Panama Canal (Day 17)

New Year’s Eve

December 31

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[This was Rita’s 75th birthday, the day before the Super’s.  We were hoping for a big birthday double header . . . ]

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[By now you should have gotten the hint that it was another beautiful sunrise . . . ]

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[It’s a holiday, so the ship was in full PAR-TAY mode . . . ]

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[Party central for the afternoon was the Main Pool and Wintergarden . . . ]

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[Shooting from Wintergarden out to the Main Pool . . . ]

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[Sometimes there are just too many choices . . . ]

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[Maybe I saw it out there?]

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[The Super’s probably looking for ice . . . ]

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[Oh my!!!!!!]

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[Oh my!!!!!!]

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[Let’s go to class to find out what this New Year’s celebration thing is all about . . . ]

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[You may have seen Dr. Lori on TV?  She was a hoot . . . ]

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[Joined by Heather for a toast . . . ]

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[And so on with the show . . . ]

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[Nothing for “commando”?]

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[Checking the Atrium before dinner . . . ]

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[A toast to the Trio . . . ]

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[Happy New Year!!]

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[And now for fine dining in Manfredi’s Italian Restaurant . . . ]

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[The Viking Bar in the Atrium.  That’s Ibe May on the right.  We had never seen nor met her before this photo.  We advised her she was in the photo – she said she photo-bombed us, identified herself in the photo, and requested to be Facebook friends.  We still hear from her in that mode because she continued on the world cruise – she’s still on the ship, somewhere past India now, eventually ending in London.  I can’t imagine still being on the ship, now three months since we disembarked!  I mean, don’t you eventually run out of underwear?  (Side note, and it’s true:  When I stood up here, my pants fell down.)]

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You got to be careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there.  ~  Yogi Berra

Up Next:  Still cruising . . .

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Panama Canal (Days 15 & 16)

At Sea

December 29

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And now three days at sea as we begin the long trek to our final two destinations:  Cabo San Lucas and Los Angeles.

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[These are actually welcome days from the hustle and bustle of daily port visits . . . ]

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[Hard to beat a hot dog by the pool . . . ]

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[With a pro basketball game on TV – from Turkey . . . ]

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[Then on to fine dining . . . ]

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[Dinner?  Already?  It appears this was our first time at the “special” The Chef’s Table restaurant.  Reservations and pearl necklaces required . . . ]

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[Something tasty . . . ]

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[Something funny . . . ]

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[A different wine for every course . . . ]

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[The wines are stacking up – I was having trouble keeping up . . . ]

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[Then up to the Explorers’ Lounge for a little late evening entertainment with . . . ]

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[Yup, you guessed it!]

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December 30

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[Day 2 at sea – we’re here because this fellow’s T-shirt read “Follow me I know where the wine is” . . . ]

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[A much calmer day . . . ]

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[How about a class?]

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I much prefer travelling in non-British ships.  There’s none of that nonsense about women and children first.  ~  Somerset Maugham

Up Next:  The next place the ship stops . . .

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1,000!!!!

April 1

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Lest you haven’t been keeping score, this is the 1,000th posting on this blog!  By a show of hands, how many of you have seen all of them?  Really?  OK, let’s go back to the beginning, from the “about” column . . . 

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“It all began in a 5,000 watt radio station in Fresno, California” . . . wait a minute, that was Ted Baxter on the Mary Tyler Moore Show!  Let’s see . . . oh yeah, it all began in 2003 when retirees, i.e., old people, in Alexandria, Minnesota, who had no desire to become snow birds, went looking for mid-winter entertainment here in the frozen tundra of West Central Minnesota.  We discovered girls’ high school hockey, fell in love immediately, and it remains our favorite spectator sport to this day.  Initially, and for several years, reports on these games were e-mailed to those who were actually snowbirds but wanted to keep abreast of things “back home.”  It was ultimately decided a blog would be more efficient, and it evolved into a personal diary of many things that attracts tens of readers on occasion.  It remains a source of personal mental therapy and has yet to elicit any lawsuits.

So let the celebration begin!!!

