Vikings Training Camp

Brett Favre didn’t. We did.

Matt and I went to Vikings Training Camp in Mankato! I’ve always wanted to go. We always planned to go, but… August is a crazy month at our house.

Yet with last year’s great run, Vikes fever hit me earlier and harder, so:

Early one morning as Matt and I had breakfast together as usual (our sleepy girls rarely join us on summer mornings), we decided to just go.

The drive down was gorgeous, and we scribbled down several possible camping spots near beautiful southern Minnesota lakes and picturesque towns.

We laughed about our last trips to Mankato, in the bitter chill of winter, to watch the UND hockey team in action vs. Mankato.

Pre-game gossip

We listened to KFAN to get the latest gossip on the Vikes. Still no word from Brett. Percy and Sidney still AWOL. Hilarious interview with Erin Henderson. If you hear he will be on, tune in. Guaranteed great radio. I told Matt it’s lucky I love my clients and colleagues or I’d just listen to sports radio all day long.

Before long, we had parked and were strolling in to the fields.

We're here! A whole lot easier than getting in to the Dome, and I didn't need to cover any kids' ears to tune out the "fun"

It was immediately clear we were amongst the die-hard Vikings fans. I felt right at home! These are the people who, sadly, probably can’t afford game tickets, but live for the purple. They know the players, even without names on jerseys. I knew if I asked any stat, they would know it. Like me, they’re still in mourning over that interception in New Orleans.

Yet hope springs eternal each fall. 

Just like it has for 50 years in Minnesota. Training Camp isn’t fancy, except a few neat decals on the walkway to the fields. My favorite:

Seeing if I could fill the shoes of my childhood Vikes hero. I fondly recall wearing my #10 jersey under my church dress every Sunday.

 First look at the team

We had great seats (all seats are great here) to watch first the offense, then O and D run lots of drills.

My observations:

AP can catch passes, too He didn’t look as mechanical in catching passes and heading up field. When he did, he kept right on going through the end zone. “‘Guess that’s why his mama nick-named him ‘All Day,’ mom,” Matt said, laughing. I reminded him of Herb Brooks: “The legs feed the wolves.” Later, Matt said, “So when we’re in Dallas (site of the Super Bowl), that extra time running in August will pay off, huh?” Let’s hope, Matty. Let’s hope. I bet AP will be on the field more often on 3rd downs this season.

E.J. Henderson is amazing Coming back at this level from a broken femur. Wow.

We won’t have Leslie Frazier much longer I had the most fun watching him command his troops. Now our defensive coordinator, he’ll be a head coach somewhere for one very lucky team next year.

There’s a war on for the 3rd QB spot Joe Webb (rookie) and Sage Rosenfels were working the hardest–even in stifling humid heat. You could tell it’s a tough battle. If I were in charge, I’d pick Webb.

Bernard Berrian has great hands He’s fast, acrobatic and I (almost) didn’t mind that we didn’t get to see Sidney Rice or Percy in action.

We had a great trip home, dreaming about the season ahead. Next year, I’ll definitely be back at camp.

How about you? Have you been to an NFL training camp? Game to go next summer?


Baylor beckons: Camping in central MN

We left home to go home.

See, Baylor Regional Park Campground was the very first spot we ever camped as our family of 5. That was a few summers ago. We’re much better prepared campers now, but the spot still feels as familiar as home. It’s tough to get in, with only 50 sites, so I got online in February to book a prime site. The entire park is full of huge old oak trees that offered welcome shade during the steamy weekend.

Deep roots

Actually I have a family connection to the park. My mom’s family once farmed there, and the home and barn remain. I like thinking of them milking cows, growing corn and probably a huge garden, weathering the winters and beginning each spring with renewed hope.

The barn still stands (now the campground office)
Matt, Caroline, Greg, Julia and of course Mollie (I doubt my ancestors had a labradoodle on the farm back then, God help them)

Wild life

The boardwalk hike is one of the fun hikes around Baylor. The boardwalk, surrounded by cattails, attracts garter snakes, which are fun to watch. Two ponds hold “millions of froggies,” according to Caroline.


view from our campsite; our old lab Kasey dove in for a swim here and now that she's in dog heaven, I like thinking about her while I'm perched here


The pond above was our “backyard,” so the kids had fun finding frogs, toads, crayfish and other little friends. But the wildest life of the weekend was cousin Adam, who joined us to camp. He and his mom Janelle, my dear sis-in-law, came down from Grand Forks. Dad Curt (Greg’s brother) stayed home to keep finishing things to get their home sold before a fall move to Fargo.

Friday night, my mom, aunt and uncle came for a campfire visit. Aunt Carol and Uncle Rich live in Arizona and it was lovely to catch up and laugh with them. 

Friday night gave way to a rainy morning, which dispersed the all-night partiers with “not mom-approved language” (Matt).  I love the sound of rain on the tent canopies of our camper, and I’m always happy to find our camper has no leaks. Watching the tenters hang up everything to dry, I’m reminded what I don’t miss about more rugged camping…

Breakfast at a very exclusive restaurant

Saturday, we had the only reservations accepted at a wonderful restaurant (otherwise known as my mom’s home, just a few minutes away on the other side of Eagle Lake).

Grandma Donna and her famous buttermilk pancakes
fresh blueberries, of course
Jules, Caroline, Adam, Matty
Matt mans the grill; he's becoming an excellent cook this summer and I think he wanted to show off his skills to Grammy
Viewing Grandma's photos from her recent Alaskan Cruise

Clear skies

What a wonderful way to spend a dreary morning. As we headed back to camp, the skies cleared for a hot, humid day. We spent the afternoon at the beach, paddle-boating, fishing, swimming and just relaxing.

If summer was a person, it would look like this. Caroline, full of bug bites, sunkissed, bleached hair, sandy toes and pure joy. (apparently I was really relaxing at the beach as this is the only photo I snapped...)


One of the coolest advancements in camping is the programs offered at campgrounds. Saturday evening’s feature was an Archery Session with great teachers and not many students, so our kidlets had ample opportunity to try out their bows and arrows.

Go Adam Go
Julia was really rockin' this sport
I'm going to have her meet Katniss in The Hunger Games books now, who is a master archer

Even Matt got in on the action after a killer game of croquet with Greg kept them back at our campsite

Wickets rule
At the last moment while packing on Thursday, I grabbed a long-forgotten Pottery Barn Kids croquet set and packed it. When Julia and Matt were little, we played it four hours in the backyard. It was a neat addition to the weekend. Matt still has to be green; Julia still has a left hook. To me, they are still 2 and 4, carefully planning their shots. Happy memories.
We ended the night with more croquet, critter-searching by lantern and flashlight and of course s’mores.
Sunday morning, it was time to leave home and go…home. Another lovely weekend in the great outdoors.
Camped Baylor? I’d love to hear about your camping adventures in central Minnesota.