August 12, 2018

2018 Summer Vacation Trip to Martha's Vineyard

2018 Summer Vacation Trip to Martha's Vineyard
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for July 27, 2018

After we spent two nights in Boston, we rented a truck and drove to Cape Code.  We figured after spending 5 days in the big cities, we wanted to spend the last part of our vacation going to the beach.

We did actually spend a couple of hours on the beach, but it wasn't nearly as exciting as we were hoping it to be, so we decided to do a bunch of other stuff instead.

We knew the Kennedy's spent a lot of time in this area, so we thought it was pretty cool to see this memorial for JFK.  

We end up spending a lot of time eating on vacations for some reason.  This place was called Spanky's Clam Shack.  It didn't really sound like a family kind of place to be, but we were pleasantly surprised.

On Saturday, we woke up bright and early to take the ferry to Martha's Vineyard.  I never did find out who Martha was, but she sure has a nice island.  Not sure why they call an island a vineyard either, but I guess what do I know?  If I'd have named it it would be called "That Island Near Cape Cod".

It was a neat experience.  There are a bunch of big, beautiful houses on Martha's Vineyard.  There's also a lot of nice restaurants and shops to visit.  As a matter of fact, we heard that less than a week later Barack and Michelle Obama actually ate in one of the restaurants we visited.  It would have been pretty cool to see those cats out and about.

We started our adventure at some park across the street from the beach.  We had to buy bus passes to get around the island and they said the guy who sold them liked to hang around in the park.  Sure enough, he was there sitting on a park bench when we arrived.  I guess if I sold bus passes, I'd probably like to do it in a park also.

We stopped at a lot of shops and browsed around.  Not necessarily in that order.  

 Even though, we were in a different part of the country, we still like to take our bird watching pictures.  I'm not sure what kind of birds these guys were, but they sure seemed to like building tall nests.  Maybe there was a bunch of them all stacked on top of each other and these guys were the lucky ones who got to be on top.

Oddly enough, the ducks in Martha's Vineyard look just like the ducks we have back home.  Maybe she was also just here visiting from Minnesota.

I don't think we have seagulls like this back home, but that's probably for the best.  I tried to get close to this one to get a picture together and he just flew away.  Kind of snotty.

Eventually we found ourselves in Edgartown where we saw a bunch of beautiful boats.  We also saw some ugly ones, but we didn't say that to anyone because we didn't want them to feel bad about their boat.  It's probably just  nice to have one here regardless of what it looks like.

These ferry boats go back and forth to Chappaquiddick all day.  We recently saw that movie about Ted Kennedy and wondered if this was where he swam across the channel after he had his accident.  It actually didn't seem that far to swim compared to what I was imagining.  I still think it would probably have been better if he would have called the authorities rather than swimming across it, but what do I know?  If I'm ever in a situation like that, I may feel the need to challenge my swimming skills also.  It's tough to say.

I saw Dave and Brittany walking across the parking lot to us, so I snapped this photo.  It wasn't until later that I noticed I caught a photo of a large land whale behind them.  That's a pretty rare sight.

The Mohars really look nice when they have a harbor pressed up behind them.

We visited a lot of galleries in Martha's Vineyard.  This one was my favorite.  This statue must have been here for a long time if they built those bricks up and over it like that.

This is the Gay Head Cliffs in Aquinnah.  I didn't realize that Avery and the girls were breaking the rules by being out over the fence until the lady lighthouse keeper came over and told them they couldn't be out there.  Apparently there was a big drop off behind them, so I'm glad I didn't capture a photo of them falling.  Although if I had, it would probably have just looked like I had taken a photo of the cliffs by themselves.

 This is the Gay Head lighthouse.  Apparently it's been around since 1799 and was the very first lighthouse on Martha's Vineyard.

What a nice lighthouse.

Before we went back to the mainland, we ate at a fun restaurant with an awesome waitress where they actually threw peanut shells on the floor.  I thought they didn't do that kind of stuff in such a fancy place, but I guess even on Martha's Vineyard they let their hair down in certain ways.  Which is nice.

We had another great vacation with my sister and her family.  I can't wait to see where we go together next!

2018 Summer Vacation to Boston

2018 Summer Vacation to Boston
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for July 25, 2018

After three nights in New York City, it was time to go to Penn Station and hop on the Amtrak train to Boston.

None of us had ever traveled by train before and we discovered it's a pretty comfortable way to go.  Bigger seats than on an airplane and free wifi make it all the more pleasant.  Although the delays seem to be a pretty common occurrence and our 4 hour ride ended up taking about 6 hours.  Although that's only a minor inconvenience when you're having so much fun being with family!

It was a pretty neat way to see the countryside as we traveled through Connecticut and Rhode Island on the way to Massachusetts.

We even rode by the ocean quite a bit.  It looked a lot like the same ocean we saw in New York City and eventually Boston, but there's something about seeing it from a train that somehow makes it feel like you're seeing a different ocean.

