State Hockey Tournament (Day 1)

*** UNDER CONSTRUCTION ***

January 22

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[Hi!  We’re here!  At the ‘X’!  Again!]

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[Cards take the ice.]

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[The band was here . . . ]

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[Hockey moms were here . . . ]

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[Let’s get ready to rumbbbblllllleeeee!]

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[We’re cheering for the team in red.]

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[Goalie Sarah Finley (1)]

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[Team introductions on the big board.]

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[Ashton Oberg (3)]

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[Josie Minnerath (6)]

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[Anna Doherty (7)]

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[Marki Oberg (10)]

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[Marki and Megan Pesta (8), got out of order here?]

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[Kaia Illies (13)]

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[Mayson Toft (14)]

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[Kristin Trosvig (15)]

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[Hadlee Hansen (18)]

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[Calley Richardson (19)]

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[Alexis Heckert (20)]

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[McKenna Ellingson (24)]

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[Erin O’Kane (26)]

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[Talia Olson (27)]

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[McKenzie Revering (29)]

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[Madisson Gay (35)]

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[Taylor Breitkreutz (34), out of order again?]

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[Allison O’Kane (36) – I missed Olivia Kopp (40)?]

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[Head coach Molly Arola.  A little something I learned about Coach Arola just recently.  Our Cards were state class A champs in 2008.  That team only lost one game all year – 1-0, in OT, at Grand Rapids/Greenway.  Grand Rapids/Greenway went on to be state class AA runner-up that year to Eden Prairie.  Molly played on that Grand Rapids/Greenway team.]

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[Remember, Cossetta’s after the game!]

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[Oh, we’re playing The Blake School.  Blake is defending state champions.  They are the No. 1 seed and have been ranked number one all year.  They have won more class A state championships than any other team.  They belong in class AA.  They’re finally moving up next year.]

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[After the game, as usual, we went to Cossetta’s for a fine dining experience . . . BECAUSE IT’S THE LAW!]

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You miss 100% of the shots you never take. ~  Wayne Gretzky.

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Girls’ Basketball Senior Night

February 21

Ladies and gentlemen, introducing the largest senior class in the history of high school basketball . .

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[The day began with my first chance to walk the entire length of the driveway without having to traverse a dreaded stretch of ice!]

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[Last regular season home game v. the Willmar Cardinals, the 2nd place team in the conference.  The JV took care of business.]

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[Coach Kohler talks about her seniors.]

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[And here they are, lining up for individual introductions.]

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[Each chaperoned by a teammate who will have to return to school next year.  First up, Emma Ziegler . . .]

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[And folks . . . ]

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[Next Kendall Kohler . . . ]

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[Sarah Frederick . . . ]

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[Macy Hatlestad . . . ]

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[Kelby Olson-Rodel . . . ]

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[Maggie Slagle . . . ]

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[Kiyana Miller . . . ]

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[Kara Thomson . . . ]

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[Lauren Stockmoe . . . ]

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[Elise Stockmoe . . . ]

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[Kayla Feldhake . . . ]

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[Gabrielle Palmer . . . ]

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[Abby Pohlen (volleyballer) . . . ]

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[Syri Williams (trackster).]

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[SMILE!  Congratulations to all – this class won at least 20 games every year and made the section finals every year.]

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[I have no idea what they’re chanting . . . ]

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[Kayla captures the opening tip.]

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[But it became clear early on . . . ]

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[This was not going to be the Alex Cardinals night . . . ]

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[Too much pre-game celebrating?]

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[Had already clinched the conference championship?]

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[Had already clinched a No.1 seed?  The halftime score . . . I shall pursue this no further.]

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OK, even the Lynx can have an off night.  The good news is the Cards finished the regular season with a win at St. Cloud Tech.  Their final record is 22 – 4, 15 – 1 in conference, and are the No. 1 seed in the section tournament beginning next Tuesday.  Just a few pointers here for a team that occasionally gets shy about shooting, and who on an off night hardly even look at the basket:

  1.  Even Steph Curry misses over half of his 3-point shot attempts;
  2. Remember that every time you shoot, there are over one billion people in China who don’t care whether it goes in or not (OK, I borrowed that from somewhere);
  3.  There’s always a chance for an offensive rebound;
  4. It’s always better to shoot than to turn the ball over;
  5. If you shoot, the defense has to pay attention to you – which opens other offensive options;
  6. So relax, play loose, and let it fly!  I’ve seen all of you make them in warm-ups!
  7. Don’t pay any attention to the following quote by the Round Mound of Rebound.  If you are open, and it’s within your range, it’s a good shot!

