Diary of a Long Trip to Houston

Thursday, December 29, 2005 7:00pm- Todd Miller picks me up to meet the crew for Texas. I come to find out that Todd has to coach his AAU basketball team (Iowa Attack). The game is supposed to start at 8:00pm. I am sitting at the gym, wondering if we will ever depart for Texas. The game ends up starting at 8:30 pm. This means we will leave Des Moines around 10pm. Wow! This is a ridiculous time to leave.

Thursday, December 29, 2005


7:00pm- Todd Miller picks me up to meet the crew for Texas.  I come to find out that Todd has to coach his AAU basketball team (Iowa Attack).  The game is supposed to start at 8:00pm.  I am sitting at the gym, wondering if we will ever depart for Texas.  The game ends up starting at 8:30 pm.  This means we will leave Des Moines around 10pm.  Wow!  This is a ridiculous time to leave.


9:55pm- Todd Miller and I arrive at Sara Boisen's ranchero to meet the "Texas Crew" to depart on our trip.  The crew consists of Todd Miller, Tim Te Brink, Sara Boisen, Kelli Boisen, and Jess Brotherton.  As anticipation has risen, we are now on the road.  Wow!  I begin to ask myself if, "Are we ever going to make it in time for kick-off?"


10:10pm- Imagine that!  We have to turn around.  Tim Te Brink forgot his bowl tickets.  We have to turn the van around so Tim can guarantee himself a seat for the game.  Maybe we can make the half-time show.  Yet again, I ask myself another question.  Can I still book a late night flight?


10:40pm- We fill the van's two tanks full of gas and we are headed south on Interstate 35.  Hopefully we won't have to turn around anymore.  Tim Te Brink is the pilot to start out on the trip, as I serve as co-pilot.  I am in charge of keeping the pilot awake, and for navigation purposes.


11:47pm- We enter the Iowa/Missouri border.  Six college degrees and we cannot get a portable DVD player to work.  You figure that one out.  So far, our entertainment consists of six Cyclone fans' humor, and IPOD with no battery charger, and an 86' Conversion van radio.  Isn't the trip looking bright so far?  A van has just passed us with Cyclone flags flying on it.  Of course, our van couldn't keep up with them.


Friday, December 30, 2005


12:16am- Kelli Boisen, Jess Brotherton, Todd Miller, Tim Te Brink, and I join in with a friendly game of Balderdash.  This should be interesting. 


12:48am- We come to a consensus that the game Balderdash is overrated and we have had enough.  The Boisen sisters are zonked out.  We are still traveling south in Missouri.  May I add…it is so windy that it seems like we are driving through a tornado.

2:00am- The van needs refueling of gas.  We stop in Topeka, Kansas.  We have sighted no more Cyclone fans traveling.  I am starting to get a little sleepy; my co-piloting job is too important to me.  I decide a Dew Bomb (Mountain Dew) is the best thing for me at this point.  NOTE---Restroom usage required by pilot for all passengers.


4:50am- Tim Te Brink and I are still piloting the 86' Conversion van.  We just entered the northern border of Oklahoma.  We have been jamming out to some IPOD tunes as we are the lone two "heroes" awake at this point.  We are tired, but we must keep on, keep on trucking.


6:50am- Conversion van needs another refueling.  Three hours to Dallas…no sleep yet…another caffeine builder...this time Pib Xtra.  Four passengers refreshened…Te Brink and Vander Sanden still piloting at the helm. 


Side note---A big truck turned into the gas stop pulling a trailer full of round bales.  The wheel on the back of the axle broke off…it broke all the way off. 


8:00am- Enter northern border of Texas.  1 ½ hours to Dallas, Texas.  We are getting closer to our destination.  Te Brink, Todd Miller, and I are still awake.  I can guarantee this…Tim and I will be sleeping the whole way for Dallas, Texas, to Houston, Texas. 


9:00am- Arrive on the outskirts of Dallas, Texas, and eat breakfast with the crew at Cracker Barrel.  I decide on some good ol' biscuits and gravy.  They were very good I might add.


10:15am- We depart the restaurant.  You had better believe I am in the back of the van now trying to catch some zzz's.  Wake me up in about 3 ½ hours. 