Eventually we arrived in Boston which has a very unique feel to it.

There's so much history around here.  It seems like everywhere you look there's a different statue with someone famous you learned about in history class.  Although they seem much taller in person.


We just loved walking on the Freedom Trail and seeing all the old buildings and trying to remember what happened back in the days of our founding fathers.  I couldn't remember much about what I learned but I do remember some pretty crazy stuff happened back then including something to do with a tea party and some nice red coats.  I like parties.

This cemetery supposedly holds the bodies of a bunch of famous people like John Hancock, Samuel Adams, and Paul Revere.  It's kind of sad that all those people died.

This was the site of the Boston Massacre.  We got out of there pretty quickly just in case some stuff started going down again.

 I spent a lot of time walking around Cheers, stopping at tables, and asking people "What's my name?"  Nobody knew it.  All those times I sang that stupid song "Sometimes you want to go.  Where everybody knows your name.  And they're always glad you came..."  Talk about false advertising.

We're not big baseball fans, but we thought we better swing by Fenway Park since that's what people seem to do when they're in Boston.  These guys all seemed pretty cool.

Dave's dad was one of the project managers who helped restore the Citgo sign back in the sixties.  It's huge and a historical landmark in the city of Boston so we took a bunch of pictures with it.

There was a hotel near ours called the Fairmont where they have a couple of Ambassador dogs.  The hotel actually owns the dogs and they are pretty much allowed to roam freely through the lobby and surrounding areas.  We found this incredibly cool and stopped back a couple of times to visit the dogs.  We like hotel dogs.

Just like in New York City, we traveled around Boston via the subway.  On this particular day, it hadn't arrived yet so naturally it was group picture time.  We do that a lot of times when we're waiting for stuff.

We went to Boston Harbor one day.  I didn't see any barrels of tea floating around so they must have cleaned those up or something.

We did see a cool boat called Codzilla and thought, we gotta ride that.  So we did.

There were signs that warned us we were going to get wet and they gave us plastic cover-ups to help us stay dry, so I guess I should have been prepared for how wet we were about to get.  I wasn't.  I had salt water filling every one of my orifices by the time we got off that boat and it wasn't very pleasant.

When we pulled out of the harbor and looked back at the City of Boston, it looked like we were having a beautiful day.

20 minutes later, the captain came on the intercom to warn us that we were going to have a pretty rough ride back to shore.  She wasn't fooling.  We were soaked from the ride and then  became even more so when the rain started pouring down on our heads as we navigated some crazy waters to get back to the dock.  We got really, really wet, but honestly it was a ton of fun!

Fire and Ice was a nice restaurant where you have a huge selection of food you get buffet style and then you bring it to be cooked on this monster grill.  It was pretty yummy.

We also liked Loretta's which was just outside of Fenway Park.  The sign said it was on Jack Daniels Road, but I couldn't find that on Google Maps so they must have just changed it recently.

August 5, 2018

Our Visit To The Today Show and NBC Studios Tour

Our Visit To The Today Show and NBC Studios Tour
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for July 24, 2018

During our vacation to New York City, we thought it would be fun to go watch the Today Show being produced.  So we woke up at 5:30am and hopped on the subway to check it out.

There were a lot of people when we arrived, but we are pretty good at strategically positioning ourselves in a crowd.

We were all pretty excited to try to get on the air.  Avery spied a corner of the plaza that seemed to line up directly behind Hoda, so we staked our claim to this spot.

I always find it fascinating to watch celebrities, although I've never really done it from directly behind them like this.

Savannah Guthrie has two small children at home and we found it very cute when she appeared to be Face-timing one of them. Hoda took the phone to talk for awhile also.

I found it fun when they started taking selfies also.

We all did pretty good at being seen on the Today Show as can be seen in this video of some clips from the show that morning.

The security people were very friendly and even volunteered to take a family photo of us which we thought was nice.

Eventually the hosts came outside to say Hello to the crowd.  It's always bizarre seeing famous people up close.  They're never quite as big as you expect them to be.

Savannah Guthrie came the closest to us.  She's a stunning lady!

After the Today Show, we went inside NBC Studios to take a tour.  It was so much fun and these two pages were awesome to our family.  We had a blast.

The NBC Studios Tour was incredible.  Unfortunately, cameras aren't allowed on the tour so I can't show you what we did, but we had the chance to see the studios where Saturday Night Live, The Tonight Show, and NBC Nightly News are produced.  So cool!!  Then at the end of the tour, they gave us an opportunity to produce our own talk show.  Guess who jumped at the chance to be the host!

At the end of the tour, we saw Megyn Kelly doing a book signing in the NBC Studios store.  She is so much smaller in person than I imagined her to be.  They say that TV and movies make people seem larger than life and now I see what they mean!  Fun times.