Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Minneapolis - Day 2

OK - finally on to the last day of our trip in Minneapolis - our busiest day.

We started out with a trip to the Mall of America. It's large - but wasn't as big as I thought it would be. The mall opened at 9:30 (but most stores don't open til 10) and we got there close to opening time. We first went to "the spectacle"...the inner mall with all the rides, the Lego Store and the American Girl Store. It was interesting to just wander around and thing how unbelievable it was that there were these rides inside a building.

We then headed on over to the Lego store...it was fun to see the HUGE Lego creations...this store was no doubt the favorite of my boy...he enjoyed just wandering around looking at all the Lego (over-priced) kits. I was rather surprised that he came away without a purchase. At the front of the store is a play area where kids can build, race Lego cars they've made etc.

While the boy spent more time at the Lego Store - the girl and I headed on over to the American Girl Store. Being that the nearest AG Store to us is in Chicago - I was glad that the girl was able to visit the one in Minneapolis. It was fun for us both to look around at all the dolls and accessories and to see the doll hair salon and the Bistro. Though we both like the American Girl dolls - they are definitely over-priced, especially if you buy into the whole "experience". You can have your doll's ears pierced for $14 (includes earrings) or have her hair styled for $10-$20. An outfit for an AG doll costs (at least) as much as an outfit for my 9 yr old! I love the themes for each doll and all the fun accessories and furniture - I can see how it could add up very quickly.

After we hit the two main stores of interest to us all - the girl and dh, and the boy and I - went off on our separate ways until lunch. We had lunch at the food court (regular fast food prices) and by the end of the meal we had decided that we had had our fill of the mall and we were ready to go somewhere else. As we were leaving the mall via Sears - I spotted some jewelery on clearance and made our only non-food mall purchase :)

Next was a visit to Minnesota State Capital - an appropriate 4th of July place to visit. We went on a guided tour of the building, as well, looked around some on our own. We were actually able to go out on the roof of the building - probably a highlight of the visit (in spite of my fear of heights). On top of the building are some golden statues..."One of most enduring images of the Minnesota State Capitol and one that has come to symbolize St. Paul is the "Quadriga," the golden horses and chariot that sit atop the roof at the base of the Capitol's dome...The term quadriga refers to a chariot drawn by four horses. It features four figures - the male figure driving the chariot represents the state, two female figures portray Minnesota agriculture and industry and the four horses represent earth, fire, water and wind. The inspiration for the statue was the charioteer and four horses that French had modeled for the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago."

View of Minneapolis from the roof of the State Capitol.

As we were leaving the capitol, we noticed some folks protesting. It would have been fun to join them - but it looked like rain was imminent and we had more things to do - like visit the historical St. Paul Cathedral.

As we parked our car - I remarked I asked my dh if he wanted his jacket in case it rained. He declined - but the kids and I took ours. We were crossing the street as a few rain drops hit us and seconds after entering the cathedral there was a TORRENTIAL downpour. We were thankful to be indoors and I comfort in knowing we were in a building that had been standing for many a year.

After about 1/2 hr the rain began to let up - and we were ready to be on our way - next stop was the Sculpture Garden. I love the whole concept of huge outdoor art. And though there were some fun pieces such as the giant spoon with a cherry - I think overall the St. Louis Laumauier sculpture park is more interesting.

Next stop was finding Bethlehem Baptist Church (John Piper's church). The church has services Saturday early evening, as well as a couple on Sunday. We found the church without too much trouble, so decided to drive around a bit and see what was in the general neighborhood foodwise as we knew we'd be hungry after church.

In driving around, can you believe that we saw only a few restaurants like The Old Spaghetti Factory and some bar-type places?! We finally found a Subway - took note of the location and headed back to church.

Piper wasn't preaching that evening (which we knew in advance) - two other men were taking the service (one did communion - one did the preaching).

When we left church around 7:00 PM, we were indeed hungry, and headed out to Subway. Only now - we couldn't find it. We went up and down and around the streets - both dh and I remembered the same street we thought it was on but it had "vanished". Well, we'll just somewhere else we thought - but we couldn't find anything that would work. We had no desire to hit The Old Spaghetti Factory at 7:00 PM and just wanted something fast and easy. It seemed like we drove around for nearly an hour before we came upon the "Fast Food District". We had never been in such a situation before - it was bizarre. Mental note to add to any future trip plans - a map of eateries in the area.

We ate at Burger King. The children were crowned, fed and ready for the next part of our adventure. Mom was tired and grouched and ready for bed...but it was to be a late night - because our next adventure was to see the fireworks out on the water.

It was too early yet for the fireworks (I wished our motel was closeby so we could have all taken a wee nap) - so we wandered around the Mill Ruins Park area - which was very interesting.

We decided to make a loop around the park while we waited for the fireworks to begin around 10:00 PM. We enjoyed this little side-show flame juggler...

Seems like the kids and dh were all enthused and had an enjoyable walk about - while mom, was a bit of a "wet blanket". I hate being in crowded places - worse when they are noisy as well. My mind was thinking ahead to approximately 10:30 - wondering how we'd find our way out of the park with the thousands of other fire-works-gazers. And once out of the park - imagined the way the traffic would be.

After our walk we found the perfect place to watch the spectacular fireworks display. My lame-o photo of course does not do it justice. The parents enjoyed the show as did the children. Especially the loud, bright final round. The boy who loves weaponry and wars - probably was imaging he was out on a battlefront.

As predicted, the throng of people was stifling as we made our way out of the park. There was a staircase that needed to be navigated...I held tightly to the hand of my son and hoped that my daughter and husband would not get separated from us as I'd never find my way back to the car (well at least not easily). I almost died when I saw the traffic jam, immediately outside of the park...never have I seen cars like that. I figured perhaps the kids could fall asleep in the car while we sat, and sat, and waited and waited to get moving.

But - my fears were not realized. We had picked a good enough parking location that we had barely any trouble getting moving.

We finally stumbled into bed around 11:30 - and it was nice to know that we could sleep in as late as we wanted the next morning and that the adventure of the past 9 days was (just about) over (except for the drive home the next day which was uneventful).

I'm relieved to have our trip journal completed! Now I just need to put it all together along with a huge stack of photos - into some scrapbook format.


CanadianGrandma said...

Wow! You made me tired when you mentioned all the things you did! There is no way that I would survive such an adventure! Loved the pics esp. the fireworks which you captured so nicely!

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