January 22, 2023

A Wolves Rocket Ride


A Wolves Rocket Ride
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for January 22, 2023

It was a mellower week for us.  I stopped by the boys house on Saturday morning to check out the Bachelor Life.  It reminds me a lot of what it was like when I was in college except the TVs are quite a bit bigger now.

Luke & I headed to downtown Minneapolis on Saturday night to watch the Minnesota Timberwolves take on the Houston Rockets.  

Whenever I go to a Wolves game, my primary goal is to get my picture on the big screen.  I'm pleased to say I was successful again.  We almost left after this was done, but then decided to stick around and watch the game instead.

The Rockets had lost 12 games in a row before this game.  I figured that would be a perfect opportunity for the Timberwolves to have a bad loss.  I've been a fan for a long time so just kind of used to these things.

Things were a bit rocky in the first half, but Anthony Edwards had a huge night scoring 44 points and leading the home team to a 113-104 victory.  The Timberwolves are quietly figuring things out this year having won 8 of their last 11 games and sneaking into the 7th position in the western conference.  Considering two of our biggest stars have been out for awhile, this team may make some noise come playoff time.  We'll see.

  It's still been cold and full of snow around home, so we don't go outside much.  We did make some time to take Blue for a walk out on the lake and watch the ice fisher people for awhile.  Then we went back inside where it was warm.

January 16, 2023

Spending a night in Folsom Prison


Spending a night in Folsom Prison
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for January 16, 2023

I had lunch with my old buddy, Steve "Cuds" Cuddihy on Thursday.  We hadn't seen each other in awhile so we had a pleasant time catching up primarily on Fantasy Sports, but we fit some other chit chat topics in there as well.

On Friday night, Miss Sheri and I found ourselves in Folsom Prison.  At least it looked a lot like Folsom Prison.  It was actually a theatrical experience meant to re-create the concert that Johnny Cash and his band played in Folsom Prison back in 1968.

If you've ever seen the movie Walk the Line, you'll know the story of the man in black, Johnny Cash.  This is from the Folsom Prison Experience Website "This fun semi-immersive drama delivers a high intensity recreation of one of Johnny Cash's most important days in his musical career.  Now in hind sight, it's amazing how well everything turned out as Johnny was in a pretty bad funk at the time.  Johnny's first marriage was ended that exact day and this effected him deeply.  The band had a hard time getting Johnny interested in recording in the studio so they decided to record LIVE in a prison.  What could go wrong?  Well come and find out just how drama filled this day was.  The now seemingly simple act of recording a show for a record in front of a captive audience in a prison was anything but simple.  The Folsom Prison Experience is directed by Stephanie Long and takes you back to this special day and gives you the drama of the day."

Jay Ernest played Johnny Cash and apparently has been the front man for a band called Church of Cash for some time.  He does a really nice job playing the part and sounds a lot like him.  Kat Perkins played June Carter and was also great.  She was a former semi-finalist on The Voice.  

Granted the music is all from an era that is a little before both of our times, we ended up really enjoying it.  It was a nice mix of a concert and an interactive play where the audience got to feel like they were part of the show.  

On Saturday night, we headed down to Minneapolis to watch our Minnesota Timberwolves take on the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Cleveland features a couple of Timberwolves stars of the past.  Both Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love played in the game and each of them received a warm welcome from the crowd at Target Center.  Minnesota Nice prevails.

The home team put on a good show and won the game by a score of 110-102.  We had a nice time cheering them on to victory.

The highlight of the weekend was going to see the NFL Playoff matchup between our Minnesota Vikings and the New York Giants.  We've seen a lot of exciting football this year so we were geared up for another thrilling game.

US Bank Stadium was as full as we've ever seen it when we arrived.  People were pumped up like these two who appeared as if they were ready to start pillaging the food court at any moment.

We believed our Vikings were in for a win.  We believe in a lot of things that don't come true.

We enjoyed watching local celebrities on the field before the game began.  Timberwolves co-owner, Alex Rodriguez, took photos with Anthony Edwards and Olympic gold medalist wrestler, Gable Stevenson. amongst others.  

