September 25, 2016

University of Minnesota College Tour

University of Minnesota College Tour
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for 9/25/16

The week started off with a bunch of joy when Miss Sheri's college roommates came to stay with us for a few nights.  Robin lives in Hawaii and stopped by at the end of her trip to the mainland so Cathy came down for a girl's fiesta at the Swank house.

On Saturday morning, we went for a college tour at the University of Minnesota in downtown Minneapolis.  Luke and Avery are seniors and still trying to decide which schools they want to apply to attend.  Jackson and the Walters family were going the same day so we decided to all go together.

Our tour guide was a nice young lady named Olivia and she gave us a very nice tour of the school.  I can't remember exactly what she was explaining to us here, but I'm guessing it made me uncomfortable hearing about it.

Soon enough we were outside and checking out the campus.  This place is HUGE!  And there's Gophers everywhere...

Olivia pointed out these statues which are virtually invisible when you look at them straight on from the end...

When you see them from the side you see that they're a couple of pretty intense individuals that are kneeling and staring at each other.  They also look like they might be naked, but I'm not going to try to figure out what that's all about.

Soon enough we were in the middle of campus and Olivia really wanted us to stop.  A lot of people weren't listening to her so she had to get pretty theatrical with the hand signals.

I think it would be fun going to a school where you can see the home of the incredible 3 - 0 Minnesota Vikings off in the distance!

This is considered to be a "Modern Classroom".  All the students sit around each other in tables that are set-up for digital communication and microphones for everyone to speak to the professor or to the rest of the group.  Every table also had a huge display hanging next to it so students can show their work to the immediate group or the whole classroom if needed.  I thought it was pretty cool.  I want to go Back to School!

The stairways are a little scary as they have this vortex like feel to them.  I felt like if I fell over the side I was going to be sucked into a black hole and transported to another dimension.  Actually, now that I think about it, I should have done it!  It worked for Matthew McConaughy in Interstellar and I've always wanted to be just like that guy.

Our tour ended with a presentation in one of the auditoriums.  I sat next to Dan which is never a good idea.  Lucky for us, we didn't get sent to the Dean's office for creating a ruckus.

All in all, it was a pretty impressive tour.  I'd like to go to the University of Minnesota.

Afterwards we all went to Buffalo Wild Wings to reward ourselves for a good deed done.

Dan gave himself an extra reward by trying to do the Blazing Challenge.  He was supposed to eat 12 Blazing wings in less than 6 minutes.  Dan gave it the good ole college try, but in the end the heat was just too much for him!  Nice try though, Dan!!

September 18, 2016

A River Ride Down to Red Wing, Minnesota

A River Ride Down to Red Wing, Minnesota
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for September 18, 2016

On Saturday, we connected with our good friends, The Zitzewitz Family, to go on a boat ride down the river to Red Wing, Minnesota.

This has kind of been our annual thing.  The past couple of years we stayed at Treasure Island Casino, but this year we decided to go a little further South.

Captain Karl drives us around.

While we all sit around him and admire his skills.

I like watching the trains go over the bridge over the river.  Then I wonder how old is that bridge and when was the last time it was inspected?  Trains are heavy!

Ana is King of the World!  Or Queen.  I'm not sure which.

Our favorite thing to on the river is bird watching.  Although it kind of felt like this guy was watching us!

We kind of felt like we were getting watched all over the place!  Especially by the bald eagles.  They were totally stalking us.

I swear we saw more than 20 bald eagles during our trip.  We are so fascinated with these majestic creatures.  They were endangered when we were kids, so it's nice to see their population has come back so strong only 30 some years later.

This guy tried to run a stop light so we called the cops on him.

We try not to laugh at birds when they are having a hard time, but when this guy fell off the bridge backwards we couldn't help ourselves.

We were lucky enough to have to go through one of the locks on our way down.  These are maintained by the US Corps of Engineers and they basically raise or lower your boats to different parts of the river.  It's an interesting process to go through.

It gives us time to enjoy each other's company before we start traveling down the river again.

It's a nice feeling when they open the gates and let us out of the lock.  You start feeling claustrophobic in there.

We finally arrived at our destination,  The Red Wing Marina in Red Wing, Minnesota.  

We got out of the boat and went straight to take another picture of ourselves.  We didn't think we had enough of those yet.

Then we went to dinner.  Then we went to bed.  We were all very excited to get back on the boat again so we could head back home the next morning.

It was nice and sunny for the ride back home.

We had to wait for three barges to come through the lock before we could go back into it again.  I'm amazed they could fit all of these in there.

When we saw the bridge where we had to leave the Mississippi River and get back on the St. Croix, we knew our trip was almost over.  Then we cried and cried because it was so sad for all the fun to end.  It was a good weekend on the river!

September 11, 2016

A Couple of Golf Tournaments

A Couple of Golf Tournaments
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for September 11, 2016

We spent Labor Day with our old friends, Jeff and Cathy.  They have a party every year on this day.

The main focus of the party is Jeff creating delicious pizza after pizza and the rest of us devouring them.  It's a great annual tradition!

On Thursday, Oracle Direct Minneapolis had their annual charity golf tournament and bags tournament.  Since my bags game is slightly better than my golf game, I figured I'd sign up for that event.

Erin and I started at Oracle on the same day together and have been buddies ever since.  So I asked her to be my partner.  Our very first match I was excited to see we were going up against my boss, Will.  I notice it looks like he was going straight for my skull with this bean bag, so you can tell the match was pretty intense from the get go.

My friend, Orlando, was feeling pretty strong about his game, but we never had the chance to face off against each other.

Erin and I did surprisingly well despite the fact that Erin's partner really sucked.  We won 3 matches and lost 2 before we were doubly eliminated from the tournament.  We sure had fun, though.

These are the teams we played against:

On Friday night, I drove to Clear Lake, Iowa for the 10th annual Cabin Classic at Jason Alexander's place.  The usual crew was there and we all lamented the fact how quickly 10 years go by.  We drowned our sorrows with some fun hours spent playing cards and golf.  Then we weren't sad about the 10 years going by so fast any more.

We played 27 holes of golf in Thornton, Iowa.  The weather was great and we nearly had the golf course all to ourselves.  Couldn't ask for a much better tournament than that!

Luke and Avery had their Scout Master conferences which is one of the final steps they need to complete before they earn their rank of Eagle Scout.  We're so proud of them both for this accomplishment.

Scoutmaster Erickson has been so helpful to the boys and it was great hearing each of them chat with him while over-viewing their history in scouting and the things they enjoyed the most.  It feels like we just joined Cub Scouts not long ago, so it's pretty crazy hearing them sum up their years in scouting.  

Where does the time go?