- Associated Press - Monday, August 25, 2014

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) - From Rapid City to Indianapolis, then back to Rapid City, and now on to South Williamsport, Pennsylvania - Joe Hartford and his wife, Deb, have been road warriors as they follow their son, Colton, in his journey to the Little League World Series.

The Hartfords are like many of the families of the Canyon Lake All-Star players, who are now on a prolonged adventure, one that brings them memories of a lifetime on the baseball diamond, but also serves as an extended family vacation. It also brings them a few hardships along the way, with the grind of travel, the costs of paying for it, and the stress of being away from their homes and jobs, the Rapid City Journal (http://bit.ly/1mn6ke0 ) reported.

And yet, no one is complaining, even after Canyon Lake was ousted from the tournament Aug. 16 in a 7-5 loss to the team from Washington state on a controversial final play.

“I think we have become a family in a short order,” Hartford said. “It has been a lot of fun.”

This hasn’t just been a weekend jaunt to Williamsport for the Canyon Lake families. It’s been a journey that began a month and a half ago when the all-star teams were announced. The family bond between players, brothers, sisters, moms, dads and even grandpas and grandmas started in Rapid City in early July.

“When the all-star team was named, the coaches really wanted to get the boys to become a team quickly, so we had practices twice a day and activities during the day; we had barbeques at night with the families,” said Troy Nesbit, father of All-Star Bridger Nesbit. “A lot of the families would go down to watch practice in Rapid, so as a result, at the beginning of July when the all-star team was named, we’ve done nothing but spend time together. We’ve become a very close group.”

The All-Stars won the South Dakota/North Dakota District tournament to advance to the Midwest Regionals in Indianapolis. There, nine days later, they were whisked off to South Williamsport as champions once again.

All the while, they were followed by their families.

The Nesbits - all six of them - drove the roughly 1,100 miles to Indianapolis. They then piled into the car again and drove another 500-plus miles to South Williamsport. Along with Troy and his wife, Collette, also on the trip were Bridger’s brothers Chase, Dalton and Jackson, and baby sister Scarlet. Bridger’s grandmother, Wen Nesbit, flew in from Salt Lake City to watch the games.

It’s not exactly as wild as the Griswold family in National Lampoon’s Family Vacation film, but they say it has been an adventure, especially with four kids in a single hotel room.

“We’re getting cabin fever a little bit,” Nesbit said. “Sometimes you just have to get out and do something. We spend a lot of time at the ballpark.”

The Voorhees family, Dawn and her husband Brent, also have driven the distance for the experience with their All-Star son, Cooper. The journey to the Susquehanna Valley of Pennsylvania has been worth it.

“It was an additional nine hours, but well-spent,” Dawn Voorhees said. “It was a beautiful drive.”

For much of the time spent in Indianapolis and Williamsport, the family aspect doesn’t just include immediate family. The entire team and their followers are now one big family.

“We were all in the same hotel in Indianapolis, but now with the difficulty of getting rooms here, we’re a little spread out over three or four hotels,” Nesbit said. “But we try to all get together at night for dinners and these types of things.”

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