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The first blog posting was on January 2, 2011.  I have averaged a post every three days since then – more often than George Will, but not quite at the Tweeter-in-Chief’s pace.  Now all I have to do is reduce seven years of blogging into a single comprehensive celebrative post.  Good luck with that.  In fact, here are the responses I got back regarding that possibility  . . . 

From Jami . . .

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From Kathy . . . 

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From Jo . . . 

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From Cliff and Bonnie . . . 

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From Cameron . . . 

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And it all started when . . . 

Accordingly, it was seen fit that I receive an award – well, a piece of paper – for maintaining the longest running blog on the SW shore of beautiful Lake Darling . . .

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I received a congratulatory handshake from Robert Reich . . . 

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The Super also got an award for putting up with all this . . . 

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Even Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar checked in . . . 

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And Bill Clinton . . . 

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Jo expressed herself on the top of my head . . . 

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Scarlett brought champagne . . . 

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I brought champagne . . . 

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LT gave thumbs up . . .

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(Her 1,000 career point . . . )

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Willie’s bewildered . . . 

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And Barb expressed her concerns . . .

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On family, it’s been good . . . 

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Jami and Danny moved in for a couple years while they prepared The Harn for habitation . .

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Grandson Tom graduated from high school . . . 

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Then from Purdue with Celia . . . 

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Then moved to Colorado to begin their careers . . . 

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Uncle Mo got his citizenship . . . 

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I had a couple of major birthdays . . . 

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The Super got a new car . . . 

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I got to drive Jami’s . . . 

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On health, got new eyes . . . 

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And ear obstructions removed . . .

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So now just sit on my ass whenever I can . . .

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We made our first trip ever to Worthington where Mom grew up . . . 

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I flew over the “new” hole on the golf course and our home on beautiful Lake Darling . . . 

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Lake Darling . . .

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Home, Sweet, Home . . . 

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We went to Colorado for Auntie Pearl’s 90th birthday . . . 

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Above with her five sons; below with two large nephews . . . 

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And we celebrated my 50th class reunion . . . 

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With classmates of surprisingly the same age . . .

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The boys reprise 50 years ago . . .

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As noted in the intro, Cardinals . . . 

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First, at Jefferson High School . . .

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Then Alexandria Area High School in 2014 . . . 

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And I made the first stage performance there . . . 

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To an audience of one . . .

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Then Jefferson was demolished . . . 

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Where Jefferson used to be . . .

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So, to coverage . . . 

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With Abby, whose hockey team got us rolling down this course . . . 

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And with hockey moms . . .

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And Super Fans who would go to cross-country meets with sub-zero wind chills . . .

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To follow the multiple times state champions . . . 

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The last volleyball game at Jefferson . . . 

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And then the first game at the new high school . . .

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And “The Voice” took photos of the event during his broadcast . . . 

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Going to all the state tournaments . . . 

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With required dining at Cossetta’s . . . 

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Homecoming parades . . .

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The internationally renowned . . . 

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The also renowned Noonan’s Park . . . 

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The 36-straight free throws made on Mom’s birthday . . .

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And yet I still shoveled and schlepped out the garbage . . . 

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And, we traveled – “to far away places with strange sounding names” . . .

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Prague . . . 

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Somewhere on a river . . .

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Somewhere on a bench . . .

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Canada?  With the Super’s sister Rita, our natural traveling companion . . .

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Montreal . . . 

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Anne of Green Gables . . .

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John A. Macdonald, the Abraham Lincoln of Canada . . . 

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St. Lawrence River . . . 

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“Anatomical” background feature in Canada . . .

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Paris, from the top of the Arc de Triomphe . . .

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Camp Brosius . . . 

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Quebec (I think) . . . 

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Ephesus . . .

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Istanbul . . .

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Mykonos . . .

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Sorrento . . .

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Rome . . .

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Pisa . . .

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Florence . . . 

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Cannes (I think?) . . . 

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Some place famous . . . 

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Venice . . . 

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It’s all 50 states, and I believe 35 countries . . . 

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Occasionally, you get covered by the local paper . . .

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Occasionally, there are issues . . . 

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On the arts . . . 

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The high school’s annual Christmas concert, of the combined choirs and orchestra . . . 

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Carlos Creek Winery . . . 

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Skilly & Duff, a/k/a Annie, Bruce, and Mikko . . .

