Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Minneapolis Trip - Part I

Since I get so many questions about our recent trip to Minneapolis, I thought I would share it with all of you. I will break it down into 3 parts so as to not overwhelm you (or the blog) with too much information or pictures.
So, day one saw us travelling. Really, with the bags of fun activities and the portable DVD player, they travelled really well. I was a little miffed when they pulled us over at the border to do a more complete inspection. Except they didn't. See, you go through customs, answer the normal questions, and, if all goes as planned, you are on your way. NOOO. They wanted us to pull over to really big garage door number 1 and wait. Once they indicated we were to come in, we drove in and turned off the vehicle. They asked us to exit the vehicle, taking our purse and wallet with us. Usually all occupants are supposed to exit so they can search every little corner for . . . stuff. I asked if all the kids had to get out too. They asked how many. We said 5. She then said, in a voice of complete surprise and disbelief, "John, they have 5 kids in there!" Uh, ya, that's what we said when we came. That's why you are holding 5 birth certificates in your hand! Then John, in all his wisdom, asks if they are all buckled in. Ummm. No. We don't use safety measures like seat belts. Their lives aren't that precious to us. Duhhhh! Of course they are buckled in! So, they said they could stay. They opened the side door just so the kids could see us and not freak out. They asked Jay to empty his pockets and asked to look into my purse. They did not. Not once. Look in the van. The van that was packed full. They did not open the back of the van. They did not look in the car top carrier. I ask you - WHAT WAS THE POINT????? If I was going to smuggle something, would I do it in my purse??!! So, after about a 15 minute delay of sheer nonsense, we were on our way. I was a little ticked. What a complete waste of time! The drive down (which is about a 7ish hour drive without kids) was uneventful. We made sure to stop frequently to stretch legs, to eat, and to ensure no potty accidents happened. We arrived at the hotel at about 6:30pm, unpacked, then headed out for supper. It was good to finally arrive at the hotel, turn on the TV and just veg!

Day 2 - Tuesday.

After eating breakfast, we headed to the Underwater Adventures Aquarium at the Mall of America. (One little tip for you travellers - if you know what places you want to go to ahead of time, take the time to search the web for coupons! I found many great coupons that saved us well over $50! Also, don't just take the first coupon you find as they are not all the same!) The kids loved seeing all the swimming creatures including sharks and rays, jelly fish, turtles, sea horses and all kinds of other colorful fish! You walk through this tunnel and the fish are on both sides of you and above you so you get to see all different angles of them. Really cool to see the underside of a ray!!

See that creature in the corner? It is a really, really huge old turtle! He was massive! His name is Brutus and he is an Alligator Snapping Turtle.

I love this picture of Ali pointing! It was so fun to see them look at everything. They really loved being there!

The jelly fish are super cool to watch. I first saw a jelly fish exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California a number years ago so I knew the kids would love it! I love this photo of them!

Sea horses! So. Cool. I love the crazy cool fact that male sea horses give birth to the babies! Our Creator God makes such wonderful creatures!

After the aquarium, we waited FOREVER to get in at the Rainforest Cafe in the mall. We were told to eat there (and I had a coupon) so we did. It was a fun environment but the kids weren't too keen on the fake thunder and lightning storms. RJ is really sensitive to actual storms, calling the thunder and lightning "blinks and booms" so she was especially scared. But, when we explained someone was flicking the lights and it was just fake thunder, she was okay. By the third "storm" she completely ignored it (I wish it would have cured her fear of real storms - alas, it has not!).

After the meal, we wandered a very little bit in the mall checking out Lego Land. The boys love lego so this was especially for them!

Then it was back to the hotel for some sleep for the little ones and swimming for the bigger ones. Since I was not allowed to do any shopping at the mall earlier in the day, Jay took us back there after naps so I could do some shopping in stores that appealed to me! I bought a cute necklace at Francesca's then some "boudoir wear" (wink, wink) at Frederick's of Hollywood. I love lingerie and lingerie stores! And Jay is totally supportive of me shopping at them! 'Nuff said!

Finally, we ate a late supper at IHOP! I would encourage you, if you have young children, to check out mykidseatfree.com where you can find different restaurants that have a "Kids Eat Free" night. I was sure to do this before our vacation so I knew which restaurants to go to on which night. I always love a good breakfast and the kids love pancakes so this restaurant was really loved by all of us. And, the kids ate free!

Day 3 - Wednesday

Ah, Wednesday. The day of the Minnesota Zoo. I think we picked the hottest day of the week to go, it was so very hot! But we were really looking forward to all the animals we would see! And we were not disappointed! It was nice to go from the hot outdoors to air conditioned comfort inside when needed and still find plenty of animals to view. Some of our favorite things to see:

Camels swimming. This just seemed wierd to me. Shouldn't they be trudging through a desert?

A bird show with various different birds.

Seeing the baby dolphin that was born just 4 days earlier! (Photo courtesy of Minnesota Zoo)

More large underwater creatures.

A beaver who seemed to love the attention (Ali really loved the beaver!)

A baby who tried so hard to fight sleep but eventually succumbed!

And a big beautiful bald eagle.

This day really wore us out due to the heat so we spent the rest of the day at the hotel either sleeping or swimming. So, that was the first three days!

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