March 19, 2023

Almost a Pot of Gold on St. Patrick's Day


Happy St. Patrick's Day 2023
Todd Swank's Diary Update for March 19, 2023

My friends down south can't believe we still have as much snow as we do.  This winter has been pretty brutal with not a lot of relief for us.  It currently ranks as the 8th snowiest year in Minnesota history and who knows if it's done yet.  I'm hoping it is and seriously considering moving south for next winter.   

Krazy Kory & Young Ben came to town this weekend to celebrate St. Patrick's Day with us.  We hooked up with our old buddies Jen & Dan Walters to drink some green beers at St. Patrick's Tavern in New Prague, Minnesota.  It seemed like the appropriate place to be.

It was a hootenanny for the entire evening. A band called Wreckless was there and they were Jamming!  I heard sounds I never knew could be made by stringed instruments before.  I had an out of body experience listening to their Twangy Beats, but that also could have been caused by all the green beer that was flowing.

@toddswank Wreckless plays at St. Patrick’s Tavern in New Prague, Minnesota on St. Patrick’s Day. #stpatricksday #stpatricks #tavern #newpraguemn #wreckless ♬ original sound - Todd Swank


Krazy Kory made it a fun evening.  He's always making new friends everywhere we go.

I was making new friends also.  I saw this little guy sitting nearby and I grabbed him immediately.  The way he looked made me swear he was a little leprechaun.  I'd heard you can sometimes catch them and convince them to lead you to their pot of gold so I jumped at the chance.  And I swear he was just about to tell me when some lady started screaming and said something like "Let go of my baby."  As I explained to the officer, you really shouldn't dress your kid that way if you don't want these kinds of things to happen.  They let me off with a warning, but I was ticked off the rest of the night because I never did end up with any gold.

Saturday morning, we grabbed Luke &Avery & Abby and headed to have a gourmet meal at iHop.  I sure do love me some pancakes.

We then headed to Mystic Lake Casino to try to win some jackpots together.  We held our own, but I was again reminded that I was moments away from a pot of gold the night previous.  It always feels like I'm a day late and dollar short from the easy riches!   It was good to hang out with Krazy Kory and Young Ben though.

March 12, 2023

Marching Through Winter


Marching Through Winter

Todd Swank's Diary Entry for March 12, 2023

This week, Minnesota had enough snow to move us up in the record books to the 8th snowiest winter since they started keeping records of such things.  It just feels like it's been going on forever.  We primarily stay inside our igloo, but occasionally feel the need to get outside and go for a walk.  It's rarely very pleasant when we do.

Blue is a master manipulator, always demanding to be taken on walks like some sort of furry dictator. I'm convinced he's trying to drag us out into the cold just to prove his dominance. He doesn't even flinch at the sight of snow, which makes me wonder if he's secretly plotting to take over the world with his icy powers. Or maybe he's just a sadistic pup who gets a kick out of watching me shiver.  That's probably it.

Since we haven't become completely depressed with our lengthy winter, we decided to add to the gloom by going to see another Minnesota Timberwolves game.  They're still in a position to go to the playoffs, but they constantly seem to lose games they really should be winning.

Target Center knows how to keep the audience warm when it's really cold outside.  The NFL banned fire related stunts in their stadiums, but somehow the NBA gets to keep doing it.  Maybe they don't care about their fans as much?  I'm not sure how that works.

When I bought these tickets, the Brooklyn Nets were considered a Premium Team, so I had to pay a bunch more money for the game than I did for other games.  I thought it would be worth it to see Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irwin play.  Then the Nets traded away Kevin and Kyrie and now have a bunch of players you've barely heard of before.  I'm sure the Timberwolves will be refunding me the premium price I paid for this game any day now.  Yeah, right.  At least I figured we'd get to watch the Wolves win a game.

It was a date night for Miss Sheri & I, so I thought I would surprise her by getting our picture up on the big screen.  She didn't seem nearly as excited about it as I thought she should have been.  

We were in good company for date night as it looks like the Timberwolves billionaire owner, Glen Taylor, was also there on a date with his wife.  I'm thinking we should double next time.

We were also excited to see Minnesota Vikings Head Coach, Kevin O'Connell, was at the game with his wife and kids.  Nice to see they're still hanging around in the Twin Cities after the NFL season is over rather than moving to a warmer climate.  They're one of us now!

One guy we weren't excited to see in the audience was Karl Anthony Towns.  He's been out injured since November and they still have no timetable for his return.  The team could really use him again as they try to improve their position for the playoffs.  Hopefully he comes back soon.

