Monthly Archives: December 2015

The Joe

Great Lakes Invitational
Detroit, Michigan

Joe Louis Arena
Joe Louis Arena

The venerable Joe Louis Arena has only one year left, before it’s replacement is ready to drop the puck. Completed in 1979, Joe Louis Arena, the home of the Detroit Red Wings, is the third oldest venue in the NHL, behind Madison Square Garden and Rexall Place. JLA, along with MSG are the only two NHL arenas without a corporate sponsor name.

Tunnel to The Joe
The tunnel from the parking garage to The Joe

I had never seen a hockey game at Joe Louis; my chance to see the Frozen Four there in 2010 was scuttled by the NCAA when they held the tournament at the football stadium – Ford Field.
Since I’m basically in the area right now anyway, I figured the Great Lakes Invitational was a great way to see some hockey at The Joe.

Ted Lindsay Sculpture
Ted Lindsay sculpture near one entrance

The NCAA screwed up back in 2010. The Joe is an old rink, to be sure, but it’s still a great home for hockey, and the history throughout the building is staggering. Everywhere one looks, is a piece of the Red Wing’s storied history.

Red Wing Banners
Red Wing Stanley Cup Banners

The Great Lakes Invitational also has some great history. The tourney started in 1965 with Michigan Tech as the host school, since then the GLI has grown into one of the premier tournaments in Division 1 hockey. Michigan was added as a co-host in 1976.

Home of the Red Wings

Due to the weather, I didn’t get to Detroit in time to see the games on Tuesday. On Wednesday, Michigan State was to take on Northern Michigan in the third place game. The Spartans scored early in the first period, and took that 1-0 lead late into the third, when NMU tied it up and sent the game into OT. Robbie Payne scored in the extra period to give Northern the win.

MTU & UM warming up
Michigan Tech & Michigan warming up

In the title game, Tech came out flying and took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission. The Wolverines woke up in the second period, scoring 3 goals, as their offense took over the game. MTU went skate to skate with Michigan in the third, with both teams having several scoring chances. Michigan iced the game with an empty net goal with less than a minute to play, to give Michigan it’s third consecutive GLI title.

A fun tourney and I really had a blast in Detroit.

Soapbox Moment:

To the NCAA:
I paid $25 for a two day pass to attend four games at the GLI. The attendance for Tuesday was just short of 16,000, and on Wednesday it was 16,571. When the B1G Championship game was at The Joe last March, attendance was dreadful, just like it is for almost every single Regional. Take a page out of the 51 year old Great Lakes Invitational, and stop gouging people on tickets. There were a ton of families taking in the GLI, because they could afford to go, you knuckleheads.

To hockey fans everywhere:
When the puck is in play, don’t get up for the tenth time in the period for ice cream. Please wait until the whistle. I realize that stadium etiquette is a dying art form, but the GLI title game takes the top spot for the worst I have experienced.

On The Sioux Trail: Acton Township

The U.S.-Dakota War of 1862; Part II

Acton Township, MN
Acton Incident marker

On August 17, 1862, the late annuity payments had reached nearby Fort Ridgely, but it was too late. On that same day, four young Dakota men were out hunting, they came upon Robinson Jones, the Acton Township postmaster at his farm. The young hunters followed Jones towards Howard Baker’s farm, where they shot and killed Jones, Baker, Viranus Webster, along with Jones’ wife and daughter.

Acton Township marker

The four hunters fled 40 miles to Rice Lake Village to plead for help. The Dakota were ready for war, and Little Crow reluctantly agreed to lead the Dakota into battle.

Acton Incident

This was the one site on The Sioux Trail that had a log book for visitors to enter their names. I found the number of European visitors intriguing. I didn’t expect many people to search out this monument, which sits in the yard of a private home, surrounded by Minnesota farm land.

On The Road: Madtown to Motor City


The car was buried under a good eight inches of snow this morning, but the interstate was clear, and I made great time… until Chicago.

I took the easy route, which meant toll roads. I usually avoid interstate highways with tolls out of pure principle, but today I grudgingly paid the tax. From Illinois to Indiana I shelled out $14.40 in tolls, using several one dollar bills that I had very recently been saddled with. Whose pocket gets lined when tolls are on the interstates? I ask, because they certainly are not lining the roads with anything. The short section of Indiana was by far the worse section of road I have traveled since the Yukon Territory.

At 1:15pm I hit traffic west of Chicago. It wasn’t until 2:45pm when I was able to visit 4th gear again. I don’t know what you Lower 48-ers see in traffic, but I think it’s seriously overrated.

