August 26, 2018

Empty Nesters Again

Empty Nesters Again
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for August 26, 2018

It's hard to believe this summer is already coming to an end.  It was confirmed for us on Thursday when Luke moved back to Mankato to start his sophomore year at Minnesota State Mankato University.

Two days later, Avery followed suit when he moved back to the University of Minnesota to start his sophomore year as well.  Miss Sheri and I are officially empty nesters again!

Both boys are trying something new this year.  Avery has moved into an apartment with three other guys.  They have a really cool location right across the street from Stadium Village.  I'm sure game days are going to be pretty wild and crazy in this place.

Luke decided to stay in the dorms but has chosen to forego having a roommate and is now living by himself.  Every time we call him, though, he seems to be out and about with friends so I doubt he will get lonely.   Good luck Luke and Avery at school this year!

We found it pretty cool when we were pulling out of the driveway on our way to drop off Avery, one of our albino squirrel friends showed up in the yard to wish him Good Luck!  They always seem to show up in our lives at just the right times.

Last weekend, we had the joy of going out on the St. Croix River on the Zitzewitz boat with a bunch of friends.  That's always a recipe for a good time.

The Browns brought their jet ski which was very entertaining.  It's lighter than other ones I've driven, so it seems to make you fly much, much higher when you go over the big waves.  It made me a little nervous to go that high, but the boys sure seemed to like it.

We had all sorts of fun toys to play with in the water!  Which is a good thing because it helps me keep my mind off constantly worrying about being attacked by a river shark.

Pretty soon, Captain Karl took controls of the jet ski and pulled out a tube.  He was ready to start giving rides!

I watched him give the kids rides for quite awhile and thought, "Well, that doesn't seem so bad."  It's been awhile since I've been on a tube, but it's just like riding a bike, right?

Eventually, I hopped on the tube and was ready to go for a ride.  I figured it would be easy.

It wasn't easy.  I held on for dear life while he swung me from side to side and had me jump the thing over waves.  I held on as hard as I could, but eventually succumbed to the G Forces that seemed to want to send me into the water so badly.  Then the fun began.  Getting back on that tube was much harder from the water then it was from the boat.  Lucky for me, Karl is big and strong and was able to give me a boost else I'd probably still be out there bobbing up and down on that river.

Next up was Rhonda and Tina who were ready to give it a go.  They didn't say anything but I'm sure they were thinking "If Todd can do it, then it will be no problem for me!"  I probably would have thought that if I were them.

I watched their ride and was impressed that they held on the whole time and never flew off like I did.  I'd like to think that's because Karl took it easy on them, but I'm more sure it's because they are also stronger than I am.

Another sign that summer is almost over.  Our annual fantasy football draft was on Friday night!

As always, Steve "Cuds" Cuddihy and his lovely wife, Melissa, hosted an incredible shin-dig and auction draft that lasted several hours.  It's always a fun time!

I saw on the championship trophy that I haven't won the league since 2010.  So I think I'm due!  Although I'm not in love with the team I drafted, so it's time to start working that waiver wire to find the diamonds in the rough!  Are you ready for some football??

August 19, 2018

Test Driving a Tesla and Go Karts at the Farm

Test Driving a Tesla and Go Karts at the Farm
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for August 19, 2018

The past couple of weeks I have been doing posts on our vacation in July, so I am backed up on activities we've been taking part of in August.  Including our Empty Nester Club Get Together at the beginning of this month at Charlie's on Prior.  We had some new faces show up again this month which always makes it fun and interesting!

Krazy Kory stopped by with Ben and Harli on their way to vacation in Alaska.  It was great to see them, but I'm noticing I'm suddenly becoming the shortest person in the crew.  That can't be good.

We hadn't seen Grandma Leona for awhile, so we made a weekend visit to the farm.  Which is always a good time.

The weather was beautiful while we were there which made it a perfect occasion to take the 4 wheeler cruising.  We all took turns driving and had a good time crushing gravel.

On Saturday night, we headed to ride some go karts which can get a little competitive with this group.

It was a slick track, so there's not a lot of room to build momentum.  You basically get a few seconds to accelerate and then need to focus on making the sharp turn around the corners on both sides.

Everyone stays pretty focused on trying to pass one another, but it seems like everyone was pretty safety conscious also as we had no major accidents to speak of.

Although there was the occasional fender bender that occurred, both drivers usually ended up smiling afterwards.

Miss Sheri told me later that she was surprised how intense my face was while I was driving.  Actually, I tend to clench my teeth together because I'm paranoid someone is going to TBone me and I'll end up shattering my choppers.  Which does make me look a little bit intense I guess.

We went out to eat one night with Sue and Ron Korkowski to Perron's Sul Lago in Prior Lake.  It was our first visit to the popular Italian Restaurant but after eating there I'm quite confident it won't be our last.

