June 25, 2023

Is This Heaven?


Is This Heaven?
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for June 25, 2023

The highlight of our week was helping Luke buy his very first automobile.  He & his brother had been sharing our old Saturn Aura since high school, but he decided to step in there and procure a 2023 Nissan Sentra.  He's pretty proud of it and we're very happy for him!

The other highlight was going to the fishing dock at Cleary Lake Park.  Not really a highlight, but I liked this picture and couldn't think of anything else to say about it.

Miss Sheri and I drove down to Iowa on Saturday.  Our first stop was to visit Krazy Kory at his house.  Kory has been hard at work being a farmer this summer and has grown a pretty impressive garden.  He even has Carolina Reaper peppers in there.  I'm looking forward to eating a few of those!

We went to lunch at HuHot Mongolian Grill.  HuHot?  YuHot!

The reason for our trip was to watch the baseball game of Lance Myers.  He's an old friend of the family and recently graduated high school.  So we wanted to catch one of the last games of his high school career before he heads off to college.

We enjoyed watching the game with Lance's family even if we did get rained on for awhile.  It was still a lot of fun.

We got to watch Lance get a hit and make a couple nice plays at shortstop.  All in all, it was a pleasant way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

June 18, 2023

Family Fun in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina


Family Fun in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for June 18, 2023

The Swank Family spent the past week in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  It was our first visit to the area, but I'm pretty sure it won't be our last.

We rented a condo on the beach and had fun swimming and walking around to discover interesting places.  We went on the pier and found people fishing.  They were pulling in baby black tip sharks left and right.  One guy gave one to Luke and I to take some pictures with before releasing back to the water.  It was a little freaky to see so many sharks coming out only a few hundred yards away from the area we'd been swimming in earlier in the day.

We went to Broadway on the Beach which has a bunch of cool shops and amusements.  We saw the Simpsons 4d Experience which was exciting for us as we're all longtime Simpsons fans.  Seeing them coming out of the screen was thrilling!

Huntington Beach State Park was a fun place to do a little hiking and critter spotting.  

We always love finding alligators out in the wild.  There's just something exciting about stalking critters that could cause some serious damage if they got hold of you.  Most of the ones we saw were pretty small, but we were told there's some big ones out there.

We always enjoy spotting new species of birds we don't get to see regularly in Minnesota.  I have no idea what this was, but I liked his pointy beak.

We saw several of these wannabe flamingos.  We don't get a lot of pink birds to follow back home.

Miss Sheri does the majority of the driving for our family.  I rented a standard sized automobile for the week, but due to an unexpected flight delay we arrived about 6 hours late to pick it up.  We were told the only thing they had left was this monster truck.  It would have been a lot of fun if we weren't staying in a condo with a 10 story parking garage with very narrow pathways.  It was a whole bunch of drama having to navigate this bad boy in and out of the building every day.

On Tuesday night, we explored Murrel's Inlet on the Pie Eyed Parrot Sunset Cruise.  It's also known as a Booze Cruise and we did our best to live up to the namesake.  

We had a lot of fun on the 3 hour excursion and were rewarded with a beautiful sunset to end the evening.  

On Wednesday, we went on the Waccamaw River & Nature Tour.

We saw an Osprey in Prior Lake early this Spring, but here we had the opportunity to see a whole bunch more including some nesting with babies.  They're beautiful birds of prey.

We didn't realize this guy had a large fish in his talons until later looking at the pictures.  I kind of felt bad we were disturbing his lunch!

We also got to see some other alligators in the river or resting on it's banks.  This guy let us pull up the boat almost right next to him and didn't move an inch while we took photos.  Miss Sheri told me she thought it was a fake they put there to fool the tourists.

We visited the Ripley's Aquarium at Broadway on the Beach.  They have a fun shark exhibit that we walked through a couple of times.

They also had penguins which we also see at the Minnesota Zoo, but they're just so darned cute I figure I had to include them.

We went on Express Watersports Dolphin Cruise and rode out a couple miles to watch pods of dolphins swimming around.

I honestly didn't notice the photo bomber when I took this of Miss Sheri and the boys, but after I saw what a really nice shot it was I kept it.

Since we can never see too many alligators on our trip, we made a stop at the Alligator Adventures Park where they had hundreds of them.  They get kind of feisty when they're all piled together like this.

Miss Sheri hates it when I say stuff like this, but I'm pretty sure I could take one of these guys if I really had to.  I do know a little karate after all.

Watching them get fed is our favorite.  Even the really big guys will leap out of the water to get some of that sweet, sweet chicken. 

