Posts Tagged With: summer

Lynx dynasty

The last five years for the Minnesota Lynx: four WNBA Finals appearances, three trophies. A week ago, the Lynx won the title at home for the first time.

Three WNBA Championship trophies held high in the 2015 parade

WNBA boxscore

Boxscore from Game 5 of the 2015 WNBA Finals at Target Center.

Since the first Lynx game on June 12, 1999, I have seen most of the team’s home games. I was in the right place at the right time when the team joined the WNBA in 1999 and they needed workers for their gameday stats crew. My three-person team records all of the shots, rebounds, assists, steals, fouls, and so on to create the official boxscore. My younger sister, Ellen, joined our crew in 2008. While I’ve cut back to working only half of the games for the last two seasons, I’ve enjoyed working with the team from a courtside seat for 17 seasons – but of course, winning is much more fun than losing.

Before 2011, the Lynx had varying degrees of success: they finished just under .500 their first two seasons, then much worse the next two years; they reached the playoffs in 2003 and 2004, with a come-from-behind win in their first playoff game, but still exited in the first round both seasons and then missed the playoffs the next six years. It took awhile, but the team’s luck started to change.

The Lynx won the draft lottery in 2006 and picked Seimone Augustus, the college player of the year. Then in 2010 came a new coach, a trade for hometown favorite Lindsay Whalen, and the addition of veteran Rebekkah Brunson, who had already won one WNBA title. The following year the Lynx added Maya Moore, who had won two championships in college and eventually earned WNBA Rookie of the Year honors, and center Taj McWilliams-Franklin, a six-time WNBA all-star who had also already won a championship.

2011: The Lynx set a franchise record with 27 regular-season wins and recorded their first playoff series win, then their second. Then their third. The deciding game of the Finals was in Atlanta, so we watched it in my sister’s apartment. A few days later, the team held a parade in Minneapolis, with fans lining the streets several rows deep (enough that I could barely see the players) and filling up the skyways.

Lots of fans ready for a parade

The fans then filed into Target Center for a championship rally:

Coach Reeve holding the trophy on a stage with players in the background

2012: The Lynx won their first 10 games and finished with 27 wins again. They earned a return trip to the Finals, falling to Indiana in four games despite having homecourt advantage.

2013: Minnesota added a new center, another hometown favorite, Janel McCarville. Forward Devereaux Peters had joined the year before. The Lynx swept all three rounds of the playoffs. In the Finals: same opponent as in 2011, same three-game sweep.

Fans standing and waving pompons before Game 1 of the 2013 WNBA Finals

The Riverview Theater in Minneapolis showed Game 3, and my sister and I attended with hundreds of excited fans:

Fans cheering in a darkened movie theater

We hung out with Mary Tyler Moore (the statue) at the parade. That was the year Katy Perry’s “Roar” was so popular, and it became the team’s anthem. (I wished they would have changed the lyrics to “I’ve got the eye of the LYNX … and I am a champion” – but I suppose there were legal reasons why they didn’t.)

Maya Moore and Seimone Augustus in the 2013 championship parade

Another post-parade rally:

The team on stage in front of a big 2013 WNBA Champions banner

2014: The Lynx finished the regular season second in the Western Conference and lost in the conference finals to the eventual champions. Moore was named the league MVP.

2015: The addition of guards Anna Cruz and former Lynx Renee Montgomery helped when Augustus and Whalen were injured. A midseason trade brought center Sylvia Fowles. The team struggled in the second half of the regular season but gained momentum heading into the playoffs, setting up a Finals rematch against the Fever, the only team to beat the Lynx in the championship. I missed game 1 due to a poorly timed (by myself) weekend vacation, and Indiana stole home court with a win. I was back for Game 2, which the Lynx won.

Game 3 in Indiana was a classic. The series was tied 1-1, and the game was tied 77-77 with 1.7 seconds to go:

With that buzzer-beater, the Lynx regained homecourt advantage. They could win the series in Indiana in Game 4, or return to Minnesota if they lost. Ellen and I drove to Indianapolis to watch Game 4 as fans. Their arena has a scoreboard that seemed to be as big as the court, as well as a banner celebrating their 2012 championship (when they beat the Lynx).

