April 25, 2021

A Quick Road Trip Through Iowa


A Quick Road Trip Through Iowa

Todd Swank's Diary Entry for April 25, 2021

We met up with our good friends, Sue & Ron Korkowski, for dinner at McCoy's Copper Pint on Wednesday.  They look amazing and we had a fabulous time spending a couple of hours together.  

On Friday night, Miss Sheri and I thought it would be fun to take our vaccinations out for a test drive and hit a random restaurant.  It's just so nice to be able to go out and be around people again!

We then stopped by Scheels in Eden Prairie.  Not because we wanted to buy anything, I just found myself longing to spend some time with their Abraham Lincoln statue.  I'm very fortunate that my wife is so willing to support my various fetishes.

We also stopped by US Bank Stadium for a quick tryout with the Vikings.  I did really good until the ball got close to me.

We had some things to attend to in Des Moines on Saturday, so we spent the day doing a road-trip back and forth through Iowa.  It's always nice to visit my home state.

We had the opportunity to stop by and visit with my high school buddies, Krazy Kory, Ron "Sugarman" Myers, and Joel Anderson.  We didn't get to spend a bunch of time together, but it's always fun to see them regardless.

Krazy Kory has been hard at work on his landscaping & gardening activities.  I wish I had a green thumb like Kory.  

Actually, I really just wish that I had thumbs like Kory.  

Oh well, his garden did look nice.



April 18, 2021

Vaccine Spring


Vaccine Spring
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for April 18, 2021

Every week, I'm finding out more and more of our friends are becoming fully vaccinated and people are starting to plan get togethers again.  Coupled with the nicer weather, it's really feeling like a special time with new beginnings, new possibilities, and new desires to try different things.  This week we decided to go to Normandale Community College in Bloomington, Minnesota to see their Japanese Garden.

 It's a very peaceful space right outside Normandale's campus.  It has a waterfall, several bridges, and a nice walking path.  The Cherry Trees found here were genetically modified to be able to survive Minnesota's harsh winters.  The garden actually patented them so they make a small royalty on each one that is sold which I found to be pretty cool.

I was really impressed with the Japanese Garden.  It even made me think I should take a class or two at Normandale so I could hang out here between lectures.  That would be fun.

   We thought this sculpture was neat except for the phrase at the bottom that says "My Heart is Open".  Sometimes it's more fun to interpret the art rather than having it spelled out for us.

Blue was not a fan of the Japanese Garden mainly because he wasn't allowed in to visit.  We kept singing the song from Snoopy Come Home.  No Dogs Allowed!  He would have probably just peed on the cherry tree anyways.

Here's a couple TikTok videos I shot while we were there:


Japanese Garden at Normandale College ##normandale ##waterfall ##japanesegarden ##minnesota ##hikes

♬ Japanese Garden (Guqin) - Chinese Yang Qin Relaxation Man

Normandale College Waterfall ##normandale ##waterfall ##japanesegarden ##minnesota ##hikes

♬ Waterfalls - TLC

Nearby Normandale is this long walking path that goes over some prairie land so we thought we'd check it out.  It was well worth the trip.

We saw these people canoeing on the pond and thought it would fun to join them.  Sadly we forgot our canoe so maybe next time.

We like spying on turtles from above.  It's a bit of a guilty pleasure of ours.  We're turtle voyeurs.

Technically, we saw this softshell turtle on one of our other walks through our neighborhood earlier this week.  Since it fit into our obsession with turtles theme, I thought it would be placed well here. 

This mama goose was nesting and so well hidden we missed her on our first walk by.  Miss Sheri spotted her on our way back.  She did not take her eyes off of us so I'm guessing there's some eggs underneath that belly of hers.

We had the opportunity to hang out with our good friends, Tom & Kellie Wolf, this week.  We're usually able to solve the world's problems in our couple of hours of being together so that's nice.

We also were able to spend some time with our buddies, Jen & Dan Walters, at a campfire at their house.  They make it a lot of fun to burn stuff!

April 11, 2021

Under the I77 Bridge in Bloomington, Minnesota


Under the I77 Bridge in Bloomington, Minnesota
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for April 11, 2021

It was time to get my 2nd vaccine shot this week, so I was excited to get in there and get it done.  The nurse who administered my shot was more quick witted than last time.  I asked him after my shot was complete how long until I could start going to orgies and raves again.  He immediately responded, "As soon as the mask mandate is lifted."  I was pretty excited about this until Miss Sheri spoke up and reminded me that I still need her permission for those activities.  That quickly brought me back down to earth again.

