June 17, 2018

Golfing in Clear Lake, Iowa

Golfing in Clear Lake, Iowa
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for June 17, 2018

Summer always brings us interesting bugs.  I'm guessing this is some sort of moth, but he was pretty massive.

One of our albino squirrel friends stopped by our porch to steal some bird-food.  Our dog, Blue, took special interest in him and really wanted to go outside to say Hi.  We tried to explain to him that we don't want him to chase the white ones, but for some reason he doesn't seem to understand.

We celebrated Father's Day early this year by going to our favorite restaurant, Benihana.  We brought along Grandma Linda because mothers make Father's day all the more special.  It's nice to have my boys home for the summer so we can do this kind of stuff.

On Friday night, we went to Troy and Rhonda's household for another Fogo De Brown meal.   Basically, Troy spoils us with all kinds of delicious meat.

Karl has always been a huge meat fan, so I wasn't surprised to see him jump right in there to lend a hand.

The rest of the family anxiously waited as the meal was prepared.  We were all very excited for the meat we were about to receive and did not leave disappointed.  It was another great meal with the Browns.

On Saturday morning, I drove down to Clear Lake, Iowa to play some golf with my old buddies.  They told me we were going to play 36 holes, but I don't think any of us realized the temperatures were going to climb into the nineties.  So we only made it through 27 holes before deciding to call it a day.

Oak Hills is my favorite course.  I'm sure you can all imagine, my golf game is below average at best.  But I still enjoy getting out there and smacking the ball around.  

I love Oak Hills because it's inevitable I'm going to see old friends of mine like Matt and Chris.  It's always a good thing to see the old gang.

I hadn't seen Curt and Jay in many, many years, so it was great to bump into them as well.  Curt asked me to give a shout-out to Mike Hoil on this week's update.  Consider it done.  Hi, Mike!

After we were done golfing, we headed over to Mason City, Iowa.  We stopped and played pool at Ransom's.  I don't remember if I've ever played here before, but I was very impressed with the history of the place.   It originally opened in 1866 which if my math is correct, makes it more than 150 years old.  There's articles on the wall that talk about the history including how it used to be on a pool hall circuit at one point, so all sorts of world champions and hustlers had played there in the past.  Oh the stories those walls could tell if they talked.

We ended the night at Northwest Steakhouse which the owner told me was once named the "Most Iconic" restaurant in all of Iowa.  I'd have to agree with that sentiment.  It's the best steak I've ever eaten in my life.

On Sunday, Miss Sheri, the boys, and I celebrated Father's Day by going to Dave & Buster's to eat and play some video games.  We had a great time.  

Happy Father's Day to all you awesome dads out there!

June 10, 2018

Prince Night at The Minnesota Twins Game

Prince Night at The Minnesota Twins Game
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for June 10, 2018

I was happy this week to see an albino squirrel in our backyard.  Long time readers of my blog will know our history with albino squirrels.  We see them as kind of like our guardian angels.  I had never seen one in my life before my boys were born.  Now we've had some come in our yard every summer for the past 18 years.  That's across two different houses.  They're pretty awesome.

Blue is also pretty fond of the squirrels outside our house but probably for different reasons.

This little guy is pretty brave.  I'm not sure he really wants to be associated with being in the same bowl where Blue normally eats his food.

On Thursday night, we had our Prior Lake Empty Nester Club get together at Charlie's on Prior.  We aren't getting as many people to show up as we did a few months back, but we did see a few new faces this time which made it a bunch of fun!

On Friday night, Miss Sheri and I went to downtown Minneapolis to Target Field.  I guess it takes really big balls to be down here.

Miss Sheri's cousin Deb and her husband Al were going to the game so we thought we'd crash their party.  It was a great way of getting a chance to spend some time with them.

It was Prince night which is something that seems to be happening all over the place in Minnesota these days.

Prince Night means that they gave away inflatable Prince guitars, hats, and played Prince Music between innings.  It's kind of bizarre seeing Prince exploited in so many ways since his death.  When he was still alive, he was notorious for not allowing anyone use his music in any ways that he didn't completely control.  I even received my first copyright strike from YouTube for posting a video of me singing a Karaoke version of "Let's Go Crazy".  That is no longer the case, though, and you now can see Prince music and memorabilia EVERYWHERE.  I guess the people who now control his estate have a much different opinion on commercialization than he did.

There was also a baseball game taking place.  The Los Angeles Angels were in town to take on the hometown Twins.  We aren't huge baseball fans, but we do like taking in a game or two every year.  Especially now that we have Target Field, it's a lot more enjoyable way to spend a summer's eve.

