August 18, 2019

The Countdown For The Return To College

The Countdown For The Return To College
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for August 18, 2019

The boys are almost ready to go back to college so we need to wrap all of the things we need to get done in the summer.  That includes a visit to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester for Luke to get his 6 month check-up on his heart and liver.  We are pleased to report that Luke's check-up went excellent with no new concerns about the nodules in his liver and his heart is still working as well as someone with a regular heart!  So we get another 6 month hiatus before we have to go get things checked out again.  It's like music to our ears!

I'm always fascinated with new technology.  So despite Luke's protests of taking his picture during blood draws, I was so impressed by this new device they were using that I couldn't resist.  Both Luke and I are considered to be "tough sticks" which means the nurses always have difficulty finding veins in our arms when drawing blood.  So multiple pokes are often inevitable.  This time, though, the nurse pulled out a new "Vein Finder" which uses infrared light to make the veins appear highlighted on the surface of his skin thus easier to get the needle in there on the first attempt.  Pretty cool stuff!

To celebrate the good news from Mayo, we went to our favorite restaurant, Benihana.  We just loves that Teppanyaki Cooking!

We're big fans of sushi.  This week we discovered a new favorite....Chili Shrimp Rolls!  Loaded with crab-meat, cream cheese, seaweed tempura in a spicy chili sauce topped with crab, shrimp, and a jalapeno pepper, it tastes like someone flew over your head and dropped a little piece of heaven in your mouth.  Which is what I look for in an appetizer.

Continuing through the checklist of things we wanted to do one last time before summer was over, on Saturday morning we thought it would be fun for a family foursome of golfing.

Sadly for me, most of my family beats me in most sporting types of activities.  Really any activities that involve moving your body I find they have the upper hand on me.  But that doesn't stop me from getting out there and giving them a go in the competition!

Miss Sheri is never a very flashy competitor, but very consistent in her performance.  She just wears you down until you start slipping and then she goes for the throat.  Needless to say, she pretty much beats me in everything we do.

No matter who won or lost, we all had a great time being together and enjoying the beautiful day.  Oh, who am I kidding?  Avery crushed us all as usual.  But it was nice to be able to enjoy the beautiful day

On Saturday night, we crashed the bonfire and birthday celebration of Luke's room-mate, Jackson Walters.  Now that's a fire!  Happy Birthday, Jackson!

August 11, 2019

Kid Rock at Treasure Island Casino

Kid Rock at Treasure Island Casino
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for August 11, 2019

Luke snapped this shot of a dog in someone's pickup truck.  Not a big deal really, I was just really impressed with how clear the shot turned out despite the fact he took it while they were passing the truck at about 50 miles per hour.  The dog looks pretty happy to be going for a ride.

On Thursday night, it was time for the August get together of the Prior Lake Empty Nester Club.  We went to the new McCoys Copper Pint in Shakopee which was a great place.  They have this really cool rooftop bar we were excited to see.  It looked like a lot of fun.  Unfortunately we had too many people there to actually be able to sit at the rooftop bar, but it looked really fun from a distance.

The Korkowskis had to show up later in the evening so they missed the group picture, but I couldn't go a whole month without highlighting their presence at the event!

On Saturday, we headed to the St. Croix River to go on an adventure down to the Mississippi and then beyond to Treasure Island Casino for an evening of fun.

 We went on the cruise with our good friends, Captain Karl & Tina Zitzewitz.  It was a bit chilly on the ride down for the middle of August, but we had a ball all the same.

Of course, we had to snap a few dozen pictures of all the awesome wildlife we saw along the way.  We were again amazed by the number of bald eagles we saw along the shores.  They're actually becoming a pretty common sight any more, but I still remember when they were endangered when I was a kid.  I never saw one in the wild for like the first 30 years of my life, so I'm still pretty fascinated every time we get the chance to encounter these majestic creatures.

We saw a couple scavenging dead fish near the water which seems a little beneath them, but I'm not going to judge.

Not sure what was happening here, but it looked like some pretty important business was taking place.

Another common sight along the river is the trains which we also always seem to go out of way to photograph.  I think Karl thinks we are crazy for continuing to take such boring photos and videos, but I think they're cool looking.

After a three hour cruise, we eventually arrived in Red Wing, Minnesota and at our destination:  The Marina at Treasure Island Casino.  We were there to spend the night and go see Kid Rock in concert!

Kid Rock attracts some people with a pretty specific political affiliation and they are quite outspoken about it.

We watched the forecast all day and were hopeful the 50% chance of rainstorms would go our way.  They didn't.  We got poured on for a good two hours during the show which got to be a little miserable at times, but certainly made for a memorable evening.

The opening act was a band called A Thousand Horses.  I hadn't heard of them before, but then again I'm not really a fan of country music so I guess that's to be expected.  They were fine, but I'm not rushing out to buy any of their albums or cassettes.

Kid Rock came out with a bang.  He's a very talented musician and performer and despite the inclement weather we were all experiencing, he put on a heck of a show!

Of course, he played a lot of his new stuff which was great, but he really started rocking the place when he played his classics like Picture and Bawitdaba.  He skipped a couple of my favorites like Cowboy and All Summer Long, but all in all it was a great show! 

August 4, 2019

A Quick Trip to the Farm

A Quick Trip to the Farm
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for August 4, 2019

A busy few weeks of traveling for work brought me to Boston on Monday.  I was only there for a couple of nights for a training and it was really, really hot.

