March 7, 2021

Here Comes The Sun


Here Comes The Sun

Todd Swank's Diary Entry for March 7, 2020

Luke came home this week and was greeted with temperatures in Minnesota climbing into the fifties.  We thought going to Cleary Lake Park would be a good way to celebrate.

The park was hopping with many people thinking like we were.  It's warming up so it's time to get outside and suck in that fresh air.  Now we just gotta get rid of that snow on the ground and we'll be in business.

There's still no signs of leaves on the trees so it's not quite Spring yet.  I'm pretty sure it's coming, though.

We bumped into our old friends, Marsha & Bob Jacobson, who we haven't seen since the pandemic started.  They told us the news they are planning to move away from Minnesota soon which is kind of a bummer for us, but we're happy for them!!  Weird how much can change in a year.

Avery came home on Saturday night so we had the chance to see both of our boys for the first time in a couple of months.    I think this was the longest period of time we've ever gone without seeing either of our sons.  It was way too long.  We picked right up where we left off, though, and had a good ole time.

We drove through Downtown Minneapolis after picking up Avery at the University of Minnesota and saw that the courthouse has been completely encircled with barbed wire fences.  The trial of one of the officers charged with murdering George Floyd starts this week.  It looks like we are setting up for another crazy couple of months in the Twin Cities.

February 28, 2021

Memorial Park in Shakopee, Minnesota


Memorial Park in Shakopee, Minnesota
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for February 28, 2021

It was a beautiful day on Saturday hitting a balmy 45 degrees so we decided it was time to start visiting local parks again.  This week we headed to Memorial Park in Shakopee, Minnesota.

One of our neighbors mentioned that there are a bunch of Trumpeter Swans in the duck pond there and that sounded right up our alley.  We love Trumpeter Swans!  

We thought Blue would enjoy going to the park with us, but that may have been a mistake.  He also loves ducks and swans but has a tough time understanding why he has to be on the leash and can't run over to play with them.

The swans couldn't understand why we brought Blue with us either.  They kept looking at us as if to say "Why is he here?"

I had never been to Memorial Park before which is obviously a mistake on my part.  It is a great nature observatory!  What a nice way to spend a warm day in February.


I hate when I can’t find my mom. ##swans ##minnesota ##trumpeterswans ##birdwatching

♬ Monkeys Spinning Monkeys - Kevin MacLeod
Here's my TikTok Video of one of the swans honking it's horn.

I never knew that you aren't supposed to feed bread to ducks.  Apparently it's not nutritious enough to keep them warm in the cold Minnesota winter.  I guess we learn something new every day.

If you'd like to see some beautiful swans, I suggest you head to Memorial Park soon.  My understanding is when the ice clears up they start spreading out around the river so you don't see as much of a concentration of them in one place like we did.  

After we played with the birds, we headed out on Prior Lake to see our good buddies, Dan & Jen Walters.  They were out ice fishing and we always love crashing their party.

When it hits 50 degrees in Minnesota and the lake is still frozen, it becomes quite a party out here.  We saw people having campfires and all sorts of celebrations going on around us.  It probably also helped that this was the last weekend on Prior Lake you could have ice houses on the lake so people were getting in one last Hurrah before they have to put them away for the summer.

Some people get nervous driving on the ice when it's this warm, but that's not really necessary.  Dan showed us how thick the ice is by drilling a hole for us with his new auger.  It measured 25 inches thick.  He said you could drive a semi-truck out there, but I'll just have to take his word on that one.

Dan Walters shows off his new plastic ice auger for the DeWalt drill. ##icefishing ##dewalt ##drill ##minnesota

♬ original sound - Todd Swank
Here's a Tik-Tik video of Dan showing how his new auger works.

I like staring down the ice-holes and imaging the scariest thing I can think of suddenly swimming by below me.  The clown from It won the contest for me on this particular day.

Dan showed me his technique for setting up a "Tip-Up" fishing line outside.  He used his depth finder to set the bait just above the bottom and then set the flag.  If a fish hits the line, the flag gets released and stands-up so you can see it from inside the ice house.  Pretty slick, but I didn't get to see it work unfortunately.

Blue celebrated his 6th birthday this week.  He looks a little unhappy here because we didn't invite any of his friends over for the party.  Maybe next year.

February 21, 2021

A Quick Trip to Clear Lake, Iowa


A Quick Trip to Clear Lake, Iowa

Todd Swank's Diary Entry for February 21, 2021

We had the opportunity to go out to dinner this week with our old friends, Sue and Ron Korkowski.   We hadn't seen them since before the holidays so it was nice to get the chance to re-connect and have some laughs.

On Thursday, I drove down to Clear Lake, Iowa and hooked up with Krazy Kory.  We hadn't seen each other since last July so it sure was fun getting together again.

Unfortunately the reason for my trip was to attend the funeral of my good friend, Scott Barragy, who passed away suddenly last week.  Funerals are always an odd experience for me.  I enjoy the opportunity to see friends I haven't been around for years, but the reason for our gathering is such a sad thing.  Scott was only 51 years old which is way too young to leave this earth.  Nonetheless, it was a very nice service. 

Hopefully the next time I get together with these guys is for a much happier occasion.  In any case, it was nice to see them all.

On Saturday morning, it warmed up to a balmy 20 degrees in Prior Lake so Blue and I went for a walk out on the lake.

We stopped at the ice house of our buddy, Dan Walters, to see how the fish were biting.  He was doing much better today than the last time we were out there for a visit.  Blue didn't know what to think about it.  He was so confused when Dan dropped the fish back down into the ice hole.  He just could not figure out where the dang thing went.

