Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Look, It Was A Long Trip, Okay?

Oh, my gosh, you poor people - just one more post about that Amtrak trip and then I'll stop, really.

Anyone here?

Bison statues are a thing in Montana, apparently
Oh, well, we left Seattle, I avoided killing someone on the way to Spokane, and we had the best car attendant EVER so I gave her the fingerless mitts I finished knitting before we got to St. Paul. Also, we crossed Montana, including Glacier National Park, and then crossed North Dakota in the dark, so I didn't see ANY of it. We arrived in St. Paul, Minnesota, at 8 AM, exhausted. But did that stop me from saying, "Hey, our AirBnB is only half a mile from the station! We should just pull our luggage there!"?

No, it did not.

I uttered those words to poor Susie, completely disregarding all the times that "just pulling our luggage there" ended badly on this trip. Luckily for her, it started to rain before we left the station. "Looks like we'll have to call Uber!" she chirped. Heavens, they get tech-savvy early, don't they?

So we Ubered to the bookstore where the key for our apartment was kept (and let me just give a grateful shout-out to the owner of this apartment, who let our travel-weary selves check in several hours early) and then we set out for the place itself, which was only half a block away, only we went in the wrong direction, in the pouring rain, with our suitcases, and had to text the owner (who I think was somewhere in Europe?)...let's just say this whole process should have been way more uneventful than it actually was.

But we finally got there. Now, understand that we had 2 days to spend in Minneapolis-St. Paul, and I had a full list of things I wanted us to see. Not a minute to waste! But the moment we set foot in that comfy apartment and let go of our wet luggage, it seemed like a great idea to spend our rainy morning doing absolutely NOTHING but washing our clothes and watching The Dick Van Dyke Show on the Netflix service thoughtfully provided by the owner.

This was a very good decision, coming as it did after 10 days of travel that included 4 different cities. I highly recommend this approach.

Better than a museum
So we lounged on the cute little couch and watched Rob and Laura Petrie (and really, wasn't that fitting, watching Mary Tyler Moore while in the Twin Cities?), until our clothes were done and the rain tapered off; and then, savvy travelers that we are, we figured out the bus system and took a bus (SO EASY AND SO CHEAP! I LOVE YOU, MINNEAPOLIS-ST. PAUL!) to Grand Avenue, which has shops and things, because Susie is allergic to museums. We saw gorgeous old Midwestern houses, and we stopped in the yarn shop, and then of course the ice cream shop, because there is no sense in visiting a city if you're not going to eat its ice cream. The whole time, I kept my eyes peeled for Garrison Keillor, but he never showed up.

The ice cream shop had a huge display on its wall with photos of a visit there by President Obama in 2014. So I have walked in the steps of greatness, people, and I have even eaten the same ice cream. That is what travel can do for you.

There was an adjoining pizza shop, and we decided to order a calzone and some salad to take back to our lovely Netflix-endowed apartment for dinner. The owner, it turns out, was a genuine Minnesotan man. I know this because he spoke EXACTLY like the guy on Prairie Home Companion who imitates the genuine Minnesotan man. Truly, I had always thought this imitation was an exaggeration, but I can now tell you that no, it is not.

Either that, or this pizza guy just puts it on for tourists. I don't know.

It's real
The next day? It rained. Again. So I tossed my list of tourist sites in Minneapolis out the window, as it were, and we grabbed a (CHEAP! EASY!) bus for Mall of America. This turned out to also be a very good decision. See? 10 days of travel, and I become a pro. And, for the record, there is indeed an amusement park in the center of the Mall of America (see photographic proof to the left). Even though everyone had told us this, Susie and I were still dumbfounded to actually see this 8th Wonder of the World.

Much to Susie's satisfaction there were 2 (count them, 2!) full food courts, plus several candy/chocolate/fudge stores, to enjoy. There was also an aquarium (which we didn't go into, because Susie is allergic to those, also - anything educational, really). And a mini-golf course. The top floor had a movie theater and what looked like the adult version of a Chuckie Cheese (essentially, a nice bar with lots of games and not-so-fabulous prizes, and really, isn't decent alcohol just what Chuckie Cheese needs?), with the added enticement of a bowling alley in the back.

There were a lot of these beautiful contraptions.
This was, in short, the perfect place to spend a rainy day in a strange city. The icing on the cake was the overabundance of decent elevators, centrally located, to transport us from floor to floor. Susie has a long-standing aversion to moving staircases, so to be in a mall where we didn't have to hunt for a smelly service elevator in the back of a department store was a definite plus.

According to Susie's Fitbit (I lost mine back in Salt Lake City somewhere), we covered 4 miles walking around that mall. So, great food, great exercise, no forced escalator use - it earned a 2 thumbs up (does anyone even say that anymore?) from both of us. And then we went home to our AirBnB, packed for our train trip home, and enjoyed us some more watching of The Dick Van Dyke Show. Really, another darn near perfect day...


  1. I have loved reading about your train trip! But, especially enjoyed today. I was born (and lived there for the first 42 years of my life) in Minnesota, just outside of the Twin Cities. Loved hearing someone else's thoughts on my home state. I miss it and my family. I really, really, really miss the healthcare there and the library system. I miss the theater and arts that are seemingly everywhere.(plus lots of deals for homeschoolers!) I do not, however, miss the Mall of America. Although we used to take the kids once every winter to ride the rides and eat at Tony Roma's.

  2. My mom grew up in Minneapolis and we visited my grandparents there for too many summers to count. That was before Mall of America, mostly. But I think you've discovered the (not-so) secret of traveling - be flexible. If it rains? Hanging out at a ginormous mall seems perfectly acceptable to me.

  3. Soul mates! I'm an ice cream fool when I travel. Yes! This sounds like such fun.

  4. Sometimes on vacation, you just need to relax and have fun. This is something my museum obsessed husband doens't understand. "You can sleep at home!" Sarah and I however, have mastered the art of shopping and relaxing on vacation while we send Dan and Peter to the museums. Sounds like you guys had a really good time on this stop!

  5. of course the ice cream shop, because there is no sense in visiting a city if you're not going to eat its ice cream.
    Now I really wish you'd ended up in Spokane at a better time: we've got Paradise Fibers and The Milk Bottle!

  6. You could do a Yarn And Ice Cream Tour of the whole country. Yes, I think you should do this.

  7. I know I'm late to comment, but this sounds like a great visit to Minneapolis! I have been enjoying these posts - just have had difficulty keeping up with my blog feed. :)

  8. Nice! If it wasn't for all that time with horrible people on the train this might be a good idea for a vacation ;)