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Theatre L’Homme Dieu . . .

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The winery . . .

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Rice Park, St. Paul . . . 

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The winery . . . 

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Bruce . . .

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AAAA, a/k/a Andria Theatre . . . 

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Lisa Lynn . . . 

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Paul Drinkwine . . . 

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Dan Mahar . . . 

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MOTU . . . 

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Patchouli . . .

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The Salty Dogs . . . 

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Harper’s Chord . . . 

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Josie Nelson . . .

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BAT . . . 

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Anthony and Jim Miltich . . . 

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What can I say . . . 

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Local coaches of note at the winery . . .

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Terry Kennedy . . .

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Julie and Matt Velline . . . 

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Anthony . . . 

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The winery . . .

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The Cheese Bots . . .

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Mel Lamar Trio . . .

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Tucker’d Out . . .

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Mikko . . . 

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The Super in Lakes Area Radio Theatre . . .

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SAWA, farewell . . .

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On fine dining . . . 

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On wunderkinds, Spencer and Sami . . . 

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And Josie . . . 

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On Authors, Jess Lourey . . . 

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Kent Nerburn . . . 

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Barb Grover . . . 

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Wendy Webb . . . 

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Jay Tunney . . . 

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William Kent Krueger . . . 

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Carl Hiaasen . . .

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Anna Quindlen . . . 

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Mike Troy . . .

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Cathy Wurzer . . . 

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And Western Minnesota newspapers . . . 

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On fine stuff . . .

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Granted, it’s just a diary – but . . . 

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Right, Jami?

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It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn’t give it up because by that time I was too famous.  ~  Robert Benchley

Up Next:  Back to regular broadcasting . . .

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Panama Canal (Day 14)

December 28

Guatemala

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[Sunrise approaching Guatemala . . . ]

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[Central America’s signature volcano ranges . . . ]

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[Here Comes the Sun by the Beatles . . . ]

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[OK, we’ve apparently aready sped by any port activities and are on the road to Antigua.  Puerto Quetzal is Guatemala’s largest Pacific Ocean port. It is important for both cargo traffic and as a stop-off point for cruise liners (Wikipedia).]

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[Speaking of volcanic peaks, I believe this one is Agua . . . ]

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[When you come to the fork in the road, take it . . . ]

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[This pair are Fuego and Acatenango – I  believe Fuego is the smoker . . . ]

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[Guatemala has 33 volcanoes, of which three are active.  The  Agua, Acatenango and Fuego volcanoes: are possibly the most photographed Volcanoes of Guatemala, these three peaks guard the wonderful colonial city of Antigua Guatemala (aroundantigua.com).]

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[These volcanoes reach elevations above 12,000 feet . . . ]

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[We thought these were volcanic vents from a distance.  They were actually small fires.]

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[A peek here at the traffic – full blown bumper-to-bumper reflecting the holiday season.]

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[Why yes, I did take a photo every time I had a clear shot . . . ]

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[Meanwhile, back in traffic . . . ]

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[Oy, took forever with this truck in front.  The trip from port to Antigua takes about an hour and a half, depending on traffic (of course) . . . ]

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[Finally, an opportunity to pass.  With that monstrous load of bricks, he was going about 10 mph up the hill . . . ]

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[Poincianas or Spathodea campanulata?]

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[Ken Kesey and his Merry Band of Pranksters at a supermarket?}

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[This way to Antigua . . . ]

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[You figure it out . . . ]

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[Never pass up a volcano shot, here going through the back streets of Antigua . . . ]

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[In Antigua, looking for parking . . . ]

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[Guatemala shares with Myanmar (formerly Burma) the distinction of being one of the world’s major sources of this fine stone.  Jades S.A., now Jade Maya, made the decision to re-establish a jade carving industry in Guatemala and opened its doors in the 1970’s and remains the largest jade operation in Central and South America.  Jade Maya is a totally integrated jade company founded in 1974 by archaeologist Mary Lou Rindinger and her husband Jay Ridinger. We mine fine jadeite jade which is found mainly in Guatemala and Burma, but valued throughout the world. The source discovered and used by Jade Maya, are the same used  by the Ancient Maya people of Mesoamerica. The jade is cut and polished in our factory by native Guatemalan workers who are recovering and preserving the carving traditions of their ancestors (jademaya.com).]

