September 17, 2017

The 2017 Cabin Classic Golf Tournament in Clear Lake, Iowa

The 2017 Cabin Classic Golf Tournament in Clear Lake, Iowa
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for September 17, 2017

I drove down to Clear Lake, Iowa last weekend to see some of my old buddies.

It was time for the annual "Cabin Classic" golf tournament hosted by Jason Alexander.

Jason moved into a new cabin this year, but I guess it's still a cabin so the name "Cabin Classic" still works.  He was nice enough to let me stay with him for the weekend.  I really enjoyed waking up each morning and being able to see the lake outside.

It's always a fun weekend of playing cards and golf and catching up on what everyone has been doing over the past year.

This year we golfed in Garner, Iowa.  The course is located in the middle of a cornfield which makes me feel like I'm home again.  The fellows weren't too pleased about my University of Minnesota gear I wore all weekend, though.  They think I'm some kind of traitor or something, but I've actually lived more of my life in Minnesota now then I did in Iowa.  Dang I'm getting old.

Since we had an odd number of people, we ended up dividing into three threesomes.  I didn't get to spend as much time with a lot of the guys as I would have liked, but it was an absolute beautiful day for golf.

Since my golf game is not the strongest, I was paired up with a couple of the better players.  We actually ended up winning the first day of the tournament.  It was best ball style game-play and we actually used more of my shots than I thought we would.  It still wasn't very many, but more than I thought we'd use.

All in all, it was another great tournament.

After golfing, we thought it was a good idea to go on a boat ride.  

We cruised over to the Tiki Bar to have a drink and put a dollar bill on the wall to commemorate the weekend.  Whoever's idea it was to put dollar bills all over the walls of this place was really thinking.  There's gotta be a couple of grand up there by now.

We picked up the rest of the crew, had a leisurely evening cruise and shared some good laughs.  It was another really fun weekend.

Back at home, the albino squirrels are making visits to our house more and more frequently.  We actually saw two different ones at the same time, although we haven't been able to get them both in the same picture yet.  We are thinking they are wondering where Luke and Avery moved to and are stopping by more often until they see them again.

Our friend, Cathy Klimek, knew about our fondness for the albino squirrels and how we see them as kind of our "Guardian Angels" over our boys and their health situation.  She sent us these as a gift and we thought that was pretty darned nice of her!  One albino squirrel for each of us and then a replica of Blue to chase us all around the yard.

September 10, 2017

2017 Labor Day Weekend in Minnesota

2017 Labor Day Weekend in Minnesota
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for September 10, 2017

Labor Day weekend typically represents the end of summer which is always a bit sad for me.  Living in Minnesota has it's challenges weather wise and moving into Fall is always a reminder that winter is right around the corner.  We do our best to get out there and see the sunsets while it's still warm enough to want to stand outside.

Luke and Jackson decided to come home for a couple of days over Labor Day weekend.  Apparently a lot of the kids at MSU Mankato go home for the holiday, so they decided to join them.  After being home for about 5 minutes Luke announced that some other friends were coming to pick him up and he was going out for the rest of the night.  That 5 minutes was real pleasant, though.

Luke and our family have received several generous gifts after dealing with his recent health scare.  This special "college student care package" was given to him by a group of my co-workers.  It included several items from the Minnesota Vikings which were autographed by players like Sam Bradford, Stefon Diggs, Dalvin Cook, Xavier Rhodes and Adam Thielen.  He was extremely excited and grateful for such a nice gift.  Thanks to all of our friends who have been so generous with the gifts and prayers for Luke.

My team at Oracle is an incredible group who took the time to put together this package and reach out to the Vikings for their support.  I'm pretty lucky to work with such awesome people!!

On Saturday, we went to a friend's cabin for a day of fun, bean bagging, boating, and relaxing.

Sue Korkowski invited us to her place on Fish Lake where she and her family have been going since she was a kid.  We were excited to be there so we could all act like we were kids again.

When I found Ron in the backyard, he was very busy with his meat.  I kind of felt bad for disturbing him, but he seemed genuinely happy to see me.

Miss Sheri and I had fun going out on the kayaks.  I struggled a bit at first because when I go out on a kayak by myself, I have a tendency to row my boat in circles.  Miss Sheri was so nice.  She let me tie on to her boat so she could help me do some rowing on the left side and go straight for awhile.

A bunch of Sue & Ron's family and friends were also spending the weekend at the cabin.  We had fun meeting them and getting to know one another.  

We went out for a boat ride with the whole crew and three dogs which made for a bit of a crowded boat, but it was quite enjoyable.  What a great way to spend Labor Day weekend!!

