February 27, 2022

Footloose in Chanhassen


Footloose in Chanhassen
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for February 27, 2022

It was Blue and his brother TJ's 7th birthday this week.  Their mother, Gracie, was also here for the celebration.  It was quite the party.

On Friday night, we went to Chanhassen Dinner Theater to see the musical, Footloose.  

It was our first chance to see live theater since the pandemic began and we were impressed with the show.  It stayed pretty faithful to the movie with lots of fun singing and dancing to tell the story.

Our good friends, Karl & Tina Zitzewitz, joined us for the event.  We snuggled up together for the four and a half hour dinner and show.

Before the show began, they told us that Chanhassen Dinner Theater is the largest restaurant operation in Minnesota with a kitchen capable of servicing more than 1400 people in a single evening.  They said they've served more than 12 million guests since they opened in 1968 and served more than 4 million servings of their Chan Chicken.  That's a lot of chicken.

February 20, 2022

The Dog Days of February


The Dog Days of February
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for February 20, 2022

We are watching Blue's Mother & Brother for 9 days.  Needless to say it's a bit chaotic around our house.  It's OK, though, because we all love Mudder & Brudder!

Three golden retrievers build up a lot of kinetic energy inside of them. We seek opportunities to get outside to release some of it.  Throwing the ball on the lake seems to work pretty well.

It may look like a beautiful day, but the temperature was still below zero with the wind-chill.  Just another fun Saturday in Minnesota.

Luke & Avery connected with some of their old buddies for an ice fishing excursion.  We thought it would be fun to crash their party for a little while.

There's something pretty serene in looking down a blue hole and waiting for a fish to come back out of it.  It works better after you drop a fishing line in there.

We only stayed with them for an hour or so.  It's a good sized icehouse, but a bit too crowded to accommodate 10 people.

We kidnapped Dan & Jen and went out to dinner in town.  We left the kids so they could start slaying some fish.  

February 13, 2022

The Swans of Winter

The Swans of Winter
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for February 13, 2022

Temperatures in Minnesota have been miserable for weeks.  We haven't spent much time above 20 degrees at all lately and often are below zero with the wind chills.  Normally we'd be going on nature hikes this time of year, but don't like to do it when it's this cold.  So we stopped by Memorial Park in Shakopee to see how the ducks and trumpeter swans were doing.  

According to Three Rivers Parks, Trumpeter swans once nested throughout Minnesota, but were eliminated by early settlers who hunted them for feathers and food.  Conservation efforts have greatly restored their populations and we enjoy going to visit them from time to time.  We don't stay long, though, because it's just too dang cold!

I had lunch with a few of my old Oracle co-workers on Tuesday.  It's always good to see these crazy cats.

Miss Sheri and I celebrated 28 years of marriage this weekend.  We enjoyed a visit to Buca with the boys to mark the occasion.

We also hung out with our old buddies, Jen & Dan Walters.  We had pizza, beers and listed to some rock and roll music.

Good times in Minnesota.


February 6, 2022

A Visit to Sarasota, Florida


A Visit to Sarasota, Florida
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for February 7, 2022

Avery and I had an opportunity to go see the Minnesota Timberwolves take on the Brooklyn Nets.  This meant we'd have the chance to go and watch Kyrie Irving play in person!  We jumped at the chance because even his hometown fans don't have the ability to do that!

Unfortunately, Kevin Durant was injured and didn't play in the game, but we did get to see James Harden or Beardy Dude as Miss Sheri calls him.

Our Timberwolves have been pretty hot lately and we watched them win the game by a score of 136-125.  Watching the team win is still a pretty odd feeling for us longtime Wolves fans!

It's been a brutally cold winter so Miss Sheri and I jumped on a Sun Country plane and headed to beautiful Sarasota, Florida.  We were looking forward to a few nights of fun in the sun to help motivate us to power through the remaining parts of winter.

We were joined by our good friends, Sue & Ron Korkowski, and shared a condo we found on VRBO at the Palm Bay Club which is located right on Siesta Key Beach.