Myrtle Beach is known as the Mini Golf Capital of the World, so we had to give one of the courses a crack.  I even suck at this type of golf unfortunately.  I'm much better at the video game version.

It's Father's Day today and I feel like I had an awesome Father's Week with my boys.  I'm so glad they're still willing to join us on adventures like these because we really do have a lot of fun together.  I'm very proud of these boys and the young men they're becoming.  

I hope all you great dads out there had an outstanding Father's Day!

June 10, 2023

Hot Fun in the Summer Time


Hot Fun in the Summer Time
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for June 10, 2023

Tuesday night Luke asked me to take him and Andy fishing on Spring lake.  It was a bit hazy from the Canadian wildfires, but otherwise a beautiful night.  Unfortunately, we didn't have much luck fishing, but did have a good time cruising around a lake we don't visit all that often.

We watched a mama duck and her babies swim off into the sunset which was a pretty pleasant experience.

  Thursday night was our Prior Lake Empty Nester Get Together for June.  We decided to give the Shakopee House and Tiki Bar a try.

We had another good turn-out this month with some faces we hadn't seen for quite awhile.  The Shakopee House & Tiki bar is under new ownership and has been completely renovated.  Having drinks while overlooking the river was pretty cool.

They also featured some roving entertainers including this nice magician.  She was actually pretty good and gave us all a few laughs.  I'm pretty sure she wasn't really magic, though.

When we walked out of the restaurant at the end of the evening, Karl spotted this raccoon sneaking around the garbage can so I leapt into action.  Miss Sheri gets so worked up with me when I try to photograph animals like this.  She's always yelling at me to not get too close.  I'm not sure what she gets so worked up about.  I'm not afraid of this guy causing me any real damage.  I do know a little karate after all.

On Friday night, we went to Lakeville to spend the evening with our old buddy, Tim Ashland.  We had a splendid few hours reminiscing about old friends and experiences.  We also enjoyed visiting B52's and Baldy's Tailgate Bar which were a couple new places for us.  Both were a bunch of fun.

On Saturday, we stopped out at JDC-Miller MotorSports for a celebration being hosted by Porsche in honor of their 75th anniversary.  Apparently a bunch of Porsche owners had a drive around the cities before the event so I naturally had to sneak a photo while perched between their beautiful automobiles.

We were invited to attend by our friends, Jeanine & Guy Perera.  Their son, Ryan, is an engineer on the race team and they were showcasing their new car.  I'm not much of a race fan, but my understanding is this is the first Porsche GTP Customer racecar and the team just competed in their first race with it back in May.  Here's an article that gives more details.  Pretty awesome stuff.

Miss Sheri has always been a race fan and I'm sure she'd do well as a driver if given the chance.  That lady is fast.

June 4, 2023

Grillfest 2023 in St. Paul


Grillfest 2023 in St. Paul
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for June 4, 2023

My old buddy, Jammin' Jason Davis, was in town for work so we connected at CRAVE in the Mall of America for dinner on Wednesday night.  Jason was my college roommate and the best man in my wedding so it was good to catch up on old times with one another.

On Thursday night, I picked up Luke & Avery for a trip to downtown Minneapolis to watch the Minnesota Lynx take on the Connecticut Sun.

It was our first WNBA game.  Apparently they don't draw very big crowds based on the number of empty seats we saw in the arena.  Not sure why that is, though.  I thought it was a pretty exciting contest.

On Saturday, we went to The Minnesota Monthly Grillfest in downtown St. Paul.

Grillfest is held at CHS Field every year where the St. Paul Saints play.  We haven't been to a Saints game for quite awhile, but that may have to get on the calendar sometime soon.

Sue and Ron joined us for the adventure.  It was their first time attending the event, but I'm guessing it won't be their last.

In previous years, there were quite a few booths featuring food being grilled and a big burger contest.  This year seemed to have a lot more booths featuring alcohol and a lot less featuring food.  Not sure if that's due to food inflation and vendors choosing to not participate with the increased costs to provide all of the food samples or some other reason.  If this keeps up, they're going to have to change the name of the event to Boozefest.

 They have contests for the best beer, the best margarita, and my personal favorite, the best Bloody Mary.  This competitor gave quite the selection of snacks along with their drink so they earned our vote.

Kurvball was one of the big sponsors this year advertising their newly released BBQ Whiskey.  It's whiskey that tastes like it's been infused with BBQ sauce.  It tastes much better than it sounds.

Despite the fact that it was 90 degrees for the 3 plus hours we were there, we had a bunch of fun.  Some like it hot!