July 15, 2018

Clear Lake Iowa Class of 1988 - 30 Year Class Reunion

Clear Lake Iowa Class of 1988 - 30 Year Class Reunion
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for July 15, 2018

I can't believe it's been 30 years since I graduated high school.  Where does the time go?  Miss Sheri and I traveled down to Clear Lake, Iowa this weekend to go visit old friends and celebrate being old.

Quite naturally, I hooked up with the fellows before heading to the reunion.  Ron "Sugarman" Myers, "Krazy" Kory Madson, and I have many, many great memories together in high school.  

There's never quite as many people show up as you hope you'll get to see, but we had about 20 or so classmates come to the festivities.  On Friday night, we started at the Other Place and just had a lot of fun with one another catching up on things.

I don't get to see these folks all that often any more, but when we reconnect, it's like we haven't missed a moment.  We just instantly start having fun together again.

We even had a couple of our former teachers and coaches make an appearance like Mr. Suntken here.  I ran cross country for Mr. Suntken back in high school and was really, really bad at it.  God definitely did not intend for me to be a long distance runner.

At the end of the night, we ended up at the Surf District where I was thrilled to discover they were having Karaoke.  We had so much fun singing and dancing!  Craig Larsen is one of our classmates and is the lead singer in a popular Iowa band.  He absolutely stole the show with his rendition of ACDC's "Big Balls".  Just killed it.

On Saturday, we had even less classmates show up for our cruise on the Lady of the Lake.  I'm guessing a lot of people were sleeping off the late night karaoke party.  Those of us who showed up though had an awesome time.

I was excited to have the opportunity to spend some time with legendary Clear Lake Wrestling Coach, Gary Weber.  I wrestled in high school and Gary started coaching the year after I graduated.  He want on to have an amazing career that spanned 28 years and a nomination into the Iowa National Wrestling Hall of Fame due to all of his success.  It was great hearing a bunch of his old war stories about being a coach and teacher at CLHS.

I hadn't seen Ron's whole family in quite awhile, so it was great getting to spend some time with them.  I couldn't believe how big and athletic all of his kids have become.  It's like a whole swarm of sugar people.

The boat ride only lasted 90 minutes or so, but we had several fun stories that were generated by it.

We had dinner at PM Park and a new group of people arrived that we hadn't seen yet, so all new chances to share stories and updates for another night.

Tami and Debbie organized our reunion this time around and I loved that they made this table to honor our classmates who are no longer with us.  It was a very classy and touching move.

We even had a classmate who couldn't make the trip from Boston join us live via Facetime.   That's certainly something we couldn't have done back in 1988.

Pretty soon the sun went down and it was time to say our goodbyes for another 5 years.  It sure will be fun to see what new adventures life brings us all in that time.

While we were away, Luke and Avery celebrated their 19th birthday!  It just doesn't seem possible that they are only 1 year away from no longer being teenagers!

Avery's girlfriend, Emma, came up for the weekend to help the boys celebrate.  It's always great to see Emma!

Smaaash at The Mall of America

Smaaash at The Mall of America
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for July 15, 2018

It was Luke and Avery's 19th birthday this week.  We asked them what they wanted to do with the family to celebrate and they said let's go to SMAAASH.  It's a large virtual reality arcade in the Mall of America.  I said "Let's Do It!"

We are big fans of virtual reality.  We have an HTC Vive and quite honestly, the actual game-play experience was pretty much identical to what we can do at our house.  The difference is each simulation includes a ride element.  So your body is being moved in direct correlation to what your eyes are seeing on the screen.  It does add quite an amazing element to the experience.  During this one, we were riding through a haunted hospital and as you can see on our faces, it was pretty scary!

The cool thing about the roller coaster ride was the boys got to design the ride before we experienced it.  I didn't know you could ride a roller coaster with such sharp angles, but apparently you can when the laws of physics don't apply.  Your brain sure gets confused when it sees the curves coming and your body suddenly gets jerked in the opposite direction.  You know it's not possible, but it sure feels like somehow you just did it.

With the Extreme Drone Racing, we were each able to compete against one another on some speedy drones flying around a virtual racetrack.  We are still debating who won the race since we all claim the game crowned us the winner at the end.  I think the boys are fibbing to me that it said they won also rather than just honor my greatness.

SMAAASH was a fun way to spend a Saturday morning!

After the arcade, we hooked up with Grandma Linda and went to Wahlburgers for lunch.  I've always wanted to eat something from Mark & Donnie Wahlberg!

Luke dreams of owning a Tesla someday.  We thought it would be fun to take him to test drive one for his birthday!  So we went to the Tesla Dealership nearby to make that happen.