The only difference between a good shot and a bad shot is if it goes in or not.  ~ Charles Barkley

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Lands Down Under (Day 7)

January 17

Melbourne

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[Before we begin our tour of Melbourne (pronounced:  “mel-bun,” according to our American shipboard travel advisor), a parting shot of some American tourists in Sydney captured by the lens of Bert.]

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[And now, Melbourne.  We made no arrangements for any tours, so we just wandered around the city, unattended and unchaperoned.  Here The Biddies are on the bus ride from port to the CBD.]

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[We disembarked the bus hard by the Yarra River.  I have reason to believe this is Princes Bridge, the over water extension of Swanston Street.]

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[And this, of course, would be the Yarra River . . . and the city!]

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[There’s seems to be a bit of one upmanship between Melbourne and Sydney.  Sydney has a slight lead in population at 4.6 million to 4.4 million – but Melbourne claims to be growing faster.]

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[All the folks Down Under just row, row, row the boat.]

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[We were here for the start of the Australian Open tennis tournament.  This is where it’s played.  If you know the history of the tournament, you are aware it is has to deal with mid-summer temperatures, often over 120 degrees on the courts.  Well, the main court is roofed now for a/c.  You may recall the Grosses came to Australia a few days earlier than us and had already spent some time in Melbourne – so Kathy and Bert decided to go to the tennis tournament on this day.]

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[We all liked the poster.]

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[Wikipedia:  Flinders Street railway station is a railway station on the corner of Flinders and Swanston Streets in Melbourne. It serves the entire metropolitan rail network. Backing onto the city reach of the Yarra River in the heart of the city, the complex covers two whole city blocks and extends from Swanston Street to Queen Street.]

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[I think we’re here, and we want to get to there.]

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[Here’s there.]

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[Views of the city from inside the open-air market for . . . everything!]

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[The Biddies and I decided we wanted to take the old hop on-hop off trolley around the city.  We had wandered over here to Parliament House which had a stop for the trolley . . . ]

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[But it was really hot, standing there on the concrete and asphalt.  As I recall, the trolley was suppose to be on a 20-minute cycle. But after getting cooked for about 40 minutes, we went around the corner and caught the regular metro.  Did I mention it was really HOT?]

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[So, absent the classic open air trolley views, we shot photos through the windows as best we could.  But we did see most of the CBD.  This stadium is on the west side of the city – the Parliament House was on the east side.]

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[Our short day in Melbourne was coming to an end.  We were hot, tired, thirsty, and hungry – and then we ran across this place on the way back to the bus.  Had a fun time with the young guy running the place.]

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[We got our beverages and split a lovely Margherita pizza . . . and The Biddies caught up with their social media.]

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[We were having so much fun at Fatto that the Super chipped in with the next 3 photos.  I believe the Super posted this first one on FB from here.]

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[The view from just outside Fatto.]

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[Princes Bridge]

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[They told me I was just a tad too old.]

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[Our bus stop was in front of the gallery.]

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[Back on board the ship, we  were always advised of the day of the week just by stepping onto an elevator.]

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[Views of the city from the ship . . . ]

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[Too HOT!]

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[Our room was right next to the exit door for the deck; Rita and Shari were right next door.  We had a two-room hallway.]

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[Turn 90 degrees from where I took the above photo and you have the hallway for the whole length of the ship.]

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[The Biddies, now showered and refreshed, donned their robes for a little outdoor window peeping.]

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[That’s our back deck.  People really couldn’t see in very well . . . well, I hope they couldn’t because we were making faces.]

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[Goodbye, Melbourne!  Good on ya’!]

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[We were now crossing Bass Strait, in the Tasman Sea, heading for our next port of call  – Burnie, Tasmania.]

