September 24, 2023

Changing Season: a New Park, a Football Fumble, & Foliage in Full Swing


Changing Season: a New Park, a Football Fumble, & Foliage in Full Swing

On Thursday night, Avery and Abby invited us over to enjoy some chili and watch Thursday Night Football.  That was a fun way to kickoff the start of the weekend!

They're building a new park right down the street from my house on Spring Lake.  They've had the entrances blocked off since they started, but Miss Sheri and I could wait no more.  We parked nearby and went in to take a peek.  It's obviously still under construction, but it's going to be really nice.  It has a path that goes right along Spring Lake and there will be lake access for kayaks and also a fishing pier from what I'm hearing.  We're excited to take advantage.

I'm always looking for new romantic places to take my wife to walk with her and read poetry and stuff.  Now that I think about it, I better get some new poetry books before this place officially opens.

After we got our fill of being romantic, we headed to Whiskey Inferno for half price steak and whiskey.  It's one of our favorite things to do after 9pm.

On Sunday, we headed to downtown Minneapolis to watch our beloved Vikings.  They've had a tough start to the season starting 0-2 but we felt very confident that they'd get a win today!

Luke joined me for the game and he was also excited to watch our home team get a win.  

The Los Angeles Chargers were our opponent and they also had a record of 0-2.  Plus, their most electric offensive player, Austin Ekeler, was injured and out for the game.  Everything was set correctly for the Vikings to get their first win of the year.

Except they didn't.  They lost again.  Of course it was our third close game in a row, but close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.  Have I ever mentioned how painful it is to be a Minnesota Sports Fan?  It's pretty painful.

September 17, 2023

Falling Into Autumn


Falling Into Autumn

Todd Swank's Diary Entry for September 17, 2023

It was my buddy Dan Walters birthday this week and I was lucky enough to spend a couple of fun nights with him.

We went to a Minnesota Twins game together.  It was my first game of the year.  I'm not much of a baseball fan which is too bad, because Target Field is a beautiful place to spend a warm night in September.  Judging by the number of empty seats around us, it seems like a lot of others share my feelings about baseball.

The crazy thing about the light crowd is that the Twins are actually doing pretty good this year.  They're leading the American League Central Division and look to be a lock to make the playoffs.  They even won this game by a score of 3-2, but did lose the series to the Devil Rays.  Maybe people are afraid of coming to a game featuring a fish named after the King of Evil.  That's the only thing I can figure.

We also went out with Dan and his family on his actual birthday.  We started with dinner at the Copper Pint and finished with some Karaoke at the American Legion in Shakopee.  We sure do have a lot of fun with that microphone.

On Saturday, we drove up to Clearwater, Minnesota to hang out with our good friends, Sue & Ron Korkowski.

We spent the day at a ribfest fundraiser supporting an organization called Jessie's Wish.  It raises money for victims of domestic abuse and the funds go to Anna Marie's Women's Shelter in St. Cloud.

It's quite the event featuring 19 different food tents with contestants competing for who can BBQ the best ribs and other unique offerings.  These guys were the judges and it was enjoyable watching them have to eat 19 different ribs to determine which was worthy of earning the trophy for Best Ribs.

We also tried a whole bunch of creative food treats many of which were wrapped in bacon.  The bacon wrapped Oreo was a treat, but just one of many options available.

They also had other interesting experiences including a chicken plop contest.  Basically people buy one of 16 squares and then they release a chicken on top of them.  Wherever that chicken decides to make a deposit, the owner of that square wins a bunch of money.  Now that's a fun way to spend a Saturday.

We always have a lot of laughs when we get together with the Korkowski's and their family.  

We ended the evening with a boat ride and a competitive game of Settlers of Cataan.  It's getting pretty chilly to go out on the boat in Minnesota so our days to do it again in 2023 are pretty limited.  Glad we fit this one in!

September 10, 2023

A Disappointing Season Opener with the Minnesota Vikings


A Disappointing Season Opener with the Minnesota Vikings

Todd Swank's Diary Entry for September 10, 2023

We had a pleasant visit this week with my sister Tammy and her daughter, Lindsay.  They came up from Dallas and spent a few nights with us and my mom.

They were only here for a couple of days, but we tried to fill them with as many activities as we could.  Tammy really wanted to see a bald eagle while she was here so we made several water stops to try to find one.  We did get lucky enough to see one from the car, but unfortunately didn't get any close-up opportunities like we were hoping.  Next time.

