July 30: Soccer Championships and the Drive West

Coach Yang and Matt after winning the league championship tournament

This would not be an easy day to start a family vacation. First of all, I procrastinated with the packing for the trip until the absolute final hour and did the bulk less than 14 hours before our departure, finishing what I could about midnight the night (or day) that we were to leave. Matt had two soccer games in Appleton Saturday morning which meant I had to haul Todd and Nick around as well as the bulky U-Haul.

We made it to the first game on time and Matt's GGUSC U-13 team thumped the Green Bay Thunder for the consolation championship 3-0. This was a bittersweet victory as the team clearly was the best in the league but had to settle for the consolation title. After a brief awards ceremony and photos we had to make the 15 minute drive down to Menasha for his U--12 championship game versus KASA. GGUSC handily defeated KASA during the regular season 4-0 so we were fairly confident despite having only 13 kids suited up--two of which were on loan from the club's U-11 team.

KASA jumped out to a 1-0 lead after 7 minutes but we quickly answered with the tying score then added two more to take a 3-1 lead at the half. KASA had added a few players to their team that had played up at U-13 for the season and were a big reason we played, well, crappy. We managed to hang on and win the game 3-2 thanks to a spectacular save by Jordan on a high hard shot with about 3 minutes left. Awards and trophies in hand, we took about a half hour to eat and then loaded ourselves into the van for the 18 hour trip west just before 2 PM. I figured that with about a 6 hour stop for sleep we should make it to Colorado Springs just as Yumi and the girls were finished with their skating competition.

They say there are two seasons in Wisconsin: Winter and Road Construction. Well, I'm not sure about that but there was just enough going on to slow traffic considerably on our southerly course on 51. The going was slow and agonizing as I was continually boxed in the slow lane. Making matters worse was the Sienna's V6 was lacking the power to compensate for the added weight and drag of the boxy trailer. I figured by the time we got south of Fond du Lac the traffic would clear and we'd be able to make up some time, but that never happened. We finally made it to Illinois a bit before 4:30 but still in the midst of a lot of weekend traffic. I still don't know why everyone seemed to be headed south then the opposite is usually the case. We stopped for gas in tiny Monroe Center, IL, at 5 PM and still had to wait while some bozo in the pump ahead of me spent 7 or 8 minutes yakking to a buddy at the other pump. Figuring he was some variety or northern redneck I patiently waited him out all the while cursing him. For the record, you sir are a dickhead. I was also rather amazed to see that despite the trailer we got nearly 19 miles to the gallon.

Now that we were in a more rural area we finally began to exceed the speed limit and make some time. I figured we had lost at least a half hour to traffic since departing Menasha and was looking forward to watching the miles burn away. This was not to be. As soon as we exited to I-88 we were screwed again. More construction, one-lane and 45 mph speed limit. WTF? We eventually made it to Iowa and at 7:20 PM decided to stop at the worlds largest truck stop for dinner. By 8 PM we had made it to Nick's birthplace, Iowa City, and a half hour after that Nick peed in a bottle to save us more time. Good boy. Another stop for gas (at a mere $2.08 a gallon) and some snacks at Earlham, IA---home of probably the best windshield squeegee's found anywhere---at 10:15 PM.

We celebrated the new day by crossing into Nebraska at midnight, and by 12:35 had pulled off at a rest area to bag some much needed Z's. Sleep would not be easy as there were four of us cramped in the van. Todd had it easy as he had the back seat for himself. Nick, in the middle bench seat didn't have it that bad but he was forced to wedge his head and feet between his seat back and the front seats reclined to the point that Matt and I could sort of lay back. Day one was complete and we actually made it to where I thought we needed to be for our rendezvous with the girls


Rocky Mountain National Park
The Drive West
Moraine Park
Trail Ridge Road & Trail Ride
Dayhiking the Bear Lake Area
Ridge Road & Trail Ride II
Rafting the Poudre
Back to the Springs
Visiting Coach Paul
Home Again
Final Thoughts
Back to Vacations and Getaways


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