The first two weeks of my four week trip were on domestic soil in Virginia Beach and Belmar, NJ. Instead of flying back and forth Andrew and I decided to road trip and visit our various family members who live along the way.
In Virginia Beach, we stayed with Andrew's friends from college Damien and Kelley in their beautiful condo on the water. The Virginia Beach event was well attended and we even had fans (Kelley your heckling is top-shelf)! Ashley and I played really well for two of our four games, almost upsetting Misty and Nicole. Finishing 9th, our last match was a tough one against Tati and Ana Paula. They played pretty flawless and we played pretty flat.
Then our little road trip began. First we attended a wedding at Falls Church in Virginia and then headed to Alexandria to stay with Andrew's grandmother's brother and wife, Jon and Judy. They were so gracious and sweet and they had the most adorable house. Jon took us out sailing (my first time) on the Potomac and it was a hoot! I even got to steer. While we were there we had a big dinner with more of Andrew's extended family. This was my first time in Virginia and it was so beautiful and green. Of course, being in DC in the middle of June was extremely hot and humid, but being in that weather is fantastic for training. We enlisted the help of Andrew's younger relatives to put us through the paces and helped them with their game a little too.
From DC we headed north to Hazleton, PA to spend a night with my dad's side of the family. We relaxed at the lake with my cousins kid's, Izzy and James and then headed to dinner with all my relatives, Uncle Charlie (Chaz), Aunt Bernie, Aunt Mary (Boppie), Cousin Danielle and her husband Jamie, and their two kids (Izzy and James), and my cousin Chuck and his wife. It has been at least a few years since I've seen all them and I was so thankful that they all came together so that I could see them! Izzy was so kind to give me a shark silly band that I've been wearing during all my matches ;). Those two kids are the absolute cutest! One hug from them and I can't feel anything but love.
Then it was off to Belmar. During our drive, Andrew and I, in our Ford Fusion, tuned in to the end of the US v. Algeria World Cup match. We were screaming our heads off at the almost goals and then in the first minute of added time Landon Donovan scored the winning goal to go up 1-0 and we went nuts with excitement in our little rental on some deserted PA highway. It was quite memorable. Too bad they couldn't have gone further this quadrennial.
Belmar was a good tournament for Ashley and I. We got a 5th getting stopped by tournament winners Kessy/Ross. Sweatybands, our team sponsor, surprised us with giant action shots of us displayed on their booth! It was so incredible! I really wished Izzy and James could've been there to see it, but I was sure to send them an autographed copy.
From there, Ashley and I headed off to FIVB Grand Slam events in Stavanger and Gstaad. In both events we made it out of pool as a low three seed and unfortunately in both events we drew the highest seeded teams that lost in pool play. In Stavanger we played the #2 seed Maria and Talita in the first elimination round losing a close battle in three! And in Gstaad, we drew the #6 seed German team of Goller/Ludwig first. Both tournaments we finished an unsatisfying 17th. This was, I believe our 8th weekend in a row of competition, which will turn into 15 weeks in a row. But I don't even care... I love it. The best part about playing every weekend is that you keep getting the opportunity to finish better!
Photos by Andrew Fuller