Grand Forks 2017

If you’re familiar with the blog, you probably know that I went to school in Boston. You might not know that the husband went to school up in Grand Forks, N.D. I’ve been up there once – back in 2011 for a night, and that night wasn’t even planned – but it was a tiny little trip.

B has wanted me to see a game up at his school pretty much since we’ve been together, so we finally committed to it. And, because we’re ridiculous, of course we went in the middle of winter. Duh.

Anyway, flights in and out of GFK were terrible and they weren’t much better going through Fargo, so we decided to just go to MSP and rent a car.

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Sunset in Northern Minnesota.

We rolled into the Forks around 8pm and too late to do B’s original dinner plan, so we just grabbed a pizza and had a hotel picnic, because that’s sometimes what love and marriage is.

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(Clearly we also got in too late for me to even think about blogging here.)

Most of Friday morning was spent at the gym. After lunch, we headed over to the UND bookstore and to check out the Ralph Englestad Arena while it was still quiet (so well before game time).

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Ivan the UND fan outside the arena.

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B inside.

Later that night, I got to go to my first UND game IN North Dakota. The Ralph – palace on the prairie – is definitely amazing. Marble, leather … you can see why Fighting Sioux Hawks fans get spoiled. It’s nicer than some NHL arenas.

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I will say I was a bit disappointed with the fans; I know how loud UND fans can be. This weekend though? Fail. My team’s fans are so much better (and B agrees with me on this). It also didn’t help that the team played like poo and (rightfully) lost to St. Cloud State.

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Still happy to be back in the Forks.

Saturday was a cold, snowy, gloomy day (more typical!). We went to the gym in the morning (I’m in the middle of a swim streak), grabbed a snack, and then B took me on a running tour of his campus. I only had my phone so I really didn’t get too many pictures. After we finished the run, I got to see a bit of the aviation buildings he spent a lot of his time in and probably my favorite part of campus.

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As B calls them, “gerbil tubes.” Since North Dakota gets ass ridiculously cold, they have tubes and tunnels connecting good chunks of campus.

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Nelson in front of his favorite Grand Forks restaurant, the Red Pepper.

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Ivan at the game.

Quick trip, not a lot done (gym, hockey, the mall for the walk down memory lane), but it was wonderful to get to experience Grand Forks the way my husband did back in his college days.

I’ll go into more detail on what we ate on Thursday!

Winter Park Resort Ski Trip

Back in the beginning of our relationship, Brandon and I would go for ski trips around Valentine’s Day. After the demise of the Ski Train, that kind of stopped.

However, we’ve managed to revive the tradition the last two years. Last year, we spent the night post-skiing and we stayed at a lodge in town. This year, we went up the night before skiing and stayed a short gondola ride away from the base – a much better option.

If you talk to a Coloradoan who skis, we all have our favorite resort. I’ll admit that I haven’t skied too many places, but after growing up on Winter Park and loving it, why would I WANT to ski anywhere else?

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Riding the gondola to the Village.

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Train play area.

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Brandon warming himself up at a fire pit.

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The giant Coke fan hanging out with the Coca-Cola polar bear.

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Making s’mores.

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Free s’mores every Wednesdays.

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Amusing sign outside one of the bars.

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Ski chair.

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Cone dude at one of the chair lifts.

If you want some photos of us on the mountain, check out the tri blog.

Pro Bull Riding 2015

Since we so thoroughly enjoyed ourselves at PBR at the Stock Show last year, we decided to go again this year. I also learned the lessons of last year and bought better seats.

Continuing on with the “learning from history” theme, we also chose NOT to eat at the Stock Show itself, choosing instead to go to the Stockyard Saloon, which is basically on the grounds, but outside the paid admission area. The place is fairly old school – our beers were in cans! – but it wasn’t bad. We both had salads, I had a bacon cheeseburger and Brandon had a steak sandwich. The only thing that truly disappointed both of us was that the cheese on the cheese fries? Melted cheddar grossness. Like cheddar sauce, not actual shredded and THEN melted cheese. Some people like that … not me. I like my cheese not in liquid form.

