May 31, 2021

Memorial Day Weekend 2021


Memorial Day Weekend 2021
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for May 31, 2021

Shortly after he graduated college, Luke went camping for a couple of nights near Grand Marais, Minnesota which is pretty close to the Canadian border.  One of his buddies snapped this photo of him on the trip and I felt it was cool enough to share.

We were on one of our walks this week when we encountered this guy trying to cross the street.  I get a little nervous trying to pick up snapping turtles since I don't have a lot of fingers to spare, so Miss Sheri gave me a stick to help me get him out of the middle of the road so he didn't get squished.  I think he appreciated the help and he didn't try to bite me at all while I scooted him out of the road.

On Tuesday night, we had the pleasure of hosting Karl & Tina Zitzewitz for a leisurely boat ride.  Next time we're going to do the opposite of that kind of ride, but I'm not quite sure how to describe it.  I looked up "What is the Opposite of the word leisurely?" and came up with the following:  Bolting, breakneck, careening, rocketing, warp-speed and whizzing.  So the next time the Zitzewitzes come over, we are for sure going Whizzing together!

We took them to bird island where we saw this mama duck teaching her babies how to Eat the Muck.  Doesn't seem very healthy to me, but I'm sure mama knows what she's doing.  

On Wednesday night, we drove down to St. Peter, Minnesota to join up with Luke's college room-mates to play Frisbee Golf.  It's a sport I've always wanted to try, so when I heard this was a regular activity of theirs I asked if I could join them sometime.

As is is with most sports, I always think I'll be way better at it than I actually am.  This course was pretty challenging.  We played 18 holes through the deep woods and along the Minnesota River.  I bought a new set of discs for the event complete with three "Drivers" and two "Putters".  We were ready to start getting some Holes-In-Ones!

Turns out, it's a lot harder than it looks to get these discs to go exactly where you want.  And deep woods in late May also have deep weeds where the discs like to hide.  We ended up spending a lot of time searching out missing discs.  That wasn't a part of the game I was imagining when I pictured myself sailing through the course and hitting par after par.  

There's a lot of doglegs left and right in the course, but eventually you find the "hole" and have to land your disc in the metal chains hanging around it.  Even up close, I found it to be quite a bit harder than it looks.  Story of my life!

Avery spotted a deer deep in the woods far from where we were standing.  He told Miss Sheri there was no way she could capture a photo of it, but as is usual she proved him wrong.

 Regardless of how poorly I performed, we still had an awesome time and I enjoyed this cool frisbee golf course.  I would recommend playing in early spring or late fall to avoid deep weeds that eat frisbees and nasty bugs that eat Swanks and their friends.

After the game, we had a nice time at 3rd Street Tavern in St. Peter.  Good game, fellas!

On Saturday, we drove down to Waverly, Iowa to see our old buddies Ron "Sugarman" Myers, "Krazy" Kory Madson, and Joel Anderson.  I really gotta come up with a nickname for Joel.

We came down to see Ron's new house and especially his new massage chair.  This thing was a little bit scary after I got locked into it and it's robot fingers started feeling me up in all sorts of strange places.  I really enjoyed it.

I made sure we took the obligatory family photos including Ron, Kristie, and their 4 beautiful children.

Krazy Kory and his daughter, Harli.

Joel and his daughter, Mayah.

Miss Sheri Swank with her husband and personal idol, Todd.

We spent the afternoon at the gun range to receive some lessons from Ron on firearms safety and do some target practice.

 We have a pretty good time with this group.

We had dinner at El Sol which was delightful.  If you ever find yourself there, I strongly recommend ordering the chicken and rice.  It's delicious!

We spent a couple hours at a dance recital to watch Ron's daughter perform along with several dozen other young ladies.  This wasn't an experience I had before raising two sons, but we enjoyed ourselves quite a bit seeing all the different styles of dance.

I ended the evening giving Ron's sons a basketball lesson.  Oh who am I kidding?  Those boys dunked all over me for 10 minutes or so before I collapsed in an exhausted heap and crawled off the court weeping.  It was fun, though.

May 23, 2021

Our First Visit to the Farm in over a Year


Our First Visit to the Farm in over a Year
Todd Swank's Diary Update for May 23, 2021

We had an exciting week that started with watching the home team Prior Lake Lakers defeat Eagan in LaCrosse.  It was bittersweet for our friend, Connor Walters, who played his last home game since he graduates this year.  We're glad we had the opportunity to watch him play a couple times this season!

The orioles are still stopping by to see us on a regular basis.  Last week, we had a few friends tell us we should put out grape jelly for them which has been a huge hit with our orange and yellow friends.  They suck that stuff down like they are lined up at the bar doing tequila shots.  Lucky birds.

We had a Turtle Dove stop by for a visit also.  If only he would have brought a friend I would have felt like it was the second day of Christmas!

On Friday, the boys had some friends over to have some fun on the lake.  I'm beginning to wonder if I'm going to get to have my boat to myself ever again.

Miss Sheri and I did sneak out with it when they were done to stalk our turtle friends.  There were a lot of softshell ones mixed with the painted turtles which I thought was nice.  It's good to have a diverse group of friends.