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Hey, people who travel with their bed pillow.  You look insane.  ~  Jim Gaffigan

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Even More . . . Cardinal Basketball

February 16

Boys beat Rocori

[I had no idea what kind of team Rocori had this year (bad pre-game preparation by the cub reporter). They seem to be pretty good perennially.  They came on the floor and I thought they were a college team – their roster listed two 6’8’s”, 6’5″, a bunch of 6’3″ guys?  Then they had striped warm-up pants that made everybody seem another 2″ taller. The captains’ meeting at center court reflected such.]

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[Those guys are tall!]

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[Spencer Hockert (15, just beyond the ref) has a rather bemused look on his face as our Robert Anderson, 6’1″, jumps against their 6’8″ center.  Robert came close!]

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[Jake Drew (33), as usual, point man on defense.]

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[The aforementioned Mr. Anderson (3).]

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[Now point guard Trey Hoepner (1).]

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[Jared Roste (31) on the line.]

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[Jaran with a ‘3’.]

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[Where’d the ball go?]

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[Our 6’8″ guy, Justin Balcome (43), comes off the bench.  We needed him to match up with their size, and he had a terrific game.]

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[Mike Empting (11) came in and hit two big ‘3’s’ in the first half.]

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[Spencer . . . but which way are we going now?]

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[I think we’re in the 2nd half now.  I didn’t do the halftime scoreboard – we played pretty sloppy in the first half, a bit intimidated by their size, and were behind 26 – 20.]

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[I think we got fired up at the half and came out on fire.  We caught and passed the Spartans in short order.  We realized they were taller, but we were more athletic.  Our “little” guys were intimidating their shooters as everyone was blocking shots.  And our leading scorer, Spencer, rediscovered his game after kind of a two game drought.]

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[Jake always sets our defensive tempo . . . and that gets us going offensively too.]

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[Jared Schneider (15) has been giving us some good minutes off the bench.]

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[Spencer’s always pretty solid from here.]

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[The Spartans No. 4 did a lot of their ball handling at 6’5″.]

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[Balcome and Drew trying to cut off the drive.]

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[It looks like it’s going in?]

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[Maybe not – Jake and Justin are in position for the rebound.]

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[Jaran’s a strong ball handler and good distributor.]

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[Spencer in offensive position.]

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[We rolled in the 2nd half.  We’re 15 – 5 now.  Play every game like the 2nd half and ???]

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February 17

Girls beat Brainerd

[RED is Remember Everyone Deployed, a salute to those serving in the military.]

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[Good performance by our JV.]

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[I did pre-game research on Brainerd.  They’re 3rd in the conference with a very good record.]

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[We did not know at the time, of course, but . . . ]

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[The players at center jump for both teams . . . ]

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[Probably had career games.]

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[Brainerd had no 6-footers but a bunch of players in the 5’8″ to 5’10” range – and they could all shoot.]

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[Kendall Kohler dribbles around a screen by Kayla Feldhake (43).]

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[And readies to fire a ‘3’.]

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[I didn’t realize Emma Ziegler (1) had broken her nose in the previous game.]

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[The Warriors No. 15 I believe made every ‘3’ she attempted in the first half.]

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[I think Kayla made all her free throws – I would guess in the double figures.]

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[Kendall at the line.]

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[Zig drives into the middle.]

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[Emma Schmidt (25) on the defensive point.]

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[Zig figured it was easier to shoot free throws without the mask . . .]

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[Except for the second one because she’ll have to play defense.]

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[Our designated 3-point shooter Kara Thomson (23) came through with a couple of them.]

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[The players of the game head-to-head here.  The Warriors Kylee Heurung (13), she’s 5’10” and jumped center but she’s a guard, made shots from everywhere including long ‘3’s’. We discovered if we could get the ball into Kayla all game, she would either score or get fouled.]

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[Kylee’s shot here probably went in – I spent a lot of the game just shaking my head.]

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[OK, we have to stop them, and then make it when we have the ball.  Or at least that’s what I think coaches saying during a time-out?]

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[Come back here, ball!]

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[It was a grind, hard fought trying to overcome Heurung’s 19 points at the half.]

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[Zig on D.]

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[The Warriors had strong players who handled the ball pretty well.  We couldn’t frustrate them into a bunch of turnovers like most teams.]

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[We have everybody trying to box in Heurung.]

