September 27, 2015

Cruising the St. Croix & Mississippi River to Treasure Island

Cruising the St. Croix & Mississippi River to Treasure Island 
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for September 27, 2015

On Tuesday, Oracle took us salespeople to Whirleyball Twin Cities for our Q2 FY16 Kick Off Event.  We had meetings celebrating reps who exceeded their quotas in Q1 and then they let us go on the lazer tag and whirley ball fields.  Whirley ball is a mix of bumper cars, whiffleball, and lacrosse.  Add alcohol and serve with bumps and bruises.

I tried to compete with my friends, Mike and Erin, but I wasn't a very effective participant.  Somehow holding a racket with my good arm while driving with the little arm was not the best strategy at all.  When I did somehow get the ball, I missed the goal by a mile.  Sadly, my dreams of becoming a professional whirleyball player look like they might be a bit more of a challenge than I first anticipated.

On Saturday, we headed to the Wisconsin border to go on a river cruise down the St. Croix and Mississippi Rivers to spend the night at Treasure Island Casino.  We had plenty of company on the trip.  The weather was gorgeous and everyone must have figured they should get in their weekend boating while they still have a chance.  Winter is coming.  

     We went on the trip as guests of our good friends, the Zitzewitz Family.  Captain Karl got us all gassed up so we could really enjoy our adventure.

Like the castaways on Gilligan's Island, we set out on a three hour tour.  We saw all sorts of cool things on our trip down there including a whole bunch of Go Fast boats that seemed to like to leave us in their dust.  Or more likely....their water vapor.  We saw a lot of these same people down at the casino when we got there, but I'm not sure why they had to hurry up and get there so quickly.  Stop and enjoy the ride, everyone!

We went by this big barge, but they didn't seem to be going really fast.  They have a lot to carry.  I thought we should offer to help them, but Captain Karl didn't think that would be necessary.

This building stands out from the cliff as it overlooks the river.  I'm not sure what they do at this place, but I'm thinking bird watching would be a pretty good hobby to take up while visiting.  It would also be fun to throw rocks from the balcony up there, but you'd need to be careful.  Rocks can hurt people.

I thought the trains were really pretty along the river and near the woods and it made me want to become a train driver.  Then I realized they were working on Saturday and I suddenly realized that might not be very fun after all.

We landed at the casino around 5PM and discovered a lot of wild and crazy people were already there having fun.  So we thought we'd join them.

Karl told me that a lot of people with the Go Fast boats like to sit on the back of their boats, open the engine covers, and then every gathers around and ogles the engines.  I tried to join some people doing that, but didn't last very long.  It just looked like an engine to me.  The silver color was pretty, though.

Treasure Island has a newly re-designed buffet and we all went there and grazed for a couple of hours or so going back and forth eating all sorts of interesting food.  I ate so much my mouth got stuck open and I had to walk around like this for the rest of the night.

After dinner, we all went bowling.  Some of us did better than others.

We had a busy day on Sunday back at home, so we got up bright and early to tackle the day.  It sure is pretty on the river in the morning.

I was hoping to see some bald eagles on the trip.  Sheri and Luke saw one the day before, but I wasn't having much luck.  Then this guy appeared almost right before the end of our trip and stood there so regally while posing for this picture.  I think he likes me.

September 20, 2015

Minnesota Vikings vs Detroit Lions 2015

Minnesota Vikings vs Detroit Lions 2015
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for September 20, 2015

So my honeymoon with taking the bus to my new job at Oracle in Downtown, Minneapolis is over.  I've been parking my new Toyota Sequoia in the park and ride ramp in Shakopee, Minnesota each day I go to work.  On Thursday, someone decided to crawl underneath it with a hacksaw and cut off my catalytic converter.  Apparently it's a pretty common crime right now according to this article in the Star Tribune.  So $1400.00 in damages, a police report, and an insurance claim with a $500 deductible later, my SUV is sitting at the shop waiting to be repaired.  And I gotta find a new park and ride.

