Saturday, August 23, 2014

Minnesota Adventure Time

It's time for another epic travel saga, folks!

On Thursday afternoon, we all piled in the car and began our journey to Minnesota to visit our friend Mark! Mark was one of my closest friends during the second semester of my freshman year of college (the one full semester he was at SAU!), and in the 10 (!?) years since, he and Nathan have gotten closer too via email and facebook.

Anyway, we left home Thursday and drove about six hours to the Chicago KOA campground, making a few stops to feed Cece, take potty breaks, and eat dinner. The campground was great, with a playground close enough to our campsite that the boys could play while Nathan got the tent set up and our beds made. Our new tent worked great!! SO much room to move around! The kids all went to sleep pretty well and slept great.

...however, Nathan and I woke up a couple hours after going to bed FREEZING... it was way too cold to sleep... we just lay there shivering and trying to figure out what to do. We ended up deciding it was dumb to just suffer and not get any sleep, so we got up and packed up everything at about 3:00 in the morning, strapped the kids in the car, and began the second half of our drive. Amazingly, the kids all slept well in the car (and I got a couple hours of sleep too), and after stopping for a nice breakfast we made it to Mark's house at like 10:30 am! We were very tired, of course, but all things considered the trip went great.

Friday after we settled in a bit, we headed over to The Mall of America! Orion has been begging to go to Lego Land since seeing an ad for it before the Lego Movie, so when we realized there was a big Lego store at the MoA we figured that might satisfy him... so he's been counting down the days til our Minnesota trip because he was so excited.

...OK, Orion seemed slightly underwhelmed by the Lego store, and he read the sign on the way out of the mall and declared it was the Lego Store, NOT Lego Land. Sigh.

BUT the coolest part of the MoA is that there is an amusement park right in the middle of it! Nickelodeon Universe, if Orion's memory is correct (which it certainly is). Nathan got to take Orion on his first roller coaster! O wasn't sure about it at first, but by the end he loved it!

Desy was very upset he didn't get to go on the big orange roller coaster (he's too short), but we found a smaller one that he was able to do. He also loved it!

Look at that happy boy.

 Some of the rides the boys did were pretty fast and extreme, but they seemed to love them all! Nathan had a blast taking them on all the rides and can't wait to take them to Cedar Point.

Meeting Aang!

 Ninja Turtles! The mall totally wore us out (after 12 hours of driving!), but the boys had a lot of fun.

Friday night Mark invited some friends over to play board games with us. We ended up playing my favorite, Lords of Waterdeep. We had a lot of fun with these guys!

Saturday we went to the Minnesota Renaissance Festival! It was SO. HOT. but the fest was awesome and we had a great time exploring it anyway.

Ren Fest selfie.

Orion and I RODE AN ELEPHANT!! Yeah, that's super exciting and awesome and you should be very jealous.

This little hobbit was content to watch.

It's not a day at the Renaissance Festival without a massive turkey leg!

As if the Mall of America and the Renaissance Festival didn't make for a full enough weekend, after church on Sunday we went to the zoo! Mark is a youth pastor and had a trip to the zoo planned for his students, so we tagged along.

This bear was being adorable. Unless you're Sadie, in which case he was being terrifying.

The zoo had some cool features like this log with windows that kids could crawl through to get a different and close-up perspective on the animals!

We did a crazy amount of fun stuff in such a short visit! We had a lot of fun!

We're huge dorks and neglected to take a picture all together with Mark until we were headed out the door to leave for home. In our sweet renaissance garb? No. At the awesome zoo? No. Lame.

It was so great to see Mark and catch up after so long apart! I love being able to keep in touch with far-away friends and it's extra awesome when we can actually get together. Thanks for all the adventures, Mark!!

Monday we began our drive home, stopping in Wisconsin at a restaurant called the Milwaukee Burger Co. for lunch... which was fabulous. We had giant cheese curds. Yum. We decided against camping because we were super worn out and because it was supposed to storm that night (it did. hard.), so we ended up getting a hotel in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. We found a super deal online, so when we got to the hotel Nathan just asked about it at the desk and they gave us the online price without any of the online fees! And they even ended up waving the parking fee when we left, so it only ended up costing $12 more than camping did. WORTH IT!

This is how two little boys can share a queen bed. :)

We walked around the city a bit that night to get some of the boys' energy out and to look for food. We ended up ordering pizza, and enjoyed it that night and for lunch the next day.

Rooftop view from the hotel!

We had a pretty good drive home, though all of us were worn out and tired of being in the car, so we were relieved to finally make it! All things considered, the kids all did great on such a long trip... I'm thankful for such good little travelers... and for the ability to watch movies in the car ;)

Thus concludes the tale of our latest adventure! It was fabulous... full of fun and good company. Let's do it again sometime!
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