Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Cactus Kickoff

September was fast approaching, which meant my days with Caleb under my roof were numbered. Such impending changes brought about an urgency to make as many lasting memories as possible.  I don't think I could've dreamt up a better last hurrah.  Really, it was perfect. Nothing is more tailor-made for Caleb than traveling to a fun location to watch our beloved Cougars play in their first game of the 2016 season.

Our plane touched down in the desert early Friday morning.  The temperature was already well into the 90's by the time we checked into our hotel and walked through the blazing sun for breakfast at Oink Cafe.  After pedicures for us girls, we were anxious to hit the pool.  The cool water was refreshing, making the late summer heat not only bearable, but pleasant.

Old Town Scottsdale was next on our well-planned agenda.

We did a bit of trolley riding and shopping before heading to Cien Agaves for dinner.

When in Scottsdale, you must eat here.  It cannot be overstated how much we loved it.

 Jester'z hilarious--and totally clean--improv comedy provided after-dinner entertainment.  So funny!

Dessert at Sugar Bowl was a great way to end the day.

We slept in Saturday morning, but when I woke, I tried going for a run.  I struggled through three sweltering miles before I admitted defeat.  Besides, a made-to-order omelet and the cool pool water were calling to me.

Our pool time was so very enjoyable.

Later that afternoon, we donned our "Reppin' the Y" shirts and made our way to the CougarTown tailgate party at a high school near the football stadium.  Have I mentioned that it was hot?  Like, I-can-only-be-away-from-AC-for-about-one-minute-before-I-feel-like-I'm-going-to-die hot!  

We recreated the picture we took at CougarTown in Corvallis in 2011. A huge canvas of that 2011 picture hangs in my home and it is the cover photo for this blog.  It will forever be my favorite picture of my kids as it captures their personalities (and our BYU love) perfectly!  The 2016 Arizona version is pretty cute, too:

There were lots of fun little games to play and a yummy BBQ dinner to be had.

We painted our faces, visited with Cosmo and delighted in BYU Creamery ice cream and BYU brownies.  Oh and won a few raffle prizes, too.

Finally, it was game time!  The University of Phoenix Stadium was comfortably air-conditioned.

We got to meet up with some favorite people, Megan and Skyler White, while we waited for kickoff. Megan was our go-to babysitter for years.

I also got to spend a few minutes with one of my dearest college friends, Sara Hult.

Caleb was anxious to get this party started!

Wouldn't you know it, the game came down to a last second field goal by our very inexperienced freshman kicker.  Crazy stressful!

I watched that pass right through the uprights, just a few feet from our seats, and I cried.  Not because the Cougars had won, though I was ecstatic about that, but because it was a storybook ending for the final weekend with my boy.  I knew the memories of this experience would now be that much sweeter.

It was quite late when we arrived back at our hotel, but we were flying high.  We slept well and long.  
On Sunday morning, we attended church at a ward near the Mesa temple.  The meeting was packed, which we soon learned was quite unusual and due a high number or visiting Cougar fans like us.  It was fast and testimony meeting and the bishop had been at the game the night before.  He and nearly every person after him referenced it in their remarks.  I joked that we attended the BYU sacrament meeting that day.  

Then we went to the Mesa Temple visitor's center.  We watched three new Meet the Mormon videos, which were all wonderful.  We strolled the temple grounds for as long as the heat would allow.

Rustler's Rooste was our dinner stop that night.  The food was pretty good, but the experience was fantastic. After we greeted the live steer outside, we made our way to our table via slide.

Nat was very happy with the dinner, but not about having her picture taken.  But hey, she got cotton candy with dinner.  How cool is that?

We had live music and a table-side magician.  Caleb downed a full rack of ribs and his BBQ sauce-covered face revealed his contentment.

Positioned atop a bluff, the restaurant provided spectacular views of the desert sunset.

Monday morning was Jon's 44th birthday and he wanted to spend it at Top Golf.  Jon's always been a pretty decent golfer. The rest of us, not so much.

But Top Golf makes it fun to try and their food is really great!

Dessert afterwards at the Baked Bear was a highlight for everyone--except the birthday boy.  He chose not to try it.  Build your own cookie ice cream sandwiches?  Are you kidding me?  And they had gluten-free, too!  I'm sure Caleb would've given two thumbs up, but then he wouldn't be able to hold that massive bowl of deliciousness.

We had just enough time to do the short Hole-in-the-Wall hike before making our way to the airport.

See what I mean?  Could there be a more perfect way to spend our last weekend together as a family? We would be leaving to take Caleb to college just three days later.

The Cactus Kickoff memories will be sweet and lasting.