February 11, 2018

Dog Sledding on Prior Lake

Dog Sledding on Prior Lake
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for February 11, 2018

Our annual Super Bowl viewing party at the Zitzewitz house was a smashing success!  Great food, great company, great game = a recipe for a fun way to spend a Sunday night!  Even if the dang Vikings didn't make it to the game, we still had a bunch of fun.

Luke came home from college this week which is always exciting for us. As another special treat, his roommate, Jackson stopped by with a new friend of theirs. Hannah also goes to Minnesota State Mankato and is studying to be an ESL teacher. Very nice to meet you, Hannah!

On Friday night, a couple of my old buddies from Nor-Tech came over for a Texas Hold 'Em tournament.  Jay and Steve made it, but a couple of others backed out at the last minute.  So we asked Luke to fill in for them and of course he ends up winning both tournaments.  That's the last time I invite him to play cards with us!

Braden Wojahn went to school with my sons at Prior Lake High School.  He's at college in Nebraska now, but emailed me this week that he was doing a paper for school and found this entry on Wikipedia. I used to drive a Chevy Nova in high school, so it must have been an old friend of mine who did this.  I swear to everyone from Prior Lake that I did not bring in the zebra mussel infestation into our beloved lake.  If anyone knows how this came to be added to Wikipedia, I'd love to know about it because I found it to be quite humorous.

On Saturday, we bumped into our old friends Wendy & Jason Paterson and they told us about an opportunity to go dog sledding on Prior Lake, so we jumped at the chance to check it out.

Charlie's on Prior is the only restaurant on Prior Lake and are always hosting fun activities on the lake.  Dog sledding was the latest thing they were offering.

It was 3 degrees outside and Miss Sheri was better prepared for the weather than I was.  They told me when I arrived that I better get something for my face as it was uncovered and my awesome wife gave me her second scarf so I could use it for the ride.  She takes such dang good care of me.

I was a little surprised to see how many dogs they had available.  They said they currently have more than 100 dogs to go racing and had brought 34 with them today.  They all seemed pretty excited to be there and to go running around the lake.

This was the first year that Eddy & Amy Streeper brought their dogs down to Prior Lake, but they are hoping to make it annual event to get down here more often.

Eddy Streeper is former world champion sled dog racer and a 10 time Canadian Open champ.  He told us he's competed in more than 100 places around the globe and has been in the sled dog business for more than 40 years.  

His wife, Amy Streeper, is also a former World champion sled dog racer as well.  The two of them are now retired, but are still very active with their dogs selling them to other racers as well as taking them on tours like the one we were attending today.

Our ride lasted about 15 minutes and we traveled about 2 miles.  I was pretty amazed that the dogs knew exactly where they were going because he only shouted out a command to them once or twice.  Some pretty smart dogs who really like to run!

I was in the front and Miss Sheri rode in back, while Eddy stood on the rear and told us stories throughout the ride.  You can hear a couple of them here:

All in all, we had a bunch of fun being pulled around the lake by the dogs.  It was pretty cold and the view of so many bouncing dog butts gets a bit mesmerizing, but it was a pretty thrilling way to spend a Sunday morning.

After we came home, we thought we should take out Blue to get him some exercise, but he just laid there when we told him we didn't have a sled so he could try pulling us around the lake also.  He says he knows he could do it if we'd just give him a chance, so we'll have to figure out how we can get him out there the next time we go.

I finally was able to get Miss Sheri to drive on the lake, but she insists on turning off the motor when we stop out there to take the dog for a run.  She's convinced that leaving the motor running for the 15 minutes we are out there will give the exhaust the chance to melt the  ice and send us sinking.   She's not a very strong swimmer, so I just try to humor her when she does stuff like this.

February 4, 2018

Super Bowl Experience 2018 in Minneapolis

Super Bowl Experience 2018 in Minneapolis
Todd Swank's Diary for February 4, 2018

I work in downtown Minneapolis for Oracle and our lives were disrupted this week by the arrival of Super Bowl 52.  Ice sculptures like these were blocking our paths everywhere.

My buddies and I go to lunch all around downtown every day so we had the chance to experience all sorts of cool things this week.