Tammy spent many years in Minnesota before heading south to Texas.  We tried to hit as many of her favorite spots that we could including Fongs in Prior Lake.  Technically her favorite spot was D Fongs in Savage, but we did our best to convince her that it was the same thing.

We used to go to the Apple Orchards a lot in the fall so we did that on Saturday morning.  We were never really big on actually picking apples, but it's fun to be around them and eat apple pie and apple cider and other apple things.

We then headed over to Avery and Abby's new apartment.  None of us have seen it since they had it fully furnished so it was nice to see how much work they've done on it over the past few weeks.  Tammy had never met Abby before so they spent a lot of time getting to know each other.

We spent the afternoon at the Mall of America.  That's just something you do when you're in Minnesota and people come to town for a visit.

Sunday was the home opener for the Minnesota Vikings.  We were thrilled to see the home team begin another dominant season.  We could hardly contain our excitement waiting for the game to start.

A fun thing about going to the Vikings game is getting to see old friends who come to town.  Steve Carew was a buddy from high school as well as my college roommate.  He was there with his daughter so we had to stop by and say Hello.

The game started and we were pumped!  The Vikings hadn't played any of their starters in the preseason so we were anxious to see what the team was going to be all about this season.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were in town.  Tom Brady retired last year so we figured we'd definitely get a victory with Baker Mayfield directing the offense.

I've seen teams have throwback uniforms on in a game, but this was the first time I'd seen the Cheerleaders wearing throwbacks.  Can't say I'm a fan.

The game ended up being a bust.  We had a lot of offense, but three first half turnovers didn't help.  Although the defense seemed to be better at times, they collapsed at the end of the first half and the beginning of the second and the Bucs scored touchdowns both times.  We just couldn't seem to get it going again and ended up losing the game by a score of 20-17.

We're hoping they can get things turned around when they visit the Eagles on Thursday night.  If not, this has the potential to be a very long season.

September 4, 2023

An Evening with Pearl Jam


An Evening with Pearl Jam

Todd Swank's Diary Entry for September 4, 2023

Krazy Kory came to town on Saturday.  He's a big Pearl Jam fan and regularly goes to their concerts when they're on tour.  They're kicking off a new one and started with two shows in St. Paul, so I figured I had to join him for one of them.

I took Kory for a boat ride earlier in the day.  We didn't see too many exciting things, other than several eagles.  This guy was busy hunting for something in the lake but we didn't stay with him long enough to see if he got lucky with his catch.

  We saw this guy wading in the lake a little while later.  He may have been hunting also, but it seemed more like he was just cooling off his feet.  It was a hot day.

Eventually we headed to St. Paul and had dinner at the Apostle Supper Club.  It was a nice venue located nearby the Xcel Energy Center.  I had a good steak and relish tray which paved the way for a night filled with jamming to some incredible music.

I wanted to buy a new Pearl Jam Tshirt so I could dump my Pink Floyd Tshirt I was wearing.  Unfortunately the line was three hours long so Pink Floyd it was.

The opening band was called Deep Sea Diver.  They're a young band from Seattle.  The lead singer said her first cassette tape she ever bought was Pearl Jam, but she may have been lying.  In any case, their music was trippy and unique and I really enjoyed their set.

Pearl Jam came out close to 9pm and played a bunch of their classic hits.  Our seats were behind the stage so we mostly got to see their backs, but every now and then they'd turn around and smile to us.

We saw the people in the front row camped out in line to get there first.  I have no idea how long they waited, but I'm pretty sure it was at least 12 hours or so.  Maybe more.

I must admit, I've never been a huge fan of the band but I did gain a new appreciation for Eddie Vedder watching him perform.  This guy oozes a Cult of Personality vibe.  I can see why so many people are drawn to him.

I actually knew way more of their songs than I even realized.  They played Daughter, Jeremy, Better Man, and Even Flow to name a few I knew.  I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would.

They also did some cover songs including Brain Damage from Pink Floyd, I Won't Back Down from Tom Petty, and Purple Rain from Prince.  They talked about how playing at First Avenue in Minneapolis early in their career was a highlight for them and invited the guy who booked them for that show to join them on stage.  It was a pretty cool trip down memory lane.

They even turned around and sang a song for us behind the stage.  I'm not sure if it sounded any better, but it was cool to get to see their faces for awhile.

Good show, Eddie.  Best of luck with the rest of the tour!

Here's a video I shot:
@toddswank Pearl Jam Concert - September 2, 2023 #evenflow #pearljam #xcelenergycenter ♬ original sound - Todd Swank