  One of the greatest running backs of all time, Adrian Peterson, was there to support the Vikings.  Miss Sheri caught this moment when he and Adam Thielen met on the sidelines.

She also ventured over to see our good friends, the Brown Family.  
I love the shirt, Troy!

 I'm sure I don't need to tell anyone the results of the game, but there were many exciting moments from Kirk Cousins and the offense.  They've provided us so many highlights this season and this game added several more.

Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley, and the Giants proved too much for our defense and the Vikings season full of exciting comebacks came to an end when they lost the game by a score of 31-24.  It was a bunch of fun this season and now we'll just have to hope they can make the needed improvements in the offseason so they can take a deeper run in the playoffs next year.

On our way home from the game, we met up with Luke and Avery to drown our sorrow in some beers and Buffalo Wild Wings.  It was a pleasant ending to a busy weekend.

January 8, 2023

A New Year of Too Much Snow

A New Year of Too Much Snow

Todd Swank's Diary Entry for January 8, 2023

2023 has started much like 2022 ended.  With too much dang snow.  Mother Nature dropped another 16 inches on us this past week and we already had a pretty good base to begin.  It's weeks like this that I'm really glad I work from home, but it sure does get old being stuck inside all the time.

We've had an interesting mix of wet heavy snow followed by extreme cold so the trees have a crunchy layer of snowy white crystals covering them like a frosty coating of ice cream.  They'd be beautiful to view if it wasn't so painful to go outside to do it.

On Friday night, Miss Sheri and I headed to downtown Minneapolis to watch our beloved Minnesota Timberwolves take on the Los Angeles Clippers.

It was bucket hat night, so we were thrilled to add a new fashion accessory to our wardrobes.  I can't imagine ever wearing them again, but they'll make a nice addition to our closets until we decide to throw them away a few years from now.

The Wolves have had an interesting year.  They pulled off a huge trade to land center Rudy Gobert in the offseason, but it hasn't quite translated to success yet.  They were 18-21 going into this game, but had won 2 in a row so we were hoping to see them add a 3rd win to the streak.

Our favorite player, Anthony Edwards, was in the game.  However, one of their other stars, Karl-Anthony Towns, has been out injured the past few weeks. 

Karl's dad was there even though his son wasn't playing.  He likes to sit courtside and jump in with the cheerleaders when they're throwing T-shirts out into the crowd.  During Karl's very 1st home game, we sat next to Karl Senior and he was very nice to us.  I don't think he remembers us, though, unfortunately.  I'd love to sit next to him again down on the court one of these days!

Anthony Edwards left the game early with some hip soreness.  The Clippers were playing without two of their stars, Kawhi Leonard & Paul George, as well so the game ended up being between a lot of bench players for the most part.

Lucky for us, Rudy had one of his biggest games in a Wolves uniform scoring 25 points and grabbing 21 boards.  The Wolves easily won the the game by a score of 128-115 and extended their win streak to 3.  And I had a new bucket hat!

Saturday night we connected with our buddies, the Walters Family.  We started out with some pizza at Turtles Bar & Grill in Shakopee.

We wrapped up the evening at Babe's Place with a raucous karaoke session. The joint was bumping and we had a blast wailing on the mic. If only I had a shred of musical talent, I could really shine at karaoke. But hey, I still love the microphone just as much as the next tone-deaf person!

Miss Sheri is a veritable vocal goddess, but getting her to perform is like pulling teeth. Luckily, I finally convinced her to take the mic and she treated us to a sultry cover of Adele's "Someone Like You". A few other ladies even joined in and turned it into a full-blown sing-along. Now if only I could persuade her to let me post the video online...

January 2, 2023

Spending the Holidays in Fredericksburg, Texas


Spending the Holidays in Fredericksburg, Texas

Todd Swank's Diary Entry for January 2, 2023

Christmas Eve brought Avery and I to US Bank Stadium to watch the Minnesota Vikings take on the New York Giants.  We were asked to dress in white to commemorate the holiday.  I really didn't think many people would participate, but was impressed that the crowd  mostly looked like snowflakes as was intended.

