October 15, 2017

Last 2017 Boat Ride on the St. Croix River


Last 2017 Boat Ride on the St. Croix River
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for October 15, 2017


We had the second monthly meeting of the Prior Lake Empty Nester's Club.   I keep thinking nobody is going to show for this event, but another fun group of people were there to spend the evening with us.  We'll see how month 3 goes...


On Friday night, we showed up on the St. Croix River to go for an overnight boat ride.  The boat was all set to be winterized on Sunday, so we knew this would be our last boat ride in 2017 on the St. Croix River.


Karl was pretty excited to see us and greeted us on the back of the boat.  Well, he was pretty excited to see Sheri.  He made me pay a huge entry fee just to be able to set foot on the boat.


The river was very high and the normal staircase was under water.  They had this little gangplank bridge set-up.  It may look sturdy, but it sure doesn't feel that way when you're walking across it with a suitcase and a full cooler in your arms.  Add to the fact that it had been raining all day, so it was pretty wet and slippery.  Needless to say, I was pretty thankful when I actually was able to set foot on the dock.


Soon enough, we were ready to set sail.  Karl and Tina like to snuggle up against each other when they're driving the boat which can be pretty cute to watch.


Our original plans were to go up to Stillwater, but the rain and high water caused us to reconsider.  We decided to go up to Hudson, Wisconsin and see what kind of trouble we could find there.


I had never been to San Pedro Cafe before, but Karl & Tina assured us we would love the food.  They weren't just Whistling Dixie, either.


I can't remember what this dish was called, but it was the first time I enjoyed eating brussel-sprouts.  Paired with a couple of Habanero spice infused Angry Mules and my palate was feeling pretty darn satisfied.


I think we were all pretty happy with our meal, but the night was just getting started.  We were ready to turn things up a bit.


We went across the street to the Agave Kitchen and hung out for the rest of the night.  We had a lot of pleasant conversations and even a couple of inappropriate jokes.  

  
We went back to the boat and had a very nice sleep being gently rocked back and forth by the waves of the St. Croix River.  I suppose it might have also been Karl who could have snuck in my room and just shook my bed for awhile until I fell asleep.  I guess I don't know for sure.


As we pulled away from the dock, I noticed we had spent the night tied up next to the Grand Duchess from Hudson Afton Cruise Lines.  I'm not sure why I noticed that.  Probably just because it's a really big boat and kind of hard to miss when you're pulling away from the dock.


On our drive back, I noticed the river was pretty abandoned.  Not a lot of people like to go for rides on the river when it's raining and the weather is about 45 degrees outside.  They just don't know what they are missing!!


We saw a loon on the way.  It looked like he was busy trying to make the moves on this seagull, so we didn't bother him much.  We didn't want to be Loon Blockers or anything.



October 8, 2017

Tailgating Before Minnesota Golden Gophers Vs Maryland Terrapins


Tailgating Before Minnesota Golden Gophers Vs Maryland Terrapins
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for October 8, 2017


We woke up bright & early for tailgating before the Gophers Big 10 debut game against Maryland.  Our friend Jill Fischer invited us to hang out with her crew before the game and we were delighted to join them.


This is Dave Herbeck.  He is one of the main organizers for this particular group of tailgaters and they put on a great party.  This week's theme was German food and they challenged everyone to create a pretzel necklace to wear for the day.  I just love eating pretzel's from my wife's neck.


It was a potluck style event and I was pretty impressed with the wide variety of German food that we were able to eat.


The main course were bratwursts and I saw them being cooked up in this stew.  Not sure what was in there, but I'm sure it came straight from Germany.


There was a bunch of meat being grilled which gave me quite the appetite.  I was ready to get a big plate, find a nearby car, sit on it's tailgate, and pig out.  Because I think that's what you're supposed to do while tailgating.


The game started at 11am, so after we filled up on German food and some tasty beverages we headed to TCF Stadium.  I wish I had a big flag like this guy because I would have started waving it around also.


The cheerleaders must not have thought we were participating enough because they kept shoving these signs in our faces telling us to get up and noise.  Seemed kind of bossy to me, but I eventually obliged them.