I had the opportunity to visit the Mall of America this week for the first time since the pandemic began.  I was impressed with the number of people who were there shopping, but also surprised at the large number of stores that have closed.  Some of my favorites like the Apple store and the Microsoft store are completely gone.  It will be interesting to see how retail evolves as things get back to normal.

Miss Sheri  and I are always on the look-out for interesting hikes around the Twin Cities.  This week we were driving over the i77 bridge in Bloomington, noticed the trails through the wetlands and thought they may be worth a visit.

We parked at the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge Long Meadow Lake Trailhead.  It is part of the 14,000 acre protected wetlands established in 1976 to make sure the critters had a place to live as the Twin Cities continued to expand all around them.  We like wetlands.

The first thing you do when you get there is walk across a huge Truss Bridge.  The original creation was an 860-foot long Camelback through-truss bridge that was the longest in the state when it opened in 1920.   It was shut down to vehicles in 1993 and restored in 2017.  And we walked across it in 2021!

It's a very peaceful place and a pleasant walk on a cold and gloomy Saturday in April.

We saw all kinds of critters including this egret.  His green eyes twinkled at us as we walked by his presence.

We noted that the swans had very dirty heads after they kept dipping them deep into the mud below them.  I hope they were finding something good to eat because otherwise it didn't appear to be a very pleasant activity.

Every now and then we wandered off the path, but we didn't find much worth it to justify the wet feet.

Eventually we made our way to the I77 bridge and thought it would be fun to climb.  It gets pretty wiggly up here when the cars zoom by.

Damn shame what they did to that dog.

If you've ever wondered what it looks like under the I77 bridge, wonder no more.  Some very talented graffiti artists apparently live in the area.

We have 11 different photos zoomed in on this stick.  Could have sworn it was a dang bird.

On Saturday night, we had the pleasure of being dinner guests of our old buddies, Karl & Tina Zitzewitz.  It's the first time we've been in their house in over a year and had an absolutely wonderful time!

April 4, 2021

Happy Easter 2021


Happy Easter 2021
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for April 4, 2021

It was Easter weekend and Avery was starting Spring Break so he decided to come home for a few nights.  We thought it would be fun to connect with Dan & Jen to celebrate Good Friday and it ended up being a very Good Friday indeed.

Saturday morning brought Orlando over for one of our weekly adventures.  We always end up having the most delightful of conversations and solve most of the world's problems in our few hours together.  So that's nice.

The temperatures rose into the seventies and we invited Avery to join us for one of our weekly hikes.  He was hesitant to join us, but we told him it would be insanely thrilling so he decided to come.

Our first stop was to the "Boiling Springs" in Shakopee.  It's a small pond on Eagle Creek that has a unique environmental phenomenon.  An underground spring pushes water up through the sand which causes it to look like it's boiling due to the bubbles.  I always find it interesting to witness.

Avery wasn't as impressed.  He took the dog and took a seat near the beginning of the path.  He also asked me if I really find it interesting which I found pretty funny.  Absolutely I do!


Our next stop was to Rice Marsh Lake Park in Eden Prairie.  We had never been there before but it had good reviews on AllTrails.com so we thought we'd give it a shot.

The park has a really nice paved trail that goes 3.2 miles around Rice Marsh Lake.  There were several other walkers and bikers, but I certainly wouldn't consider it crowded.  It was perfect for what we were seeking which was a nice walk on a beautiful day.

We also had the chance to see a ton of turtles which is always a popular activity in my book.  I like turtles.

I found this broken bridge fascinating.  I really wanted to venture out onto it, but there was a clearly marked "No Trespassing" sign that called it Unsafe.  I could have jumped it.

There was a time in my life when I would have seen a doll like this hanging in a tree and thought it was an innocent toy of a child.  I've now seen too many movies for that.  I just couldn't decide if this represented devil worshipping, witchcraft, or Voodoo.

Then I saw this little house hidden in the woods and realized it was definitely voodoo.  We skedaddled out of there pretty quickly after that discovery.

About two thirds of the way through our trip, we found a path which went off the paved trail and cut deeper into the woods.  I figured this would be when the horror would begin, but it turned out to just be a shortcut.  It saved us a few hundred steps so we had that going for us.  Which was nice.

Suddenly it was Easter Sunday and we were greeted by a visit from Grandma Linda.  It was our first time in over a year that we could meet with her without us all wearing masks which was great.  It had nothing to do with Covid.  She just used to have some really bad breath, but apparently a new brand of toothpaste is doing wonders for her.

Happy Easter, everyone!