It was yet another nail biter for the home team.  The Vikings led for most of the game, but again found a way to tie it up at the end.  It took a heroic 61-yard kick to seal the deal and give the Vikings another win to take them to 12-3 for the year.  Let's hope they can take that momentum into Lambeau Field for their next game against the Packers!

We were supposed to fly to Texas on Christmas morning to spend time with my family, but the "Bomb Cyclone" travel chaos had other plans for us.  Our Delta flight was canceled at the last minute and options for re-scheduling wouldn't have given us much time with the family.  So we did a quick pivot and decided to drive the 19 hours from Prior Lake to Fredericksburg, Texas with Grandma Linda and the boys.  It wasn't much fun, but we persevered and made the trip.

We arrived at 3:30am, but after a few hours of sleep we hooked up with my family and headed out to lunch in downtown Fredericksburg.

I hadn't seen my sister, Tammy, or her husband, David, for 2 years so it was nice having the chance to re-connect with them during the trip.

We had gone on a vacation to the Ozarks with my other sister, Tracy, and her husband, Dave, during the summer of 2021 so it had been a little more recently that we'd seen them.  It still was too long and we gotta look at figuring out a way to see each other more regularly in the future.

The boys always love seeing their cousins.

The cousins always love seeing the boys.

My niece, Bailey, and her husband, Justin, only were able to spend 1 day with us, so we turned up the volume and made sure that day was a whole bunch of fun. 

Grandma Linda loves seeing her Grand Children.

I always love seeing my sisters.

Christmas is a big deal in Fredericksburg.  Every night they do a special Christmas Night display complete with this Merry Go Round looking kind of thing.  I was skeptical at first that it would be anything special, but I was actually pretty impressed with their event.  I even created a TikTok to commemorate our experience which can be seen here:

@toddswank Christmas Light Show in Fredericksburg, Texas. #christmas #fredericksburg #texas #lightshow ♬ It's Beginning to Look a Lot like Christmas - Michael Bublé

We spent three days exploring Fredericksburg and discovered it's mostly filled with places to drink.  We enjoyed visiting a variety of wineries and breweries scattered throughout the town.

One of the most unique places we visited is called The Rhinory.  It mixes a Rhinoceros Preserve with a winery which I had never really considered as a combination before.  They only have 1 Rhino for now, but have plans to eventually bring 4 females into the mix so they can start breeding them.  Which means this guy is going to feel really lucky at some point in the near future.

The wine was pretty good also, they were just kind of stingy with it.  We all signed up for the tastings which featured 5 different samples, but the waiter must have thought we had shot glasses rather than wine glasses.  Feeding that rhino must be pretty expensive, so I'm sure they're just cutting corners in other parts of the business.

We found ourselves having wine tastings throughout the week which feels like a pretty good way to spend the holidays.

We did find a Karaoke Club which made for a very fun evening.  I'm not sure the rest of the people in the establishment were as excited as we were, but my family was able to get a lot of loud singing out of our systems.

On Wednesday morning, we woke up and drove to the Enchanted Rock State Natural Area to go hiking.  

Enchanted Rock is a pink granite mountain that covers about 640 acres.  We did the Summit Trail which is only about .8 miles, but that's pretty much straight up to the top of the summit.  Needless to say, I found it challenging.

It did get a little bit windy at the top.

I had to take several breaks along the way but eventually arrived and connected with the other fellows.  Then we turned around and went down again.

On our final evening we celebrated Grandma Linda's recent 80th birthday.  It was so nice we could all be together for this momentous achievement for my mom.  I've been through a lot with these ladies in my 52 years on this planet.

Unfortunately not all of her grandchildren could be there to celebrate, but we got a little crazy with the ones who were able to make it.

We had a lot of fun together while we were there, but none of us were looking forward to the 19 hour drive back to Minnesota.

Before we knew it, it was time to say our goodbyes again.  We love seeing our family and one of these years we'll have to figure out how to be able to do it more often.

On the drive home, we had the chance to drop by in Austin, Texas and have dinner with Uncle Cliff and Cloe.  It's always great seeing these fun people!!

We made it back to Minnesota just in time to ring in the new year at the Zitzewitz house with a bunch of other cool people.  
Happy New Year, everybody!!