Sunday, October 2, 2011

Little Falls MN to Minneapolis MN

Little Falls to Minneapolis
Saturday October 1, 2011

Another beautiful crisp autumn morning -and crisp it was at 35 degrees! Two things we bought that have paid for themselves over and over again are our electric heater and Mr. Brit our GPS.  After another great breakfast of toast with bread cheese and strawberry jam we headed south on the Great River Road (GRR).  Our first stop was to look at the Charles Lindbergh home. He grew up here. This was his parents' home.  He flew his plane “Jenny” here several times after his famous first solo transatlantic flight. The home was locked up  for winter so we could only view from the gate.  The Mississippi is right below the bluff and very wide here due to dams along the river. We drove along MN 21 to St. Cloud. The GRR follows very closely the river through rolling farmland.
 Example of Farms 

The farms are much as they have been before – cattle, corn, and hay.  At St Cloud we drove west to I 94 for a short period for Ben to buy gas.  The great news was we had driven 614 miles since last buying gas and the calculated miles per gallon was 27!  The best yet for the Sprinter! Oh, we are not big like most of the RV’s you see on the road but we sure get better mileage! Many times we get 23 or 34 MPG but this was the best – we had not driven any interstates so had driven a little slower. Many people could not manage in a 20 foot van – for us it works fine. We can go many places a large RV could not go and Ben drives it for his work trips.  There is plenty of room for all our activities – cooking and eating, lounging around, and sleeping – we just can’t do them all at once!  Living with the basics is really good for you – helps you learn what is essential for living. It also makes you segment your activities!  Anyway it works for us…

From St. Cloud we headed south on MN75 through Elk River. As we get closer to the Twin Cities there are many more subdivisions and urban sprawl. At one point we were clipping along watching for the GRR signs, viewing the rivers and farms and suddenly huge sign – BRIDGE OUT – Wow – we turned around and followed the detour signs for a few miles. This was not a bridge over the Mississippi but one of the smaller rivers flowing into it.
 Good thing we say this sign!

In Elk River we stopped at Von Hanson’s Meats. We have been seeing meat stores along the roads much as we had seen cheese shops in Wisconsin.  We felt it was part of our cultural experience to find out what they were selling!  They had all kinds of sausages, beef, pork, chicken, so many choices… we bought some maple sausage and special pretzels. Then we got a small container of cheese & pea salad to have with a sandwich for lunch. 

 Examples of Sausages

A little further south we stopped at a roadside park for lunch. The salad was made of small cubes of cheddar cheese, peas, and light colored cheese curd. It was quite tasty. The park was a great stop as Jane got in a mile walk and we also got to view the Mississippi. 

 View of Mississippi from our lunch stop - about 50 miles north of Minneapolis

We did a little research on the i-phone to locate a campground somewhat close to the Mall of America.  We found one and asked Mr. Brit to get us there. We stayed on the GRR until it went into downtown Minneapolis. At that point we let Mr. Brit take over and ended up at the Town and Country Campground in Savage MN. It was 9 miles to Mall of America.
Everything we needed for a two day stay – washing machines, WIFI, cable TV, electricity – we were set. 

We got settled in and thought – only 3 PM let’s just go to Mall of American this afternoon and eat dinner there.  So Mr. Brit took us there – only problem finding parking with 9ft clearance…a nice policeman directed us to the IKEA parking lot and it was full of RV’s, trucks, and other odd vehicles that could not get in the 7ft clearance lots.  Luck was with us – the one place we really wanted to go was near that entrance.  

 We certainly did not make it to every one of the 500+  stores by any means – there are 4 levels and we only were on 2.  Let’s see – the highlights for us were LEGO, Columbia, Barnes & Noble, Brookstone, Coldwater Creek and a wallet kiosk. The amusement park in the center of the mall was unbelievable. There was also an IMAX, an aquarium, theaters and over 25 restaurants. 
 These are for Daniel !
I believe this LEGO robot was 34 ft high

We ate dinner at the Rainforest CafĂ©. Ben had never been to one and it is an experience. We had salads and a huge plate of appetizers. For being a non-shopper Ben did the most buying! That mall is quite a place and certainly worth a visit.. The most interesting entertainment to me was the “Flying Dutchman Ghostly Gangplank” it was a ropes course – several stories high – tallest in the world with folks in safety harness climbing the ships mast and walking the plank! It sure would not be for me but it was fun to watch.

 These folks were having a great time on the ropes
 Tired shopper heading home!

We were both done in after eating and headed back to camp. We arrived back at camp by 7:15 and set up for a little TV, blog writing, and a good night’s sleep. The office gave us a password for the WIFI and at 10PM when I was ready to post the blog - we found out each computer needed a separate password so I could not get on!  First time for that!

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