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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Let's get this show on the road!

IN FRANKFURT, Germany -- Well… for those of you that know me, you know I do not sleep as much as many individuals. What started out as just a light sleeper who was afraid to miss any action, has turned into, “Amy doesn’t sleep, so she will pick you up at the airport at 5:00 a.m. or will put the wet laundry in the dryer when the cycle is finished at 2 a.m.” So the “Who’s going to wake us up so we don’t miss the shuttle?” question was directed at me; the alarm clock. Based on our travels, this job is not one I take lightly. I do not want to be “the one” who is responsible for us missing our chance to locate the R.V. and get this show on the road.

It is 5:30 a.m. on Thursday morning. Let us rewind a spell. Flight was great from Seattle to Amsterdam. As we walked over to the monitor to see where our connecting flight to Frankfurt was, we didn’t hear Benjamin quietly mumble, “I am going to the water fountain to get a drink.” About 4.5 seconds later, Lesle said, “Where’s Benjamin?” At which point we appeared to be a Flash Mob doing Elton John’s rendition of “Benny and the Jets” beginning with the chorus. “Benny! Benny! ” Who was spotted walking toward us throwing up is hands as if to say, “Oh my Gosh! Can’t a 7 year old get a drink these days?”

The boys were keen on listening to all the different languages surrounding us. When one gentleman said, “Pardon moi” as he slipped by us on the moving walkway, Nicholas said, “Hey Zach! ‘Parodon moi’ means, “Move to the right!” He will be fluent by the end of our trip.

Off to Frankfurt to find out that 5 out of 5 of our bags did not make it. After 2 hour wait in line we learned that our bags should arrive by 11 PM but would not be delivered to our hotel until noon the next day. We took the “Free Hotel Shuttle that leaves every hour” (get used to the quotation marks, this post will have a lot) only to learn that they were not ready for 6 passengers. Three climbed in, leaving the other 3 to wait for the later ride. Jack, willing to take the “hotel shuttle” later, to pick up the bags night was told, “You are only allowed 1 round trip ride on our “Free Hotel Shuttle,” otherwise it is 40 Euros” Okay… let’s forget that idea. Time to eat.

The only place for a tired group of travelers was attached to our hotel called, “La Hacienda.” Note to self. Skip Mexican restaurants in Frankfurt. I was thinking of going for the “Mexican Special: Enchilada with turkey, corn, squash and tuna” but went a different direction. My vegetarian burrito (that came with a baked potato) had cooked carrots, snow peas and sliced pickles. The flies were buzzing about which was almost the breaking point for the little guys. “Let’s just go home and watch the games on t.v. It is so much easier,” Nicholas recommended. When we reminded him about his free travel kit for the missing luggage snafu that came with XXL T-shirt and mini soaps and toothpastes, he quickly forgot about the flies and was back in vacation mode.

While we were eating, Lesle read Wednesday’s column posted back home by UW’s Gregg Bell on about our travels. Most of the article explains how crazy, I mean, adventurous, this trip is. But there is one part that cracked us all up. It was the part describing how before we got the R.V. and were roughing it we would stay in a hotel to regroup, refresh, re-generate. “They better soak it up,” is what he wrote about this one stay. Yeah, whoo whoo.

I have to admit, it made me think about what lies ahead. This was supposed to be our “great night” as we brushed flies away, eating cooked pickles and getting ready to hit the hay in our hotel that is lacking a bit of the air conditioning, or a breeze, or any air at all for that matter. Not to mention wireless service would be nice. The Soccer Six look like a team ready for anything, but mostly bed. All wearing our XXL T shirts to improve our chances of getting to sleep.

So here I sit in the lobby, because I do not want to be the weak link. The fact our group trusts me more than they trust a wake-up call or an alarm clock makes me smile. I take this job seriously. Why? Because we need to take our 8:30 shuttle to the airport to get our bags (fingers crossed) AND be picked up by the R.V. shuttle so we can get this party started!

