At the beginning of any travel season, one of the major questions, beyond just how competitive will the team be, is just how much traveling you'll have to do over the course of the season. In our case, the hockey gods were very kind to us.
Of the nine travel hockey weekends, stretching from September to February, we'll have to travel outside the Tampa Bay area only once. That road trip? It's this upcoming weekend, when we head about two to three hours south to Estero, Fla, for a doubleheader.
We know of other teams, including fellow Pee Wee squads within the Tampa Bay Jr. Lightning organization, that have had to make more than one trip to Estero, so far, as well as head east to Kissimmee. Those trips alone are likely more than what we've put on our cars all season.
Thankfully, we play later in the day, with the two games in less than three hours apart. The late start, so to speak, means we don't have to leave the house before sunrise to make a 7 a.m. game. So, once again, the hockey gods were with us.
Bottom line, we have absolutely no complaints making this round-trip ride.That doesn't mean, though, that we won't leave early next Saturday. To us, the road trip is more than just a few travel hockey games.
There's a certain Amish restaurant in Sarasota, about an hour south of us, that has been on my radar for the past few weeks. Granted, it might be too early for fried chicken, but I'm thinking pancakes or waffles, made from scratch, might be in my future.
Because I don't want to put the miles on either of our jalopies, we're even renting a car for the trip. Sure, it adds to the expense, but the peace of mind that comes with it is easy to justify. Of course, the trunk is big enough for one, possibly two hockey bags.
Part of the fun of a road trip to Estero is checking out Germain Arena's pro shop. To me, it has the best prices on sticks I've seen. Thankfully, Colin's well-stocked in that department, so much so that I won't have to wrap one for Christmas. Besides, he already has his new skates, an early Christmas present.
Having said all of this, though, I'll add that we'll make another trip, this one involving multiple nights in a hotel, to Estero in the days after Christmas for a tournament. And, then, three weeks later, we head 11 to 12 hours north, to Charlotte, N.C., for another tournament.
Once again, though, no complaints. That's why it's called travel hockey.