July 25, 2021

Las Vegas Birthday Celebrations


Las Vegas Birthday Celebrations

Todd Swank's Diary Entry for July 25, 2021

We went to Sin City last week.  We were ready to have some fun!

Technically, this trip was supposed to happen last year.  Luke And Avery turned 21 and I turned 50 all in the same week.  But then that whole Covid thing caused us to cancel the trip, so we went this year to celebrate their 22nd birthdays and my 51st instead.

Miss Sheri's birthday isn't until August, but we thought it might be kind of fun to bring her as well.

Krazy Kory and Young Ben also like to celebrate birthdays, so they joined us for the party.

Kory & Ben stayed at the Venetian while our family stayed across the street at the Mirage.  Both are nice casinos right in the middle of the strip so it's easy to get around to see things.  We like to get around.

It was really hot while we were there.  The temperature reached a high of 108 degrees 2 of the 3 days and 106 on the other.  Needless to say, the pool felt pretty good when we wanted to cool down.

We experimented with a variety of restaurants like the Rockhouse.  

When Kory and Ben arrived, the place started living up to it's name.

We did a fair amount of gambling, but none of it very successfully.

Covid has made Blackjack even more expensive than normal.  You can't find a table with less than a $15 per hand minimum and all the casinos have switched to paying out 6 to 5 on Blackjack instead of 3 to 2 which is a real bummer.  Not like they didn't have enough of an advantage already.  We found ourselves playing video blackjack more than we normally would because at least you could get in for $5 a hand.   Not that it made winning any easier.  I'm starting to think the casinos don't want us to make any money for some reason.

We also played some Roulette.  For some reason they get a little fussy about taking pictures at the tables so we were lectured by the dealer right after taking this shot.  I almost think they may have something to hide.  Otherwise why would he be wearing a mask like that?

We spent some time in the Sports Book.  I debated a lot whether I should gamble our life savings on the Minnesota Vikings winning the Super Bowl this year.  In the end, I decided against it.  It just feels too obvious that is going to happen and I would have felt guilty taking the money from the casino.

We were excited to see that Cirque Du Soleil was performing again and went to see Mystere at Treasure Island Casino.  Such an amazing show.  I actually had seen it once before about 20 years ago, but was just as blown away by it again this time.  

I think I have a new favorite tree.

We did a lot of walking.  More than 12 miles on Saturday alone.  We thought we'd take a break by taking the tram from one end of the strip to the other.  We're smart like that.

We ended up down at The Luxor which has always been one of my favorites.  I think the Pyramid is a very cool building and I really like walking through the Sphincter of the Sphinx.  

Vegas was a place I was excited to take the boys to see, but now that we've done it, I'm not sure we'll be planning any more family vacations here any time soon.  It was bad enough when I only had to account for my personal gambling losses.

We did have a lot of fun, but next time we'll have to bring some more girls with us so Miss Sheri isn't quite so outnumbered.

Bye,  Vegas.  Next time we're cleaning you out!

July 11, 2021

2021 Lakefront Music Fest


2021 Lakefront Music Fest
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for July 11, 2021

We had a great 4th of July weekend doing our favorite things.  Hanging out with friends on the water.  On Saturday, our old buddy, Ted Fristad, and Marcia picked us up on their Pontoon boat to go cruising around Prior Lake.

On Sunday, we spent the day on the St. Croix River on the Zitewitz's boat along with the Browns.  That's always a good time!

Playing on the river all day is one of my favorite ways of showing my patriotism.  I believe the Founding Fathers would have agreed with me.

When we came home from the river that night, we were surprised to find that one of our big trees dropped some massive branches on our deck and fence.  So that was a fun discovery.

For the rest of the week we had men with big machines rolling around our yard getting rid of 2 of our big trees.

On Friday night, we connected with Jen & Dan Walters to venture into Lakefront Park near Downtown Prior Lake.

We were there for Rock & Roll night at Prior Lake's Lakefront Music Fest.  It was our first concert in 2 years and we were ready to do some Head Banging!

Judging by the size of the crowd in attendance, I don't think we were the only ones feeling this way!

It was so good to be out in the community seeing old friends again.  Our old pal, Jimmy Gilbertson, had a booth to hawk his wares and gave us some can coozies to keep our beer warm.  Or cold.  I think it's supposed to keep them cold.  In any case, we really appreciated the gifts.

.38 Special kicked off the show and we were ready to go!

