Earlier in the blog we alluded to the fact that our trip from Santander to East Rutherford, N.J. may have been a bit challenging. With a 10 p.m. local time kickoff against Spain and a 5 a.m. departure from the hotel to begin the rather long journey back to the United States ... well, you do the math. We asked U.S. defender Jay DeMerit to chronicle his experience, and fortunately he took his job seriously. Sort of. Here's the (mostly) unedited chronicle of the day by Jay ...
1:37 a.m. - We have just got back to our hotel from the latest kickoff time ever and finished our dinner/late night snack, and I have a decision to make. We're leaving the hotel at 5 a.m. to drive to Bilbao to start our journey to New York, so the question is: do I sleep and maybe get three hours and wake up a fluffy miserable bunny, or do I stay up and Iron Man it? I don't like being a miserable bunny (or fluffy), so I decide, along with a few others, that we'll just man up and sacrifice a few hours of sleep. Plenty of time to rest on the plane.
3:15 a.m. - Just hitting my late night stride as Stevie and I are jamming on our screeching guitars and Carlos is thumping on the drums as Solares (the name of the hotel and now the name of our band) is rocking away to the latest video game Rock Band! We have the whole set up with the two guitars, drum set, and microphone. I’m normally lead vocalist with Eddie "the Hitman" Lewis on the drums, but Ed couldn’t make it to practice. Rock Band is a great way to spend those many hours in hotel rooms.
4:45 a.m. - All packed and ready to go, I head down to get some breakfast before we get on the bus. I make myself a quick bacon and scrambled egg sandwich, slam a coffee, and get on the bus. I leave my half-eaten sandwich on the seat as I quickly use the bathroom because my 12 year old boy's bladder can’t usually last a few hours on a bus. Steve has now eaten the rest of my sandwich and has left me a half of bite (just for banter). It’s 5 a.m. and I haven’t slept - banter is the only thing keeping me up.
6:15 a.m. - We board our flight from Bilbao to Barcelona on time. Tim Howard asks if anyone around him wants to switch seats with Pam (our mom away from our moms) so she can hold his hand because he doesn’t like to fly. Ha. Being the "team player" that I am, I say of course I will switch. As I walk back to the seat, I realize that instead of being in the mix with the guys, I am now sitting next to the coaches and in particular, Peter Nowak, who at 6 in the morning I am certain has no time for light hearted banter. I go right to sleep :)
7:30 a.m. - We are safely in Barcelona and have a good three hours until our flight to New York leaves. We get to the American Airlines desk and already see that our flight has been delayed for two hours because the one flight coming from the U.S. is coming in late. We are now re-checking in, and even that seems to be taking forever, even though we are the only people in line! Turns out that the computer to check people in has just crashed and it takes a while to reboot.
9:00 a.m. - We are through customs and passport control, and found the lounge. We fly business class over because we are reeaally cool and Gooch needs leg room, so at least we can pass our time in a nice airport lounge. It’s called the Salvador Dali lounge and it's filled with some of his prints. Still slap happy, we start dissecting his artwork and try to figure out what this crazy Spaniard was thinking. I think his cubic collage makes a skull print; others think it turns into Abe Lincoln. Turns out it was Lincoln.
11:30 a.m. - The Dali Lounge is looking like a college dorm room. There are sweat suit clad athletes on just about every couch sleeping in just about every position possible. There is a group of guys in the corner laughing at videos online and the rest are cleaning up the muffins and free food like a swarm of locusts. The rich business men and old couples are enjoying their tea with their noses in the air.
2:00 p.m. - We've finally pushed out of the gate and are making our way to the runway. Clint is sitting next to me and we're talking about when we're going to take our sleeping pills so we can finally get some sleep on this eight-hour flight. I tell him my golden rule of not taking it until I am airborne. He agrees and doesn't take it.
4:00 p.m. - Still on the runway! We've now turned around and made our way back to the terminal because there were paperwork problems. Paperwork problems? Couldn’t have they filled that out during the four hours we were waiting for the plane to get there? Some of the guys who fell asleep on the taxi to the runway are waking up and seeing us at the gate, and they think we are in New York! Clint looks at me and smiles.
5:20 p.m. - I love airplane food. And sleeping pills. The “Hitman” is loopy on his sleeping pill already, and he is throwing almonds at me. Time for the kids to hit the sack.
6:30 p.m. - We’re now on Eastern Standard Time. We land at JFK and the luggage is all actually there, so we get on the bus just in time to hit the end of traffic. It takes us an hour and fifteen minutes to get to the hotel and somewhere in the bus conversations I hear that Newark airport is right next to our hotel. Why wouldn’t we just fly into there? Because that would make too much sense. (I’m kidding, Pam. I know you couldn’t get us on flights there. Please don’t hold my per diem hostage.)
8:30 p.m. - Finally get into my room and collapse on my bed, but I have to get up and go get gear because we have a pool workout. We eat dinner at 10 and then finally, yes finally, after 20 hours of travelling, I get to lie in my bed and watch the NBA playoff game. But then the TV goes blank because there are problems with the satellite.