Arizona is the Grand Canyon State, but the man who oversees the iconic landmark isn’t an Arizona Cardinals fan.
When the Seattle Seahawks fielded their first team in 1976, Grand Canyon National Park’s current superintendent, Dave Uberuaga, bought season tickets. He was recently married and was working at the National Park Service’s Seattle office at the time. He and a co-worker entered the drawing for the right to buy the first season tickets.
“It was such a splurge for newlyweds to have season tickets,” Uberuaga said. “But we had some great memories.”
Uberuaga grew up in Boise. Because the Northwest didn’t have a team, he had to look elsewhere. He picked the Green Bay Packers.
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“But I let go of that as soon as Seattle had a team,” he said. He remembers finding cheap parking under the viaduct and sitting in the Kingdome watching those early teams find their way.
“I remember (quarterback Jim) Zorn and (receiver Steve) Largent hooking up and (kicker) Efren Herrera and those fake field goals,” Uberuaga said. “They were exciting to watch. They didn’t always win but they always gave us something. I enjoyed being there for that.”
He let his season tickets go in the mid-1980s as he continued to advance in his career. He spent more than two decades working at Mount Rainier National Park. He served as superintendent 2003-2011.
When he moved to Arizona in 2011 to take over the leadership role of one of the nation’s most famous parks, he took his Seahawks loyalty with him.
He had local newspapers mailed to him and follows the Seahawks online.
“Everybody knows I’m a Seahawks fan,” he said of other park officials.
He tries to visit when he can and hopes to visit again this summer to climb Mount Rainier with his friend, current Rainier superintendent Randy King. But he says he’s having a grand time with his new job.
He makes a point of hiking to the canyon floor approximately every five weeks. It’s no easy hike. It’s 12 miles roundtrip with nearly a vertical mile of climbing on the way back.
“It’s similar to hiking to (Camp) Muir (on Mount Rainier) and back,” Uberuaga said.
When the Seahawks rallied to beat his old favorite team and earn a trip to Arizona for Super Bowl 49, Uberuaga didn’t have mixed emotions.
He logged on to buy tickets. Then he saw the prices. It was going to cost him $7,942. Splurging on season tickets as newlyweds is one thing, but that price was even steeper than the trail out of the Grand Canyon.
“I think I might just go down and stand outside the stadium,” Uberuaga said with a laugh. “But it is really exciting.”
MIND YOUR PHONE
Attending a major sporting event such as the Super Bowl can be risky for mobile device users who don’t exercise caution, according to Skycure, a mobile security company.
There are likely to be hacking threats Sunday, the company warns. They could include malicious apps that hackers use to try to trick users into installing on their device. They are usually presented as free services with the hopes distracted users will install without taking a deeper look. And they could be malicious Wi-Fi networks.
Falling prey to one of these hacking attempts could result in stolen passwords, emails, photos and other information stored on your mobile device, Skycure’s Varun Kohli wrote on his blog.
Skycure recommends several tips for protecting yourself at the Super Bowl: stay away from suspicious free Wi-Fi networks and be diligent about making sure the apps added to your phone are legitimate. Do not tap “Continue” on suspicious pop-ups, Kohli said.
Skycure plans to look for threats Sunday and issues warnings about these threats via Twitter at @SkycureSecurity.