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[This is Mary Lou Rindinger . . . ]

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[The “factory” . . . ]

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[Ms. Rindinger calls this large chunk of jade her “retirement account.”  If she said it’s weight or worth, both unlikely, I don’t recall . . . ]

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[Convento de Santa Clara . . . ]

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[Cathedral of San Jose . . . ]

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[Preparing to march on Antigua’s Plaza Central Park . . . ]

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[Antigua is a city in the central highlands famous for its well-preserved Spanish Baroque-influenced architecture as well as a number of ruins of colonial churches. It served as the capital of the Kingdom of Guatemala. It has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  At the time of the 2007 census, the city had 34,685 inhabitants (Wikipedia).]

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[The college courtyard – we were subsequently hustled out of here . . . ]

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[Back to the plaza where “the joint is jumping.”]

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[It’s a major tourist attraction which attracts the local vendors . . . ]

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[I think it rather amazing that I have two high school classmates who go to Guatemala annually on separate missions . . . ]

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[Remember, never pass up a volcano shot . . . ]

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[Transactions are taking place . . . ]

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[I am at a loss to explain how this photo fits here?  Stuff happens?]

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[Meanwhile, back at the plaza, the vendors have their eyes on the Super . . . ]

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[And they got her!!]

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[The plaza where the following are located . . . ]

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[Birds of Paradise . . . ]

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[We made a special stop here, identified in the 4th photo down.      ]

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[The Chapel of San Jose el Viejo, a school is situated next to the ruins of the chapel of San Jose el Viejo (3 blocks away from the Central Plaza of Antigua).  The school building, used to be part of the church.  Around 1736 a modest chapel was begun in the Tortuguero District of Antigua.  It was intended to house the splendid statue of Saint Joseph, which was the work of the great sculptor Alonso de la Paz.  The little hermitage became the house of worship of the needy people of this populous district (sanjoseelviejo.com).]

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[Back on the ship, it somehow seemed appropriate that we had a “volcano” for dessert.]

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Cars will soon have the Internet on the dashboard. I worry that this will distract me from my texting.  ~  Andy Borowitz

Uo Next: 1,000!!!!!

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Panama Canal (Day 13)

December 27

Nicaragua

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[Land ho!]

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[Welcome to the land of volcanoes.  On the Pacific side, along the entire length of the country – a whole bunch of volcanoes.]

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[Coming upon Isla del Cardon on the way to the port of Corinto . . . ]

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[By some magic sleight hand . . . ]

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[The statue moves from the right side of the light house to the left?]

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[Rubén Darío, was a Nicaraguan poet who initiated the Spanish-American literary movement known as modernismo (modernism) that flourished at the end of the 19th century. Darío has had a great and lasting influence on 20th-century Spanish literature and journalism. He has been praised as the “Prince of Castilian Letters” and undisputed father of the modernismoliterary movement (Wikipedia).]

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[If you should want to personally visit the island . . . ]

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[A majestic statue of Rubén Darío, 5.5 meters high and 3.5 tons of bronze, valued at one million 20 thousand córdobas, made by the sculptor Arnoldo Guillén, was inaugurated on Friday afternoon on El Cardón Island, where the 20 March 1908, the Prince of Letters Castellanas was inspired to make the famous poem “A Margarita Debayle” (www.elnuevodiario.com).

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[And here’s the majestic frozen Super, in the ship’s human refrigeration spa . . . ]

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[Actually, it was quite refreshing . . . ]

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[And something we felt compelled to do since they were experiencing 40+ below zero wind chills back home . . . ]

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[Out of the ice and snow for a bit of relaxation . . . ]

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[The bus ride to Leon, not far from far from Corinto.  Our note taking was nonexistent by now, so we have forgotten our guide’s name.  He was a good though; full of youthful exuberance . . . ]

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[Window views into the city . . . ]

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[University campus . . . ]

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[Museum . . . ]

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[A good guess would be a produce store . . . ]

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[León (founded in 1524) is the second largest city in Nicaragua, after Managua.  As of 2016, León had an projected population of 206,264.  León is located along the Rio Chiquito (Chiquito River), some 90 kilometres (56 miles) northwest of Managua, and some 18 km (11 miles) east of the Pacific Ocean coast.  León has long been the political and intellectual center of the nation and its National Autonomous University of Nicaragua (UNAN) was founded in 1813, making it the second oldest university in Central America.  León is also an important industrial, agricultural, and commercial center for Nicaragua, exporting sugar cane, cattle, peanut, plantain, and sorghum. The city has been home to many of Nicaragua’s most noteworthy poets including Ruben Dario (Wikipedia).]