On Sunday, Krazy Kory came to town to go to the Vikings game.  We met up with some friends while we were down there.

Kory claims to have invented the selfie because he's been taking our picture like this for many, many years now.  I wonder if he is earning any royalties off that claim?

The Vikings had a really rough opening game in San Francisco this past Monday, so we were a bit nervous about how the home opener was going to go.  Probably not as nervous as Blair Walsh was, though.  He's our kicker and has been in a pretty good slump to start the year having missed field goals and extra points way more than he should have been.  We were impressed watching him practice, though, because he seemed to be kicking everything straight through the middle of the uprights.  He must have a squirrel in his brain, though, because although he did make both of his field goals today, he ended up missing an extra point!  Hopefully he gets his head straightened out soon.

Adrian Peterson has caused our team all sorts of drama over the past year or so, but you never would have guessed it by hearing the audience's reaction to him.  He still seems as universally loved by the Minnesota fans as he ever has been.  He even has guys going out of their way to tie his shoes!

NFL Hall of Famer, Alan Page, was there to blow the opening gjallarhorn to start the game.  Mr. Page not only was one of the leaders of the famed "Purple People Eaters" from back in the seventies, but also just retired as one of the associate justices from the Minnesota supreme court.  It was pretty cool to be standing so close to such an accomplished dude.

We showed up early, but before we knew it we needed to take our seats and wait for the game to begin.  It was Vikings time!

We had a special treat for the home opener when members of the 73rd airborn brigade parachuted on to the field.  Here's a video of their landings:

The game was great.  The Vikings made us proud by winning their home opener 26-16.  Here comes the Super Bowl, baby!!

September 13, 2015

Golfing at the 9th Annual Cabin Classic

Golfing at the 9th Annual Cabin Classic
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for September 13, 2015

Luke and Avery started their junior year of high school this week and attended their first football game where they drove themselves.  They're growing up too fast for me!

I drove down to Clear Lake, Iowa on Friday night to participate in the 9th annual Cabin Classic golf tournament with a bunch of other wild and crazy dudes.  

My old friend, Jason Alexander, started the event back in 2006 as a way to get old friends back together for a weekend of fun and golf. I don't know if debauchery was part of his original plan, but somehow that always ends up being part of the event also.

We played 27 holes of golf at a place called Slippery Elm golf course in Klemme, Iowa.  Well, they played 27 holes of golf and I played about 15 or so.  I'm not a very strong man.

I had never played on the Slippery Elm golf course before, but it was beautiful.  Klemme, Iowa is a tiny little town in North Iowa and the course is literally located right in the middle of a cornfield, but you'd never know it.  It was very well maintained and just an absolutely gorgeous course.  Unfortunately, it was pretty pricey for the area.  We paid a whopping $30 for 27 holes of golf.   Lucky they threw in the cart rental for that price, otherwise I would have had to feel like they were gouging us.

   It's very peaceful playing golf next to a cornfield, until you remember all the scary children that are running around in there.  Then you just to balance the fear while you concentrate on your golf swing.

They recently had 6 inches of rain in less than a week, so there were a couple of soggy areas.  The guy that was mowing the lawn tried to navigate through one of those areas, but unfortunately got stuck.  A couple of the guys in my foursome were nice enough to help pull him out.  While they did that, I was nice enough to video tape the incident just in case one of them fell face first in the mud or something.  I'm sure they wouldn't have wanted me to miss that.

During one of my rounds, I had the opportunity to play with Kevin Dirks and Steve Carew which was nice.  The only problem was that Kevin is kind of obsessed with Steve and literally follows him around everywhere and watches his every move.  He gives him lots of compliments like "You have the smoothest stroke, Steve." and "I love the way you handle that shaft."  I know he's just trying to be friends with him, but quite honestly it gets a little creepy sometimes.

After a couple of really fun nights and struggling through a bunch of bad golfing, it was time for me to pack my bags and head home to Minnesota again.  