I was even lucky enough to pull one in even if it was just a tiny little perch.  I'll take it.

We tried to give it to Blue as a treat but apparently he likes his Milk-bones much better.

February 14, 2021

Happy Valentine's Day 2021


Happy Valentine's Day 2021
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for February 14, 2021

It was a sad week when one of my oldest friends, Scott Barragy, passed away after suffering a bad stroke.  I first met Scott when I moved to Clear Lake, Iowa in 1985 and Krazy Kory introduced us.  Scott and has family were very good to me throughout high school and even convinced me to join the wrestling team which was a big stretch for a mouthy 90 pound kid that I was.  We stayed in touch over the years and would connect in the summer for golf and chat on the phone every few weeks or so.  Scott was a great guy and I will miss him dearly.  May he Rest in Peace.

  Our intense cold has continued throughout the week with the temperatures never going above zero.  Blue has been going insane without his regular walks and he finally convinced me to take him to the lake so he could run out some energy.  I threw a few balls for him, but didn't last very long at all.  Poor dog.

It's so cold, the poor rabbits in our backyards are having their ears freeze and fall off their heads.  This guy is lucky to still have one left.

We missed the opportunity to go to a Super Bowl party this year, but did enjoy cuddling up under some blankets and watching Tom Brady settle the GOAT competition once and for all.

 Miss Sheri and I celebrated 27 years of marriage this week.  We braved up and went out to a restaurant for our first date night in a few months.  It was nice to feel some normalcy again, even if there was a big piece of tape down the middle of the table indicating we couldn't sit too close to the people at the table next to us.  

To make the night even more special, we went to visit the new Scheels store in Eden Prairie, Minnesota.

Scheels has modernized their operations for a full "Experiential Retail" sales model including large aquariums in the entry way, an ice skating rink, golf simulators, arcade games, and all sorts of fun things to visit.

They even have a big Ferris Wheel in the middle of the store which was out of operation due to Covid.  Because we all know how much of a Super Spreader ride the Ferris Wheel can be.

There's even life-sized Vikings you can visit.  We thought this was pretty cool until we got close and it started moving and talking to us which startled us mightily.  John Randle was a scary dude when he played and his mannequin follows suit pretty well.

There's also a large hunting section, but they don't allow actual hunting inside the store.  I'm not sure if that's a Covid thing also, but will check it out in the future to see if that policy changes.

February 7, 2021

It's Freezing in Minnesota!

It's Freezing in Minnesota!
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for February 7, 2021

February has hit Minnesota like it usually does, by dropping an arctic fury of frozen oxygen all over the joint.  Wind chills have been as low as 35 below zero and the regular temperature isn't supposed to rise above zero for at least another week.  
It's colder than a Witches Zit!

I was thinking it was going to be another weekend stuck at home, but my buddy, Dan Walters, invited me to join him for some ice fishing on Spring Lake again.  Lucky me.

Dan is a veteran of the first Gulf War and was a member of the US Marine Corp.  He's quite proud of his time spent in the service and enjoys telling me different stories of his time when he was deployed overseas.  It helps pass the time while we aren't catching fish.

Miss Sheri was kind enough to drop me off for my playdate with Dan.  It gave her a good opportunity to test out the 4 Wheel Drive on her new Explorer.  Although it was way too cold out to go looking for the thin spots I mentioned last week.

We spent about 2 and a half hours fishing together.  I wasn't completely shut out after catching a 6 inch long perch, but I'm starting to questions Dan's fishing abilities.  Especially since he keeps on insisting he caught this singing fish last winter.

Eventually Jen came out to join us and she was rocking her throwback Tampa Bay Buccaneers T-shirt.   I thought it was an awesome thing to do for Super Bowl weekend.  Jen and Dan used to live in Tampa so they are very excited for the game.  Let's go Tom Brady!

Eventually Miss Sheri even joined us in the ice shack.  She's not a huge fan of fishing, but I think it was much warmer than sitting and waiting for me in the truck.  I'm totally kidding.  We had a very pleasant evening ice fishing with our friends.  Even if we still really haven't caught any fish.

January 31, 2021

Ice Fishing on Spring Lake


Ice Fishing on Spring Lake
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for January 31, 2021

My buddy, Dan Walters, told me he was going to be out on Spring Lake ice fishing on Saturday morning and invited me to stop by for a visit.  I jumped at the chance!

No matter how many times I do it or how thick the ice may be, I still always get a little freaked out driving on it.  I can't imagine what it would be like to go through the ice and be surrounded by water.  You'd then have to figure out how to get out of the car and swim to the surface in near freezing water.  That doesn't sound very pleasant to me.

Dan had the holes all drilled by the time I arrived and all we had to do was drop our minnows down there to catch a big one.  Or not.  We didn't have much luck during the time I was out there.

Blue was so excited to finally get out of the house with me and go for an adventure outside.  He was less excited when he discovered we were going to be sitting inside a much smaller house.  

Eventually Jen arrived and the good times just kept getting better.  Then I had to leave.

Of course, right after I left they started slaying the monsters!

I had to leave to join Miss Sheri for our major activity of the weekend which was buying her a new vehicle.  It was off to Walser Nissan in Burnsville to hook up with our new buddy, Nelson.

Now we have a new vehicle to go driving on the ice with and look for the thin spots.  This one has a sunroof though so it will be easy to get out the top and swim to the surface.  I can't wait.

  Minnesota opened restaurants again a few weeks ago, but we hadn't ventured into one yet.  That is until our good friends, Tom & Kellie Wolf, invited us to join them at Teresa's in Savage on Saturday night.  It was great to get out and do something normal again.