On Saturday, we drove down to Iowa to spend the day on Grandma's Farm.  It's been over a year since we've been able to make the trip because of the pandemic and we were happy to be able to have the boys join us.  

I think Grandma Leona & Uncle Jerry were excited to see us.  I know we were happy to see them.  We had a very pleasant afternoon & evening playing games and catching up on life since we were last able to be together.

Blue loves going to the farm.  We found it funny that he remembered exactly where the kitties like to hide and he started whining to go look for them the moment we arrived.  Sadly for Blue, the kitties never came out to play with him.  He searched all over Grandma's yard and in the fields, but they stayed well hidden and he never found any.  I'm sure that made the kitties pretty happy, but Blue left just a little bit dejected.

We didn't get to stay with Grandma for too long this time.  Hopefully now that this pandemic seems to be behind us we'll get to make another trip to see her again real soon.

We drove by Lake Crystal, Minnesota on our way home and were surprised to see a large flock of pelicans swimming around the water.  I always thought these guys only lived by the ocean, but apparently there's various groups of them throughout Minnesota.  I believe these are called America White Pelicans.  At one point they were thought to be gone from the state, but they started making a comeback in 1968.  Pretty cool stuff.  I hope to be able to come back down there and swim with them sometime.

May 16, 2021

Minnesota Ends The Mask Mandate


Minnesota Ends The Mask Mandate
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for May 16, 2021

On Friday, Minnesota Governor Walz ended the state's mask mandate.  We thought for sure it would take a few weeks for businesses to start honoring it so we were surprised when we arrived at Lucky's 13 in Burnsville and the hostess told us we no longer needed to wear them to walk to our tables.  It was kind of a bizarre feeling.

It was especially strange seeing the full faces of the waitresses and bar staff who were serving us.  This gentleman was happy to smile for my photo and it felt really good to be back to normal again.

Well, I guess not completely back to normal.  We walked around Burnsville Mall after we were done eating and that was pretty depressing.  It was our first visit to the mall since the pandemic began and we were shocked to discover that a majority of the stores were completely shut down.  I knew retail was hit hard, but seeing the mall I've been coming to since I was a child with 75% of the stores no longer there was kind of sad.  Hopefully, people will be able to fill the vacancies with new businesses soon.

On Saturday, Luke & Avery had a couple friends over for a boat ride.  It was 70 degrees outside so we figured the lake would be full of boaters ready to be party, but traffic was actually pretty light.  People must still be going into stores without masks on just to see what that feels like again.

The more likely explanation is the water is still really cold.  We bought a new lily pad this year which we were dying to try out, but dang that water was chilly!  It's hard to stay dry on that mat especially with my big ole belly.

Avery is trying to take away captain responsibilities from me full time, so I keep putting him through challenging situations to prove his worth.  Like driving under this low clearance bridge which he cleared like a champ.  Next time I'm leaving the plug out of the boat to see how he handles things when it starts sinking.  That'll learn him.

We did make him drive us over to Bird Island to get our bird watching fix.  We need to keep at least some of our boating traditions intact.

I am 50 years old and just learned this week that there’s actually a bird called a Baltimore Oriole.  I always thought that was just the name of a baseball team.  Now I gotta go look up what an Arizona Cardinal looks like.

We saw the oriole on one of our feeders a week ago.  Miss Sheri heard that if you put orange slices out for them, they'll become regular visitors.  She heard right because they've been stopping by daily get to their juice fix.

May 9, 2021

Congratulations to my Graduates


Congratulations to my Graduates
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for May 9, 2021

I can't believe how fast time flies.  It feels like my twin sons, Luke & Avery, just graduated high school.  

 But the calendar can't be stopped and we had the joy of attending both of their college graduation ceremonies this week.

Luke graduated from Minnesota State University in Mankato with a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance and a minor in Marketing.

Avery graduated from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis with a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science and a minor in Mathematics.  We are very proud of both of them and we really hope they have good luck finding jobs with their newly earned degrees!

We had the opportunity to meet up with Luke's roommate's, Andy & Jackson, before his ceremony.  It's always good to see these fellows.

  On Friday night, we went out with our buddy, Dan Walters.  We actually went to a bar that had a live band playing.  I think that's a first for us in quite awhile.  It was fun, even if they did only play a few songs before wrapping up for the evening.  I guess that's what we get for waiting so late to go out at night.

We had a campfire at Dan's house earlier and this little guy snuck up on us before taking off like a rocket after I chased him to get this photo.  I can remember a time in my life not that many years ago where I had never seen a wild turkey.  Now we see them everywhere.  Not sure what happened for their population to explode so much, but I'm starting to think our country can support two Thanksgivings.

Luke & Avery came home on Sunday to celebrate Mother's Day with their mama.  Blue was more than happy to join in for the party.

As is our usual practice, we spent most of our time turtle hunting.  We had pretty good luck especially after we started blaring "Bunny Hop" music outside of the boat.

 This guy wanted to get in on the train, but his partner jumped off the log right as we pulled up.  She's just a little shy I guess.

We ended Mother's Day by picking up Grandma Linda and headed on over to the Olive Garden.  We like celebrating our mamas by stuffing ourselves with a little pasta and red sauce.  Happy Mother's Day to all you wonderful ladies out there!!