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[This match-up went on all game.]

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[Schmidty on D.  This was a game in which Kohler was making 2 or 3 substitutions at every dead ball – hoping our depth would eventually wear them down.]

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[Will have to start calling her “Ole Automatic” from the line.]

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[Cards keeping up the D . . . ]

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[Here’s Courtney Gould (51), who also head a terrific game.  She did a good job subbing in for Kayla, even to the extent of doing her quick spin lefty layup.  She had 10 points (solid on a couple of free throws) giving us 39 points out of our center position.]

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[Kayla at the top of the key with Kendall and Kiyana Miller (21) shadowing Heurung.]

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[If you get the ball in open court, just go in for the two-handed, windmill slam dunk!]

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[There was disappointing note in the game regarding Macy Hatlestad (No. 11, on the bench in the background in the knee brace).  From the Echo Press:  The Cardinals started on a high note by seeing senior guard and career 1,000-point scorer Macy Hatlestad check in a few minutes into the game. Hatlestad went down with a serious left knee injury at Willmar on Jan. 16, but it wasn’t a full tear of her ACL. That meant there was hope she could return after seeing how she progressed through rehab.

With a brace securing the knee, she was dressed and ready to play limited minutes on Friday night. Hatlestad knocked down a three that drew a big ovation in the first half. But early in the second half while on defense, her leg buckled as she fell to the floor. Hatlestad was helped off the court in tears before spending the rest of the game on the bench with ice around the knee.

The gym went silent after she went down, and that included her teammates who watched on. Alexandria was clinging to a narrow lead at that point.

Here’s to wishing a speedy recovery to Macy.  It’s just a reminder about the vicissitudes of sport.  Our girls’ hockey team got it’s best player back, who had missed the whole regular season with injury, just in time for the tournaments.  But the basketball team lost it’s leading scorer just before their tournament begins.  We have developed the depth to still be good, but of course we’ll miss Macy.]

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[Kelby Olson-Rodel (13) at the free throw line – Feldhake and Heurung are keeping an eye on each other.]

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[Courtney went swish, swish!]

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[Quite a game.  We really had to grind it out against the Warrior firepower.  Heurung was terrific with 33 points.  Kayla had what I am sure was her best game ever with 29 points. This game was close all the way – the gap opened at the end when they had to foul us.  So, congratulations to our Cards who clinched the conference championship with this win – we are still undefeated in the conference with two game left to play.]

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I’m a coach who believes in execution. Whenever I see [that player] shoot free throws, I want to execute him.  ~  Rick Pitino

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On to Section Finals After an 11 – 1 Win

January 14

[Why yes, we also found it “premature” that the program already had the Cards facing Fergus Falls in the section final?  😉  That could have been bulletin board material for Northern Lakes!  The Lightning, incidentally, are a cooperative of Aitkin, Crosby-Ironton, Pequot Lakes, and Pine River-Backus, and they came in with an impressive 20-6 record.]

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[So the Super and I were all set to reprise our usual anniversary date with a romantic evening at the RCC for the girls’ hockey section semi-finals. But the “bug” that’s been going around struck her the night before and placed her on the injured reserve list. She ordered up a large container of Hunan’s hot and sour soup on a take out order, and I “dated” classmate Brad Anderson for the game.]

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[The Cards came in as healthy as they’ve been all year.  Starting goalie Sarah Finley was back after a sprained ankle caused her to miss three weeks; and McKenzie Revering appeared ready to take on several shifts after missing the regular season recovering from ACL surgery.  The first time the two senior captains would be on the ice together this year.]

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[Roger Riley assured victory by singing the National Anthem . . . over the years, the team has had a very good record when he has done so.]

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[And we’re off and skating with the line of Calley Richardson (19), Kristin Trosvig (15), and McKenna Ellingson (24).]

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[For the first half of the 1st period, it looked like we were going to be in for a real tussle. The Lightning kept us bottled up in our own zone.]

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[Here’s Mayson Toft (14), Anna Doherty (7), Alexis Heckert (20), and Josie Minnerath (6).]

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[I thought Mayson had a very solid game.  As a freshman, she probably really enjoys being paired on defense with Rev.]

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[Find the puck, you’ll find Calley – here with Kristin and Rev (29).]