On Monday, we went to the Great Minnesota Get Together, The State Fair.  I'm not sure if I'd call it great, but at the very least it was a Really Good Get Together.

The reason I have a tough time calling it great, is because there's just so many dang people there that also are Getting Together.  I like people as much as the next guy but sometimes it's really hard trying to walk near so many of them.

In the 12 days the fair is open, almost 2 million people go there to eat food on a stick, collect free yard sticks at the Merchant Mart, and witness the terror of farm animals giving birth in one of the barns.  We couldn't wait to join them!

I always worry a little about rodents running rampant at this place with so much food being eaten and dropped on the streets and stuff.  Sure enough, I discovered a huge fuzzy critter shortly after arriving.  

I always love going into the art buildings to see what the creative people are doing with their lives.  Globe heads are apparently really IN this year.

Soon enough, we saw more rats and figured this place just must be absolutely infested, so we left.  Hopefully they get some traps next year so we can go back and not worry about this stuff.

After the fair, we stopped at a pizza party hosted by our good friends, Cathy and Jeff.  Jeff makes really good pizza!

We are slowly getting adjusted to the empty-nester lifestyle.  We certainly miss seeing our boys every day, but we are finding more opportunities to go out with one another which is really nice.

 We decided to start an Empty Nesters club with other fun parents we've met in Prior Lake who have also recently had to give up some or all of their children to college.  It's nice to suffer through the loneliness with a bunch of other good people.

 We had several good friends show up throughout the night which was great.  Hopefully, we can keep this tradition alive.

September 3, 2017

Suddenly A Minnesota Golden Gopher

Suddenly A Minnesota Golden Gopher
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for September 3, 2017

So Luke has been at college for almost three weeks now.  I've had to start using a Snapchat account to communicate with him else I'd have no idea what is he was up to.  Plus I'm not sure how I'd survive without getting pictures like this one on a regular basis.

He seems to be really enjoying himself at Minnesota State Mankato hanging out with old friends and making new friends as well.  I'm hoping he's doing some schoolwork also.

On Tuesday, Avery was all set to move to college.  He spent a lot more time saying good-bye to the dog then he spent saying good-bye to me, but I'm trying to not take it personally.

Before we knew it, we were all packed up and ready to take him to school and to begin the new chapter of our lives as Empty Nesters.

Avery is going to the University of Minnesota to study Computer Science and Mathematics.  The U is nestled near the middle of downtown Minneapolis and carries with it a view of the home of the Vikings, US Bank Stadium.  Which makes it all right in my book.

It didn't take long for Avery to unpack his stuff and have his mom set up his bed.  She's good about that kind of stuff.

Avery's new roommate is from Beijing, China and has only been in the United States for a couple of weeks.  I'm sure they will hit it off great and hopefully this will be an awesome cultural experience for the both of them.

We took Avery shopping out more time and out to lunch and then set him free to experience life on his own.  We hope it works out great for him!

In an attempt to stay relevant in our son's life, we purchased Minnesota Golden Gophers season tickets and went to our first Gophers game at TCF stadium on Thursday night.

The team has a new coach named P.J. Fleck who is young and full of energy.  His theme for the year is "Row The Boat" and we saw this sign in the bookstore explaining how this came to be.  We had no idea the coach had gone through this with his son and it hit pretty close to home. We figured it was a good motto to get behind.

The band did their rendition of "Row The Boat" at halftime which was pretty amazing choreography.  The boys have some friends who play in the band so it was neat to see them perform such a cool halftime show.

The game was a bunch of fun.  The Gophers played the Buffalo Bulls and although the score was closer than a lot of people would have liked, the home team did win 17-7.  We really enjoyed the atmosphere.

Our neighbor's daughter, Jill Fischer, and her husband, Joe, invited us to join their tailgating group before the games which we're really looking forward to starting.  They're huge Gophers fans and really fun to be around, so we're excited to have them available to mentor us as we climb aboard and row the boat.

We tried to call Avery before the game to come see us, but he said a friend was able to get Gold seats in the student section so he couldn't leave or he'd lose his seat.  He also said we couldn't come see him because we didn't have a pass to get into the student section.  I started to get suspicious that maybe he was avoiding us.

Lucky for me, my camera has a really good zoom lens so I was able to find him and his friend in the crowd.  Turns out he did have pretty incredible seats near the field.  I probably wouldn't have left to come see me either.

All in all, attending a college football game was a bunch of fun and brought back a lot of memories of my own youth.  I'm glad we stepped in there and bought season tickets.

It's going to be a good year.  Go Gophers!