Once I escaped the potholes of Indiana, I was able to make good time again until 85 miles outside of Detroit, when a five mile section of I-94 became a parking lot. Through the wonders of technology, I could find out that a wreck at an off ramp up ahead was causing the delay. 75 minutes later, I passed the offending ramp, which had no sign of a wreck.

Lovely day for a drive

I-80 west of the Quad Cities – Iowa. Courtesy of Knoxvegas

As I attempt to travel across Wisconsin and Illinois, this was the scene just south of me on I-80. Where did I leave that Rover?

On the Sioux Trail: The Prelude

The U.S.-Dakota War of 1862; Part I

In 1851, the Dakota ceded 24 million acres of land to the United States government. In exchange, the Dakota were moved to two reservations that extended 10 miles out along both banks of the Minnesota River for 150 miles from the present day border of South Dakota to just northwest of New Ulm, MN.

After years of breaking the treaties, ineffective government policies, and the flood of settlers into Dakota lands a perfect storm for conflict was created by late summer of 1862. Just months before the August start of the war, George E. Day, a federal government official, wrote a report to President Lincoln documenting the rampant corruption in Indian Affairs. With the Civil War dominating the Nation’s attention span, nothing was done to ease the tension.

The Upper Sioux Agency Duplex
Upper Sioux Agency Duplex

The Upper Sioux Agency’s responsibility was with the Sisseton and Wahpeton bands of Dakota, while the Lower Sioux Agency operated the “lower” reservation which was occupied by the Mdewakanton and Wahpekute bands.

By late summer of 1862, the Dakota were desperate after crops failed and annuity payments had been delayed. Dakota leaders demanded that provisions be distributed directly to them, cutting out the traders. The Upper Sioux Agency allowed supplies to be dispersed on the credit of the coming annuities, but on 15 August, Thomas J. Galbraith, the Bureau of Indian Affairs agent at the Lower Sioux Agency, refused to distribute food on credit, even though he had distributed some supplies on August 4. It was at this time that Andrew Myrick, a trader on the Lower Sioux Agency, made the infamous comment in a confrontation with Dakota leaders and U.S. Government employees, “So far as I am concerned, if they are hungry let them eat grass or their own dung.”

A marker showing the location of Myrick’s Trading Post

A friend of mine, the CEO of MAO, Inc, had already followed the trail of this influential period in Minnesota history this past summer. We decided to follow the trail one more time, over a couple of weekends, in order for me to explore this part of our history.

The Bank

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Outside TCF Bank Stadium
Walking up to TCF Bank Stadium

My Dad had season tickets to the Minnesota Vikings for years, starting in 1969 at the old Met Stadium in Bloomington. It had been years since I was at a Vikings game, and it was December 20, 1981 when I was last at an outdoor home game.

Four of us ventured out to TCF Bank Stadium, temporary home of the Vikings, for the last regular season home game Sunday night. Potentially, the last home game to be held outside for the foreseeable future.

Warm-ups at The Bank
Warm-ups at The Bank

I really enjoyed being at a Vikings game without a teflon roof over my head, in spite of it being 14 degrees at kickoff. Being on the campus of the University of Minnesota lent a more collegiate atmosphere to the event, and the Vikes made the most of it. The defense led the slaughter, as the Vikings beat the New York Giants 49-17, and it wasn’t that close.

Harrison Smith pick six vs NYG
Photo credit: : Adam Bettcher/Getty Images North America

Minnesota safety Harrison Smith had his 12th interception of his career and his forth pick six in the win. How is this guy not in the Pro Bowl?



Winter Tea

Photo credit: Michael Davies

A shoutout to Canadian photographer Michael Davies, who took this shot outside Pangnirtung, Nunavut, which is just south of the Arctic Circle.

At -40F the hot tea freezes almost instantly, and Davies captures the moment as the tea is flung from the container. I do not know how many times I showed this stunt off to the few tourists who braved Fairbanks, Alaska in the winter, but it was more often than I care to admit.

Kudos. That is one beautiful shot.

Merry Christmas

Looking Down Lens

Dreaming of a Full Moon Christmas

Moon over a Christmas tree
Photo credit: The Denver Post

The last full moon of the year is known as the Cold Full Moon, and for the first time since 1977, this year will see the final full moon of the year land on Christmas Day.

There have been only eight full moons on Christmas Day since the founding of the United States. The first one was in 1776, when George Washington crossed the Delaware leading up to the Battle of Trenton.

The next time a full moon lands on Christmas Day will be in 2034.

Post courtesy of Nathan

“In the State, The State of Hockey”

Minnesotans love their hockey tradition. My visit to The X was the first time I had heard the Minnesota Wild anthem. A lot of history in the 2 minute plus video.