Ten thousand fans tried to distract Whalen during a free throw.

The highlight of that game for me was the return of Red Panda, the halftime entertainer. She’s an acrobat who balances bowls on her foot, then flips them into a stack on her head – while wearing heels and riding a unicycle. And whenever she successfully flips the bowls – which is every time – she seems surprised that it worked. She is the unanimous favorite halftime act of my group of friends, but we were all sad when she had to retire about a year ago due to injuries. The Fever apparently convinced her to return.

It would have been fun to see the Lynx win there – but when they didn’t win, it set up a deciding Game 5 at Target Center in Minneapolis.

Jump ball at the start of Game 5 of the 2015 WNBA Finals

It was a slow first half for both teams. In the third quarter the Lynx broke away. Indiana made a run in the fourth quarter, but the Lynx lead was too big.

confetti inside Target Center after the Lynx won the 2015 championship

Lynx players raising the trophy

The 2015 parade was on a Friday morning. Luckily, my sister and I already had the day off. Too bad it couldn’t have been held on a Saturday so more fans could attend.

Sylvia Fowles and Rebekkah Brunson in the 2015 championship parade

A third championship rally:

giant 2015 WNBA Champions banner

The Lynx have many All-Stars, many Olympians, many people who are able to score. They’ve won championships with three different centers – and three different Finals MVPs: Augustus in 2011, Moore in 2013, and Fowles in 2015. The Lynx are approachable and likeable, even dancing with fans after home wins.

My favorite of my photos from this year is of the team receiving the trophy. I once read advice to stand behind people who are posing for a photo because “that’s where the love is.” The teamwork shows in this picture.

backs of Lynx players wearing championship t-shirts and hats

Add the Lynx to the six-time national champion University of Minnesota women’s hockey team, top-10 Gopher volleyball, and seven-time Division II volleyball champs Concordia, and it’s a pretty fun time to be a fan of Twin Cities women’s sports.

Billboard congratulating the 2015 WNBA Champion Lynx

Billboard from 2013: This is Winnesota.

This is Winnesota.

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The Great Minnesota Get-Together, 2015 edition

This year, I went to the Minnesota State Fair twice: on opening day with two friends to celebrate a milestone birthday, and another time with my husband, my sister, and her husband. The first day featured wonderful weather – not-too-hot, not humid, with a breeze. The second time was right after a rainstorm with more rain to come, followed by uncomfortable humidity. These photos combine the two trips.

street crowded with people and a trolley from curb to curb

Last year I did the Giant Slide for the first time, and this year it was the Space Tower. It spun fast as it climbed and descended and I got a *little* bit of motion sickness, but it was my favorite activity this year. A neat look at my favorite building, Agriculture Horticulture:

octagonal building with spokes on the roof leading to each door

I don’t usually get all the way to the north side of the fair, but this year we stopped briefly at the Giant Sing-Along and thought it would be fun to participate (from afar – next time it will be at a mic).

people at microphones with lyrics to Dancing Queen

Waited for a friend in the International Bazaar, where we listened to a steel drum band play not Kokomo, but Call Me Maybe.

The new Math on-a-Stick section, which my math-teacher sister was excited to see:

the hands of kids playing at an activity table

On my second trip we got to the fair incredibly early (my words) to catch the History-on-a-Schtick performance by the Minnesota Historical Society, where I work. I thought it was charming, especially the 10,000 Lakes Polka, which attempted to name every lake in the state (they soon realized it would take forever).

three singers wearing life jackets

If you get to the fair early enough, there’s no waiting at Sweet Martha’s:

several open lines

We ducked into a barn more than once to avoid the rain:

a sheep and five lambs

Apparently this needs to be said…?

Sign: Please do not put your fingers in the mouths of the donkeys.

Also ducked into the Coliseum, where I was surprised to enjoy the barrel racing:

a horse and rider making a sharp turn around a barrel

My favorite food of the fair is not a new food, but it was a first for me: fudge puppies, which are waffles dipped in chocolate and covered in whipped cream. This is what I will make next year when my office has a fair-food contest.

