Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Minnesnowta

Last week I talked about the anxiety I experienced when traveling to Minnesota from Oklahoma for Christmas. What I didn't talk about was all the FUN I had! So let's get into that now!

So, obviously I got to hang out with and meet so many of Myke's wonderful friends and family. Luckily for me, I had already met quite a few of them including his aunt and one cousin. A lot of our vacation was spent in kitchens, living and dining rooms - talking and laughing and eating delicious made with love food. When we made it out and about I discovered lots of things.

First of all, nature. This Christmas was not so harsh. I felt right at home in the ice, fog, and sludgy mess. There are a lot of lakes in Minnesota. No but really. Lake Superior looks like a whole state of water. Just as far as you can see - water. They also have so many trees. A lot of the trees are weird stick trees; Myke said those are paper trees. Which makes sense because I think they look like pencils. I didn't see any moose, but people tell me they live there as well.

So, Myke said to me we had to get there by Saturday to take a train. Done. It's on my 30 Before 30 list and now it's not. I didn't realize where the train was taking us though - Bentleyville. There's a really cool history of the event on their webpage, but I'll explain it to you like Myke explained it to me. This guy set up a bunch of awesome lights at his house. He continued to make the light display grow and grow until too many people were showing up and he needed to have more parking. Then they moved it to downtown Duluth so more people could look at it. It's America's largest free light display and it's amazing. And that's where this magical train took us.

I saw the lift bridge from afar many times on our trips to Duluth, but one day we got there just as a huge ship was coming in. The bridge was completely lifted and the ship came in slowly. I saw the guys waving on the ship and then I looked around and noticed that the crowd of people around me was waving back! Then Myke grabbed my hand and we ran under the bridge after the ship went through. It started lowering and I stared up at it, watching as it got closer and closer until it was at arms' length! We hung around for a minute marveling at the view. Then we ran into the Lake Superior Marine Museum. Myke's friend Bryan made sure I saw all the highlights - the lock simulator, creepy cement people in replica boat quarters, and the captain's helm. The website has an awesome webcam where you can view the ships coming in AND the lift bridge if you want to see sort of what I saw!



Speaking of water, we also went to the Great Lakes Aquarium. I guess it's not a local favorite but that made sense to me when I got there. As someone from Oklahoma, I found it very interesting. It's mostly local fish and wildlife from the area. I got to see lake trout, sturgeon, lampries, a great lakes simulator, and a shipwreck display!

We stopped in Minneapolis for the last weekend of our stay and it was whirlwind. We stopped for a quick photo op at the Spoon and Cherry at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, which was nothing like the pictures because the water was frozen over! Then we checked in at the hotel, met up with his friends Eric and Laura, and headed to the Mall of America. There's a amusement park in the middle of the first floor, four floors total, *and* an aquarium in the basement! It was so pretty with all the Christmas decorations still up. We shopped at a few places I've never even heard of! My favorite store we discovered was Typo. They had the absolute cutest stationary and home goods. I almost lost my mind and my wallet!

Sunday, before we left for home we headed to the Como Zoo. Myke and Laura had done some research and discovered there were sloths there. They have three sloths total, though one is only used for educational purposes. On Sundays, there is a Keeper Talk with Chloe the sloth. You guys, I got the closest I had ever been to a sloth and she was awake and eating watermelon! She's been with the zoo since the time it opened and her trainer has been with her for 8 years. She carried Chloe in like a baby and was feeding her the "enrichment food" watermelon as well as lettuce and carrots. After some questions were answered, her keeper took her the tree and let her climb on. She's been trained to stay on the concrete "tree" during the day. Her keeper clicked once to let her know "Good, I wanted you on the tree" and she climbed up to a comfy resting place. The entire zoo was amazing including a baby giraffe, an arctic fox, and wild cats! They had so much stuff I can't even begin listing it. It's a donation based zoo, suggested $3 for entry. I gave them $10 because sloths. I could barely contain myself and am proud to say I didn't cry. I want to go back every Sunday for the rest of my life though.


We ate at so many delicious places that I can't even begin. So, I'll list them.
  • Pizza Luce - Duluth, MN
    • Amazing pizza!
  • Thirsty Pagan Brewing - Superior, WI
    • More amazing pizza!
  • Northern Waters Smoke Haus - Duluth, MN
    • I tried smoked fish for the first time! It was SO good.
  • Kounty Quart House - South Range, WI
    • In such a scary place but so worth the drive.
  • Taste of Saigon Inc - Duluth, MN
    •  Best eggrolls ever.
  • Duluth Grill - Duluth, MN
    • We ate here twice, amazing.
  • NYE's Polonaise - Minneapolis, MN
    • This is closing this year which just breaks my heart. It was so much fun and SO busy.
  • White Castle - Minneapolis, MN
    •  Only worth noting because it was my first and last time. I really do not get the appeal.
  • So many delicious home cooked meals.

Until Next Time,
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