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by Jason Lockhart / New York Islanders
Jeff Tambellini
After six days and just under 55 hours of driving – 54 hours and 27 minutes to be exact – Jeff Tambellini finally made it home to his house in Vancouver.

Despite the existence of faster travel in the form of trains and planes, Tambellini has chosen to make the long journey from Long Island to Vancouver the past couple of years by car – well more specifically, his Cadillac Escalade.

"It's my prize possession," said Tambellini over the phone, sitting in the comfort of his house in Vancouver. "I can't leave home without it."

And so he didn't, bringing it with him to Long Island and then to Bridgeport, where he played in 50 games and led the team with 59 points, while seeing 23 games with the Islanders.

So what's the game plan, tackling an adventure of epic proportions?

"You need to go into a certain mindset when you go for a drive like that," said Tambellini. "You push Play on your iPod and just let it go through."

Prior to leaving, Tambellini was unsure if he would make the drive by himself or get some company along the way. He indicated he might fly his sister – currently at a Canadian University – to Michigan and meet up with her there. Instead, he flew in a buddy of his, Justin McLaughlin, from Vancouver to New York.

"We played hockey together growing up," said Tambellini. "I suckered him into the trip with three days in New York City and two at the University of Michigan."

Lucky for him, otherwise, it would have been quite a lonely trip across country. But instead, Tambellini had some company for the entire 3300-plus mile trip.

From New York, the two traveled through Buffalo to get to Ann Arbor, Michigan, the site of the University of Michigan, where Tambellini attended school.

After two days of mingling with friends and former teammates, Tambellini and his co-pilot Justin moved onto the next leg of their journey, which took them all the way to Wyoming. The second leg was their longest at 19 hours.

Last year, when Tambellini made the journey for the first time, he hit some inclement weather on the trip back to Vancouver. The most dangerous of which was a tornado that he missed by about an hour. Even so, the wind, he said, was very intense.

"I had some close calls on that trip," recalled Tambellini. "Besides the tornado, there was also a blizzard, which just made the trip even longer."

From Wyoming it was off to the state of Washington for the third leg of the trip.

"When you go through the flat states like Montana, you'll see one car every hour," said Tambellini.

And then the last – and shortest leg – took the two from Washington across the border to British Columbia.

The two encountered a (naturally) curious customs guard at the border that repeatedly asked why they were traveling all the way from New York. After a few minutes, Tambellini and his friend finally convinced the customs guard to let them return to their home country.

"There were very few problems this year," said Tambellini. "The weather was nice, so we were pretty lucky."

One might think that a trip like this might take its toll on someone or get old. Not for Tambellini, who expects to make the same trek next season, and for as long as he's an Islander.

Some facts from the trip

* Tambellini's trip took him through 14 states and two provinces: Connecticut, New York, Ontario New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Washington and British Columbia.

* No speeding tickets

* 5 Tim Horton's coffee's between the two of them from Buffalo to Windsor, Ontario

* Best meal: Quizno's in Butte, Montana

* Worst meal: Subway in Wisconsin.

* Most played bands: The Killers, Three Days Grace and Justin's country music mix

* Longest traveled highway: I-90 west, 1781.1 miles.

* Worst part about the trip: looking at the Mapquest picture before the trip and seeing a straight red line across the continent.
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