June 23, 2019

First Boat Ride on the St. Croix River for 2019

First Boat Ride on the St. Croix River for 2019
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for June 23, 2019

On Monday, we were treated to a visit from my old pal, Ron "Sugarman" Myers and his son, Lance.  Naturally we had to celebrate the occasion with some succulent chicken wings.

Lance is a huge fan of the Boston Red Sox.  They were in town to play our smoking hot Minnesota Twins and help douse out some of their flames.  They ended up taking 2 games in the 3 game series including the one we were were attending by a score of 2-0.   Lance continued his perfect streak of getting a ball for the 3rd time in 3 MLB league games he's attended which was fun to watch.  Even if we did have to see the Twins lose to watch it.

David Ortiz was honored before the game which I thought was a pretty classy thing to do.  He had recently been shot in the Dominican Republic and was still in intensive care while we were at the game.  Ortiz spent the first 6 years of his career with the Twins before spending the next 14 with the Red Sox and winning 3 world championships with that team.  Hopefully he completely recovers and gets out of the hospital soon.

It was Unique Turtle week for the Swank Family as we encountered many interesting turtles throughout the week.  This guy isn't exactly rare, but we don't see his kind around our house very often so we  get excited when we do.  I believe he is called a soft-shell and is a very popular menu item at Taco Bell.

I believe this guy is also a soft-shell, but not sure what the heck that huge lump on his back is from.  Maybe he was sneaking another turtle around with him?

On Saturday, we drove to the St. Croix River for our first boat ride of 2019.

We were joining our good friends, the Zitzewitz Family, for one of their first big rides of the season.  The river has been so high all Spring that it had no wake restrictions which makes it difficult to go very far so we were glad to be able to join them when they could really open up the engines.

The ladies had fun riding on the front of the boat while the fellows and I kept Captain Karl company up top.

Avery talked me into jumping in the water and going for a kayak ride even though it was kind of chilly.  He made it up to me by  carrying my weight for the most part on the kayak.  I'm not a real strong rower.

We ended our evening at Mallards in Bayport which was very pleasant.  We always have a good time with those Zitzewitzes!

On our way back to the boat, we saw our third unique turtle of the week.  This little guy was only 2-3 inches long and sat on a log while we watched him.  We figured he couldn't have been more than a few days old.  He was adorable.  We contemplated adopting him as a new pet until Karl pointed out to us that they live to be thirty five years old which is a bit more of a commitment than we were ready to make on a Saturday night.

Basset Hound Racing at Canterbury Downs

Basset Hound Racing at Canterbury Downs
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for June 23, 2019

Our good friends, Ross and Robyn Thompson, have 4 basset hounds.  So when Canterbury Downs announced they were hosting basset hound races again this year, they were quick to enter the competition.  We went to the park to cheer them on.

We planned to watch from the stands, but they had two dogs competing in different races.  So they needed some help with watching the spare dog while the other raced.  We were happy to help them out especially since it meant we'd get to go on the field during the race.

Voice of the Vikings Paul Allen is a big fixture at the racetrack and was calling the dog races as well, so we had the opportunity to bump shoulders with him a couple of times.  

Our old buddy, Will Easton, brought his family to the track to root on Ross and his dogs.  It's always good to see Will.

Father's Day at the racetrack brings out a big crowd and the stands really filled up when the puppies came out.  Who doesn't love to see untrained dogs competing against one another in a race?

Avery decided that he didn't want to be seen out on the track with his parents, so found a nice family he could hang out with during the race.  Those Heile's are such neat people.

Suki was their first dog to race followed by Mabel.  Robyn stayed in the gates until the countdown to Go and Ross waited at the finish line trying to get the pups to race to him as fast as they could.  Of course given the facts that there were also 8 other dogs running at the same time along with a huge crowd of people cheering, not many of the dogs did what they were supposed to but it sure was fun to watch!

The dogs were all hyped up and full of adrenaline waiting for the signal.  I think there may have been some dog treats involved as well, so I'm sure that helped get their attention.

Both of their dogs did really well, but unfortunately neither finished in the top 2 of their heats.  So they don't get to advance to the grand finale races on Labor Day weekend.  Better luck next year, Thompson Family!!

 Afterwards, the family and I went to Benihana to celebrate Father's Day.  Hope all you awesome dads out there had a great day!!

June 16, 2019

The Minnesota Twins Are The Hottest Team In Baseball!

The Minnesota Twins Are The Hottest Team In Baseball!
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for June 16, 2019

I have the good fortune to attend three different Twins games this week with various people.  The Twins are in a place that we in Minnesota don't get to experience very often.  They currently possess the best record in Major League Baseball at 47-22.  Minnesota teams don't usually attain that level of success, so everyone is pretty excited about them around here.  I'm not a huge baseball fan, but I do like riding bandwagons so we went to the games ready to cheer and slap hands in the crowd like we're season ticket holders!

