Minnesota

The North Shore of Minnesota

After driveway surfing in Wisconsin we headed back into Minnesota up to the North Shore.  We stayed at Burlington Bay Campground in Two Harbors right on Lake Superior.  Do you see a Fat Cat on the fence?

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She’s easier to see close up.

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Lake Superior is amazing!  I swear this seems so much more like the ocean to me than a lake.  It’s enormous and on windy days the waves were just as big as ocean waves.

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One evening we went to visit beautiful Gooseberry Falls State Park, and enjoyed riding the bike trails.

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We heard that when you’re in Two Harbors you must stop and try Betty’s Pies.  So after walking and biking around Gooseberry Falls we stopped there for dinner and dessert.  Delicious!

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Another evening we checked out Split Rock Lighthouse State Park.  Wow, this was absolutely gorgeous!

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We also enjoyed walking the trail across the street from our campground.  I loved watching the waves crash against the rocks!

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That’s our home back there, parked in between several other homes with a view.

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We found a nice playground down the street for my little monkey.

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On Saturday my boss and his wife and daughter came up to visit us for the day.  We went back to Gooseberry Falls with them.  It was a lot colder that day than when we went earlier in the week, but lots of fun to enjoy this with Mike and his family.  They have been here many times before and were able to show us around to other areas of the park that we missed when we went the first time.  It’s always nice to have locals to show us around!

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We got to see an eagle on the trail!

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I’m so glad we took this trip up to the North Shore.  It was a little out of our way since we were on a tight timeline to get to North Carolina by mid-October, but it was worth it.  Such a beautiful area and definitely a place I would like to go back to again when we have more time.

Categories: Minnesota | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Mall of America and Birthdays on the Road

Last October I went to Minneapolis for work for a few days.  You can read about that post here: The Smokies with a side trip to Minnesota.  While I was there I went to the Mall of America and later came home and showed my kids pictures of the Nickelodeon Universe amusement park that is inside the mall.  Ever since then they have been wanting to go there.

After leaving South Dakota we headed to Minnesota.  I was able to go into the office one day while I was there.  It’s always nice to see people I work with face to face sometimes.  I feel very blessed to work with some awesome people that I really like to spend time with.

Jesse’s 10th birthday was that week and guess where he wanted to go for his birthday?  Mall of America of course!  Sometimes people ask me how we do birthdays on the road.  Actually we were never really into the birthday party thing when we lived in our sticks and bricks.  We always preferred to celebrate birthdays by taking a vacation to Disney World because that’s just how we roll.  So now on the road we just try to plan our travels through an area with something fun to do as a family.

We went to Mall of America twice that week.  One day I took the kids to the Crayola Experience in the mall.

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I found a Groupon for 50% off and I was able to get in free with my homeschool teacher ID.  What could have cost $60 (it’s normally $20/person) ended up only being $20 for all 3 of us.  Score!  I wasn’t sure if my kids would like this place because they are getting older and I wondered if it may be a little too young for them.  But they loved it and we all had a great time!  We spent about 4 hours there because there was so much to do.  I was really impressed by all the activity stations and how much creativity is involved.

At the first station you make your own personalized crayon.

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Then you make a coloring page featuring your own picture!

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At another station you make something out of clay.

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In this section they could color with markers.  Jesse’s sign shows his love for his family, Jake’s on the other hand shows he could use a little humility. 😉

After the Crayola Experience we went to the Lego Store where the kids could play with lots of Legos.  Check out the amusement park in the background!  That was for the next day.

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So the next day my baby turned double-digits… 10 years old!  How can that be possible?  I can’t believe how quickly they are growing up on me.  Chris took the afternoon off work and we spent the day at the Nickelodeon Universe inside the mall.

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First of many roller coaster rides

The log flume ride was my favorite!

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I think the kids liked the bumper cars the best.

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This ride was pretty fun.  With your controller you can make it spin or go upside down.  I’m not a big fan of spinning, but it was still fun.

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I love roller coasters and this one had upside down loops and corkscrews.  It was really fun!

