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A Travler's Guide to the Pac-12 Bowl Season

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Screw family. We're going bowling!

Ahhhhh it’s December. You and your significant other can’t figure out which family to visit. Instead of choosing between Boring Christmas #1 and Boring Christmas #2, treat yourself to an epic Pac-12 Bowl Road Trip.

Where to start? The Pac-12 is kicking off the bowl season with Arizona v. New Mexico in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl, while Utah is taking on BYU in the Las Vegas Bowl. I love a good Los Pollos Hermanos as much as the next guy, but let’s face it, Albuquerque is the Cleveland of the Southwest, so unless New Mexico and Arizona start playing for a racist rifle trophy again, I’m really not interested. So let’s start in Vegas.

Saturday December 19th - Las Vegas, NV: Las Vegas is an ironic setting for the "Holy War". And gathering in Vegas with a bunch of people who don’t drink seems like not much fun, until you realize that BYU and Utah fans really, really hate each other. Regardless of who wins, you’re going to see a bunch of pissed off Mormons. This game will be over by 4:00 local time, so you’ll have plenty of time to hit the best Thai food in the country at Lotus of Siam. Then do whatever Vegas-y thing you and your lady friend like to do, just don’t lose the mortgage at the craps table.

Sunday December 20th - Las Vegas, NV: Go in search of a bloody mary and a sports book. Place some misguided bets, smoke a cigarette, and gather your wits. You’ve got two weeks to go, and you need to get the hell out of Vegas before you do something stupid. So rent a one way rental or buy a stolen car and head to the Grand Canyon. Nothing says wholesome like a National Park.

Monday December 21st - Grand Canyon National Park: It’s a pretty spectacular place, and in December you avoid troves of obnoxiously indulgent Americans and oddly aggressive Korean tourists. Do yourself a favor and go for a mild hike. You’ll feel really good about it, and you’ll get to brag to your friends about how "sick Skeleton Point is!".

Tuesday December 22nd - See America: The Grand Canyon is cool. Santa Fe is cool. The only problem is that there isn’t much in between them. So you hit the road, and go to the most meaningless National Monument we have - the Four Corners. Until they set up a weed shop on the Colorado corner the reasons to go to the four corners are 1. To take a goofy picture 2. To be at a place that ISIS is sure not to attack.

Wednesday December 23rd - Santa Fe: Get your art on. Nowhere is day drinking and pretending like you know something about art more encouraged than in Santa Fe. You can drink really good beer and then feel good by eating some really healthy food. Enjoy your time not talking about sports and just be present for a little while.

Thursday December 24th - White Sands National Monument: It might not be snow, but it’s pretty damn close. Check for missile closures before you go. No really it’s a thing.

Friday December 25th - Cloudcroft, NM: There’s a good chance you’ll get snow in the tiny resort town nestled in Lincoln National Forest. At 8,600 feet above sea level, Cloudcroft is a great place to celebrate the J.C.'s birthday.

Saturday: December 26th - El Paso, TX: WWJD? The Sun Bowl of course! The Sun Bowl is the most underrated bowl game. The stadium is literally set into a mountain, the locals show up, and they serves 24oz tall boys. They also pull pretty good halftime acts. I’ve personally seen Rihanna and Baby Bash. So take in the Sun Bowl which pits Wazzu (8-4) against Miami (8-4). Polar opposites in every way with the exception of their mutual aversion to playing defense. Expect points! After the game, get some good mexican food at Julio’s Cafe Corona.

Sunday December 27th - Marfa, TX: With two days to kill until the Military Bowl, head to Marfa, Texas. If you haven’t heard of Marfa, don’t worry, you’re not alone. This small town has the coolest art scene in the country. The must-see site is Donald Judd’s Chinati Foundation. And if you can score some psychedelics...do so.

Monday December 28th - West Texas: This is the land of oil and Friday night lights. Feel free to drive as fast as you can.

Tuesday December 29th - Fort Worth, TX: Welcome to Cow Town. Despite being extremely Texas-y, Fort Worth has two of the best art museums in the country, so get your culture on at The Kimbell or The Modern before Cal (7-5) faces of against The Air Force Academy (8-5). The contrasting styles, Bear Raid v. Triple Option, and a lack of defensive fortitude should make this an exciting game to watch. After the game, dine on some great BBQ at Counsin’s or Longoria’s.

Wednesday December 30th - San Diego, CA: It’s time to get on a plane. This time of year, skip the beach and hit Stone Brewing’s Liberty Station for some of the best beer in the world and a game of bocce as you pregame for USC (8-5) v. Wisconsin (9-3). Who knows what’s gonna happen. The last time Clay Helton coached a bowl game they smoked Fresno State. And while Wisconsin fans wish they were in a different bowl, they’ll be happy to be in San Diego in December.

Thursday December 31st - Pasadena, CA: Because you love football, and because you know that New Year’s Eve is a rip off, you keep it low key and stay away from the L.A. scene looming in the background. Head to T. Boyles for some pitchers and the semi-finals.

Friday January 1st - Pasadena, CA: The powers that be in college football moved the semi-finals to New Year’s Eve because of the Rose Parade, so you better go. After the parade, make your way over to tailgate on the golf course via the Gamble House. Tailgating in front of an architectural icon is one of the things that makes the Rose Bowl the "granddaddy of them all". Stanford (10-2) v. Iowa (12-1) is going to be a hell of a game, too. Iowa fans are going to be pumped to be in the Rose Bowl for the first time in 25 years. Plus you get to see the most electric player in college football—Christian McCaffrey.

Saturday January 2nd - San Antonio, TX: You thought you were done? No way. Head back to Texas for possibly the best bowl matchup: Oregon (9-3) v. TCU (10-2). When healthy, these are two playoff-caliber teams. The Alamo is an appropriate setting for this shootout led by gunslingers Vernon Adams and Trevone Boykin. Don’t expect a lot of defense, but that’s ok; you’re probably thirsty for a little offense after the Rose Bowl. Top it off with a some of the best Mexican food on the planet at SoLuna. Yes I'm really into Mexican food.

Sunday January 3rd - Pat yourself on the back, and get your ass home. After seven games in two weeks, you might be divorced and your family might hate you, but when your head hits the pillow, you can rest easy knowing Larry Scott loves you.