12:30pm- Van needs a refueling of gas.  We are almost to Houston.  Short nap has taken place for me, and I think I am re-energized.  We need some air in the van.  We find out that the air conditioner doesn't work too well.  We go with AC 275.  This mean 2 windows down at 75 miles per hour.  It ends up doing its job for the mean time.  Everyone is anxious to reach our destination.  The tailgate party starts at 4:00 pm.  We are going to make kick-off after all by a whole day!


1:10pm- We are 60 miles away from Houston, Texas.  We see a truck pulling a decked out TCU-mobile.  Everyone in van becomes hostile towards the TCU-mobile.  Maybe we should suit up for Coach McCarney and Co.  Conditioning probably would be a problem for some of us though.


1:25pm- We hit some massive road construction, and the clock keeps ticking.  We might have to find a NAPA Autoparts store for new brake pads from all the stop-and-go driving.


1:27pm- We are cruising along again.  We were almost stopped by a Texas State Trooper.  He decided to pull over a vehicle two cars ahead of us!  Lucked out on that one!


2:17pm- We finally reach our destination of Houston, Texas, because Todd Miller is the best driver ever; or he wishes!  MapQuest isn't up to par either.


4:00pm- The "Crew" heads out the door to go to the tailgate party.  It is an awesome time, with a lot of Cyclone fans in attendance.  Reliant Stadium is huge, sweet, and unbelievable!  I decide to have some adult beverages with Jack Whitver in the parking lot, because adult beverages are too expensive inside the tailgate party.  I see many people from Iowa State that I know inside the tailgate.  It is really neat!


8:00pm- I head to Bennigan's Bar and Grill with the Jack Whitver family to eat dinner.  The selection of food is great, had a great waiter and the food was excellent.  We decided that the waiter was the best waiter ever.  Great service!


10:30pm- We head to Wild West.  Wild West is a country "establishment".  I compare it to an advanced Miss Kitty's in Des Moines.  I am really dragging from my lone hour and some change of sleep.  Once again, we see a lot of Iowa State people here.  Wild West is kind of home away from home.


Saturday, December 31, 2005


2:00am- After a cab ride home, decide it is best to call it a night and help out the body.


10:00am- Wake up in disappointment because we were supposed to be tailgating in parking lots at 8:00am.  Guess I should have double-checked the alarm clock.


10:20am- Showered and ready for the big day!


10:30am- Head out to parking lot to tailgate with a big group of friends.  It is amazing to see all of the strong and proud cardinal and gold fans!  Have an adult beverage in the parking lot; ok more that one.  I see the Nick Leaders family.  I decide to go to their tailgate for some pizza and some more adult beverages.  I played with "little" Luke Leaders for a bit.  I decide I better head back to our tailgate to meet the posse and get our tickets for the game.  On the way back to my tailgate, I see a guy selling TCU and Iowa State t-shirts for $5.00.  The ISU t's sell out right away.  ISU definitely beat TCU in the tailgating battle.


12:55pm- Head into the stadium and to our seats.  Anticipation for kick-off is really high at this point.  The game doesn't start out too well for the Cyclones.  The Clones have to dig out from a 14 point deficit early in the game.  The game turns out to be a really competitive game that goes back and forth.  Unfortunately, the Cyclones come up short in the end.  Yet again, so close to another win, so close to a BSC bowl; it is definitely a game of inches.  I did go up into the suites with Jack Whitver to go visit Steve Bergstrom.  Steve's son, Jeff, is a member on Iowa State's basketball team. Jack and I watched the game from the suite for the last quarter. 


6:30am- Still in the parking lots and meet up with Sam Moser, Nik Moser's dad.  The whole Moser crew is in the parking lot, as well is Mike Woodley.  We sit around with some adult beverages and discuss the game.  The Whitver crew joins us a bit later.


7:00pm- Whitver family drops me off at the hotel so I can get back on schedule and meet my crew that I came down with.  I open the door to find Te Brink and Miller sleeping.  I energetically say let's go!  You can sleep when you're dead.  I hit the shower first, and get all cleaned up for New Year's Eve. 


8:30pm- Eat in Holiday Inn Hotel restaurant with Todd Miller, Tim Te Brink, and Renee Flack.  Dinner definitely hits the spot.