We bought season tickets to see our son, Avery, who is a freshman at the University of Minnesota.  I texted him to join us at the tailgating event but he responded he was going to the game with friends.  We couldn't find him in the student section, but I'm sure he was in there somewhere.  


We had high hopes for the Gophers.  They were 3 and 0 up to this game, so we were curious how they would do in their Big 10 debut.  Maryland was playing their third string quarterback so we thought they had a pretty good chance.


They have a brand new coach this year named PJ Fleck.  He's a highly motivated guy who has already really placed his mark on this team and all over the stadium.  He has a motto of "Row The Boat" and it's posted all over the place.


 Goldy Gopher even likes to participate with the theme.  I kind of feel bad for the guys carrying him around because I keep thinking he's going to smack them in the head with an oar while he's rowing.


The Gophers played well, but fell short in the end.  Their defense just couldn't stop Maryland's run game and it cost them.  They lost the game 31-24.  It made us sad.


Luke and Avery both go to college relatively close to home.  Avery is about a 45 minute drive and Luke is a little more than an hour.  So we occasionally get to see them.   They both decided to come home on Sunday to watch some football and spend the night.  I thought they missed us, but it turns out it was primarily the dog that they wanted to see.


My co-workers and I left work a little early to enjoy Happy Hour at a new bar in Minneapolis called Hopcat.  They're a fun group of people to Hop around with.


On Saturday night, we were invited to dinner at our good friends, Dr Bollig and his lovely wife, Cynthia.  We always have tons of laughs with these guys, although many of them are R rated laughs so I'm not allowed to share their content here.  Sorry about that.



October 1, 2017

2017 Family Weekend at Minnesota State University, Mankato


2017 Family Weekend at Minnesota State University, Mankato
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for October 1, 2017


Some co-workers and I spent a day at a charity event playing bean bags at a local golf course.  I'd like to say I was more competitive in bags than I would have been at golf, but my team was crushed in the first two matches and we were eliminated from the competition.  We did have fun hanging out in the rain, though!


It was family weekend at Minnesota State University in Mankato, so we went down to hang out with Luke and some of his friends.


On Friday night, we joined the fellas to go see the Danger Committee.  They are a group of jugglers and knife throwers who we'd seen before at The Minnesota Renaissance and on America's Got Talent.


The group was pretty funny as they dazzled us with various feats of danger including juggling knives, fire, and knives on fire.  None of us had the chance to go up on stage to join them for any of their tricks which is probably a good thing.  We're missing enough fingers as it is.


We did get a chance to meet the group after the show.  They were nice guys but didn't seem to remember us from when we watched them at the Renaissance or on TV for America's Got Talent.  


After the show we had the chance to meet Luke's next door neighbor, Kelli.  Kelli befriended me on Snapchat soon after the school year started and likes to send me pictures and videos of Luke.  I appreciate that because the boy ends up doing lots of naughty things and it's nice to know someone is keeping an eye on him.  


On Saturday morning, we woke up early and headed to the student union to get in a couple rounds of bowling.  It seemed like most of the students were sleeping, so we pretty much had the alleys to ourselves.


Soon enough, we were joined by our good friends, the Walters Family, and we all headed out to explore the campus together.


The boys were enjoying playing foosball so I challenged them to a match so I could show them how I used to play when I was in college.  We had balls flying all over the place.


On Saturday night, we went to see the Mankato football team take on Northern State.  The team had been undefeated so far, so we were hoping to get to watch a victory for the home team.


We weren't disappointed.  The team was rock solid and beat their opponents by a score of 36 - 0.  It was fun to get the chance to spend a lot of time celebrating touchdowns.


The cheerleaders seemed to be pretty happy the team was scoring so much also.  They just kept cheering and cheering which made us all feel really good about ourselves.


After the game, we went back to the Union to participate in a production of the game show, The Price Is Right.  We became really excited when the announcer suddenly called out "Jennifer Walters, come on down!  You are the next contestant on the Price is Right!" 