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[The Assumption Cathedral is the largest cathedral in Central America, and has been the first episcopal seat of Nicaragua since 1531, making it one of the oldest dioceses in the Americas (Wikipedia).]

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[I believe Feliz Navidad has something to do with the season . . . ]

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[Based on internet photos, it appears the church has received an exterior scrubbing recently.  Looks good . . . ]

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[And now we’re in the interior . . . ]

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[Which may also have been scrubbed?]

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[I can’t even remember if this was our guy . . . ]

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[The ceiling . . . ]

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[A lion . . . ]

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[A supervisor . . . ]

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[Back out on the city square.  Yes, that is some big senorita . . . ]

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[We had to go outside the church for the stairway entrance to the roof . . . ]

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[And there goes the Super.  Visitors to the roof must take off their shoes.  Since it was sunny and hot, one might suspect the roof to be likewise.  It wasn’t . . . ]

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[The white-painted roof was actually very comfortable to walk around on . . . ]

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[And the reason for coming up here – to view the country’s volanic spine . . . ]

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[Church of la Recolección in the photo center . . . ]

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[The Church of the el Calvario at the far east end of calle Real (Main Street) . . . ]

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[‘Twas quite lovely up here . . . ]

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[Lotsa selfies going on . . . ]

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[Back down on the plaza . . . ]

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[A UFO flew overhead . . . ]

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[We’re circling around the neighborhood . . . ]

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[There’s the UFO again . . . ]

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[A church of indeterminate origin . . . or is it a church?]

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[The sign says “hospital” . . . ]

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[The entire ship’s staff line up to welcome us back . . . ]

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[I’m caught trudging up the ramp . . . ]

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[We’re hungry from the trudge . . . ]

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[I really don’t remember . . . ]

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[Then it was a celebration of Edvard Munch for the atrium’s entertainment . . . ]

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[Man With Horse . . . ]

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[With our Viking Classical Trio favorites . . . ]

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[The Super looking as festive as the occasion . . . ]

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[Canal At Sunset . . . ]

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[Woman With Pumpkin . . . ]

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[Woman With Poopies (are you noticing a trend with Munch’s titles?) . . . ]

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[Women With Musical Instruments . . . ]

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In continuing with the theme of the evening, and of the cruise . . . 

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[Self portrait . . . ]

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I told the doctor I broke my leg in two places. He told me to quit going to those places.  ~  Henny Youngman

Up Next:  The cruise . . .

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State Tournament . . . Again?

March 14

Yes, again!  For the third weekend in a row – first, girls hockey; then, boys hockey; and finally, girls basketball!

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[The Cardinals were playing the No. 1-seed, Robbinsdale Cooper, at 10:00am Wednesday.  I no longer drive beyond a 10-mile radius of Alexandria if it’s dark – we left for the Cities on Tueday afternoon . . . ]

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[Our overnight stay for events at Williams Arena has been the Graduate Minneapolis (previously The Commons, previously the Radisson) on Washington Avenue on the U of M campus, a mere two-block walk to the arena.  Minnesota legend Loni Anderson was in our room . . . ]

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[It must be Happy Hour in the Graduate restaurant . . . ]

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[It was!]

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[The neighborhood, beginning with the lobby . . . ]

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[This is no longer the Washington Avenue of my college years (my dorms are two blocks behind this new high rise), or even a couple years ago . . . ]

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[The hotel (as the sign says) – we did run into other Alex folks staying here . . . ]

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[The Super warms herself by the fire . . . ]

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[The view from our floor – that’s the alumni center; behind it the football stadium . . . ]

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[Walk right up that street to Williams Arena . . . ]

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[Breakfast in the hotel before the game . . . ]

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[Kohler posted when the team arrived in Williams Arena . . . ]

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Oh yeah, the game!!