ESPN was set-up on the main level of the IDS tower.  I never actually was there while they were broadcasting live which is probably a good thing since I have a tendency to try to be seen on live TV and that could have been embarrassing for a lot of people.

It was kind of creepy seeing the bomb sniffing dogs everywhere you went.  Don't get me wrong, I'm glad they were there to protect us it's just sad that this level of security is needed these days.

My whole team walked around town together one day and appreciated things like the giant frozen football in the middle of the street.  Those are treats we just don't get around here every day.

After work, Miss Sheri came downtown to join me and we went to the Super Bowl Experience event at the convention center.  

It was basically a huge NFL event where they overcharge you to come in and see various homages to all of our favorite teams.  

I was pretty impressed with the display of every Super Bowl ring.  I kept asking the people that worked there where they were keeping the Minnesota Vikings rings, but I don't think they found that very funny.

We could have waited in a long line to get our picture taken with the Vince Lombardi trophy, but honestly I think it looks way more impressive without me in the picture.

There were tons of former and current NFL stars all around town this week.  We caught Jacksonville cornerback, Jalen Ramsey, filming this spot where he and some lucky kid were lacing up a football together for the NFL Network.  I wish he'd help me lace up a football some time.

We really wanted to meet Cris Carter while we were there, but apparently there was too big of a crowd to see him.  The line was huge and when we tried to join it, one of the security guards told us it was too late.  Mr. Carter was only going to be there for another 20 minutes so we had to take our pictures of him from afar.  I think he would have really liked me if we would have had a chance to meet.  We probably would have ended up hanging out later that night is what I'm guessing would have happened.

The Hall of Fame had a nice display of some of our favorite former players and coaches like Cris Carter, Brett Favre, and Bud Grant.  I think it would be more cool if they did like a Disney World thing and made these heads actually be animated so they could talk and we could put things in their mouths and stuff.

After the Super Bowl Experience event, we walked downtown to Nicollet Mall and joined in on all the other celebrations they had happening.

The security again was quite impressive and we saw Helicopters flying overhead, many heavily armed military personnel walking around, and probably a thousand other ways they were protecting us that we didn't even notice.  I kept wanting to mess with the security people, but my better judgment told me that wasn't a good idea.

The night we were there, they had a ski race back and forth down the Nicollet Mall.  Some of them were pretty fast, but the people who got the loudest cheers were the ones lagging behind the crowd.  That's Minnesota Nice for you.

The police were blocking us from crossing the street at times because the crowd was getting too large.  It was the craziest walking by the Super Bowl Live stage where various performers were appearing each night.  It was wall to wall people.

We went into the NFL shop and they had a Prince Pop-Up museum in the middle of it.  We've always been big Prince fans.

They had all sorts of his clothes and instruments on display.  It's always weird seeing the size of his clothes because for someone with such a larger than life mystique about him, he sure was a little guy.

On Thursday night, we had our February get together for the Prior Lake Empty Nester Club at Buffalo Tap in Savage.  We broke a new attendance record by having 20 people show up this month and I believe a good time was had by all.  At least I didn't hear anyone complaining about how miserable they were or anything.

On Friday night, we went out to dinner at Crave in the Mall of America with Avery and had a chance to meet his friend, Emma.  She actually grew up in Iowa so we just knew we'd like her.  We were right.

After dinner, the 4 of us walked around the Mall of America which was pretty insane because both Super Bowl teams were staying in hotels attached to the mall and apparently there were celebrities everywhere.  The Philadelphia Eagles players and coaches were having dinner together at some restaurant and we stumbled upon this crowd waiting for them to walk by to capture some pictures.  

 I bumped into some of the Eagles cheerleaders and they asked to get a picture with me so I was happy to oblige.

We hung out near the hotel escalator where the Patriots players were staying and saw several players and their family members walking by.  We found it kind of interesting that they had last year's trophy just sitting on a table in the Sirius XM booth while they were cleaning up from a busy day.  I was thinking it would look pretty nice in my living room, but realized somebody would probably have an issue with me taking it.  People are funny that way.