Jen got to play Plinko and participate in spinning the Big Wheel.  She won some prizes, but unfortunately I don't think they were enough to allow her to retire or anything.  Maybe next year.  


Blue didn't get to go to Mankato with us, but he was thrilled because he had the chance to go to the house where he was born and spend time with his mother, father, and brother.  This is a picture that was sent to us of Blue and his brother getting some rest after some roughhousing.  I just love how happy he looks in it.

September 24, 2017

Minnesota Vikings vs New Orleans Saints on Monday Night Football


Minnesota Vikings vs New Orleans Saints on Monday Night Football
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for September 24, 2017


We had the opportunity to attend the home opener for the Minnesota Vikings on Monday Night Football on September 11.  


Avery goes to school across the street from US Bank Stadium at the University of Minnesota, so he was able to sneak away from classes and come enjoy the game with us.


Our old friends, the Brown Family, have season tickets to the Vikings and were kind enough to meet us outside before the game and pose for some pictures.  They're such an attractive family.


This was the first time I'd been to US Bank Stadium when they had the big doors open.  I'm glad they were because if I would have to open them myself I probably would have thrown my back out.


This game was particularly special to attend as it was the return of our future hall of fame running back, Adrian Peterson.  This was his big debut with the Saints but it ended up being a pretty big disappointment for him as he only had 18 yards on 6 carries.  A lot of people booed at him while he was on the field, but I was always a pretty big fan of his.  So I quietly clapped and smiled in his direction.  I'm sure he appreciated that.


We also had another Vikings legend in attendance.  Randy Moss was there to be inducted into the Vikings "Ring of Honor".  That guy is straight cash, Homie.


Since it was 9/11, the team had a pretty nice ceremony to honor it.  We all held up cards in the air and there were various messages around the stadium like "Never Forget".  It ended with a flyover by a huge plane which was pretty surreal.  Very nice job, Vikings.


The game was awesome.  Sam Bradford led the team with three touchdowns and 346 yards passing.  The defense also looked solid and the team went on to win the game 29-19.  Exactly the kind of game I like to go and watch!

  
People give me a hard time because I always post a picture of the cheerleaders whenever I do a blog post on going to a football game.  I'm not sure what the issue is.  I know how hard they work and am just trying to do the right thing and pay them respect for a job well done.  Thank you, ladies!


Back home, the albino squirrels are still stopping by our house on a regular basis.  Miss Sheri tells me they are always pretty sensitive to her getting near them to take their picture more so than their brown and grey counterparts.  I'm guessing that's because they don't have the same ability to blend in and hide from predators thus they are a little bit more nervous.  But that's just a guess.  What do I know about squirrel psychology?


On Friday night, we went out with the Walters to sing karaoke and celebrate Dan's birthday.  Not necessarily in that order.


Eventually we had some more fun people stop and join us.  A good time was had by all.


Dan celebrated his birthday a little too much, so as usual I had to get a little rough with him.  I think he appreciates it when I help to keep him in line.


On Saturday, we went to the University of Minnesota to watch them take on Middle Tennessee.  Avery let us stop by his dorm before the game to drop off some stuff we bought for him.  He then surprised the heck out of me when he volunteered to introduce us to some of his new friends.  Of course, when I asked if he wanted to walk to the game with us he looked at me like I was insane.  But we are making a little progress at getting him to accept us into his college life.


Before the game, we ran into one of Luke's elementary school teachers, Jill Yarke, and her family.  It was great running into them and their kids were so excited to be going to the game.  I didn't get to see them afterwards, but I'm sure they were thrilled that the home team won the contest by a score of 34-3.


Goldy Gopher was excited to see us and welcomed us to the stadium.


We enjoyed watching the band perform before the game.


We bumped into a really old friend of ours.  Ticket Tim has been buying and selling tickets outside of various stadiums and arenas since he was a little kid.  He's a great guy and has a ton of fun stories from probably 1000+ different game days.


We had a special treat when we learned that several high school bands were in attendance to join the University of Minnesota band including our home town Prior Lake High School Marching Band.  How cool was that!