The road to the Super Bowl began at 4:41 a.m. Thursday. Well, at least, that’s when I started down the road to Super Bowl 49.
I plan to be in Glendale on Sunday evening in time for a week of festivities surrounding the Seattle-New England championship game. And I plan to collect stories from fans, players and others along the way.
So why so painfully early? Well, my first stop is scheduled to be with former Seahawks running back Dan Doornink in Yakima. He’s a doctor, so I don’t want to keep him waiting. That’s his job.
Four days. 1,600 miles. One driver.
I spent most of Wednesday preparing. Here’s an abbreviated version of my checklist:
• Rental car. I thought about taking my own car, but then a sweet grandmotherly voice echoed in my head. I’d heard it a few weeks earlier in a grocery store parking lot.
“Excuse me, sir,” the elderly woman said. “I smell fire and I noticed your car is smoking … ”
Yeah, a rental car sounds like a good idea.
• Shorts and lots of SPF 30 sunscreen. I might not make it out of the media work rooms until after dark each night once I get to Phoenix, but I prefer to think positively here.
• The license plate game app. Is it weird to play the license plate game while traveling alone? Maybe, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s a mandatory part of any real road trip. My family came so close to finding all 50 on a 4,000-mile trip to Colorado in 2010. The only blemish on an otherwise perfect trip: The First State. Darn you, Delaware.
With New England in the Super Bowl, I’m thinking this might finally be my year.
• A 12th Man flag for the rental car.
• My national park pass. Southern Utah and northern Arizona have some of the most stunning national parks in America. The thought of snow on that stunning red rock is sure to be a remarkable site. I won’t have nearly enough time for a stop of appropriate length, but I’m hoping for at least a short hike or two.
• A handful of books on tape, more than one of which was written by a cast member of “The Office.”
• Check the savings account balance. I’m planning to visit Las Vegas along the way.
• A stack of Starbucks gift cards. A 1,600-mile trip. That’s going to take some serious caffeine.