July 26, 2020

50 Years On This Earth

50 Years On This Earth
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for July 26, 2020

My twins, Luke & Avery, celebrated their 21st birthday last week and I celebrated my 50th birthday this week.  Which ended up being perfect timing because it allowed them to surprise me with some of my favorite IPA and a shot of Fireball.  I think I'm going to really enjoy them being of legal age.  

We'd planned on spending our special birthdays in Las Vegas, but Covid caused us to scrap those plans a couple of weeks ago.  A close second to Vegas was spending the night with Grandma Linda at Whiskey Inferno in Savage, Minnesota and enjoying the Butcher's Feast!  

Grandma Linda can never get enough meat in her life.  It's always been her weakness.

Miss Sheri and I take a daily 2 mile walk and we always walk over this bridge.  Often times, we see a lone egret sitting in this creek and fishing.  We have a lot of egret around us, so that's not particularly surprising.  What I do find unusual about it, though, is I never see more than one egret down there.   So is this the same one we see every time or are there different ones?  If it's the same one, does he consider this his special place and doesn't tell his buddies about it because he wants to keep all the fish to himself?  I gotta be honest.  If that is the case, I'm a little disappointed in him.  Just seems kind of selfish to me.

It wasn't all birds and birthdays this week, though.  We also pulled out the boat and had some buddies on the tube.  It was a blast.

We met up with Josh & Jenni's parents, John & Eileen, in Candy Cove and tied up for awhile.  We hadn't seen them since the quarantine started so it was great to catch up with them and float.

 Our good friend, Grace, celebrated her graduation from high school this week.  We all know how tough 2020 has been on high school seniors, so we were happy for her that she was finally able to celebrate.  We wish her the best in her next phase of life!

July 19, 2020

Our First Trip Out Of State Since The Pandemic Began

Our First Trip Out Of State Since The Pandemic Began
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for July 19, 2020

It was a big week for birthdays in the Swank Household.  First up were Luke and Avery who became officially legal when they turned 21 on Tuesday.  Naturally what does every red-blooded American boy want to do first when they turn 21?  Spend time with their grandmother of course.  So that's what we did.  Grandma Linda came over for a visit and I think that really set the day off on a good foot.

We tried to restore one of our favorite traditions with their birthday by going to Benihana.  It's the restaurant where we like to spend special occasions.  Crazy how many changes they have going on in the current environment, but it was still nice to have the option to go there.  Next time, we're even hoping they'll start being able to serve food again.

Shocking I know, but we did end up in a bar to finish the evening.  They had a couple of friends come out with them and then mom and dad left the building.  I believe that's when the real debauchery started happening.

I am turning 50 on Monday so the second celebration of the week was on Saturday.  Miss Sheri and I drove down to Clear Lake, Iowa to see our old buddies, "Krazy" Kory Madson and Ron "Sugarman" Myers.  It was our first time seeing each other since the pandemic began, so we had a lot of catching up to do.

Even with good friends, Miss Sheri is still trying to do her best at social distancing.  Lucky for us, Ron & Kory were happy to accommodate her.

We went to the Boulder Tap House in Mason City for lunch.  This was my first time visiting, but I was very impressed with the food and beer selections.

We had big plans to be in Vegas this week for our birthdays, but that had to be postponed.  I was happy to be able to at least have a little bit of time celebrating with friends to commemorate turning the big 5-0.

We stopped at Ransom's in Mason City to play a few games of pool which has been one of our favorite activities to do together for more than 30 years now.

Before leaving town, we thought it would be fun to stop by to see one of our classmates, Neal.  He seemed pretty happy to see us.

I enjoy stopping by Neal's farm because he always has very interesting critters.  Last time we visited, he had a horse that thought he was a dog.  This time he had some hairy chickens who weren't very friendly despite my best efforts to pet them.  That wasn't going to happen!

July 12, 2020

The Heat of the Summer 2020

The Heat of the Summer 2020
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for July 12, 2020

Avery made a visit to the Mayo Clinic this week for a check-up with the cardiologist.  We're pleased that everything looks A-OK and he doesn't need to have a check-up again for another 3 years.  Those are the kind of doctor visits we really love.

In our quest to continue to discover activities that keep us entertained without involving crowds of people, our journey brought us to Cleary Lake park this week.  We thought it would be fun to rent a canoe.  I was thrilled when Avery decided to join us because it downgraded my role from paddler to passenger.  

