April 28, 2024

QB or Not QB: That Was the Viking Question


QB or Not QB: That Was the Viking Question
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for April 28, 2024

Thanks to all of you who've been praying for my mother, Grandma Linda.  We were bracing ourselves for a challenging knee replacement surgery but it ended up being even more complicated.  We later discovered she had a heart attack during the procedure and needed to get a couple of stents placed to clear out a blocked major artery.  So a one night hospital stay ended up extending to four.  We're blessed she's now home and recovering nicely.  She's starting to get feisty which tells me she's getting back to normal.

Spring is arriving in our neighborhood and even though Prior Lake is way lower than we'd like, the birds are still arriving to feast on the fish spawning up the creek to Spring Lake.  One of our favorite things to do is stalk them to capture revealing photos of their lifestyles.

The Pelicans don't typically stick around here for long, but spend a couple weeks partying here in the Spring.  They're fun to hang with while they're in town. 

Miss Sheri, Luke, & I had the great fortune to spend a couple of nights this week with our two favorite teams.

On Tuesday night, we went to Target Center to cheer on the home team for Game 2, Round 1 of the Playoffs against the Phoenix Suns.  And for all of you keeping score at home?  Yes, I was able to get our photo up on the big screen again.  Thank you very much.

On last week's post, I was pretty nervous about the Suns having just witnessed them demolish the Wolves and sweeping them 3-0 in the regular season.  Guess I shouldn't have worried.  We watched the Timberwolves beat the Suns by a score of 105-93 and then they went to Arizona and beat them again on Friday night.  We're excited to watch Game 4 tonight and hopefully see them win their first playoff series in like 20 years.  Go Wolves!

@toddswank Lets go Timberwolves! #timberwolves #nba #playoffs #round1 #game2 ♬ original sound - Todd Swank

On Thursday night, we were back in Minneapolis this time at US Bank Stadium.  It was the Minnesota Vikings 2024 NFL Draft Party.  We had 2 first round picks and were excited to see who our new super stars were going to be.

First we had the opportunity to see some of the current stars on the team.  I asked CJ Ham if he remembered serving pancakes at the Prior Lake VFW several years ago.  He smiled at me and said he did.  I looked him in the eye and said "Those were the best damned pancakes I ever ate."  Not sure if he took me seriously or not.

Andrew Van Ginkel signed with the Vikings a month ago from the Miami Dolphins.  I told him I heard he was originally from around here and he told me he grew up in Rock Valley, Iowa.  Miss Sheri exclaimed to him I grew up in Inwood and that's only 15 miles away from there!  He smiled, but my honest impression was he wasn't as nearly as excited about that fact than we were.

My new favorite Viking! We were in line to get pictures with players at Minnesota’s Draft Party. Huge crowd to see Aaron Jones but he didn’t appear to be showing up. He arrived right after we were done and we were bummed to have just missed him. I popped over and asked him if we could get a quick one. He leaped the other people taking photos to come get one with us. Since nobody was there to take the picture he grabbed my phone and took the selfie for us. What a great guy!

Every time I walk by any of the Vikings Cheerleaders I always feel obligated to take photos with them.  It just seems to make them so happy!
@toddswank The Vikings Got JJ McCarthy!! #vikings #minnesota #nfldraft #jjmccarthy ♬ original sound - Todd Swank

April 20, 2024

The Timberwolves Extinguishing The Suns in the 2024 NBA Playoffs


The Timberwolves Extinguishing The Suns in the 2024 NBA Playoffs

Todd Swank's Diary for April 20, 2024

It was quite the exciting week for the Swank Family.  Avery asked Abby to marry him and she said yes.  We're very excited to add this wonderful young lady to our family.  We're all very blessed.

It was a week full of drama as Avery's plans to pop the question went through a variety of changes on a daily basis.  In the end he decided to do it at a local park where the two went on many of their first dates together.  He was kind enough to let us know when he was doing it so we could crash the party afterwards to help celebrate and of course take plenty of pictures.  