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[And now we’re among the early arrivals at the game, chatting with Darice Cunniff (sitting in front of the Super), the Cardinal PA announcer . . . ]

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[The storied raised floor of Williams Arena – 50 years ago I played intramural basketball on it . . . ]

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[The owner of the most wins all-time by a female Minnesota basketball coach (by tourney’s end, 579-232) – for some reason, however, the camera focused on “GOPHERSPORTS.com”?]

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[Alexandria’s mass media was on hand to broadcast the game from the upper lever . . . ]

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[The Cardinals take the floor . . . ]

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[The Cardinal band take their seats . . . ]

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[Cooper has a height advantage at coach. Kiara Buford, the Cooper coach, was a star for the Gophers in the first half of this decade . . . ]

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[A Cardinal cheerleader joins the fray . . . ]

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[Cardinal captains receive pre-game options for post-game dining . . . ]

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[Coach Kohler received a pre-game “howdy-dos” from two of last year’s team members, Kayla Feldhake and Kara Thomson . . .]

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[Suit ’em up, Wendy!]

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[The Cardinal cheerleaders were introduced – I couldn’t get them all in one shot with the telephoto lens . . . ]

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[The Cardinal team is introduced . . . ]

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[Junior center McKenzie Duwenhoegger . . . ]

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[Senior forward Courtney Gould . . . ]

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[Senior forward Emma Schmidt . . . ]

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[Sophomore guard Ella Grove . . . ]

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[Junior guard Kaye Paschka . . . ]

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[Let’s do it!!]

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[The Cards appeared relaxed . . . ]

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[The JUMP . . . ]

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[McKenzie wins it . . . ]

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[And then she drives for an inside shot . . . ]

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[Looks askew . . . ]

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[The battle for the rebound . . . ]

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[Courtney at the line, where she is, and was, very good.  The Cardinal game plan was to work the ball inside to our “bigs” to score and/or get fouled . . . ]

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[Courtney developed into a real star, the team’s leading scorer, in her senior year . . . ]

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[Here it appears we were trying to set up our favorite inbounds play, but teams seem to be onto it now.  In this case, Courtney would have faked to Emma, the inbounder, coming around the outside, then dribble the ball up the end line for a lay-up . . . ]

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[Emma wheels around the outside of the really quick Hawk defense.  Junior Emily Jones (43) and sophomore Mia McGrane (5) have joined the fray for the Cardinals – they will likely be the starters next year in Courtney’s and Emma’s roles . . . ]

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[Mia and Kaye defend the Hawk guards.  As quick as the Hawk guards were, Kaye was still the fastest player on the court and was indispensible (she played every minute) in bringing the ball up court against their pressure . . . ]

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[HOW DO YOU DEFEND THIS? My sports photo of the year.  The shot was by Jada Bufird, the little sister of the Cooper coach, Kiara, who starred for the Gophers in the first half of this decade.  Jada came in averaging 8 points per game – she scored 20 in this one, making all manner of 3’s.  I don’t think this one went in, but you know she was feeling it by even attempting it!]

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[Kaye has the ball under the eye a Hawk defender, and the Hawk coach . . . ]

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[Inside to Emma . . . ]

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[Coach Buford can’t watch . . . ]

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[Emma launches a 3 – just missed . . . ]

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[Rebounders struggle for position . . . ]

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[Jonesie, you’re in!]

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[Close game all the way, esecially so the first half where we led most of the time . . . ]

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[It came down to their outside shooting, which unfortunately was beyond ‘normal’ . . . ]

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[Kaye cuts off the driver . . . ]

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[Ella on the line.  We shot 75% from the line over the first two tourney games . . . ]

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[And Kaye chips in . . . ]

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[Then McKenzie . . . ]