After dinner, we headed into the Stock Show itself for a few moments. We were considering going to a PBR 101 thing, but ended up not quite having enough time. As a lot of the stuff is the same year after year (and Brandon’s foot was killing him), we mostly just hung out near the horses and talked to them before heading over to the Denver Coliseum

The bull riding itself (as well as team penning – got to see that again this year!) was awesome and the new seats weren’t bad. I think if we want truly good seats, we’ve got to hop on them as soon as they go on sale …

(Also: I need a better camera or figure out a better way with my point-and-shoot to get action shots …)

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Yes, the bull is bucking even though it doesn’t look like it here.

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Team penning.

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On Jack Parker …

… and a bit on my own hockey background.

With Boston University coach Jack Parker coaching his last game last night (a 1-0 loss to the University of Massachusetts-Lowell), I wanted to write a few words, but I really don’t know why. Maybe it’s just due to my journalistic training.

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I was an NHL fan and had just started learning how to play hockey when I started my college search and I knew that the school had to have hockey (or be very near a team) and, preferably, a way that I could keep playing.

The search came down to the University of Denver and Boston University. A school that gave me some money or a school that gave me none. Staying at home or going far away. Going to school with a friend (and a few acquaintances) and being near my family or going to a place starting completely fresh, knowing only my brother (who also attended BU). I ultimately chose the fresh start.

Being the hockey nerd that I was (I’m arguably more of a tri nerd now, though the hockey nerdiness still lingers), I soon started learning about the men’s varsity program. Signing up for WTBU, the student radio station (ideally for future career experience) and working a few games in studio helped a lot with that as well.  I signed up for the women’s club team* and thus hung out a lot in Walter Brown Arena, at that time, home to both the men’s and women’s teams. Our practices were right after the men’s a few days a week. At that point, I knew who Jack Parker was.

I first truly interacted with him in the Spring of 2002, my freshman year. I was in COM201 (communication writing) and chose, perhaps poorly, given that particular professor, to do a profile on him. When I first called to set up the interview, I was scared shitless. A former smoker, Parker has that gravelly smoker’s voice and combined with a thick Boston accent, was extremely intimidating over the phone. I dreaded doing the interview, but once I was there, it went well (besides my recorder dying on me without my knowledge and me not taking many notes. learning experience, that whole situation, for good and bad). That was when I first learned how much he cared for his players and how his favorite moments in (then) 20-some years of coaching were when Travis Roy’s parents made their first return to WBA after their son’s accident and when J.P. McKersie played in his first game back after a horrific car accident – not the BC games, not the Beanpots, not the National Championships (although I’m sure those are up there).

I forgot about those relationships until he made his retirement announcement late this season, his 40th of coaching at BU (almost his 50th at the university, between playing and being an assistant). Twitter came alive with scores of former players singing his praises, saying how vital Parker was in their development, how many of them still keep in touch. Parker himself said that he had two daughters and then 300+ sons, all from coaching.

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That 2002 interview was not my only interaction with JackPa, though. In either my junior or senior year (I think senior), we decided to try and do the 50/50 raffle at the men’s games as a way to fundraise. For whatever reason, we had to set that up through Parker and as team secretary, that was my job. He had no problems in letting us do it – in part because we held the most successful 50/50 raffle they’d ever seen, which aided his decision to let us do it again once the team made the switch to Agganis Arena. He also knew me by sight  since I basically lived at Walter Brown – not only by being a part of the women’s team, but by being there in a lot of my spare time, too. I lived either on top of the arena or just up the street my four years, and I used WBA as one of my favorite study spots (no internet meant no easy distractions). We then were reintroduced in December 2008, when I covered BU in Denver at the annual Denver Cup tournament and I had to interview him for a game recap.