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[The Calley, Kristin, McKenna line got stronger and stronger as the game went on to the extent that whenever they were on the ice, the puck stayed in the Lightning’s zone.]

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[Alexis Heckert (20) would join the scoring brigade in period 2.]

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[GOOAAALLL!  After the Cards were outplayed early, Calley got the puck and stickhandled through four Lightning defenders and scored.  Just the jump start the team needed.]

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[The Cards took over the game from here – the Lightning got no more shots on goal in the period after Calley scored.  Here Allison O’Kane (36) and Marki Oberg (10) lead an attack.]

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[Marki swoops by an interested Cardinal bench.]

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[Rev pulled regular shifts and took several shots.]

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[She didn’t quite finish this one but the time will come.  She had an assist in the game.]

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[Calley finds the puck again as Alexis stands by.]

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[With Megan Pesta (8) and Kristin on the ice together, we were in the midst of a line change.]

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[Rev]

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[Marki and Rev battle along the boards.]

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[Calley’s down . . . but she popped back up immediately.]

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[McKenna looks like she just fired a shot.]

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[More offense from the Cards . . . ]

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[After a faceoff in the Ligthning’s zone . . . ]

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[Kristin circles out front . . . ]

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[And shoots . . . ]

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[And scores!!]

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[The Cards were now up 2 – 0 with about a minute left in the period.]

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[After another foray into the Lightning zone, the Cards got caught too far up ice.  The Lightning snuck behind them for a breakaway goal with less than a minute left – a real Cardinal sin, so to speak.]

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[After one]

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[The Cards must have been upset about giving up that goal at the end of the period.]

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[They came out buzzing to start the 2nd period.]

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[Less than 3 minutes in, first Alexis scored . . . ]

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[Then another rush . . . ]

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[Megan, Hadlee Hansen (18) and Marki keep the puck in . . . ]

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[McKenna shoots . . . ]

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[And scores!!  The game was unofficially over then . . . ]

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[Alexis, et al]

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[Anna and Josie]

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[Megan]

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[Rev, Kristin, and McKenna in on goal again . . . ]

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[A scrum around the goal . . . this happened a lot.]

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[But the puck sneaks out the back door . . . ]

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[Alexis on the draw with Mayson on point.]

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[Alexis at the door step.]

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[Anna on the move.  Four more years to watch her and Marki.]

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[Kristin carries into the zone.]

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[With Calley trailing.]

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[Kristin shoots with Calley screening the goalie.]

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[Then the scuffle.]

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[Mayson tagging a Lightning.]

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[McKenna tries a backhander.]

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[But a nice stop by the goalie.]

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[Oooh, the puck is hiding in plain sight.]

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[Kristin shoots . . . ]

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[And then Josie scored!]

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[The Cards came back with more pressure immediately.  Calley is joined by Olivia Kopp (40).]

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[Calley is point blank.]

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[@#$%^& puck!]

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[Kristin swoops in . . . and scores!]

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[The Cards were flying – the only thing in doubt was the final score.]

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[The 3rd period began with more of the same.

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[Alexis one on four . . . ]

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[Clears some space . . . ]

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[Then Josie and Anna takeover . . . ]

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[Then Megan scored . . .]

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[Then McKenna scored . . . ]

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[Then Marki scored . . . ]

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[Then McKenna completed a hat trick!]

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[The boys in the booth look dumfounded.]

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[Then Kristin got her hat trick.  The whole evening was quite an offensive explosion.]

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[The game should give the team a lot of confidence as they take on Fergus for the section championship . . . TONIGHT!]

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Why is a puck called a puck?  Because dirty little bastard was taken.  ~  Martin Brodeur

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Lands Down Under (Day 6)

January 16

[It’s time to recognize we’re going on a cruise!  And unlike Kellyanne, I’m free to give a plug to our travel agency!  🙂  ]

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[Our room key – it gets scanned whenever you go off and on the boat to make sure they know where you are.]

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[The ship, we were on the Lower Promenade Deck at the rear of the ship.]

maasdam4-copy[Pulling out of Sydney . . . goodbye Opera House.]

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[Ah, life at sea.  Immediately repair to Kathy and Bert’s penthouse for a little taste of the grape on their “patio.”]

