Meg wanted to take faux naps on just about every bed she tried...
While camping was the priority for our little excursion to Minnesota, we knew we’d be close to Minneapolis and wanted to spend a night in a hotel. You know, a place with warm showers and a swimming pool. Brooke found a nice one near the Mall of America that had two rooms, so Meg could go to bed at a reasonable time (and we wouldn’t have to go with her at 8:00ish…).
Of course, we couldn’t actually check into the hotel until 3:00 pm, so we hit up Northern Brewer, where I’ve been buying my beer-making materials for the past few years, to pick up a few supplies. It was a little surreal going to their completely normal looking storefront, when I’m used to viewing them exclusively as a website. Needless to say, they were very knowledgeable and friendly and I wish they had a store here in St. Louis, but alas.
Afterwards, we went to Ikea, where Brooke had a few things on her list, but mostly, we wanted to look at a new bed for Meg. She’s still in her crib and has very little interest in moving out of said crib, but while we were up there, we wanted to see what they had in the ways of child-sized beds, or adult beds that would work well for someone under 3 ft tall. The one pictured above is the one we’re leaning toward right now. Cheap and short, and has “slats” you can use instead of a box spring (which won’t fit up our house stairs, unfortunately, so slats is the way we’d go).
Brooke and Meg by the amusement park
Ikea is located next to the Mall of America, so that was the next stop. This is the second time we’d visited the MoA, but it’s still a sight to behold. Probably the kind of place I’d avoid at all costs if I actually lived in Minneapolis, but still…seeing a full-featured amusement park in the middle of a 3-story mall is pretty impressive no matter how many times you see it.
We weren’t there for anything in particular. If I recall, we made it out of there spending under $40, and that was including Dippin’ Dots and a set of Legos for Meg.
We killed quite a bit of time doing this...
This is actually where most of our time was spent at the Mall. We went through the Lego Store and grabbed a “Duplo Farm Set” that Meg greatly enjoy(ed/s). Outside the store, however, they set up multiple circular tables with large bowls in the middle filled with Legos. Some tables had the smaller blocks, but others had the large Duplo blocks. We spent at least an hour outside the store with Meg watching other kids, and building her own “bit, bit, bit, bit towah” on the table. I think we made a believer out of her.
We went back to the hotel after awhile, grabbed some showers (and Meg even requested a nap, which was a welcome change…), and then ended up going back to the MoA for dinner. Unfortunately, there’s just about nothing in the way of “local restaurants” around that area, and we didn’t want to drive all that far into the city to find a restaurant, potentially dealing with a cranky toddler as the evening drew to a close. We found a place in the Mall that was “okay” (really, better than expected…but still…), and then returned to the hotel so Meg could do some swimming.
While Brooke and Meg swam, I went on a mission to find beer. Specifically, Surly beer. It’s a brewery I’d heard of, but had never been able to get because they only sell it in Minnesota and, apparently, only at certain places. I say “apparently” because I tried multiple stores. I went to a gas station first and found an extremely limited beer selection. Then, I went to a Wal-Mart that had such a limited beer selection, they actually had no beer. Finally, I found a liquor store that was kind enough to point out that Minnesota actually only sells ~3% alcohol beers at gas stations and grocery stores if at all.
Seriously, Minnesota. You’re filled with Lutherans. How is this even possible.
Regardless, the liquor store I went to had Summit Brewing beers, but no Surly, and as it was the third place I’d tried that night, I just stuck with Summit Oktoberfest (which was very good). The next day, I heeded the advice of the Surly website, which had a list of liquor stores that carry their beer (apparently for good reason…) and found a place on our way out of town where I could get their wares (which were very good, by the way).
Jimmy Ann, Meg and Brooke having ice cream at Kava House in Swisher, IA
For the last leg of the trip, we stayed the night back in Swisher. It hasn’t quite been a year since we moved, but it still felt like we’d been away for awhile. We stayed with Jimmy Ann, whom we know from our old church. It was a great visit and we had a very nice time seeing her, and she’s always happy to get to spend some time with Meg. We went to church on Sunday morning, said “hi” to the folks there, and then made our way back down to St. Louis, getting home late-afternoon.
All in all, it was a pretty nice trip! It was a new experience, taking an extended vacation (and camping trip) with a toddler, but I think we came out of it mostly unscathed. I think 5 days was just about long enough for us to be on the road, moving from place to place, and I don’t think I’d change much about the way we did things.
Until next year! Any suggestions on where to go?!