Grandma Linda also had quite the eventful week when she had knee replacement surgery.  The doctors felt the surgery was successful and also said it was badly needed as most of the cartilage was gone and she's been living with bone on bone joints for quite some time.

Of course since she's my mother, she couldn't get out of this with simply having her knee replaced.  Turns out they discovered she's been having some cardiac issues also and needed to stay at the hospital throughout this weekend.  She'll be getting an angiogram tomorrow so if you could please keep her in your prayers, we'd really appreciate it!

Our exciting week started off on Sunday with a visit to Target Center in Minneapolis for the final regular season game of our beloved Minnesota Timberwolves.

Luke has joined me for several great games this year.  We were excited to see the home team take on the Phoenix Suns who we hadn't yet beat in two previous games this year.

And since I know everyone is as fascinated with this as I am, I was successful again to get our photo up on the big screen in the arena.  Mission Accomplished.

I bought a package of 5 games this year and I think these seats ended up being the best of them.  We had a pretty closeup view of the court and the home team's bench.  It made for some interesting opportunities to feel like we were immersed with the team.

The game was pretty intense as the Wolves were tied for first place in the West but also facing the legendary Kevin Durant and the Suns.  

If we could beat them today, we were in good position to go into the playoffs with the #1 seed.

We felt pretty confident with Karl Anthony Towns back in the lineup, our superstar Anthony Edwards, as well as the NBA's inevitable defensive player of the year, Rudy Gobert.

Despite all that firepower, though, the home team fell short.  The Suns starting lineup dominated and cruised to an easy victory of 125 - 106.  Ironically this caused the Wolves to fall to 3rd place in the West and have to face the Suns again in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.  The Timberwolves were a different team today in game 1 and finally beat the Suns this season by a score of 120-95.  

Let's go, Wolves!

We did some other fun things this week including having dinner with our old buddies, Cathy & Jeff.  It was fun and we had a nice conversation.  It's been too long since we've connected and just like a year ago when we last saw them, we swore we have to do it again real soon.

On Friday night, Miss Sheri and I went to see Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus.  Quite honestly, it wasn't good timing to attend the show.  Between Avery's proposal and Grandma Linda being in the hospital, we were too tired to attend.  We both fell asleep during the performance & ended up sneaking out at the intermission.  We'll have to try it again the next time the show's in town.

@toddswank Angry Parrot Snaps Back #parrot #florida #angrybird ♬ original sound - Todd Swank

April 14, 2024

Paddling with Manatees in Cape Coral, Florida


Paddling with Manatees in Cape Coral, Florida

Todd Swank's Diary Entry for April 14, 2024

It was vacation time last week so we headed to Cape Coral, Florida with our good friends Karl & Tina Zitzewitz.  Technically we were going to go on our 30th wedding anniversary last February, but Miss Sheri's medical situation caused us to postpone.  Probably a good thing because the weather in Florida this time of year was absolutely beautiful.

The trip stared off pretty bumpy as we flew into some of the worst turbulence I've ever experienced.  Even the flight attendant said it was the worst she'd been through in her 8 years on the job.  As you can see from our flight plan, the pilot had to take an unexpected detour over the Atlantic Ocean to try to get around it.  It didn't help much and the large number of barf bags filled up were proof of that!

One of our favorite things to do on vacations to Florida is going critter hunting.  Lucky for us, Karl & Tina enjoy that activity as well.

Florida is like the critter capital of the United States in my experience.  There's so many snakes, alligators, lizards, and other creatures just waiting to be encountered.  We find that swamps are a pretty good place to start.

We didn't see many gators this trip, but this big guy was laying out in the sun on the other side of the pond we were exploring.  Probably a good thing he wasn't much closer than that.