I suppose I could have stepped up and requested Miss Sheri to be the passenger and I could be the paddler, but she really wanted to paddle and I just can never say no to my wife.

We only paddled around for an hour or so, but it was a beautiful, quiet ride and had it not been so dang hot, we probably would have stayed out there for the 2nd hour we rented.

A park building was burned down this week about a block away from our house.  The police don't know if it was caused by fireworks or arson or whatever, but it's sad people won't be able to enjoy these picnic tables anymore because of someone's shenanigans.

We've never been big on guns in our house, but 2020 has caused us to re-think that mindset.  There's been a couple of times this year already where I had to wonder "What if I called the police and they weren't able to come to my house?"  We thought taking a class called "Intro to Handguns" would be a good place to start.

The class primarily consists of learning all the rules about gun safety and then trying out a variety of handguns to learn which ones you prefer.  We didn't really care for the orange one.

Miss Sheri has always been gifted when it comes to stuff like this and once again, she didn't disappoint.  

Avery was the most accurate shooter which probably isn't very surprising.  I guess all those hours playing video games were good for something.

Luke is also a gamer, so he did pretty good as well.  Although he mentioned something that the real gun has a bit more of a kick than the game controller, so I think that took some getting used to.

This is Hans.  He was the one we coordinated with to take the class and is quite the guru when it comes to firearms.  It was a very interesting experience.

To continue on the theme of alleviating boredom, we thought it might be fun to drag the old tube out of storage.  Despite some serious efforts at patching up old leaks, it still works pretty well.  It's fun to be able to whip my kids around the lake for awhile.

Our desire to keep hiking brought us back to Cleary Lake Park to walk around the lake.

The best part of the day was when this little guy bounded out of the woods to see us.  He seemed very curious about Blue, but then was startled by a biker who came along from the other direction and ran back into the woods.

When we walked forward to see him again, we saw that his mother was nearby keeping an eye on the little rascal.  Moms have a tendency to do that.

July 5, 2020

Happy 4th of July, 2020

Happy 4th of July, 2020
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for July 5, 2020

For the first time in many years, we stayed home for the 4th of July.  Usually we go to Clear Lake, Iowa. This year with Covid-19 most of the celebrations were cancelled, so we thought it just made more sense to stay home.

We have taken our obsession with puzzles into overdrive and have started buying multiple versions to keep us entertained.  It's good family bonding time, although I do find myself getting a little carried away sometimes and have to drag myself away to go to sleep rather than find just one more piece....

We've been venturing out to new places for our hikes.  This week we went to the Bloomington Ferry Bridge to walk alongside the Minnesota River.

When we first moved to Savage, Minnesota back in the early nineties, there was a road that you could drive on to get to Bloomington from Savage.  However it was always washed out when the river got too high so you'd have to drive way out of your way to get to where you wanted to go.

Shortly after we moved in, they opened a brand new bridge on Highway 169 that replaced the need to go on the old road.  They shut it down and converted it into the paths Miss Sheri and I walked along.  Countless times over the past 25 years I've driven on this bridge and thought to myself, I want to go down there and see what it's like now.  Thank you quarantine boredom for giving me the opportunity to knock that one off the old bucket list.

We were amazed and delighted to see there were birds down on the paths also.  I was so worried we'd have to walk along those paths and not having anything interesting to see.

Another thing we've been doing more than usual this summer is getting out on the boat.  Avery has even taken an interest in driving it lately which allows me the opportunity to lay on my butt in the front.  Very nice!

On the 4th of July, we got out on the lake early and waited a couple of hours to get a good spot on the boat parade route.  Lucky we did because it got way more crowded than I was expecting.

The boys brought a couple of friends along for the ride.  It's always nicer to spend the holidays with friends!

The boat parade was fun and we heard from some others there were a lot more boats decorated this year than in the past.  I guess quarantine boredom is getting to other people as well.

There were loud cheers for the float for the 2020 Seniors.  Everyone feels so bad for them that their  final year in high school got so screwed up with the virus.  They seemed to be having a great time in the parade, though!

Our favorite float was the Tiger King entrant.  They had a couple of Joe Exotics on board, several scary looking tigers, and some fun "Don't be a Carole" shirts.  We like clever people.

Our holiday ended with a front row seat to an incredible fireworks display at Watzl's Beach.  Hopefully next year we will be back to normal and have all sorts of options to celebrate again.  Happy 4th of July, everyone!!