Other food we shared:

Super Stick from Spaghetti Eddie’s – basically a cheese-and-pepperoni-filled breadstick that’s been fried (would have been better as a regular breadstick):

Hotdish-on-a-stick (I was expecting more hotdish, less cornbread):

looks and tastes like a corndog

Deep-fried green olives (I didn’t even try this because I don’t like olives or cream cheese, but everyone else thought this was great):

deep fried olives stand

Minneapple pie with cinnamon ice cream (delicious):

two people sharing a pie

and tipsy pie (tasted like regular pie):

a round pie drizzled with honey

Not pictured from the two trips: my friend’s first Pronto Pup, walleye cakes and stuffed mushrooms from Giggles, cheese curds from the Mouth Trap (plenty for two people to share), a meatball sub from Spaghetti Eddie’s (really good for lunch the next day), French fries, Swedish meatballs-on-a-stick from Lynne’s Lefse (good), fried green tomatoes (highly rated by the others), Gizmo (meh), a couple of special beers (not mine).

We also looked at a lot of food that we couldn’t eat in the Creative Arts building, like award-winning pies…

jellies…

and cookies.

several entries in the snickerdoodles contest

My trip to the fair is never complete without a visit to the honey room:

honey jars with a painting of a beekeeper in the background

…and a look at all the vegetables lined up. I was particularly interested in the kohlrabi since we are growing a lot of it this year:

individual trays of kohlrabi, horseradish, cucumbers, and more

Things at least one person wanted to do but we didn’t get to – save this list for next year:

  • River Raft ride (I couldn’t convince anyone to go with me)
  • Education building and the MNHS booth
  • Newspaper museum
  • Reptile show
  • Dole Whip
  • Brown butter ice cream at Hamline dining hall
  • Key lime pie on a stick
  • Puffcorn ice cream
  • Nitro ice cream
  • Minnekabob

More from the Minnesota State Fair:

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The Great Minnesota Get-Together, 2014 edition

It’s the end of the summer, and that means state fair time. As the ad says, attendance is practically mandatory, and so we went.

Sky Glider from the ground

We met a friend on the northeast corner of the fairgrounds, so Giggles’ Campfire Grill was our first stop for their new walleye mac-and-cheese. With so many red peppers, it wasn’t my favorite dish, but it would have been pretty bland without it. Lots of other fairgoers apparently like this one.

walleye mac and cheese

We then headed over to the new transit hub to meet up with my sister and her husband. While we were waiting, we walked through the new history and heritage center, an area of the fair that takes on extra meaning for me now that I am an employee of the Minnesota Historical Society. We also walked through the new west end marketplace shops, tried the blueberry basil lemonade at the Blue Barn, and spotted a pop-up puppet show.

pop-up puppet show

I’d never been on the giant slide, but for some reason, this was something I really wanted to do. I’m so glad I did: it was very fast and very fun.

three people on the giant slide

After the activities, we decided to indulge in the new deep-fried buckeyes, my favorite food this year. Very sweet because of the chocolate, peanut butter, powdered sugar, and strawberry jam, but not too much when shared among four people.

deep-fried buckeyes

Up next: the new pretzel curds at O’Gara’s. I was unsure about these before we tried them (why ruin a good cheese curd?), and I wasn’t impressed. Of course, we stopped there at a slow time, so the curds had been sitting for awhile and the cheese wasn’t very melty anymore. Those two items were all I needed for my fried food fix.

pretzel cheese curds

While waiting for the curds, we stumbled across the daily parade and saw the MNHS History Hound.

Minnesota Historical Society's History Hound in the parade

On to the dairy building to see the butter sculptures, then over to the barns. The Miracle of Life building was pretty active, with lots of newly born or hatched babies.

baby animals: piglets, chick, lambs, ducklings

A quick stop at the DNR fish pond, with 45 different types of fish.

a crowd of people looking at the DNR fish pond

For the first time, I had dinner at one of the “sit-down restaurants” at the fair, the Hamline Dining Hall. I liked their new hamloaf sliders, a trendy addition this year to their traditional hamloaf entree. But unfortunately everyone was too full to try their jello salad ice cream.

two hamloaf sandwiches with fried potatoes and a pickle

Last but not least, my favorite building at the fair: the Agriculture Horticulture building (affectionately called the Ag-Hort Building). Of course the giant pumpkin is always a draw, but I enjoy the neatly stacked vegetables and seeds even more.

red potatoes, cases of seeds, cherry tomatoes

I can’t tell any difference between the different corn entries, but it’s always fascinating anyway.

corncobs and mini pumpkins

Minnesota apples: there’s more than just Honeycrisp.