The U.S. women have helped us get excited by beating N. Korea and increasing their chances of advancement in a big, big way! Our first live game will be watching Husky Alum/Volunteer Coach/Friend/Best Babysitter Veronica Perez help Mexico take on the skillful Japanese!

We’ve got games to watch! People to cheer on! Friends to meet! Brats to eat!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Gallimores

Lesle and I have been friends for a... well, let's just say a VERY long time. Almost 2 decades ago we were fierce rivals and loyal teammates, playing for our respective colleges and club teams. This current stage in our friendship has found us pooling our resources and working together at the University of Washington in our quest for an NCAA championship title.

Lesle, the Head Coach, can put great ideas into action. I have been known to be a big talker. When it comes to pulling the trigger, I hem, haw, dawdle, stall and second guess just about everything. In goal decisions were easy for me . I loved the pressure and the fact that I only had a split second to make a decision. When given the time to re-think and over think a decision, that's where things get stuck in the holding pattern. Lesle is the one who has no problem pulling the trigger. She has been the one who has taken the "Hey, wouldn't it be fun to go to the World Cup?" idea and run with it. Thank goodness she has or we would be watching it from our living room.

Her 17 year-old son, Zach, has been following soccer and Lesle's career for as long as I can remember. I can still picture him during a game in which the winning team would advance to Nationals. He was running up and down the sideline following Lesle in perfect unison at the ripe old age of 5. Like Nicholas and Benjamin, he has grown up cheering on the Huskies, the Sounders, the USA and following the worlds most popular game.

Last Women's World Cup we watched from home.

We will miss the USA opening match versus North Korea, but tomorrow we head to Frankfurt to pick up our R.V. and will be touring around Germany until the World Cup is hoisted on July 17th!

We have been watching the first opening games and the stadiums, crowds, and cities all look beautiful!

When I asked Ben what he is most excited about he replied, "The best game of SLUG BUG ever!"

We are pumped!

The Griffins

"The Boys" have followed their share of soccer matches over the years. Avid fans of the USA, Seattle Sounders, and the Huskies, they have become more than fans, but opinionated critics. They agree that following a match on game tracker is painful, but if that means a later bed time, then you will find them glued to the computer screen hitting "refresh" furiously.

Benjamin fancies himself of more of an attacking minded player (ball hog), while Nicholas enjoys squelching anything that comes near the goal. Jack's size 13 cleats make it tough for anyone to get by him. He prefers soccer tennis over an 11 aside match. It drives me crazy that he is up on me by 3 games. That will change over the course of our World Cup Trip.

All in all I am lucky these 3 are a big part of my life. When the Huskies win a game, they are the first people I want to see. And when we lose? Well, a hug from them helps keep it all in perspective. I travel without these guys far too often and the fact I get to share this experience with them is fantastic. I cannot picture which moments will be the ones that we look back on and say, "Remember when.....?." but there will be some for sure. And all of us will be able to say, "Yes! I remember!"

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Women's World Cup! Here We Come!

I am Amy.

I am a huge US Soccer fanatic. Maybe it's because I was a member of the 1991 first ever World Championship Team, or because I was a commentator during the 1995 and 1999 World Cups. Quite possibly it could be due to the fact I have watched my close friends in agony as victories have slipped away in the time it takes for a heart to beat. Or, it could be because my body is covered in goosebumps when I see them bend slightly, still sweating, to receive their medal on the top podium. I have helped with the Youth National Teams occasionally in their quest to win a World Cup and am like a kid when I get to slip on the slightly tight fitting training gear with the US Soccer crest.

But this summer. This summer, I get to travel with my best friend and family as a fan. Yep, that's right! Together we will belt out our national anthem, and I can already picture my kids giggling and pointing saying, "Look! Mom's crying again!"

Before the FIFA Fair Play flags are marched out on the field and the anthems play, we will make sure you get to know the cast of characters that will most likely fill up a big portion of this BLOG.