Given the fact that he knew who I was led me to my favorite Jack Parker moment/memory. I worked as the WCHA columnist for USCHO.com for several years which meant that I got the opportunity to work several Frozen Fours … including 2009, when BU last made it. Thanks to going out to D.C. mostly on my own dime, I didn’t have to work much during the tourney, which meant that I could attempt to be a fan and sit next to my then-boyfriend (now husband) during the games. Working hockey had made it hard for me to be a fan (still is, if I’m being honest with myself), but BU helped change that, if only for a weekend. Watching that title game against Miami University made me a nervous wreck and sitting two sections over from the BU students (led by veteran Section 8ers) brought everything back – all the cheers, all the emotion … everything.

(it also helped Brandon realize that the Dog Pound, the BU student section is AWESOME and one of the best, if not THE best, student sections in the country.)

When BU won in overtime – which, if you know hockey,  you know they probably shouldn’t have; Parker was triple-shifting his top line, but Enrico Blasi just wasn’t pressing as much as he should have and simply got out-coached by a veteran – off a play that made me truly feel for the Miami defenseman (I am a defenseman; I have that empathy), I … I don’t even remember my emotion right now. Stunned, shocked, ecstatic. I hugged Brandon, probably kissed him, tossed my jersey in my bag and high-tailed it down to the basement. I had my media credential and though I didn’t have to write a piece on game, I wanted to congratulate both SID Brian Kelley and Parker himself.

I was able to run down Parker in the hallway after the press conference on his way back to the locker room. I got his attention, he saw me, gave me a huge hug and asked how I was doing (he, predictably, was doing quite well).

I would say that he may have hugged me regardless because he was so happy, but I know that to be false. I also congratulated University of Minnesota-Duluth coach Scott Sandelin (with whom I had a working relationship) after his team won the 2011 Frozen Four, my last game as a reporter, and I got no hug.

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There are probably still a few people out there who don’t like Jack Parker (fellow Hockey East fans) and are probably glad he’s gone, given his “reputation” of having the officials in his pocket, but, and this may be my bias talking, I don’t think you can’t not respect him and what he’s done. A few friends on Facebook said that he put BU on the map and I agree with them. Parker was considering retirement last year, but given the rape scandals, decided to stay on – partially because he knew it would have looked bad if he left, but mostly because he knew that’s when his team needed him the most. I admire that decision.

So thanks, Coach. I’m proud to have known you and I hope you show your face at a few games – the husband would like to meet you in November when his team, the University of North Dakota, plays at BU. Otherwise, enjoy retirement and may you always have smooth sailing on your likely new home, your boat.

* The women’s club team is now the women’s varsity team and playing the ridiculously undefeated University of Minnesota for the championship in the women’s Frozen Four today. I am so proud of how far that team has come in the few short years it’s been D-I. Go BU!

On Outdoor Ice

… in Colorado, in January. Which doesn’t happen often here.

But since it had been so cold, the reservoir at Cherry Creek State Park froze over. Driving the Dam Road, I saw people out on the ice, mostly ice fishing. Since it was obviously safe enough to walk on and since Brandon and I are still hockey players at heart, we decided to go and try and skate and play a little pond hockey.

Back on January 14, we packed our stuff, dressed quite warmly, drove to a parking lot just outside CCSP and hiked on over to the frozen water. We got onto the ice, started shoveling off some snow and soon realized the ice was, quite frankly, shit. It must have been windy when the ice started to freeze, because it was very bumpy. It made it hard to get a snow-free section of ice and playing some puck was going to be tricky. However, we decided it wouldn’t deter us. We still strapped on our skates and had some fun. Here are the images from that day.

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USA Pro Cycling Challenge

A little over a week ago, the USA Pro Cycling Challenge took place all over Colorado. As someone now interested in cycling races and the like (and Colorado stuff – woo!), I wanted to go see a stage of the race last year, but it didn’t work out with work. This year, I had off the last day of the race, which also happened to be the Denver time trial.

So, last Sunday, I rode from my place in the Tech Center downtown to 17th Street to watch the race. I figured 17th would be a good vantage point because riders, after winding around downtown, came up 17th, did a little loop in City Park and came back down 17th en route to the finish near the Capitol. Therefore, you’d get to see riders twice.