9:30pm-Head out with the crew (Todd Miller, Jess Brotherton, Sara Boisen, Kelli Boisen, Mary Jones, Tim Te Brink, and Jeff Bergstrom) for block party on New Years Eve.  It was interesting because we took a train to our destination.  This is something Iowans don't see/use everyday!


10:00pm- Arrive at downtown Houston, Texas.  The cover prices to go into an adult establishment range from $20-$80.  Wow!  I am really going to be broke after tonight!  Somehow Sara Boisen persuades the door guy to let us in for $10.  I think to myself, "Good work Sara!"


10:15pm- I have an adult beverage and reflect.  Houston, Texas, nightlife is really different.  So many people in a small bar agitates me a bit, because I cannot move and I feel trapped.  I realize that the bar we are at is not too impressive.  The picture of the bar looks a little like this:


You walk into the establishment that has drapes by the doorway.  All of the walls are plain white.  There are a few speakers on the wall.  There is a big black fixture hanging from the ceiling.  There is a bar that serves a limited selection of drinks.  I think to myself, "I could make money running a Podunk establishment like this."  Gee!  Give me a break.


Sunday, January 1, 2006


12:00am- Happy New Year!  I pass on the New Years kiss.


12:30am- The group decides to head back for the train station and go back to the hotel.  Everyone is pretty exhausted from being in the sun all day and cheering our hearts out for the Cyclones.  Tim Te Brink has quite the conversation with TCU fans.  His talk with them ranges from talking in Spanish to talking about the education system.  It is quite entertaining.  I would say it is my highlight of the night!  Thanks Tim!


1:30am- Arrive to my hotel room.  Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz


8:30am- Wake up so we can get an early start to a dreaded, long, long drive home.  Get the troopers together to head out.  I check out at the front desk.  I am shocked by the information I heard the lady tell someone at the front desk.  There was a murder across the street 2 days prior to our arrival at the hotel.  Huh!  Would have been nice to know that when we got there.  No one thought about safety, yet to think about a murder?!  Yikes!


9:30am-ADIOS TO HOUSTON, TEXAS!  Hope it was fun!


Reflection…The experience to Houston, Texas, was thoroughly enjoyable.  The TCU fans were very considerate people, and many wished us a safe trip back to Iowa.  Texas is really a neat place of classy people and unbelievable hospitality.


11:00am- I need a break from my diary.  If you only could see my handwriting.  You would think that I am a third grader.  Come on Mr. V.!!!  Get to it.  I will be back…This guy needs some R&R.


1:45pm-The crew stops in Dallas, Texas, for some breakfast at the IHOP restaurant.  Everyone's stomach was a rumbling grumbling!  The meal and service was probably a 4 rating on a scale of 1-10.  This trip home is definitely off to a great start.  I hope that no one gets food poisoning.  Tim Te Brink reclaims pilot of the van as I serve as co-pilot.


5:00pm- We are almost to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  There has been a burn ban most of the way home thus far for risks of fire.  There have been many dry areas along I35 that are blackened from fire.  Firefighters have to be keeping busy.  Bless their hearts for the service they provide us with.  The weather is still very nice.  The sky is very hazy from all the fires.


5:30pm- We enter into Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  There still is fire danger warnings.  We see a big blaze from miles away.  The smoke lifting through the air is unbelievable. 


5:55pm- Almost 30 minutes outside of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  We see tons of fire trucks battling the blazes alongside the interstate.  It is so unreal!  If only you could see it.  A lot of smoke…a lot of acres burnt.


9:30pm- I am still co-piloting the crew.  I really could use the service of a "facility".  Slowly, but surely, it is getting colder outside.  There are a couple people in the van playing cards, a couple are sleeping, and the pilots trucking.  Anticipation is now on getting home!  I cannot wait to hit my own bed.


10:15pm- We think we filled up with gas for our last time.  The total bill of the gas for the round trip is $370.00.  This surely beats plugging money away for a plane flight doesn't it?


Monday, January 2, 2006


1:30 am- Arrive in Des Moines, Iowa.  The weather is a shock to everyone in the vehicle.  It is very cold, windy, and rainy.


2:30am- Good night.  Hope this letter gave Cyclone fans a jist of how the trip went.

Thanks for listening,


Luke Vander Sanden

Cyclone Nation


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