February 12, 2017

Minneapolis RV Show 2017

Minneapolis RV Show 2017
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for February 12, 2017

On Saturday, we headed into downtown Minneapolis to the convention center for the 2017 RV show.  It's the largest collection of RVs in the 5 state area.

We went to the show with our good friends, the Zitzewitz Family.  They like climbing in and out of a bunch of RVs just as much as we do!

Miss Sheri and I plan on purchasing an RV when we get closer to retiring age.  She loves driving the big rigs.  But first we have some boys to get through college before we can spend money on something silly like this.

I love messing with the salesmen.  I sit in the bathroom like this until one of them sees me.  Then I smile and run out of there.

After the show, we ate dinner at Don Pablos.  It's really good Mexican food and we filled the table with a bunch of it.

On Sunday morning, we headed back to Minneapolis to the Academy of Holy Angels for the state table tennis tournament.

Holy Angels is the high school where Arizona Cardinals star receiver, Larry Fitzgerald, went to high school.  I also have friends who's kids attend this school, but this was my first chance for a visit.

There were high school table tennis teams from all over the state of Minnesota at the event and quite a few of them looked pretty tough!

This was Luke and Avery's first year joining the Prior Lake High School table tennis team.  They had quite a bit of fun with it.

Unfortunately for the Prior Lake team, they drew Moundsview in the first round and they have won the state championship each of the past two years.  Needless to say, our boys' first rounds were pretty tough matches.  But they still looked like they were having fun.

Luke had some good runs against his opponent and only lost his first match by a score of 8-11.  We didn't stick around for the whole tournament so we're hoping they each had better luck in their later matches.

Today is Miss Sheri and I's 23rd wedding anniversary and we celebrated it by going out to breakfast.  Because that's the kind of thing you do when you've been married for 23 years.

February 6, 2017

Support The Special Olympics By Sponsoring Todd Swank In The Prior Lake Polar Plunge!

Todd Swank will be jumping in a freezing cold lake to help support the Special Olympics and would appreciate your donations to support this great cause!

Here's details:
Every Plunge makes a difference for more than 8,100 Special Olympics Minnesota athletes. Special Olympics Minnesota offers children and adults with intellectual disabilities year-round sports training and competition. Through Special Olympics’ athletic, health and leadership programs, people with intellectual disabilities transform themselves, their communities and the world. Funds raised through the Polar Plunge help to support programs such as Young AthletesUnified SportsHealthy Athletes and Athlete Leadership Programs, to name a few. Learn more about Special Olympics Minnesota and our amazing athletes at specialolympicsminnesota.org.

Ice Fishing in Spring Lake, Minnesota

Ice Fishing in Spring Lake, Minnesota
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for February 6, 2016

On Friday night, our good friends the Zitzewitz Family and Troy Brown came over for a hot tub party and some snacks.  Not necessarily in that order.

On Saturday, we ventured out on to Spring Lake to do some ice fishing.  I always get nervous driving on the ice no matter how many trucks I see out in front of us or how thick they tell me the ice is.  Just the thought of being in a vehicle that suddenly fell through the ice into freezing cold water is enough to give me pause.  But we put our irrational fears behind us and charged forward.

Our good friend Dan Walters has access to a friend's cabin, so we asked him if we could tag along with him some time and he was happy to oblige.  I didn't get a chance to ask him what was the significance of a green door on an ice house was, but I'm sure it means something pretty crazy.

It was nice and cozy inside the ice house thanks to the handy stove on the wall.  We took off our coats and settled in to catch some monsters.

I kept looking down the holes to catch a glimpse of some of the monsters as they swam by, but I didn't see any.  It was kind of fun seeing the minnows we were using for bait swim by the holes from time to time, though.

Turns out we didn't have much luck catching monsters, although this perch put up quite the fight as we strained to pull him out of the hole.

After awhile, I found myself wandering around outside to see if anyone else was having any luck.  I couldn't hear any screams of delight from this distance so I assumed every was having a slow day.

We did spot a couple of bald eagles sitting on a nearby tree which was really cool.  I love watching bald eagles.  I wish we had caught more fish so I could have offered them some of our catch.

I went home for awhile and felt guilty that the dogs didn't get to join us ice fishing so I took them for a walk on Prior Lake.  They seemed to like that.

Jen and Dan came to pick us up again later in the evening so we could take Luke ice fishing.  He had never done it before and wanted to give it a shot.

He didn't catch anything, but I thought he held his pole real well.

Sheri also did a good job with the pole, but again No fish.  It turns out the Swank Family isn't very good at ice fishing, but we still had a bunch of fun doing it.

We brought along our new 360Fly 4K video camera. Since it's water proof, I asked Dan to stick it down in the ice hole to discover what we'd see. I thought the results were pretty cool. Even after Dan had a cramp and dropped my new camera!

January 29, 2017

Skiing at Afton Alps

Skiing at Afton Alps
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for January 29, 2017

The  week started with a band concert at Prior Lake High School.  The music was quite uplifting.

