July 13, 2010 and my trip begins. I awake at 2:00 a.m. for the road trip of a lifetime. My family and I hit the road for Raleigh, N.C. where I will meet up with my USA team for 3 days of intense training before flying over to Sweden. The early morning hours do not let me see much of the countryside; however, as we travel through northern Ohio the fog is so thick my mom has to slow down to 35 mph. As the sun rises, the thick fog begins to dissipate and enables my mom to increase your speed. The excitement within me is bursting out. We crossover into southern Virginia on St. Rt. 35 . We merge onto I-64 and the countryside is unbelievable. The rolling hills and deep valleys, nothing like I have ever seen before. The majesity of the whole view is like none other. My mom has never drove on such winding, hilly roads so she slows her speed. We take in all the marvels of the breath taking hills, the clouds sitting softly on the tops of the mountains. I am in awe of the wondrous mountains. We enter North Carolina via I-77 and my mom announces that we are not to far away. My stomach begins to flip and flop my excitement is too much to contain. I continue to watch the rolling countryside and see how the landscape has changed drastically. There are more pine trees, and the ground is very dry. The dirt is a reddish brown like a brick red color. I had never seen anything like this. My mom says to me ” this is why I choose to drive instead of fly” so you can see and experience the different landscaping of each state.” The weather is extremely hot compared to Middletown, Ohio and very dry and humid. We arrive to our hotel in Durham, N.C. and I can’t wait for mom to unload the luggage, I run to the dinning hall to check in and meet my other teammates. I stop quickly at the hotel door to miss stepping on a lizard. Something you don’t see in Ohio. It startled me and my mom gives a chuckle/laugh. She is use to lizards; she grew up in Southern Florida. I am all checked in I meet my roomies and we all pile in a van where we head an hour down the road to the training facilities. There we receive our uniforms. I stand tall and proud to be wearing the uniform donning the Red, White and Blue and says USA #9. I have arrived. The three days in North Carolina are intense. We listen to our Coach as he explains to us the magnitude of our mission and our competition. We are a focused group of players eagerly awaiting departure to Gothenburg.
It is 6:00 a.m. July17th, my roommates and I are awaken by Coach who announces, “time to gear up”. We are off to the airport for the experience of a lifetime. We check in and catch the 7:00 a.m. flight to O’Hare. At O’Hare we have a 10 hour wait and time could not have moved any slower. My teammates and I pass the time passing the soccer ball and doing our foot drills. The time has come to finally bored Scandinavia flight 944 leaving for Copenhagen. I am nervous because this was my first long flight anywhere. Yet, I am busting with excitement. The plane takes off it is now 11:00 p.m. and we are to arrive 1:40 p.m. in Copenhagen. I sleep most of the way to calm my nerves. We left Chicago with a temperature of 92 degrees and now have landed in Copenhagen with a temperature of 63 degrees. I grab my jacket and follow my coach to our tour bus where we travel 3 hours to Gothenburg. I watch out the window taking in all the beauty of the country.
We travel southeast on H.C. Anderson’s Blvd. crossing over the 2 mile long bridge. In the center of the ocean I see a row of windmills. Denmark and Sweden believe in reusable energy. The windmills are unique something I don’t see in the United States. I wonder if we will ever develop reusable energy here in America. The countryside doesn’t seem much different then here in the U.S. lots of trees, hills and low lying flat lands. The soil is much like ours. I do see some farmland just ahead. A few cow, and a couple or horses are visual. We come into Gothenburg. Nothing like I have ever seen before. Not much traffic, most of the people ride bikes, walk or take public transportation. I notice a lot of buses and trams. I am now at the hotel and proud to be here representing my country. Our hotel is located on the Eriksburg harbor. The first couple of days our mode of transportation is the fiery. This is really cool. I had never been on a fiery before. It took me a while to get my sea legs on. The view is spectacular. We pull away from the Eriksburg Bridge, which divides Denmark and Sweden. I see old ships docked and an old battle ship, which we later toured.
Our first game is against Norway. It was a little intimidating, I don’t understand what they are saying and am curious if they are talking about us. We are not welcomed. The whistle blows, time to play. Norway is a tuff team and very skilled. Our team kept up with them and provided them with a challenge, which Norway wasn’t expecting. We fell short and did not win. We are now off to explore the city and regroup for tomorrow’s game against Macedonia. The city is beautiful. The buildings are old and very well maintained. The streets are in part stone/brick and pavement. Gothenburg is a city of architecture and art. The city is very clean, the air the roads and sidewalks. My mom and I did notice that there were no insects, unlike Ohio. Sweden is said to be one of the safest European cities and I do agree. The weather stayed around 69 degrees to 72 degrees during the day and fell to about 60 degrees to 55 degrees in the evenings.
I am now back home and miss Sweden and my teammates. I hope to go back someday. It is truly a remarkable country.
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