The game I went to on Thursday was a team event for Oracle.  I had the opportunity to spend time with a bunch of my old friends who I have worked with since I started at the company back in 2015.  It was really great seeing everyone!  By the way, the Twins beat the Seattle Mariners by a score of 10-5.

After the game, we met up with my cousins, Cindy and Alison who were in town for a seminar.  We had a bunch of fun at Brit's Pub in downtown Minneapolis.  We had seen Alison a few years ago, but Cindy and I haven't been together in like 35 years.  Hard to believe time passes that fast.  We had a blast catching up and left each other with promises to not go this long again for another visit.  Either that or we will have a great time re-connecting again when I'm 83.

On Friday night, I drug the family out of the house for my second Twins game of the week, this time against the Kansas City Royals.

This was a special game for a couple of reasons.  First of all it was Prince Night which is an annual event now required at all Minnesota Sports teams where teams trash all over Prince's memory. They do this by playing his music during every break and hand out crappy purple merchandise with his name splashed all over the place.  Of course anyone who remembers Prince will also remember that he was notoriously against the commercialization of his music and image.  So now that he's dead, I guess that no longer matters.  In any case, we are huge Prince fans and love his music so we are glad that they exploit the heck out of him now that he can no longer stop them.  We're just pissed we showed up too late to get any of the cheap purple Prince jerseys they were handing out before the game.  They actually looked pretty nice.

The other reason it was a special game was this was the weekend they retired Twins legend Joe Mauer's number.  Minnesota Governor Tim Walz was there to declare Saturday Joe Mauer Day in Minnesota which was nice.  I wonder if we will get that day off of work next year?

We had a ball watching the game and just having some good old fashioned family bonding time.  Not with actual ropes or anything but metaphorical bonding.

The game was a nail biter with a 0-0 tie all the way through the 8th inning when Mitch Garver smacked a home run and RBI to give the Twins the 2-0 win.  Actually, the game was kind of boring up to that point, so the home run came at the perfect time to wake us all up and cheer for the home team!  Did I mention the fact that I'm not a huge fan of baseball?

On Saturday we went to the Farmer's Market in downtown Prior Lake.  I ran into another old friend from Oracle, Tim Bruss.  Tim told me he hasn't looked back since leaving the company about 2 and a half years ago.  He went to Polaris where it sounds like he has a dream job traveling around the world promoting their jet ski's and other vehicles at exotic resorts.  Congratulations Tim and it was great seeing you again!

The Swank Family Seattle Vacation 2019 Video

Google Photos never ceases to amaze me.  All I did was backup 630 photos and videos to the service after returning from our vacation to Seattle.  A couple of weeks later, I received an email from Google Photos saying "Hey, I just made this video for you."  I was really impressed with choices for photos and videos it selected as well as with the editing all done purely by artificial intelligence.  If the robots are going to take over, at least we will be entertained with pleasant videos during the process!

June 9, 2019

Our First Boat Ride for 2019

Our First Boat Ride for 2019
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for June 9, 2019

On Thursday night, it was time again our for monthly get together of the Prior Lake Empty Nester Club.  We thought going to see the ponies at Canterbury Downs would be exciting so that's what we did.

It was pretty much the usual crew that showed up for the event.  We had a good time watching the races and discussing the details for how to pick the winners.  I didn't hear of any big wins in the group, but a good time was had by all.

Avery started a new internship this week and his company happened to be having a party here as well, so he stopped by to visit with us for a few minutes.  Not much longer than that, though, because it's no longer cool to be seen in public with the parents.  So apparently we are going to start wearing paper bags over our heads when we go out with our sons.  That will be cool!

I bumped into my old buddy, Orlando Mazzolini, while we were there.  It's always good to see him.  

We thought Guy was going to miss spend the evening with us as he was traveling, but right before the last race started, he showed up with his suitcase in hand ready for a good time.  That is why Guy is my kind of Guy.

On Saturday, it was time to pull the boat out of storage and go for our first ride on Prior Lake.  It was actually quite late for us to do this in June.  Other summers we've been out as early as April, but maybe we're all just getting too old for those Spring boat rides.

We like to take Blue on the boat with us when we don't plan on going swimming.  He loves being in the water so much that we always get nervous he's going to jump over the side without warning.  If we were to go swimming, there's no way we could keep him on the boat.  

We saw lots of fun critters from the boat.  I don't think I've seen this guy before.  Searching online, I think I've identified him correctly as a Sandhill Crane.  Although when I asked him what kind of bird he was, he just kind of looked at me funny.

I don't know why I'm so fascinated with turtles, but I do still get excited every time I see one.  This guy seemed a little stuck up, though.

We went into Mud Bay to see our favorite tree where all the birds are always nesting.  There were a ton of egrets in there hanging out together.  They all seem so happy.

This great blue heron was either just ready to take off or was posing for us.  I can't remember which.

We only stayed on the lake for a couple of hours mainly because the boys get bored bird watching with their parents.  Maybe that's why they don't like hanging out with us any more?  We gotta find some new hobbies.