We spent a day going down to the Mayo Clinic to see Luke's cardiologist, Dr. Johnson.  He was very pleased with how Luke looked and how his heart looked which is always a big positive for us.  Couldn't ask for any better news than that.

On the way home, Miss Sheri wanted to stop by Zumbrota to see the last covered bridge in Minnesota.  It sure was covered all right.

For his 19th birthday, Luke wanted to test drive a Tesla.  Unfortunately we discovered that you need to be 21 to test drive one.  So I had to do it.

I wasn't sure what to expect, but I found myself to be very impressed with the Tesla Model S.  I had my first experiences with technologies like Auto Pilot, Self Parking, and "Ludicrous Mode" where you can accelerate from zero to sixty in 2.5 seconds.  That literally takes your breath away!

It was a bunch of fun.  Here's a video of our experiences:

August 12, 2018

2018 Summer Vacation Trip to Martha's Vineyard

2018 Summer Vacation Trip to Martha's Vineyard
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for July 27, 2018

After we spent two nights in Boston, we rented a truck and drove to Cape Code.  We figured after spending 5 days in the big cities, we wanted to spend the last part of our vacation going to the beach.

We did actually spend a couple of hours on the beach, but it wasn't nearly as exciting as we were hoping it to be, so we decided to do a bunch of other stuff instead.

We knew the Kennedy's spent a lot of time in this area, so we thought it was pretty cool to see this memorial for JFK.  

We end up spending a lot of time eating on vacations for some reason.  This place was called Spanky's Clam Shack.  It didn't really sound like a family kind of place to be, but we were pleasantly surprised.

On Saturday, we woke up bright and early to take the ferry to Martha's Vineyard.  I never did find out who Martha was, but she sure has a nice island.  Not sure why they call an island a vineyard either, but I guess what do I know?  If I'd have named it it would be called "That Island Near Cape Cod".

It was a neat experience.  There are a bunch of big, beautiful houses on Martha's Vineyard.  There's also a lot of nice restaurants and shops to visit.  As a matter of fact, we heard that less than a week later Barack and Michelle Obama actually ate in one of the restaurants we visited.  It would have been pretty cool to see those cats out and about.

We started our adventure at some park across the street from the beach.  We had to buy bus passes to get around the island and they said the guy who sold them liked to hang around in the park.  Sure enough, he was there sitting on a park bench when we arrived.  I guess if I sold bus passes, I'd probably like to do it in a park also.

We stopped at a lot of shops and browsed around.  Not necessarily in that order.  

 Even though, we were in a different part of the country, we still like to take our bird watching pictures.  I'm not sure what kind of birds these guys were, but they sure seemed to like building tall nests.  Maybe there was a bunch of them all stacked on top of each other and these guys were the lucky ones who got to be on top.

Oddly enough, the ducks in Martha's Vineyard look just like the ducks we have back home.  Maybe she was also just here visiting from Minnesota.

I don't think we have seagulls like this back home, but that's probably for the best.  I tried to get close to this one to get a picture together and he just flew away.  Kind of snotty.

Eventually we found ourselves in Edgartown where we saw a bunch of beautiful boats.  We also saw some ugly ones, but we didn't say that to anyone because we didn't want them to feel bad about their boat.  It's probably just  nice to have one here regardless of what it looks like.

These ferry boats go back and forth to Chappaquiddick all day.  We recently saw that movie about Ted Kennedy and wondered if this was where he swam across the channel after he had his accident.  It actually didn't seem that far to swim compared to what I was imagining.  I still think it would probably have been better if he would have called the authorities rather than swimming across it, but what do I know?  If I'm ever in a situation like that, I may feel the need to challenge my swimming skills also.  It's tough to say.

I saw Dave and Brittany walking across the parking lot to us, so I snapped this photo.  It wasn't until later that I noticed I caught a photo of a large land whale behind them.  That's a pretty rare sight.

The Mohars really look nice when they have a harbor pressed up behind them.

We visited a lot of galleries in Martha's Vineyard.  This one was my favorite.  This statue must have been here for a long time if they built those bricks up and over it like that.

This is the Gay Head Cliffs in Aquinnah.  I didn't realize that Avery and the girls were breaking the rules by being out over the fence until the lady lighthouse keeper came over and told them they couldn't be out there.  Apparently there was a big drop off behind them, so I'm glad I didn't capture a photo of them falling.  Although if I had, it would probably have just looked like I had taken a photo of the cliffs by themselves.

 This is the Gay Head lighthouse.  Apparently it's been around since 1799 and was the very first lighthouse on Martha's Vineyard.

What a nice lighthouse.

Before we went back to the mainland, we ate at a fun restaurant with an awesome waitress where they actually threw peanut shells on the floor.  I thought they didn't do that kind of stuff in such a fancy place, but I guess even on Martha's Vineyard they let their hair down in certain ways.  Which is nice.

We had another great vacation with my sister and her family.  I can't wait to see where we go together next!