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[Not as much photo coverage of the 2nd half.  So, as the game winds down, time for a little woulda, shoulda coulda?  We listened to our last two games on radio.  Cooper won the championship, beating Willmar, then Northfield – and they didn’t shoot as well against those teams as they did against us.  Watching those games confirmed what I thought prior to – we gave Cooper their toughest game, and it was likely down to between us or Holy Angels as to who could give Cooper the toughest game.  Wendy was a bit upset that we had to draw the No. 1-seed in the first round.  We blew out De LaSalle, the No. 4-seed, in the consolation game, 69-42.  De LaSalle lost to Cooper by 4 in the regular season and split with Holy Angels.  Grand Rapids upset Holy Angels, the No. 3-seed, in the first round, so the Cards had to play Holy Angels for the consolation championship.  We must have been totally pooped, because we shot really poorly (26%).  Even our free throw shooting dropped off – we could have opened up a double digit lead in the first half if we had made them and that may have changed the complexion the game.  Holy Angels won 56 – 46 – the teams were equal in rebounds and turnovers, the difference was shooting percentage.  The one bright spot was Emma Schmidt who went out in a blaze of glory – 6 for 8 in 3-point shooting! McKenzie was a rebounding star in the tourney – 14 in the 1st game, 11 in the 2nd.  There was a great game in the class AAAA championship as Eastview finished an undefeated season over Hopkins – lots of Division 1 prospects on the floor.]

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[OK, finish hard!]

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[Kaye and Ella brought the ball up against pressure all game – take a quick breather . . . ]

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[The last gasp . . . ]

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[Still gotta love ’em! Their motto was, “Start Unknown, Finish Unforgettable.” It was a whole new team at the start of the season; they were not on anybody’s radar. And they went to state. As usual, they were very fun and entertaining to watch; and also very frustrating. The stats about midway through the 4th quarter told it all: Cooper was 6 for 10 on 3-point shots; we were 0 for 7; we had 25 turnovers; they had 10 – and yet it was a 4-point game? I was at the game, and I can’t explain it? But again, congrats to the team on an “Unforgettable” season – and we’ll expect to see you on the floor at Williams again next year!]

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[We made it home from the ‘U’ campus in one hour and 50 minutes, in time to celebrate Pi Day, for Stephen Hawking, Albert Einstein’s Birthday, and Jami’s Birthday (well, next week) . . . ]

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Boards, Boards, Boards  ~  Knute Rockne

Up Next:  Still haven’t completed the cruise?

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Almost!!

March 9

Almost means the Cardinal boys hockey team came within one goal of being the class A state champion.  The journey began as the No. 3-seed in section 6A, where we dispatched both teams seeded above us, Sartell-St. Stephen and St. Cloud Cathedral, thus earning the No. 4-seed in the state tournament.  In the first round at state, we defeated the No. 5-seed, Thief River Falls, 1 – 0.  Then I drove down with Ken Howell and John Etnier for this section semi-final against defending state champion and No. 1-seed, Hermantown.  The Cards amazingly made it to the championship game (we couldn’t attend) where we lost 2 – 1 to the No. 3-seed, Orono.  Further speaking well for our performance, Thief River Falls and Hermantown won the consolation title and 3rd place games, respectively.

[Saddling up to leave town for the state tournament (Voice of Alexandria photo) . . . ]

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[I got in.  But a situation with the “TSA” at the Xcel Energy Center threw off my timing and I forgot to get a tournament program!!  So, we’ll have to work off the above roster.]

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[The Cards hit the ice at the 19,000+-seat Xcel Energy Center, home of the Minnesota Wild.  This game drew a crowd of over 11,000 as I recall, a record for a class A semi-final game . . . ]

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[Hermantown had reached the title game annually since 2010, which means adult fans on Hermantown’s side of the arena with a toddler on their lap held a child who has only known the Hawks as a fixture on the season’s final day.  The Hawks, the No. 1 seed, rode a 48-game unbeaten streak against 1A opponents and hoped to play for a third consecutive championship after six consecutive defeats.  ~  Dave La Vaque, StarTribune, 3-10-18]

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[Under the full glare of statewide TV coverage . . . ]

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[Pre-game introductions . . . ]

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[Pre-game instructions to each other . . . ]

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[And we’re off!]

