Football fans from all over the country traveled to Minneapolis, Minnesota to watch the Patriots take on the Eagles in Super Bowl LII. But for one Avon couple, the trip was perhaps a little less about football and a bit more about living a life of adventure.
“Super Bowl. Not a lot of people have Super Bowl on the travel list. It’s just one of those unique lifetime situations. One of those opportunities,” John Nicoll told NBC Connecticut.
John Nicoll and Maria Portal make it a goal to walk the path less traveled as they explore around the world.
“We try to do things that are different. You can go to an island where there’s a golf course but that’s really not that unique. When you go to a place like Mongolia, you ask for somebody’s travel list – it’s not on there," John said.
Nicoll says this travel bug all started with his cousin David.
“I’m an only child and my cousin was basically my brother. We spent a lot of time together and as we grew up that continued and then he moved away to the West Coast.”
After years of pestering, John agreed to visit David out west. That simple visit around ten years ago became the start of something much bigger.
“Ever since I’ve been out there it just kind of ignited the travel bug in us,” Nicoll said.
Since then, the couple, and David, have traveled all over, and focused on embracing the unique or the exotic. But in 2014, not long after a trip to Mongolia, David passed away.
David, who was an avid mountain climber, had left instructions to spread his ashes over his favorite mountain, so John set out to do just that from a plane.
The process involved placing the ashes in a biodegradable shopping bag and tossing the bag out the window.
John said he and David were jokesters and so tossing his cousin out a plane seemed a fitting goodbye.
“I sort of had the opportunity to have the last laugh because I threw him out of the plane,” John said.
But it wasn’t actually the end. John said the bag actually got stuck on the wing of the plane and rode the whole way back with them.
“Even though I threw my cousin out of the plane, he was still getting the last laugh in on me, ‘cause he stayed with us all the way back to the airport,” John said.
John said he believes that moment was a final message from David.
“’I love you, I wanted to make sure you got back okay, and hahahaha,’” he said.
John and Maria still travel often. And while Minneapolis may not be the most exotic of destinations, the Super Bowl and the excitement behind it still make for a special trip for these Patriots fans.
“It’s been electric,” Maria. “A lot of the Patriots are here. A lot of the Patriots. Go Patriots!” she added.
John says they’ve had a great reception in Minnesota and were looking forward to exploring the Mall of America to pass time before the game.