I didn't do well spotting critters, but Karl & Tina are great at it.  Tina found this guy hanging out in a tree during one of our hikes.  I wasn't sure what kind it was, but ChatGPT says it appears to be a Yellow Rat Snake (Pantherophis alleghaniensis quadrivittata). They're non-venomous and quite common in Florida, often found in trees as they are excellent climbers. They tend to be active both day and night, depending on the temperature, and are known to prey on rodents, birds, and eggs. Always a fascinating find on a walk!

We saw three different species of owls while there. A screech owl, several burrowing owls, and ChatGPT says this one is a Barred Owl (Strix varia), identifiable by its brown and white striped plumage and round head without ear tufts. These owls are quite common throughout the eastern United States and are known for their distinctive hooting call that sounds like they are asking "Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you all?" They're nocturnal, so seeing one during the day is a special treat!

Miss Sheri snapped this photo of a fish in the swamp which turned out cool. ChatGPT thought it could be a Mayan Cichlid, but wasn't positive. I like the Mayans so I'm going with that.

One of our goals for the past 2 or 3 times we've gone to Florida was to see a manatee in the wild. We came close before, but never had luck so this was a priority for the trip. Karl & Tina are very strong people and told us the best way to do this in their experience was on kayaks. I was a bit intimidated by this because God didn't really put me on this earth to paddle my fat butt around. Lucky for me, both Miss Sheri and Karl were willing to support my deficiencies as we ventured to explore some different waterways.

We scored a few different times! Again we were fortunate to have Karl along because he spotted most of the ones we encountered. Despite the fact these sea cows are huge weighing 1200 pounds or more, they often hang out below the surface. We almost missed them a couple of times.

Several were hanging out under the trees and sticking their snouts up to eat the vegetation. They're very gentle creatures, but Miss Sheri and I were still pretty intimidated when one of them swam right under our kayak. I'm guessing they have the power to flip us over at will, but thankfully it didn't happen.

Along with the sea cows, we saw tons of other birds, turtles, and other animals we stalked with our cameras. We found this little blue heron hanging out on a tree minding his own business. It's possible he was up to something nefarious, but he didn't hassle us at all.

This Iwo Jima Memorial is outside the Four Mile Cove Ecological Preserve so we stopped by to pay our respects. It's a great place to visit.

We're not huge beach people on vacation, but we did spend one afternoon getting sand between our toes. There were red flag warnings while we were there. The shuttle driver gave us a long lecture about the dangers of riptide currents so we stayed on the beach for the most part.

We'd wondered why we hadn't seen any large iguanas while there, but driving out of the beach we suddenly saw several trying to cross the street in front of us. A pickup driver became impatient with us stopping to take pictures and suddenly passed us in a rush which caused them to scatter and run away. Seeing these iguanas run is a pretty funny sight so we were all pretty happy that we annoyed him.

We rented a boat on Saturday so Captain Karl could take us out in the Gulf of Mexico. It was a beautiful day for a 3 hour tour. A 3 hour tour.

Our destination was Cabbage Key. It's a beautiful little island spanning about 100 acres and hosts an inn, a restaurant, and some nature trails.

They also have a water tower which is a pretty historic landmark. It was built in the 1930's and stands about 60 feet high. It's kind of unique in the fact that it's still standing while many similar towers on nearby islands were long ago destroyed by storms and hurricanes. This is a fact I pondered quite a bit while I climbed the wooden stairs to the top and wondered exactly how much would it take to snap one of those stairs and send me tumbling down.

We ran into a pod of dolphins on our way back to the mainland and they swam with us for awhile and even played in the wake of our boat. I was hoping one would come up to the boat and let us pet it, but no luck there.

This is our second trip to Florida with Karl and Tina. They're fun to travel with and we're pretty compatible for things we like to do on vacation. We discovered a bunch of great restaurants on the water and enjoyed many hours of good talks and good times together.

We had the joy of watching the Iowa Hawkeye ladies reach the finals of the NCAA basketball tourney while there. We were quite popular the day of the finals when we walked around wearing these shirts. Quite a few people made comments to us in support of the team or lamented the fact their team lost to them. It made for a fun day even if they didn't quite win the championship.