The boys had a fun time while I was away hanging out with some good friends and taking turns making Blue try to stand up and walk like a person.

On Sunday, we took Sunny and Blue to the neighbor's house to go swimming and they hooked up with Blue's parents and brother while they were out there.  5 Golden Retrievers all going after tennis balls in the lake can get just a little bit out of control, but it sure is fun to watch.

September 7, 2015

Labor Day Weekend 2015

Labor Day Weekend 2015
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for September 7, 2015

Blue's neutering surgery was a little bit more eventful than we had planned because the darn dog couldn't stop licking his scar.  So it got infected and he had to go on a dose of anti-biotics.  We also had to experiment with a bunch of ways of trying to prevent him from licking himself.  Attempt # 5 was tying a t-shirt around his bottom proved to be the winning method and his scar seems to be relatively healed now.  And his naughtiness level is back through the roof again.

We had an eventful Labor Day weekend.  On Friday, we took another trip to the fair, because really, can you ever get enough of the Minnesota State Fair?

We were on a mission to consume as much naughty food as possible in a short period of time.  Luke led with a foot long hot dog which was a good choice to start the festivities.

 Avery pulled out all stops and acquired a HUGE bucket of Martha's cookies.  According to the Star Tribune, Martha's Cookies brings in almost $3 million dollars a year at it's two locations at the fair.  That's a whole lotta cookies!

When our bellies started hurting, we decided we should check out some of the shows.  The lumberjack show was quite riveting as these guys hammered logs with axes and generally showed how good they were with wood.  I was very jealous of their abilities.

On Saturday, we went out on the St. Croix River with our good friends, the Zitzewitz Family.  It was a hot day, but we had fun staying cool in the water.

Karl always finds fun ways to keep us all entertained.

It's fun jumping off the top of the boat, but it does get a bit slippery up there so we have to keep warning the kids to be careful.  It's a long way down to the water, but it's not quite as far to slam into the deck.

We had to leave the river early to join "Hornbuckle Hell Week" at St. Petersburg Vodka Restaurant and Bar in Robbinsdale, Minnesota.  The Hornbuckles were there before we were and had already ordered a flight of vodka for everyone to taste.  There was potato vodka and rye vodka and I think some that was made with gun powder or something.  I'm not a big vodka connoisseur, but they all seemed to enjoy it.

We did get to experiment with some food we don't normally eat.  Miss Sheri and I enjoyed the Beef Stroganoff which was basically a beef stew with some kind of bready thing covering it up.  I could only imagine I was in the center of downtown Moscow while I was eating that thing.

After we ate, a lovely Russian singer went up to the stage and encouraged us all to join her on the dance floor.  Normally this group is kind of shy, but with some extra coaxing she convinced everyone to get out there.

Kim and Miss Sheri danced together a lot which always makes me kind of happy.

We went to an after hours party at the Baileys where these young ladies performed several other dance routines for the family.  It was quite impressive!

On Sunday morning, Grandma Linda stopped by to show us her new car.  She's very proud of it and we are very proud of her for still being taller than it is.  But just barely.

On Sunday night, we went over to our good friends, the Bollig Family, for dinner and good conversation.  They're so fun to be around.

They have hummingbirds in their backyard which are fun to take pictures of when you can get them to sit still.  It's harder than it looks, though, because these guys are just horrible listeners.

David told me to sit in the chair without moving and they'd come back and sit in front of me.  So I sat out there right next to the hummingbird hangout with my camera in hand and I waited.  This guy finally landed in front of me and posed.  Then he flew away.  I thought that was nice of him.

On Labor Day, we drove to Hastings, Minnesota, to visit our old friends, Cathy, and her husband, Jeff.  They bought a new house about a year ago and we got a chance to enjoy the views of the nearby country side from their backyard.  There's like fields all around as far as the eye can see.  And there's probably fields beyond that even.

The best part of the visit was Jeff's homemade pizzas which he just kept baking one right after another.  We gorged ourselves and then headed home to try to recover from such a fun-filled weekend.