I took the picture on the left on my iPhone with the intention of sending it to my family.  After sending it, we noticed the weird artifact on the guy's head in front of us.  I blew it up on the right.  This guy's head did not look like this in person.  My hypothesis is the glare from the sun bouncing off the big buildings in the background was very intense. I’m guessing the reflection caused some strange reaction to the camera on my iPhone.  Either that or that dude is a freaking robot!

The game was pretty close.  We saw a couple of home-runs, but unfortunately the visitors were too much for the home team.  The Twins lost the game 4-2.

The game wasn't the only thing the pitcher appeared to have lost.  He was looking for something else the entire time he was out there.  I hope he eventually found it.

The game ended and then we were treated to an incredible display of fireworks with Prince Music blaring in the background.  What a neat way to spend a Friday night in June!

June 3, 2018

Graduation Season 2018

Graduation Season 2018
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for June 3rd, 2018

Summertime is here and we try to find a variety of ways of entertaining ourselves.  Too many of those activities end up being in our backyard and involve throwing a ball to the dog.

We also occasionally throw the ball at one another while playing Spike Ball.  I used to be a lot more flexible.  Games like this were a lot easier back then.

Blue likes to have alone time with his daddy.  Whenever Miss Sheri comes around, he sticks his tongue out at her to let her know she's not welcome to join us.

Our good friends, Sean & Ann Quinlan, came over for a boat-ride on Thursday night.  It ended up being a beautiful night!

We did our obligatory bird watching for awhile.  I believe this is a Great Egret.  He may also be a Pretty Good Egret.  I didn't get that close of a look at him.

Sean  wanted to jump in the lake so he could say he'd done that this summer.   So if you see him and ask him if he's jumped in the lake this summer, he will say Yes.

We were joined by this duck and some of his friends.  He looked like he had been having a pretty good time.

We were having so much fun and then sun decided to leave us.

We woke up to some loud banging outside on Saturday morning and discovered our neighbors moved out of their house.  At least I really hoped they moved out of their house.

We attended our first graduation parties this season.  Our friends, Josh & Jenni Carlson had a nice party.  Josh is going to Iowa State and Jenni is going to Purdue.  We wish them both the best of luck in their future.

We then had the honor of attending the graduation celebration for Kayla Ashland.  She is attending Winona in the fall and we wish her the best as well.  Congratulations to all the graduating seniors from the class of 2018!!

May 28, 2018

Memorial Day Weekend 2018

Memorial Day Weekend 2018
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for May 28, 2018

We've been having a great time so far this summer having our boys home.  Oftentimes that's just doing stupid stuff like walking the dog, but it's just so much better when you can do it with the whole family.

On Tuesday, Avery's girlfriend, Emma, came up to visit from Iowa City.  We were very happy to see her and have her spend some time with us.

We've had a heat wave this week in Minnesota, so getting the boat out and going tubing seemed like a good fix.

I figured the kids must be really hot so I did everything I could to help them by getting them in the water.

I was able to spin Sydney off a couple of times, but all the rest of the kids were able to hang on for the duration of the rides.  Their loss.  I'm sure that water was quite refreshing.

The geese seemed to like cooling off in it anyways.

On Friday night, we joined some friends at the American Legion in Savage for a little karaoke action.

Saturday brought us to the St. Croix River for some cruising.

Our old buddies, Karl & Tina Zitzewitz, invited us out for their maiden voyage this year.

Responsible swimmers put on their sunscreen.  I was happy to do so.

It's always fun to see Bald Eagles fly overhead.  I just hope they're not sizing me up as potential roadkill.

Considering the temps were getting into the nineties, going boating seemed to be a pretty popular activity.

We eventually cooled off by jumping in the water.  It was quite refreshing.  Unfortunately, Avery lost his right arm on the way down.

It's always a fun day on the river with Captain Carl behind the wheel.

On Sunday, we met up with our good friend, Orlando Mazzolini, to go hiking by the Minnesota River.

I felt pretty good knowing that I was being led by a Mazzolini down Mazomani Trail.

I felt like we are on an episode of Little House on the Prairie being out here.  Where is Michael Landon when you need him?

We like going on guided tours with Orlando.  He always shows us little gems of adventures not far from where we live.
Occasionally I get a little nervous following him, especially when he decides to start venturing off the trails.

He thought we could get down to the river this way, but it was pretty obvious no human being had ever traveled here before.  I was glad when he finally decided we should just turn around and head back to the trail.

Eventually we found the main overlook and had some beautiful views of the Minnesota River.  A nice way to spend a couple of hours on a Sunday morning.

 On Sunday night, we headed over to our old pals, the Walters family, for a bonfire.  We were joined by several other good friends also.

Whenever we get together as a group like this, Dan always wants to give everyone piggy back rides the whole night.  He actually gets a little bit insistent about it.  Eventually we all just decided to climb on and enjoy the ride.