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[That appears to be Jack Westlund (10) chasing after the puck.  He scored the only goal in the Thief River Falls game . . . ]

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[Westlund and likely his center, Ben Doherty (7), mixing it up . . . ]

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[Freshman Jakob Stender (27) in on goal . . . ]

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[But the Hermantown goalie gathers the puck . . . ]

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[And this looks like Shane Birkeland (25) making a cross ice pass . . . ]

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[You may note that we’re at a bit of an elevated position here.  We were in the club section, one level above level one, making number identification difficult at times . . . ]

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[Face-off in our offensive zone . . . ]

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[Jack Powell (21) scored 2 minutes after the Hawks had scored tying the game at one . . . ]

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[The Cardinal band and fan section celebrate!  I believe you can tell when I’m shooting the ice and when I’m shooting the ginormous scoreboard screen?]

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[Looking good, all even after one . . . ]

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[Cheerleaders and students exchange photo ops . . . ]

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[And then cheer!]

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[Period 2 . . . ]

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[Late in the period, otherwise controlled mainly by the Hawks, Caleb Strong (3) scored on an assist from Powell giving the Cards a 2 – 1 lead going into the 3rd . . . ]

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[Into the 3rd, the Cards broke it open . . . ]

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[Powell scored again on a beautiful end-to-end rush . . . ]

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[Then Ben Johnson (9) scored, Cards up 4 – 1 . . . ]

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[It looked like a breakaway goal here for Caleb . . . ]

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[But the defense kicked out his back leg for a tripping penalty . . . ]

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[With the Cards up by 3 goals with a little over 3 minutes left in the game, the Hawks pulled their goalie and Powell scored on an empty-netter for his hat trick!]

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[Nice post-goal knee slide, Jack . . . ]

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[The loneliness of an empty net.  Evan Lattimer (12) also scored an empty-netter making the final score 6 – 1 . . . ]

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[We had slayed the giant!]

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[On to the championship game . . . ]

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[The fans . . .  we had a ringer.  We were joined by the class of ’65’s homecoming queen, who was appearing at her first Cardinal game since high school.  When the final result was tallied, the boys agreed Kathy, in her full Cardinal paraphernalia, had to have been a good luck charm.]

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Wrapping up:  The Cardinals only allowed 3 goals in 3 games, and both goals in the championship game were a bit flukey – on their 1st goal one of our defenseman lost his stick and was unable to defend against a point blank shot; and on the 2nd, the puck took a weird angle bounce of the backboards right to an Orono player in front of the net (that Orono player, incidentally, is the grandson of one of my Alexandria high school history teachers?).  If you toss out the anomaly of the girls Warroad game, both Cardinal teams allowed only 5 goals in 5 state tournament games, and both won 2 out of  3 games there.  Senior goalie Jackson Boline (30) had a tremendous tournament with a 96% save percentage – he was named recipient of the Herb Brooks award and was named to the all-tournament teamSenior Jack Powell (21) became a star in this tournament and was named to the all-tournament team.  They were joined on the all-tournament team by junior Jack Westlund (10), who scored our only goal in the Orono game, and by sophomore Caleb Strong (3).  Congratulations to the team for a great tournament.  Thanks for the magic carpet ride!

[Photo samplings from the mainstream media.  First the goalies from the Hermantown game from the Duluth News Tribune . . . ]

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[Two from the Pioneer Press, Powell’s great end-to-end goal . . . ]

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[Five from Echo Press of the Hermantown game, Strong here . . . ]

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[Westlund and Powell . . . ]

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[Zach Wosepka (20) . . . ]

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[Powell and Boline . . . ]

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[Shane Birkeland (25) and Powell . . . ]

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[StarTribune of a Powell goal celebration . . . ]

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[Voice of Alexandria with the Powell end-to-end goal . . . ]

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[Five from Echo Press of the Orono game, Boline and Matthew Carlsen (26) . . . ]

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[Carlsen and Boline . . . ]

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[Westlund and Carlsen . . . ]

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[Birkeland . . . ]

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[Lattimer . . . ]

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[Wrapping up with Westlund and Boline at the end of the championship game from Echo Press; and Boline from Voice of Alexandria.]

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People didn’t know the difference between a blue line and a clothes line.  ~  Al Michaels (prior to the “Miracle on Ice”)

Up Next:  Girls basketball going to state . . .

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