December 10, 2017

Christmas Break 2017

Christmas Break 2017
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for December 10, 2017

Luke was close to finishing his first semester at college this week when he and some of the students from his floor at Minnesota State Mankato decided to make a road trip to Mystic Lake Casino.  Since that is 5 minutes from our house, they decided to stop by and say Hi.  Blue was pretty excited to see them.

We had a much better turn-out at this month's Prior Lake Empty Nester Club meeting.  We switched it up a bit and went to Bowlero in Lakeville for some drinks, appetizers, and competitive bowling.  Just kidding about that competitive part, but there was bowling.

I love bowling with people.  There's something special about having conversations, laughing, and telling stories together all while wearing shoes that have been worn by 100 people before me.  It just makes me feel kind of warm inside.  

We had our first decent snowstorm this week and a bunch of cold weather came with it.  The lake seemed to be pretty frozen, but Miss Sheri wouldn't let us go out to test how thick it was.  She can be pretty mean like that.

Luke finished his finals and came home on Friday.  He's now free from school for a month and gets to do incredible things like go to the dog park with us.  It's pure excitement. 

On Sunday, Luke and I went to play in a poker tournament with one of my friends from Oracle, Aaron, as well as a few of his friends over in Stillwater.  As would be expected,  Luke did better in the tournament than I did.  

The host of the tournament had two big Great Danes that were really nice.  And really huge.  I had a buddy in high school with a dog that looked just like this, but he could be mean sometimes.  It was pretty scary.  It's almost like having a vicious horse coming after you.

December 3, 2017

2017 Christmas By The Lake in Clear Lake, Iowa

2017 Christmas By The Lake in Clear Lake, Iowa
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for December 3, 2017

On Saturday, Miss Sheri and I drove down to Clear Lake, Iowa.  On our way into town, Miss Sheri suddenly had inspiration to go and visit the memorial for Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper who died in a plane crash in this cornfield outside of Clear Lake back in 1959.  Holly's famous glasses mark the spot on the side of road where you walk in to see the memorial.

The memorial is relatively new and this was the first time we'd seen it in person.  When I was in high school, me and some other crazy kids came out to this field with a Ouija Board and had kind of a freaky experience.  We asked who we were talking to and it spelled B-O-P and my friend who wasn't using the board said The Big Bopper.  Now I had never heard of the Big Bopper up to that point, so I know it wasn't me who spelled it.  I don't remember what happened after that, but we probably got spooked and left.

After arriving, we stopped by and picked up my old buddy, Krazy Kory.  We were looking forward to spending the day together.

We walked across the street to the lake.  It's been unseasonably warm so it wasn't frozen yet, but there wasn't much activity happening out there either.

We stopped by a local elementary school's nature center to see some swans and ugly ducklings.  

Eventually we made it to downtown Clear Lake for their annual festival called "Christmas by the Lake."  It was great to see several old friends while we were down there.

The action really started after sunset and the lake was looking especially beautiful while we waited for that to happen.

There was a nice Christmas parade where all the floats and vehicles were decorated in Christmas lights.  It really put me in the Holiday Spirit!

Eventually, we tracked down Krazy Kory's dad, Mean Gene Madson, who was one of the main people responsible for this festival being created many years ago.  

Gene recruited us to help with crowd control for the fireworks display which allowed us to have a front row seat.  They do a phenomenal job with fireworks in Clear Lake complete with a few barrel bombs that got exploded during the show.  Quite impressive!

After the  fireworks, we went to celebrate the birthday of our old pal, Jason Bradshaw.  He and Jeff were especially festive for the party!

We had a great time seeing old friends like the Wagler Family.  

We stayed there for the rest of the night and had quite a bit of fun.

Happy Birthday, Jason!