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My cute birthday boy!  He kept telling me several times throughout the day how thankful he was that we took him there for his birthday.  He is so sweet and it melts this momma’s heart to hear him express such gratitude.

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Ferris Wheel

We were all pretty amazed at how many rides they can fit inside a mall.  We bought the unlimited rides wristband that my boss was able to get a great deal on.  And we sure got our money’s worth!  We stayed until they closed and only took a break for dinner.  And since it was a weekday we practically had the place to ourselves and never had to wait in any lines.  That’s a nice benefit of homeschooling and September birthdays.

Jesse said this was his best birthday ever.  Now how am I going to top that next year?  Hmm…

Categories: Minnesota | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Smokies with a side trip to Minnesota

Tennessee and Minnesota in the same week?  Sure, why not?

After leaving our last TN State Park we moved on to Gatlinburg, but I took a side trip to Minneapolis for some work meetings.  It was my first time in Minnesota but I don’t get to update our travel map since it was just me, not the whole family.  This was a fun trip!  The team that I work with is so spread out with most people in different states including NC, FL, TX, AZ, VA, WI, CA and MN.  And then there’s me; you never know what state I’ll be in.  We all got together for some team meetings and team building.  I had never met most of the people on the team so it was nice to get together and see everyone face to face.

This was in the lobby of the Wells Fargo building.  I thought it was cute.

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My manager Mike and his wife took my co-worker and me out for a delicious Italian dinner one night.  After that we went to see the Mall of America.  I am not much of a mall person (I prefer to shop online), but I must say this is one incredible mall.  When our travels take us to Minnesota, my kids are definitely going to want to check out the amusement park inside this mall.  It is now on their bucket list of “must-dos”.

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One night we had a make-your-own-pizza night at Mary’s house.  She has an amazing game room downstairs where the Web team competed against the BI team at table-top shuffleboard.  The BI team won 13-0.  I think that’s because I was upstairs and was not down there helping out my Web team.  Sorry guys!

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My favorite thing we did was some team-building at Escape.  This was so much fun!  We had to split up into 2 teams since our group was too large.  The team I was on did the Mr. Dupree mystery.  We were locked in a room for one hour and had to find clues in order to escape the room.  We were doing pretty well and I think if we had about 10 more minutes we might have escaped, but we ran out of time.  Below are the pictures of our 2 teams after we failed our escape attempts.  Oh well, it was still really fun and now I would like to find one in another city so our family can do this together sometime.

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I am truly blessed to work with such a fabulous group of people!  This is not just a group of people who work together, these are friends.  Working with friends is always more fun.

I stayed at the Loews Minneapolis hotel which was very nice.  It even snowed the last night I was there.  That was exciting to see since I hardly ever see snow.  This was the view from my room.

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Some friends on my Facebook page said that this view isn’t quite like the views I have been sharing during our travels this year.  Yes that is true and even though I enjoyed this visit, I must say I am definitely not a city girl.  Getting back to Tennessee and driving on the Foothills Parkway on the way home from the airport, I was greeted by the breathtaking scenes below.  Home sweet home!  (Home is where we park it.)

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Meanwhile back in Gatlinburg, the boys enjoyed Great Smoky Jellystone Park.  This was the perfect choice for Halloween week because Jellystone parks are known for having many kid-friendly activities and this one did not disappoint.  The activities included candy bar bingo (always a big hit with my kids), a huge game room, mini golf, and a playground that kept the kids busy for many hours.

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Our campsite backed up to a cute little creek.  Fat Cat didn’t seem to like the creek noise.  I think this must be her least favorite park we have been to because she never wanted to be outside like she usually does.

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Since she didn’t spend much time outside, she decided to find some mischief to get into inside instead.  She climbed up on this narrow ledge around the kitchen slide.  Then she had no way to get back down until Chris rescued her.  Crazy cat!

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Halloween was packed full of activities for the kids including a scavenger hunt, hay ride with Yogi Bear and trick-or-treating of course.

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We spent another week in Gatlinburg after Halloween and visited Ober Gatlinburg ski resort to ride the alpine slides which was super fun!  Stay tuned for another blog post about that later.

Categories: Minnesota, Tennessee | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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