The Wolves started out the game strong and were leading at half time, but a really ugly 3rd quarter put the Nets way ahead.

Somehow the home team scratched their way back into it and forced overtime with a clutch three-pointer by Naz Reid at the buzzer.  Unfortunately, they couldn't maintain that momentum and lost the game by a score of 124 to 123.  Hopefully next time we'll get to see a win.

February 26, 2023

A Venture Through Paisley Park


A Venture Through Paisley Park
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for February 26, 2023

A winter blast rolled through Minnesota this week dumping somewhere between 13 and 16 inches of snow on a base that was already pretty established.  We've stayed cocooned in the house for the most part.

On Friday night, we hooked up with Luke & Avery and headed to downtown Minneapolis to watch our beloved Minnesota Timberwolves.

It was the first game in the past 8 days or so due to the All Star break.  Our own Anthony Edwards made his first All Star game appearance and did the home team proud.

 Lamelo Ball and the 17-43 Charlotte Hornets were in town.  We thought this would be a good opportunity for the Wolves to get a victory.

Anthony played well for us getting 29 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists, but it wouldn't prove to be enough for the home team.

Lamelo Ball led the Hornets with a 32 point, 10 rebound, 8 assist performance of his own and the Hornets beat the Wolves by a score of 121 to 113.  It's hard to be a Timberwolves fan.

On Saturday afternoon, we did something I've been wanting to do for years.  We went to see Paisley Park.  It used to be the home and offices of Prince while he was still alive, but was converted to a museum soon after his death.

It's located in Chanhassen which is only about 20 miles from where we live.  Prince was known to hold late night, impromptu concerts here.  I actually remember hearing about one one Saturday night when I was at the casino playing blackjack.  Some people told me Prince was having a concert and I should go.  I remember really thinking about it, but ultimately decided against it when I heard I wouldn't be able to bring my camera inside.  That's one of those life decisions I wish I could take back.

 Sue & Ron Korkowski are always up to join us for an adventure and were the ones who made the suggestions we should make the trip.  I'm so glad we listened to them.

Unfortunately the no camera rule still applies at Paisley Park at least for the main part of the tour.  You're met at the door by a guard who asks you to put your phone and any cameras in one of those Yondr bags that lock it up for you.  I regretfully followed their instructions.

I was happy to learn that they let us take out our cameras & phones for the last two stops on the tour.  First, they brought us to a large sound stage where Prince filmed movies and concerts.  They played some videos of him of which I captured a bit in the following Tik Tok Videos:

@toddswank We went to Paisley Park in Chanhassen, Minnesota. It’s amazing. Long live Prince! #prince #paisleypark #whendovescry #chanhassen #minnesota ♬ When Doves Cry - Prince
@toddswank A visit to Prince’s Paisley Park. #prince #paisleypark #chanhassen #minnesota #purplerain ♬ original sound - Todd Swank

Obviously Prince was a fashion Icon so the museum displays a huge amount of his outfits and accompanying shoes.  It's hard to grasp just how tiny of a guy he really was.  For someone who's cult of personality was so massive, he was a little dude.  I'd be lucky to get one of my legs into one of his outfits.

The tour ended in a little night club he had set-up where he used to perform intimate concerts for friends and locals lucky enough to find out about it.  If these walls could talk, I'm sure they'd have some pretty salacious stories to tell.

We heard there was a mural of Prince at the nearby Chanhassen Theater, so we went looking for it.  I guess it's appropriate for Minnesota that it was buried behind a mountain of snow.  We'll have to come look at it again this summer.

After the tour, we went to Axel's in Chanhassen which was a really good choice.  Coincidentally we were seated right by the "Prince Booth" which was named that because Prince used to come to the restaurant and that's where he used to sit.  At least that's what they said.  They could be making it up.  It's not like you can see his little butt print on the seat or anything.

February 20, 2023

Split Rock LightHouse in Two Harbors, Minnesota


Split Rock LightHouse in Two Harbors, Minnesota
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for February 20, 2023

February has been a whirlwind kind of month for me.  I spent a minimum of 2 nights in 5 different cities in a 2 week time period.  I didn't get to create weekly blog posts a couple of times this month so am combining a lot into this one.  This photo here was taken moments after I experienced some pretty rough turbulence shortly after flying out of Atlanta.  I was a bit shaken, but saw this beautiful sunset after emerging from a storm cloud and snapped this shot to try to calm my nerves a bit.  It worked.