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[The onboard staff photographer and I exchange photo ops.  And I even got a selfie out of it.]

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[No use crying over spilled sauvignon blanc.]

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[Looking out our window from the back of the boat (technically, the stern).  Sydney is now long gone.]

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[Our first dinner in the ship’s dining room . . . ]

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[I have no recollection of our dining options.]

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[And I didn’t remember to use the camera until we got to this course.]

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[Each night our cabin stewards, Roby and Moh, left a “towel animal” on our bed.]

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[Then back on deck for sunset shots.  We’re heading south to Melbourne.]

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[Say good night, Reetz!  She and Shari, incidentally, had the room right next to ours.]

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It was good to travel to the other side of the world.  ~  Andre Braugher

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Lands Down Under (Day 5)

January 15

[Our last day in Sydney.  We could board our cruise ship at noon but there were more places to see – besides it would be a mob scene then.  We checked out of our hotel at 10:00 and began exploring.  The first thought for some of us was to walk across Harbour Bridge (no, not on top!) and to get there we had to walk right past our ship and figure out where to board. Bill and the Super lead the approach.]

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[Our ship, the Maasdam. While we were gone local friends were taking a Holland America line through the Panama Canal.  When we all got back to Alex, Paul asked what “dam” Holland America ship we were on.]

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[Continuing our adventure, here Bill flanked by The Biddies approaches the stairwell to the bridge’s road surface.  I couldn’t count all the stairs because I can only count to 10 in Australian.]

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[After the long climb, we’re up . . . always remembering to walk on the left!]

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[The initial views from the bridge . . . ]

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[And there’s our boat.]

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[And there are the daredevils making the climb over the top.]

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[Hey, that’s dangerous!!]

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[A famous Sydney landmark, again.]

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[Our boat, again, looking back into Circular Quay.]

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[Tourists already swarming the waterfront on a Sunday morning.]

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[Can you find our Marriott?  Later we would schlep our luggage from there to the ship on foot.]

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[Well, I guess we were due for a cloudy day.]

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[We must be about to the center of the bridge now.]

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[Looking back at whence we came.]

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[Hooray for Hollywood!!  Hey, where’s the beard (under which I discovered extra jowls but no lips)?]

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[We separated from The Biddies on the far side of the bridge.  They were going to take public transportation back into the city, and Bill and I were going to walk back across the bridge to Government House where we would meet Anne and Shari . . . and maybe The Biddies later.  In the botanic gardens on the way to Government House, another giant . . . yup, fig tree.]

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[There’s Government House ahead.  From Wikipedia:  Government House is located in Sydney alongside the Royal Botanic Gardens, overlooking Sydney Harbour, just south of the Sydney Opera House. Constructed between 1837 and 1843, the property has been the official residence of the Governor of New South Wales since Sir George Gipps, except for two brief periods; the first between 1901 and 1914, when the property was leased to the Commonwealth of Australia as the residence of the Governor-General of Australia, and the second from 1996 to 2011. The property was returned as the Governor’s residence in October 2011 and was managed by the Historic Houses Trust of New South Wales from March 1996 to December 2013.]

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[Gum tree . . . ]

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[Fig tree]

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[We couldn’t take any photos inside.  These are the gardens from the porches on the waterside of the house.]

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[Shari and Anne enjoying the view.  We pretty much had the place to ourselves.]

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[Anne providing perspective for the fig tree.]

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[A Christmas tree at the end of each branch?]

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[A red flower]

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[From the Super, past the waterfront at Circular Quay early on.  Then after the bridge walk . . . ]

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[While we were exploring Government House, The Biddies were doing this! Boarding the train system on the far side of Harbour Bridge . . . ]

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[To go to Queen Victoria Building, originally built in 1898, the QVB has been described as the most beautiful shopping center in the world.  The Biddies love to shop!]

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[Then a goodbye to our hotel . . . ]

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[Finally, aboard the ship!  This was a cruise after all.  Arriving at about 3:00, we cruised right through all the check points as we were the only folks going through at the time.]

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[Our room was at the very back of the boat.  Here was our in port view.]

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[Where we would reside for the next two weeks.]

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[And where I would reside in the moment.]

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I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.  ~  Susan Sontag

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