Siesta Key Beach is pretty unique.  It was voted the #1 beach in the United States on Trip Advisor in 2020.  According to Wikipedia, one of the reasons for this is because "unlike beaches elsewhere that are made up mostly of pulverized coral, Siesta Beach's sand is 99% quartz, most of which comes from the Appalachian Mountains.  Over time the feldspar and mica have been removed from the rock, leaving almost pure quartz. Even on the hottest days, the sand is so reflective that it feels cool underfoot."  I liked squeezing it between my toes.

We started every day of our trip with a long walk down the beach.  Well, Miss Sheri, Sue, and Ron did that anyways.  Some mornings I chose to be lazy and sat on the beach and just watched them walk.  That was fun also.

Sue & Ron are professional beachcombers.  They had laser like precision locating all sorts of treasures from the ocean like shells and sand dollars.  I was pretty impressed with the haul they pulled in each morning.

Sue don't mess around when shelling.  If any birds wandered across her path when she was on hunt, they were lucky to escape with their lives.  We almost had seagull soup one day after a particularly lucrative sand dollar search.

Lucky for all of us, no birds were harmed during our visit to Florida.  This time.

One day, we thought it would be fun to take a kayak ride through the mangroves.  We went to Ted Sperling Park at South Lido Beach to partake in the adventure.

Miss Sheri and I took a tandem boat because I'm not a really strong rower.  I also figure we better stay close to one another for protection as these paths through the mangroves were infested with snakes and alligators.  At least I'm pretty sure they were as we didn't see any.

They could also get pretty narrow from time to time so I was very fearful we'd get stuck and never be able to get out of there again.  Needless to say we made it and I'm very glad to be alive after traversing such dangerous conditions.

  Eventually we made it to some beach and re-connected with Sue & Ron to share our stories of bravery and sacrifice.  At least I'm pretty sure that's what Miss Sheri was telling them about me.  They were all laughing pretty loudly so it was hard to understand exactly what it was she was saying.

We were hopeful to see manatees and dolphins on our trip, but no luck.  They told us it was too cold for the manatees and they were probably in warmer waters.  Next time I want to go to the warmer waters also.

I did find this squishy thing in the water.  It really burned my hand while I was holding it, but I figured that was some kind of show of affection.

Be careful of the birds in Florida.  Many of them have crabs.

Because of our good luck with weather, it was one of the coldest weeks in years in Florida.  There were iguanas literally freezing in the trees and falling to the ground.  So one day, we went to the Ringling Museum to learn the history of the Ringling Brothers circus and the fortune that the oldest brother, John Ringling, brought to the city of Sarasota.  This was his mansion which is called the Ca' d'Zan.  I think it means "Rich Circus Guy's House".

The windows looked like candy, but when nobody was around I quickly discovered that they didn't taste like candy.

One of the buildings had a bunch of remnants left over from the traveling circus days including the actual railroad car that carried John Ringling and his wife Mable around the country.   I like trains.

There was also an art museum that was extremely impressive.  There were so many beautiful statues and paintings.  Some of them even had to be worth hundreds of dollars!

This guy didn't have any pants on which made me giggle quite a bit.

On our last day in Florida, we went to the St. Armand's Circle Art Festival.  It wasn't on purpose, we just couldn't figure out how to get out of that circle.

We went to Marina Jack for a sunset cruise.  It seemed like a good thing to do.

We all had spent four days together and still had smiles on our faces by the end of the trip, so that was a good thing.

We saw lots of Pelicans on the cruise.  I'm pretty sure they saw us also, but can't be absolutely sure.

John Ringling donated this bridge to the city of Sarasota so its named the John Ringling Causeway.  I wish I had a bridge I could give to a city.  I just think the Todd Swank Causeway has a nice ring to it.

The sunset cruise lived up to it's billing and we enjoyed watching the sun get eaten by the ocean.  When I saw it entering the water like this, I kind of thought it would keep going, but eventually it just disappeared.

The rest of the cruise I spent staring lovingly into the eyes of my wife.  OK, maybe it was more like 30 seconds, but she already knows how much I love her and staring gets hard after awhile.