On February 1st, Avery and I went to watch the Minnesota Timberwolves take on the NBA defending champs, Golden State Warriors.  It was a week night so we both complained a bit about  having to get up early for work the next morning.  Naturally the game went into overtime to make it an even later evening for us.

Lucky for us, the home team won by a score of 119 to 114.  It was our last time watching D'Angelo Russell in a Wolves uniform as he was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers a week later.  I know he's had his issues, but he'd been playing great for us this season so we were bummed to see him go.  Now we get to watch him feeding the ball to Lebron and Anthony Davis and helping the Lakers win games.  It's hard to be a Minnesota Timberwolves fan.

We spent the first weekend of February in Iowa visiting Grandma Leona on the farm.  They've had a lot of snow this year.

We always have a good time with Grandma Leona, Uncle Jerry, Aunt Laura, & Cousin Karli.  

I spent a couple of nights in Atlanta for work visiting my favorite client.  It's a nice break to not have to wear a winter coat for a change.

Super Bowl weekend brought us to the shores of Lake Superior in Northern Minnesota for a couples adventure retreat.

Karl & Tina had done a similar weekend to this last year and invited us to join them for this year's winter excursion.

We were joined by Troy & Rhonda Brown for the experience.  Troy, Karl, & I have had several camping experiences together when our boys were all in scouting, but I had a feeling this trip wouldn't be quite the same level of roughing it as we did back then.

We had some fun restaurants on the agenda for the journey up north including OMC Smokehouse in Duluth.  They told me OMC stands for Oink, Moo, Cluck, but I didn't get if there was any hidden meaning.  My best guess was there wasn't much fish on the menu.

For some reason, there's a lot of different breweries in the area.  We stopped by Castle Danger and tasted some of the local refreshments.  I'm beginning to understand how people up north stay warm in the winter.

Eventually we made it to our destination, Cove Point Lodge in Beaver Bay, Minnesota.  It's an incredible resort with 3,000 feet of lakeshore on Lake Superior and cabins with incredible views.  

Lake Superior is a beautiful body of water.  It's so big that it feels like you're on the shore of the ocean, but the frozen shores helps remind us that we're still standing in the Minnesota Tundra.

This crew is a pretty athletic bunch so their ideas for fun on Saturday was taking long hikes through the snowy woods.  I discovered that months of being stuck in my home office working remotely hasn't magically put me in better physical shape, so I was pretty winded throughout the day.  Luckily for me, everyone was pretty kind and waited for me to catch-up so I didn't end up abandoned in the woods and eaten by the local Yeti families.

We saw some pretty incredible views along our treks.  I'm glad they had this fence here because I was way too tired to climb it in order to jump off the cliff.

Eventually we visited Split Rock Lighthouse which is an iconic sight in this part of Minnesota.  They say this is the most photographed place in the entire state.  

Our visit to Split Rock Lighthouse was both fascinating and haunting. Built in response to a devastating 1905 storm that damaged many ships on Lake Superior's North Shore, the lighthouse served as an essential beacon for navigating the treacherous waters. Today, as a testament to the danger that once lurked there, it stands as a haunting reminder of the many ships lost on those rocky shores. Despite its eventual closure in 1969 due to advancements in navigational technology, the lighthouse's history and legacy continue to captivate visitors.

We had a wonderful day visiting the lighthouse and exploring the shores of Lake Superior.  Of course it was cold and windy, but we were actually pretty spoiled because the temperatures reached the forties while we were there which was unseasonably warm.  That was pretty lucky for us.

Even though I belly-ached a bit about the length of our hikes, the crew was nice enough to find me places to sit and rest on a regular basis so I really had no room to complain.

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

@toddswank Lake Superior from the shores of Beaver Bay, Minnesota. #lakesuperior #beaverbay #superior #minnesota #edmundfitzgerald #gitcheegumee ♬ The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald - Gordon Lightfoot
@toddswank Split Rock Lighthouse. #splitrock #lighthouse #splitrocklighthouse #twoharbors #minnesota #lakesuperior ♬ everything i wanted - Billie Eilish

 On February 12, Miss Sheri and I celebrated our 29th wedding anniversary.  The boys joined us for dinner and Avery brought his friend, Abby, along for the fun.  I can't believe it's been 29 years!

It was our first weekend at home for awhile so we pretty much played catch-up on a bunch of stuff we've been neglecting.  We did have the opportunity to go out with our good friends, Jen & Dan Walters.  It's always good seeing these cool cats.

Dan & I ventured out to his ice house for an hour to check out the boys.  Luke was there having a ball fishing with his friends so it was nice to see them enjoying the outdoors while indoors.