A Needed Break

We took a lot of pictures on our epic weekend away. As in, around 500 pictures. In slightly more than two days. And when I say we, I really mean Art, who takes any visit to a zoo as an opportunity to brush up on his photography skills. And after going through all of them and choosing out the best ones, I had forty pictures. Forty. So instead of putting them in my blog like usual, I’m just adding the gallery of thumbnails and you can click on them if you want to see the bigger version. They’re awesome pictures, in my opinion, but I know that’s just a lot.

Anyway, before I post the pics, I want to just say what a blessing this getaway was for us. I found a fabulous deal on a hotel room, so we stayed in a studio suite with a full kitchen for sixty bucks a night. Which let us save a lot of money on eating out. Which was necessary because Faildog decided to get an ear infection and require much expensive medication. The boys were awesome. They got very tired– this was their first time in a hotel and their first time ever sharing a bed, so they had a hard time getting to sleep both nights. But they were just a joy to have along, and we had a lot of fun together.

Friday afternoon we headed north, stopping for a little walk at the world’s campiest rest area (see picture below) before we reached our hotel. Well, actually we stopped at about every rest area between Small Town, Iowa, and Eagan, Minnesota, because when you’re traveling with two small boys that’s just what you do. But only one rest area was photo worthy.

When we got to the hotel, we discovered that the pool that Expedia said the hotel had was actually nonexistent. But miraculously the boys were totally okay with it and there was no meltdown (except possibly on my part, when I realized no pool meant no hot tub for Mommy). So Friday night, after the boys jumped on the beds for awhile and after we had dinner, we headed to the Mall of America to look around. While we were there we decided that if they were good for the next couple days (and if we didn’t spend the entire vacation fund in the meantime), we would return Sunday so they could ride one ride each.

Friday night, in spite of not having a nap, the boys were so excited by their fancy sofa bed and their fancy hotel room and their fancy vacation that they did not actually fall asleep till after 10:00.

Saturday we went to the Minnesota Zoo. This was another huge blessing: because we have a membership to the Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines, we get in free to the MN Zoo. We paid $5 for parking and had a day of fun. The boys got their faces painted like leopards, and we got to watch a dolphin show, which was totally awesome but at that point the camera battery died. 😦 Then we went back to the hotel for lunch and a nap, and returned to the zoo for a few more hours in the evening. Our very favorite part was the butterfly garden. There are several pictures of it below, all Art’s handiwork. He really does take gorgeous pictures.

Saturday night we had pizza and watched funny cars on ESPN for awhile before the boys decided they would rather build with Legos and read Stuart Little (I love my kids– have I mentioned that lately?). They giggled in bed for about 45 minutes before finally falling asleep around 10:30.

Sunday morning we slept in till about ten minutes after daybreak (Ryan is a morning person. Sigh). Then we laid in bed for another hour before getting up, eating breakfast, and packing up the van again. Our final stop in Minnesota was, again, the Mall of America, where each boy got to choose one ride to ride (Set us back $15– sheesh). Sam chose a little roller coaster that went around the track about ten times. I was his “chaperone” because he was one inch too short to ride by himself, but I was cool with that because I rode free and it was fun. Then Ryan was ready for his big moment– to ride a real roller coaster.

I should probably explain that I absolutely positively love roller coasters. I mean, I love them. Have since the minute I was tall enough to ride at Six Flags Great America. I hadn’t been on one in more than ten years, so you can imagine that I was all about encouraging Ryan to try it out. And he was very excited. And it was so much fun– for me. Ryan got a little freaked out. I think he would have been fine but the one he chose spun around in addition to flying down the track, and that kind of scared him. If you look at the “after” picture you will notice that he is a little pale. But he said he’d like to ride another one again sometime, and that he thought it was fun even though it was scary. I’m pretty sure that Sam is going to be my fast ride lover, though. As long as I have one, I’m happy.

On the way home, we stopped in Dows, Iowa, where they have several historical landmarks including an old train depot, a blacksmith shop, and a one-room schoolhouse. Then we finished the drive back to Small Town, Iowa, where the boys ate dinner and went to bed at 6:45 pm and slept straight through till I woke them up the following morning at 6:45 am.

Possibly the best moment of the trip was on the way home, when Ryan said “Mommy, thank you for taking us on this fun trip to Minnesota.” Love that kid.

Enjoy the pictures! Somehow I missed two when I uploaded, so you only have to look at thirty-eight! 🙂


8 thoughts on “A Needed Break

  1. Awwww……Erin!

    I think the smaller the trip, the more meaningful it is!!! They can be overwhelme when you are gone too long and see and do too much. They are more likely to remember the shorter trips!

    Great photos!

  2. I have always wanted to visit the Mall of America and there is this huge scrapbooking event there in September and my hubby still won’t go. He’s says that it will be boring, just a big mall. I really want to go!!! Can you hear me whining :-). But I was intrigued because when I was a little girl we would go to Lake Okoboji and I swear we would stop in a town like Dows, it was also a childhood highlight. I wish I could remember the name of that little town.

  3. oh my, i heart roller coasters. you are going to LOVE my roller coaster pics from busch gardens. that is, if i ever get my butt around to blogging. sigh. we should so go to an amusement park together, that would be sooo much fun!!!! too bad we don’t live closer… 😦

  4. I’m an Iowa girl but living in Florida now, so it is with nostalgia in my heart that I tell you this:


    Sorry to shout. It’s just that fun.

    Oh, and great photos! I’m glad you had a fun weekend!

  5. What a wonderful post about your family getting a way. I admit I HAVE always wanted to go to the mall of America…sad ambition but I REALLY DO! LOL!

    Thanks for the little living vicariously theough you post.

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