This post is in collaboration with Toyota. All opinions are my own.
Brad and I are big fans of University of Washington football. We love attending the games, especially if we can do a tailgate with friends prior to kick-off. Tailgating is such a fun experience, we’ve even been known to have a 12 hour tailgate, and to be the first car in the parking lot. When we started planning a trip down to Salem, Oregon to watch our Huskies take on the Ducks, of course we had to make plans for a tailgate as well.
Planning for an away game tailgate is somewhat different than home games because the food has to travel well. Autzen stadium is about a 5 hour drive from Seattle, but we opted to stay in Portland before/after the game which was about an hour and a half from the stadium. I have some good friends in the Portland area so it was fun to see them for dinner. We drove down Friday afternoon and got into Portland early enough to head out to Roloff Farms for Pumpkin Season!
For the “main dish” of our tailgate, we decided to do slow cooker chili with some yummy toppings. I make this slow cooker chili a lot, it is easy to make ahead of time, and then cook it when ready. I made it before we left, and then packed it in the cooler for our drive to Portland. To cook the chili, we simply plugged the slow cooker in when we went to bed, and woke up to a delicious smell.
When we left Portland to head down to the game, we wrapped the slow cooker in a beach towel and packed it in the Highlander to enjoy a couple hours later. When we got parked at our spot, the chili was still piping hot and a delicious meal before the game. We got our table set up with some other Husky gear and started enjoying our meal!
In addition to the main dish, snacks are essential for the perfect tailgate experience. We had chips with salsa and guacamole, a veggie tray, and a cooler full of drinks to enjoy during our tailgate. If you are going to have more than just a handful of people at the tailgate, you could also add other finger foods like pinwheel sandwiches, meat/cheese platter, and some fun desserts. Brad and I picked up one of our friends on the way down Saturday morning, and the three of us had PLENTY to eat.
For traveling to away games, the road-trip is part of the experience. Toyota provided us with a Highlander for our drive down to the game and it was a great size for our adventure. We had the third row of seats folded down and there was plenty of space for our suitcase, cooler, and bags of miscellaneous for the tailgate. Brad and I enjoyed the satellite radio during our drive, and it was a super comfortable ride with plenty of leg room.
The Dynamic Cruise Control is also great for road trips, it would adjust if a car came in between us and the car in front as we headed down I-5. It also has a nice shelf in the dashboard that was great for tossing phones or paper onto when we got in the car. The Toyota Highlander features three different climate zones – driver, passenger, and rear. Throughout the trip, Brad and I were constantly adjusting our own temperature. At one point he had the heat on and I had AC on (I should have probably gotten an iced drink instead of warm drink that day).
The game was a nail-biter up to the very end; unfortunately, it didn’t end in our favor. Our kicker missed a field-goal as time expired to send it to overtime where the Ducks came out ahead. Even though the game didn’t end as we hoped, it was still a fun day of cheering on our Huskies in enemy territory.
We had such an amazing time driving down to Oregon for our Toyota Tailgate experience! Watching the game was so much fun, and we loved driving the Toyota Highlander around for the week. It is a great vehicle for simply driving around town, or for long road-trips!