I must be getting old because normally I'd be diving into the crowd and trying to work my way to the front of the stage to get as close to the bands as possible.  This year I  found myself to be pretty content to just sit in my chair and listen to the music.  Miss Sheri was kind enough to venture into the crowd and grab most of these photos.

It was great seeing these classic bands playing many of our old favorites.  .38 Special had us singing along to tunes like Hold on Loosely & Caught up in You.   

When Miss Sheri and I first starting dating back in 1991, the first concert we went to was Cheap Trick.  It was kind of surreal seeing them 30 years later, but they pretty much sounded the same even if they looked quite a bit older than last time.

We ended up sitting with a bunch of friends so that was pretty cool.  It's always good to Jam Out with people you like to Jam Out with.

Cheap Trick played a bunch of songs I hadn't heard before which I'm assuming is their new stuff they're trying to sell.  They brought the crowd back in a big way when they ended their set with classics like Dream Police and I Want You To Want Me.  Everybody was singing along and the whole park was becoming pretty electric.

Styx was the main event and they rocked us into the night time.

They stayed pretty focus on their classic songs and had us all going crazy with classic like Too Much Time on my Hands, Come Sail Away, and Mr. Roboto.  It must be fun to be these guys and still have such large followings all over the world many decades after they became famous.  

My TikTok Video of the Week


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July 5, 2021

Family Reunion Vacation in the Lake of the Ozarks


Family Reunion Vacation in the Lake of the Ozarks
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for July 5, 2021

We drove 11 hours into Missouri to visit the Lake of the Ozarks for a Family Reunion Vacation!

We rented cabins at Lakeview Resort in Sunrise Beach, Missouri which sits upon the Lake of the Ozarks.  It's always great seeing my family!

We were joined on the trip by my mom, Grandma Linda, as well as my sister, Tracy, and her husband, Dave.

My niece, Bailey, and her husband, Justin.

My niece, Lauren, & her good friend, Ben.

My nieces, Brittany & Lindsay.

And of course I was accompanied by my favorite wife, Miss Sheri, and my boys, Luke & Avery.

We were pretty nervous leading up to the trip because the weather app said it was going to rain almost constantly during the 5 days we were there.  The app must have been broken however because we had sunshine probably 80% of the time.  Silly weather channel.

We hauled the boat down with us which we were a bit nervous to do since we'd never driven it that far before, but were very glad we did because we had a ton of fun on it.

Dave was pretty excited  about our choice to bring it.

Driving the boat on the Lake of the Ozarks is quite a bit more challenging than Prior Lake because it's so much bigger.  That means much bigger boats and much bigger waves, but we were ready for the challenge.

We made anyone willing to get on the tube feel the thrill of flying over the big waves every chance we could.  I had Dave 5 feet up in the air a few times, but to his credit I was never able to flip him off.

Justin also performed quite well holding on as we flung him from side to side wave jumping.  I think I need a bigger boat next time so we can really throw them up there.

We also liked to tootle around and look at all the mansions and million dollar boats that seem to be quite prevalent on the Lake of the Ozarks.  It always amazes me to see how much money there is out there.

When we weren't on the boat, we had fun in other ways taking advantage of the lake.  I liked to tell my sister that we had to be careful of all the Alligator Gar in the area because it freaked her out quite a bit.   I'm glad I was lying because I'd really hate having a confrontation with one of those things.

Grandma Linda's lake swimming days may be behind her, but she was still brave enough to take on the kiddie pool.  There's definitely no Alligator Gars in there.

We didn't see too much wildlife around our cabin except for a bunch of deer in the evening and the occasional friendly Groundhog that wandered by for a visit.  They wouldn't let us pet them, though.

There were several caves in the area so we spent one afternoon hiking through one of them called Stark Caverns.

We chose this one because it had more water features than the others.  I thought it was a great idea until I realized I'd feel like I needed to go to the bathroom the entire time I was in there.

We also like to eat a lot and had fun at some of the Lakeside restaurants including Backwater Jack's in nearby Osage Beach.  They have an adult pool and everything, but we didn't get to visit it because we had some Under 21's with us.  Which was unfortunate.

After dinner we enjoyed dessert back in the cabins.  
Everybody Loves Frosting!

Most of all, we just really had a lot of fun being together with family!

I like to tease Miss Sheri, but we do really kind of like each other.

If you're looking for a pleasant Lake Vacation, check out the Lake of the Ozarks!  Just don't hook up with Marty Byrd and his friends.  They're dangerous.