating soul food, this city didn’t feel very southern. It is second to NYC as the financial capital, and definitely had a very urban feel.
We stayed downtown, and could walk to everything, including the stadium. Before each trip, we look to see what sets the city apart. Turns out that Charlotte is home to the Nascar Hall of Fame Museum. Although I’ve never been much of a fan, this museum was the highlight of the trip.
I had no idea that Nascar began with bootleggers. In order to outrun the police, the bootleggers tricked out their cars.
The museum had at least 30 full size cars, ranging from the early years all the way until now.
They also had driving simulations and a chance to be one of the pit crew. I have to admit that this museum made me want to go see a race. Who knew?
Just north of downtown, and only a few blocks from where we were staying was the fourth ward. This is an area with really cool old houses and parks.
Now on to the game ….
Bank of America Stadium
In front of the stadium
This was our first chance to sit in the front row! It was interesting, since you were able to see a lot of what makes the games tick. We saw the cameramen and sound guys running frantically around throughout the game.
Joique Bell. Fitting I got a good pic, since my Fantasy Football team name this year was “Ain’t No Joique”
Cam Newton warms up in his gold shoes, but changes just before coming out on the field for the game. We saw him do his famous “Superman”. Also, I was really amazed at what a large guy he is. I knew he was no RGIII, but he is virtually the same height as CJ and nearly as wide as Suh!
The punter, Sam Martin. I’ve liked this pick since we drafted him. He’s had a few hiccups, but overall has been solid. We stayed in the same hotel as his Aunt and Uncle who live not far away. It was fun doing a little football talk.
Panorama and the Panthers entering the field.
Takeaway – Nice downtown, easy to get to everything, decent food, and friendly people. Overall, it didn’t really standout. I expected it to be much prettier, people didn’t seem to be really big on gardening here, which was a disappointment for me. I don’t think I’d go back without a specific reason.
Our second stop – October 2013- Cleveland, OH.
Friday we drove down to Canton, about an hour away from Cleveland. There we were able to visit the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It is Pro-Football, rather than NFL since it encompasses professional football before it became the present-day NFL.
This was a pretty cool experience, and fun to do as one of the first legs of our journey. I think we’ll have to hit it again as we near the finish line.
Here we are in front of the museum. It is pretty unassuming from the front.
The museum was pretty cool, but not enough footage. I would have loved to see video highlight clips, especially for those who have made it in the hall of fame. Maybe they’ll add this in the future.
Saturday was back to Cleveland and the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame
The museum was pretty cool, but small. I know they rotate things in and out, but I wanted more. Here are a few highlights.
One of my favorite parts of the museum was the view from the patio, overlooking the lake.
Sunday was the big game. This was definitely the highlight of the weekend. Our seats were incredible and this was my first NFL game outdoors. Watching football outside on a cool fall day just felt like football was meant to be played.
View from our seats. It is nice going to the less popular stadiums, as good tickets are affordable. I know we won’t get these kind of seats everywhere.
Warming Up …
One of my favorite players, and most likely my last time seeing him in Lions uniform. After the game Delmas took off his jersey and gave it to one of the fans. I can only assume he does this every game. Very cool!
Takeaways from Cleveland – Great food, very nice people. The fans were incredibly welcoming. I would visit this city again.
Our first stop …
Arizona Cardinals December 2012-
Me and Eric in front of the Stadium
We brought my sister and brother-in-law, Michelle and Brooks
Pictures from inside the Stadium. These are from our actual seats. 5th row, 35 yard line!
Cardinals taking the field
CJ with Mike Thomas. I loved the WR contrast in this pic.
This game slowly got away from us and resulted in a loss. There was a young boy and his dad sitting next to us. He had driven down from Utah and was a huge fan, knew almost as much about the Lions as I do. Throughout the game he kept asking his dad if we still had a chance, and his dad kept his hopes alive. Finally at the end of the fourth quarter his dad had to tell him the bad news. The poor boy seemed crushed. I leaned over and told him, no matter what, win or lose, he got to witness Calvin Johnson during the year in which he would break Jerry Rice’s yardage record. It made him smile, and the very next week it happened!