Unfortunately, we couldn't make the test drive happen.  First, the boys need to be 25 to test drive one.  Second, there's a waiting list which we still need to sign up for...  So they gotta wait about 6 years before they can test drive one, but we will make arrangements so I can test drive one and they can test ride it!

July 8, 2018

Happy 4th of July 2018!

Happy 4th of July 2018!
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for July 8, 2018

Sad to hear that Ed Schultz passed away this week.  Hard to believe it's been 10 years since we went to see him debate Michael Medved, but we had a blast when we did.

I woke up the other day, came down to work at my desk, opened the curtains and saw one of our albino squirrel friends sitting in the yard looking up at me.  That usually means it 's going to be a pretty good day!

On the 3rd of July, we traveled to the St. Croix River to see our old buddies, the Zitzewitz Family and go for a ride on their boat.

The water has been extremely high lately so there's been no wake restrictions on the river.  Combine that with a forecast that called for rain all day and we ended up pretty much having the river to ourselves.

Which is fine with us because it ended up being a beautiful afternoon and we were ready to relax and have some fun.

Because the water was so high over it's banks, we thought kayak rides along the shore would be a bunch of fun.

It's so cool to be able to take a boat through land that is normally dry this time of year.

There's a small creek that goes under this bridge when the water is at normal levels so it's pretty cool to be able to go back here and follow it's path.

It's so peaceful and undisturbed to float through.  The only problem is the dang mosquitoes are relentless!  They don't get much fresh meat back here so they started chomping down on us immediately and just wouldn't stop.

The coolest thing we saw was when we approached a large group of sticks that ended up being home to a very large beaver.  He ran out of his home and dived in the water right when we arrived. The ladies were able to catch this incredible beaver shot for us when they went back there later.

This was a fun way to spend the afternoon going back and being one with nature.

Eventually we made our way back to the boat and were treated to a stunning round of King of the Mat starring Ana and her dad.  Ana put up an incredible fight throughout the match, but she eventually succumbed to the size and strength of her dad.  A few more years though and I'm quite sure she'll start crushing him.

On the 4th of July, we celebrated at Mystic Lake Casino's outdoor festival.  They had live bands, food trucks, and a fireworks display to end the evening.

Some of the Vikings cheerleaders saw me and asked to get their picture with me.  I was happy to oblige.

It's a sad state of the world that we continue to see K9 units deployed at most events where the public comes together in mass.  Don't get me wrong.  I'm very glad they are there.  Just sad that they need to be.

We had fun Oohing and Aahing over the beautiful fireworks display.

On Thursday, we had our monthly get together of the Prior Lake Empty Nesters Club at Charlie's on Prior.  We saw some new faces again which always makes it special.

July 4, 2018

Kesha at Mystic Lake Casino 2018

Kesha at Mystic Lake Casino 2018
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for July 4, 2018

On Saturday night, we drove to Mystic Lake Casino in Prior Lake.

We went there with our good friends, Jason and Jen.  They're always up for a good time.

We were there to see Kesha perform at the Mystic Lake Outdoor Amphitheater.  We were pretty excited to boogie the night away.

I bumped into my old buddy, Jimi Gilbertson.  It seems every time we go do something fun in Prior Lake, we bump into Jimi.

I have no idea who the opening act was, but he sang some fun songs and had hair almost as nice as Kesha's.  So he was cool to watch.

It was pretty crowded when we arrived, but somehow we were able to maneuver and squeeze ourselves through the crowd to get pretty close to the stage.

Kesha rocks.  She has a very lively list of songs that make you want to dance and sing along with her.  

She also has a very loyal following who go pretty wild and crazy when she's performing.  It took a little while to get into a groove with the crowd, but eventually we figured it out. 

She's a natural performer with a lot of Girl Power motivation to get the crowd riled up.  We like Girl Power.

After 3 hours of dancing with one another, you start getting pretty friendly with the people around you.  These ladies were very nice.

Kesha changes outfits A LOT during her set.  She's a very colorful lady.

At one point in the concert, a large golden statue suddenly appeared in the crowd and made it's way to the stage.  She grabbed hold of it with glee, waved it to the crowd then eventually autographed it and sent it back into the throngs of waiting hands.  I have no idea what that was meant to signify, but OK.

The concert went late into the night before eventually moving onto an encore or two.

Based on what she says on stage and the lyrics in her songs, Kesha has dealt with a lot of crap in her life.  She seems to inspire many people though and has a very positive message.  We always like to support people who Celebrate Life!

At the end of the evening, we were treated to a visit with Jason's daughter, Alyssa.  It's always special to see her.  

Here's several video clips of Kesha performing.