There were a lot of riders and a lot of people watching the race. I particularly enjoyed watching this stage because, as a time trial, most of the cyclists rode time trial bikes … essentially the bikes triathletes use, aerobars and all. Therefore, happy, happy bike porn for me. It was also awesome watching how fast those guys were cranking – the stage winner, Taylor Phinney from Boulder, ended up averaging well over 30 mph.

Obviously I took pictures.

 
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Sprinter leader Tyler Farrar.

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Taylor Phinney.

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Most Aggressive Rider (and Stage 6 winner) Rory Sutherland.

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King of the Mountains, Jens Voight.

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Best young rider, Tejay Van Garderen

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Pro Challenge winner, Christian VandeVelde.

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Crowd on 17th watching the race.

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Leader (at that point), Levi Leipheimer.

On Tebow/the Broncos

While I am a Colorado girl (and, even rarer, a Colorado native), I confess I’ve never been much of a Denver Broncos fan.

Sure, I’ve been to a Broncos game or two (none within the last two decades, however) and casually watched them at home. I vaguely remember watching them lose in Super Bowls when I was a kid – get home from skiing and go to one of the neighbor’s houses for a Super Bowl party to watch them fail and fail again. I also remember them winning their two Super Bowls when I was in early adolescence (but still didn’t much care).

I’ve always been more of a hockey girl. The Colorado Avalanche was the first local sports team I fell in love with. I always had a casual flirtation with the Colorado Rockies, which developed into something stronger in 2007 … when the casual fandom of the Boston Red Sox I acquired in college disappeared completely in favor of my hometown team. And the Denver Nuggets (or other myriad professional lacrosse/soccer/indoor football teams)? Meh.

But Denver (and Colorado and really, the vast majority of this “Western mountain region”) is Broncos territory, and I’ve never been a part of it.

Until now. Sort of.

Football is a sport I can watch without really knowing what’s going on. I typically don’t like watching a sport unless I know what’s going on. Hockey, baseball … easy. Basketball I get lost and don’t even get me started with soccer. But football … football I can watch with only the vaguest clue of what’s going on. (Granted, it might be more of a vague clue, but you’re going to have to ask the husband if that’s true.)

The Broncos have become a talked about team because of their fairly polarizing quarterback, Tim Tebow. If you’re familiar with sports, you probably already know who he is. If not, well, a friend linked to this Gawker article on facebook, which does a decent job of explaining it.

In short: highly religious quarterback for the Broncos; played college at Florida; famous for “Tebowing” (getting down on one knee and praying while other crap goes on around him), outspoken pro-life advocate, etc. Football people will tell you he’s not all that good, due to crappy throwing mechanics with his arm (kind of important if you’re a QUARTERBACK), but from what this extremely casual Broncos/football fan can see, he’s been good at helping his team believe and bringing them together, something the Broncos have needed for a while.

This has been called the worst article about Tebow ever written. I would agree … if it were meant as an actual article and not just a blog/opinion piece. If you read the comments, people think the author is advocating Tim Tebow for president; I didn’t get that. I interpreted Matthew Dowd’s piece as using Tebow, and the way he leads the Broncos, as an example as what to look for in our country’s next leader*. I can admit that perhaps Dowd went about his point the wrong way, but I don’t disagree with his point, let’s just put it that way.

Yet if that’s the worst article written about Tim Tebow, ESPN’s Rick Reilly might have the penned the best. True, Reilly has made a career about writing either feel-good pieces like this or snark. However, in a world where the vast, vast majority of stories about athletes outside of athletics are about athletes doing bad, bad things (rape, murder, etc.), it’s nice to hear about one who puts things outside the realm of sports higher than him. That yes, it is truly just a game when it comes down to it.

I partially wish that Tebow (and others) could do the same without having religion so present, as religion can be (and is) so polarizing.

And I really wish, hope and pray that Tebow continues to live by this example and not fall to the temptation and bad press that so many of his peers have.

 

*My political thoughts are … definitely for another time. Probably when I get sick of stuff come campaign season.