Minnesota apples - SweeTango, Honeycrisp, Paula Red, Haralson, and more

I don’t remember seeing a Christmas tree competition in previous years. It was really fun to walk through and smell all the fir trees. It even felt cool in that room, though I’m sure that was just my imagination.

several different types of fir trees

And my absolute favorite spot at the fair: the honey room. As long as I get a chance to see the pretty ombre rows of honey, my trip to the fair is complete.

rows of honey jars

2014 Minnesota State Fair

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Camping at Tettegouche State Park

It had been years since I’d been camping, so when a friend told me she booked a campsite at Tettegouche State Park, I jumped at the chance to tag along with her and a third friend. This beautiful park borders Lake Superior and also includes the highest waterfall in Minnesota.

Baptism River just before High Falls

The park is outside Silver Bay, which is a little more than an hour north of Duluth. We didn’t realize that this rest stop at the park’s entrance also contains the Tettegouche visitors center, so we drove right by and had to come back. It’s a brand-new building that opened just a few weeks prior to our visit, so hopefully they will add signs soon that make it clear.

combined visitors center and rest stop

We reserved campsite 25, a walk-in site, so we had to carry our gear down a short shared path. Site 25 just happened to be the exact spot where two of us stayed with another friend 13 years ago! I climbed up onto the giant rock at the site to re-enact a picture from 2001.

Campsites 24-25 signs, and two pictures of a woman sitting on a rock

We arrived in late afternoon so first we set up our tents and unpacked our gear…

two tents

…and then made dinner over the campfire. We also had hot breakfasts – including grilled toast – each morning.

sweet corn and packets of potatoes and onions on the campfire

The first morning we hiked to High Falls, which was close enough to our campsite that we could hear the water during the quiet nights.

High Falls from the top, with the Baptism River flowing away

We approached the falls from one side, then walked along the trail further up the Baptism River to a bridge to cross to the other side.

walking bridge crossing the Baptism River just before High Falls

Up close on the other side.

High Falls from the right side

It was late morning when we reached the picturesque bottom of the falls and there were lots of other visitors, so I was lucky to get this shot without people – though you may notice a swimming dog at the left. There were also some human swimmers.

High Falls from the bottom

I can’t resist admiring wildflowers, and it seemed like I stopped every 10 feet along the trail through the woods to take another photo. This is one-flowered pyrola, which faces the ground so I had to get on my knees to see its face. Just one of dozens of wildflowers blooming at Tettegouche that weekend.

Two one-flowered pyrola flowers from above (one with four petals, one with five); one flower from below

We also saw some wildlife, including this pack of at least four garter snakes.

at least four snakes in the grass

We relaxed the rest of the day after our long hike – and of course finished with another campfire. It was too dark to get good pictures of roasting marshmallows, but no camping trip is complete without s’mores. In addition to the traditional Hersheys-and-marshmallow, we also tried some other variations, including marshmallow Peep with Nutella or Reese’s peanut butter cup.

campfire

The next morning we took a foggy walk along Lake Superior to Shovel Point.

cliffs along Lake Superior, partially obscured by fog 

I didn’t notice whether there was a sign that advised visitors of the number of stairs on this trail – which was probably a good thing!

lots and lots and lots of stairs to Shovel Point

Lake Superior’s “natural air conditioning” was in effect, which was lucky for us given the workout on the stairs. Even with the fog, the view was worth the effort – though I couldn’t tell where the lake ended and the fog began!

looking out at the lake at Shovel Point, with the lake meeting the fog

On our way back, the fog started to lift. fog along the Lake Superior shoreline from Shovel Point

We had a clear view of the former natural sea arch, which unfortunately collapsed in 2010.

what remains of a natural sea arch on Lake Superior: a sea pillar close to a rocky cliff

Great weekend of hiking and sightseeing at this gorgeous state park.

Tettegouche State Park

Visited: July 18-20, 2014

Categories: Lake County | Tags: , | 1 Comment

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