Luke intensely played various percussion parts.  I always enjoy hearing him bang his drums.

On Friday night, Krazy Kory and Ron "Sugarman" Myers came up to spend the weekend with me.  We had lots of fun.

We had a good time at the casino and dinner at the Meadows sports bar downstairs.  Mmmm.  Sweet Potato Fries.

No matter how well I think we're getting along, though, somehow things always get out of control and we find ourselves at midnight out on the middle of frozen Prior Lake having fistfights.

We woke up bright and early and went to Charlie's on Prior before heading out to the slopes.  They have a great breakfast menu.

It's been a few years since we've actually made it to the resort and we found things have changed quite a bit at Afton Alps since they were acquired by Vail.  Not shocking, but the prices have jumped up quite a bit and the facilities have been upgraded.  They also use wireless card readers to go on the ski lifts now instead of just wearing a tag on the outside of your coat.  We're being tracked everywhere we go!

It took us awhile to get back in the groove of skiing since we're all a lot older since the last time we went and are probably quite a bit more fragile as well.  The three of us got off a chairlift together and I ended up wiping both of them out so we all fell to the ground and the chairlift operator had to stop the lift until we could recover.  I'm still feeling the pain from that one right in my coccyx!

I don't remember ever seeing this  reservoir at Afton Alps before, but maybe it's always been there.  This is what they use to make snow when Mother Nature isn't cooperating.  I'm guessing it's not great for fishing though.

After several hours of skiing, we went back to our hotel and then headed over to the Mall of America to see what kind of fun we could find.

It's always fun at Benihana!  We had a good meal and then hung out at the mall for awhile.  All in all, it was a pretty darned good weekend!

January 22, 2017

Minnesota Wild vs Arizona Coyotes

Minnesota Wild vs Arizona Coyotes
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for January 22, 2017

I had a week's worth of flashbacks to my 14 years working at Nor-Tech as I had multiple encounters with my old co-workers.  On Wednesday night, several of us connected for our Fantasy Football Awards Ceremony hosted by our wonderful commissioner Steve "Cuds" Cuddihy.  I had another horrible year in fantasy football so my personal awards weren't very lucrative, but getting to share time with these fantastic people is it's own award.

On Thursday night we headed into St. Paul to watch the Minnesota Wild host the Arizona Coyotes in an NHL match-up.

The Minnesota Wild are one of the hottest teams in the league sporting a record of 30-10 at this point in the season.  This was the first time this year we were able to make it to a game and were not disappointed.  The Wild won the game 4 goals to 3. It was incredible!

We were invited to the game as guests of Wishes & More who gave Luke a wish about 8 years ago.  Here's details of that:

A Look Back At The Time Luke Swank Did Comedy With Louie Anderson

This is Joelle from Wishes & More and she was our hostess for the evening.  Thanks, Joelle and Carol from Wishes & More for the great time!!

I was pretty excited when we walked to our seats and bumped into Wally The Beer Man.  I hadn't seen him at a game in quite some time so I thought he may have retired, but nope.  He's still the most popular beer man in the business.  Although I don't know how he's able to sell anything with so many people stopping to get selfies with him.

We had awesome seats in the front row of one of the suites.  It gave us a great view of all the action on the ice!

The team was intensely watching the game waiting for their chance to get in on the action.

If I was going against this guy, I'd probably try to shoot it between his legs.  But that's just me.

We even saw a few fights while we were there.  I'm kind of glad the fighting didn't spread throughout the arena because I'm not a real big fan of getting punched in the face like this guy was doing.  That hurts.

We wandered over between periods to see some of our buddies from Nor-Tech and their wives.  They are Wild regulars so we were excited to have the chance to come hang out with them for a bit.  They're good people.

On Friday night, we stopped by the high school to see how Prior Lake's FRC team, KING TeC, was doing with building their robot.  They're about 2 weeks in to the 6 week build season and things are coming along nicely.  We are looking forward to seeing the finished product.

Avery is the head of programming and he showed me how he could make the prototype bot spin around in circles.  I'm not sure how much that will help in the competition, but it looked like he was having fun doing it.

On Saturday night, we hung out with my old boss, Dr. David Bollig, and his lovely wife, Cynthia, who are some of our oldest friends in the twin cities.  We had a grand old time catching up on stories and playing pool with one another.

Their son, Andy, was home from college and he brought his little friend Hamilton the Hedgehog.  I had never been around a hedgehog before but these are incredible little creatures.

It's kind of like a fat rat with a porcupine skin and he's not very mobile.  He basically lays in your hands or on the ground if you set him there and doesn't do much moving around.  Andy explained to me that they are more nocturnal animals and he hears him at night running on his wheel, but becomes very embarrassed if he knows anyone is watching him run.  He's a weird little animal, but very cute.

We ended the night with a long walk in the woods.  David has his whole backyard lit up with Christmas lights so it really stands out when you see it from a distance.  We had a bunch of fun with these guys and hope to get together with them again soon.