Monthly Archives: May 2018
Congrats to the University of Minnesota Gopher baseball team who won the B1G Tournament over the weekend. The Gophers also won the regular season title this year.
Gopher baseball will now host one of the NCAA Regionals at Siebert Field. Minnesota will face Canisius at 7pm on Friday. UCLA will take on Gonzaga in the other game. The regional is double elimination, and the winner moves on to a Super-Regional.
Top seeded Minnesota beat second seeded Purdue 6-4 in Omaha for the Big Ten Championship. The victory gave the Golden Gophers their 10th tournament title, breaking a tie between Michigan and Ohio State for the most in conference history.
Two Harbors, Minnesota
My cousin and I decided we needed a hiking trip when I was back in Minnesota, and her suggestion to head up I-35 to Duluth was met with enthusiasm by me. The Duluth area is special to her, and I had not spent much time along the North Shore of Lake Superior in years.
We ended up at Gooseberry Falls State Park, which allowed us to jump on the Superior Hiking Trail. The SHT runs along Lake Superior’s North Shore for 310 miles between Duluth and the Canadian border. We would hike 8-10 miles of it on this warm April day.
We spent much of the hike within sight of the river. The Gooseberry flows 23 miles before it reaches Lake Superior. It was an incredible day for a hike, with temps in the mid seventies, which was warmer than the Twin Cities on this day.
I had hiked a good section of the SHT years ago, and it is a wonderful trail. Grouse were drumming all along the hike, and one flushed right next to my cousin, which was amusing to watch. How was I to know that she had no idea the bird was within a few feet of her?
The river provides five waterfalls within the park, and all are accessible by trail.
Target Field, the (new) home of the Minnesota Twins MLB club, opened in April of 2010. Until this spring, I had never caught a game at the new ballpark.
This is the 6th ballpark for the franchise, dating back to the Washington Senators’ days with American League Park in 1901.
Target Field currently seats just under 39,000 for baseball.
Located in the warehouse district of Minneapolis, Target Field is a beautiful ballpark, with the exterior constructed out of local limestone. The ballpark is next door to Target Center, and has a light rail station. There are plenty of food and drink choices inside the stadium, with several heated areas of the concourse! I think the Metrodome turned Minnesotans a bit soft; there were no heated areas at Met Stadium.
Since we were there for a promotion, our seats were up in the left field high-rise area. The Twins fell behind early, 6-1, but fought back to make it 6-5 by the eighth inning. Toronto hit a solo homer in the top of the ninth, and the final score was a 7-5 loss for Minnesota.
Along the Saint Croix River, Minnesota Bank
When I was back in Minnesota, I took three kids, ages 11, 13 & 14, camping out to Wild River State Park, which lies along the St Croix River, on the Minnesota side. We had beautiful weather, but it did drop down to the low thirties at night.
We did a lot of hiking, the kids may say that I made them do a lot of hiking, either way… that was the point of getting out. The wildlife was out enjoying the sunshine too, as we spotted turkeys, deer, ruffed grouse, hawks, eagles and plenty of ducks, geese & loons. The kids learned the different croaks of three species of frogs, including the wood frog, which is Alaska’s only frog. They also learned several bird calls. We also did some geocaching, even though an exasperated 11 year old, found that entire endeavor, a complete waste of time.
With three kids, a campfire was mandatory. S’mores, and roasted hotdogs were part of the menu, but I was greatly amused by the kids’ willingness to try out several dried food choices. The freeze dried mac & cheese was a disappointment, the chili a 50/50 deal, and the spaghetti being the overwhelming winner.
I think it is safe to say that my type of camping was a new experience, and this was as close to “glamping” as this wandering Alaskan ever gets. My favorite question of the weekend was: “How do you boil water without a microwave?” I was left speechless. I had picked up a used Coleman stove and lantern, thinking that this would not be the only camping trip I took the kids on. Coleman camping gear is about as bullet proof as gear gets, and the used gear can be picked up at some very reasonable prices. I bought the gear from a guy who had at least a dozen stoves to choose from, and over twenty lanterns! Coleman hoarding?
Pressurizing the stove, I kept getting asked, “Why isn’t it turning on? What’s taking so long? Is it broken?” Alas, I may have taken them out too late. It took some explaining, and I thought I was making progress, but the same questions followed the lantern lighting. My responses were simple, yet widely ignored: “Quiet. Watch the whole process. No, it’s not broken. If the three of you stopped talking at once, you might learn something. It’s the same as the stove. What do you mean you forgot how the stove lit?” In the end, they received a couple of new experiences, if nothing else.
Designated a National Scenic Riverway, The St Croix River is one of the original rivers to be protected under the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968. The St Croix is 169 miles long, and it’s final 125 miles forms the boundary between Minnesota & Wisconsin. It really is a beautiful river, and would well be worth the time to float.
When we were there, the river was over the flood stage, after the area received the ridiculous April blizzard, which dumped 18″ or so of vile snow. Fishing had opened on the river, but with the high water, it was near impossible for the kids to fish from the bank. Shrubs and small trees which would have been behind you, were now under water in front of you. Snags were commonplace, and I had to wade in to untangle lures on occasion.
Overall, a great little park, with a beautiful setting. Lots of wildlife, trails and most important: 18 miles of the St Croix.
While at the Glenn Curtiss Museum, I was excited to see the P-40 Warhawk being restored, and talk to several volunteers involved with the extensive rebuild.
Stationed at Elmendorf AFB in Anchorage in 1942, was the 11th Fighter Squadron, also known as the “Aleutian Tigers”. The Aleutian Tigers were commanded by Lt. Col. John Chennault, who was the son of Gen. Claire Chennault, the commander of the famed “Flying Tigers” in China.
The 11th Fighter Squadron was one of 4 squadrons making up the 343rd Fighter Group, and were assigned the task of defending the Aleutian Islands during WWII. The 11th FS flew their final combat mission in Alaska in October of 1943. The 343rd FG remained in Alaska flying patrols until the end of the war.
Jim Thorpe, PA
Jim Thorpe is considered one of the most versatile athletes of modern times. After winning gold in both the decathlon and pentathlon in the 1912 Stockholm Olympics, King Gustav V of Sweden said to Thorpe, “You sir, are the greatest athlete in the world.”
Thorpe was a collegiate All-American, NFL All-Pro & charter member of the Professional Football Hall of Fame, and played baseball with three different MLB teams. He also played for a traveling professional basketball team.
When in Pennsylvania for hockey, we traveled through Jim Thorpe, PA. Originally founded as Mauch Chunk, the community made a deal with Jim Thorpe’s widow in 1953. After Thorpe’s funeral in Shawnee, OK, city officials of Mauch Chunk bought his remains from his third wife, and Thorpe’s body was shipped to Pennsylvania without the rest of the family’s knowledge.
I had mixed feelings about the monument to Thorpe in Penn. On one hand, the tribute, if a bit dated and weather-worn, was well done and seemed sincere. On the other hand, it was hard to get past the fact that Thorpe has become a road side attraction. Of all the turn-offs I’ve taken traveling, this one was as surreal as any.
Upon receiving Thorpe’s body, the communities of Mauch Chunk and East Mauch Chunk merged and were renamed Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania. His tomb was built on a mound of dirt from his native Oklahoma and from the Stockholm Olympic Stadium, where he earned international fame.
In 2010, son Jack Thorpe sued in Federal Court to have his father’s remains returned to Oklahoma. After several court rulings favoring both sides, the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015 refused to hear the case, effectively ending the suit and leaving Thorpe’s remains in Pennsylvania. Jack Thorpe died in 2011.