I've never driven from the airport in Boston before so I found myself a bit surprised when suddenly I was in several miles of tunnels.  My surprise turned into a bit of claustrophobia when I looked at Google Maps and realized I was under water at the same time.  So naturally I had to grab my camera to try to capture my moment of fear.  Glad I didn't run into a wall while I did this because that would have been quite a walk.

August 1st brought Luke the opportunity to move into his first apartment at college with a couple of his buddies, Andy and Jackson.  I think these guys are going to have a pretty good time this year.

Luke's excited because Andy had brought his new puppy to come and live with them.  She's a very sweet dog, but definitely still full of that puppy energy.  Ought to be an interesting experience for all of them.

Thursday also brought me the opportunity to go see Avery at his summer internship.  He's working at a company called Trimble doing programming work for them.  They had their annual "Summer Bash" for their employees and the interns were all allowed to invite a guest so I jumped at the chance.  I gave Avery a hard time because he's been working there for a couple of months already, but hasn't done much to decorate his cubicle.  I guess he's a minimalist.

It's a really neat company.  They had set-up a bunch of inflatables and games for the families to play.  I had just come from a client meeting so it was a good opportunity for me to play soccer darts with Avery while wearing a suit.  I still crushed him.

This weekend, Miss Sheri and I traveled to Iowa to visit Grandma Leona at the farm.  It's always a fun chance to get out and enjoy the country.

All week long, I got Blue excited by telling him we were going to the farm to get the kitties!  By the time we actually were there and outside, he was worked up into a frenzy at just the sound of the word kitties.  Needless to say when we actually saw one of them, he took off like a rocket after it to try to introduce himself.  Somehow the kitty was able to disappear in the brush which made for one frustrated dog.  He just wanted to play with him!  Unfriendly farm kitties!  

On Saturday night, our sister-in-law, Laura, and her daughter, Karli, invited us to the local drive-in in a nearby town.  I loves me some burgers and shakes!

Miss Sheri bumped into one of her high school classmates while we were there.  April had told me she and Sheri had played on the high school basketball team together back in the day.  It was fun meeting one of Sheri's classmates.  She went to a tiny high school with a graduating class of only 78 people so that doesn't happen to us very often!

July 28, 2019

A Visit to the Minnesota Vikings Training Camp

A Visit to the Minnesota Vikings Training Camp
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for July 28, 2019

On Saturday night, we had the honor of attending the wedding of Jamie Erickson & Sawyer VanHecke.  I've known Jamie since she was a young girl so it was a special treat to have the chance to spend this day with her as well as her friends and family.

Jamie is the daughter of our old friends Jay and Carmen Erickson.  Jay and I worked together for nearly 14 years at Nor-Tech and hit a lot of highs and a couple of lows together during that time.  Jay delivered a beautiful, heartfelt speech for his daughter that had the whole place in tears.  Such a beautiful ceremony and reception.

We like to get dressed up to go to weddings.  Sometimes we do it and go to weddings of people we don't even know when we are bored.  Thankfully, we aren't bored very often.

Unfortunately for Luke, he had to work so wasn't able to join us for the occasion.  But Avery, Miss Sheri, and I had enough fun for the four of us!

We were lucky enough to have dinner with some old friends, Todd and Tammy Murr as well as their very nice daughters.  We were also joined by Dr. David Bollig so that made the night even more special.  I always have an awesome time with him.

All in all, it was a an incredible event.  You could tell this young couple is truly in love and are destined for long and happy lives together.  They had so many good friends and loving family there to celebrate and support them that it made everyone in attendance inspired and happy to be alive.  Weddings like that are really kind of magical.  Congratulations, Jamie and Sawyer!!

On Sunday, we were excited to attend our very first practice at the Minnesota Vikings Training Camp at the TCO Performance Center.  We always wanted to attend when they used to do training camp in Mankato, but never got around to it.  This year, we made it a priority to go there.

   The place is pretty incredible.  They have at least 5 outdoor fields that I saw and several huge buildings which I think house at least a couple more.  It makes it a bit difficult to follow the action when all the players are spread out so far and wide, but we were able to still see enough to get really excited about the upcoming NFL season.  Are you ready for some football?

It's our second season with the $84 million man, Kirk Cousins.  His debut year didn't go quite as planned, but everyone seems to be pretty excited that we will rebound in a big way this year.  Here's hoping.

Adam Thielen and Stephon Diggs were one of the highest performing wide receiver combos in the league last year.  There's been a lot of talk about who's going to step up to be the #3 guy around here so it was fun watching the entire group practice together to see who was standing out.  I'm keeping my bets on #12, Chad BeeBe.

Last year around this time, our star running back Dalvin Cook was still recovering from a serious knee injury so it was good to see him in there fully working this year.  When we saw him, he was doing drills lined up against newly signed running back, Ameer Abdullah formerly with Detroit.  They both looked pretty intense and ready to go.

All in all, the boys weren't quite as excited about the Vikings Training camp as I'd hoped.  Avery called it a bit underwhelming and they said it's like watching them warm up before a game.  I'm not sure what they were expecting, but I still enjoyed myself and am ready for the Vikings to start their path to the Super Bowl!

While we were there, Miss Sheri and I were selected as the Best Fans in the NFL.  So we got that going for us.  Which is nice.