Have you ever been to the Mall of America in Minneapolis?

Let me start over.

My dad tells a really great story about the first time his big sister took him on a roller coaster. He recounts the track under the car clicking as they jerked up the insanely steep slope. Then at the very top, just before the big plunge, a strange, horrible, wailing, screaming sound came from somewhere nearby. My dad recalls that the whole way as the car ripped down the track this disturbing noise was coming from somewhere very close by his own head. The car finally stopped and my dad slowly realized…he had been screaming bloody murder the whole time. It was him making the horrific, terrified, guttural sound as the coaster flung him around in death defying loops and flips.

Now, some years later, I stood inside the Mall of America with my friends, Joey, Tom and Bernadette. Joey and Bern were all smiles and sunshine as we walked towards Nickelodeon Universe and they discussed which roller coaster to go on; Tom and I were grimacing in the back, “yes, yes, of course we’re going on…yes, it’s fine, anything is fine…no I’m not scared…” We hopped on the Sponge Bob Square Pants Rock Bottom Plunge and large padded bars came down over my head.

“Joey, is this strapped in right?”


“Joey, am I going to fly out? What if the straps break and I fly out?”

“You’re not going to fly out. Here we go! Ready babe?”

And then, as we hit the crest of the first immense peak I heard, from somewhere close by my head, a loud guttural, terrified, horrific noise and, frankly, a little bit of inappropriate swearing.

My dad and I share many traits. 
When we exited the coaster all ten of my fingers were pale white, as I can only imagine my face was. My hair was disheveled and my bracelet had left a red welt in my skin from being pressed against my forearm so hard. We checked out the picture of us ripping upside down on the coaster then parted ways, Joey coming with me and Tom and Bern heading to get a bite to eat.
Joey and I wandered around a few stores - he is a very patient man and let me shop without complaint; even let me model a few skirts and shorts before he admitted boredom and went to look for a book.

We wandered around the first floor not far from the roller coasters in the center of the mall and happened across a Brookstone. I have never indulged in their massaging chairs and foot rubs in the store as there are always lines of people, but at this particular store there were two chairs open and calling our names. Joey sat in the chair that massaged your back and your feet and I took the back massager chair. I melted into the backrest and barely turned my head to acknowledge Joey when he asked if we wanted to switch. We switched chairs and I kicked my shoes off so I could use the foot massager. Oh boy. “I’ve never known comfort quite like this” (~Comic Book Guy). After a long time Joey asked if we should get up and I said we would but that I needed to wait until the end of the demo… it was a really long demo… When we got up two people quickly took our spots and we realized that there was kind of a line behind us… oops…
We made it up to the second floor right as Tom and Bern called wanting to meet up again, so Joey and I walked from the escalator to the other side of the second floor and headed down the stairs to meet up with our trip buddies.

The Mall of America was great but there is more to Minneapolis and St. Paul so we decided to plug in Mrs. Wellington (my GPS) and see what attractions were nearby. We have a picture on our Where We’re Going section for these two cities featuring a large spoon topped with a giant cherry so we decided to find that and head for it. Tom called his sister Lela for the address since Mrs. Wellington was giving us trouble and we headed off toward the Sculpture Garden near the mall.

We pulled up and parked on the street and wouldn’t you know, there it was, the giant spoon complete with cherry in full glory bent delicately over a small pool of water. There were other sculptures too of course, and a small grouping of Japanese boys trying very hard to hurt one another on one sculpture that swung around. Boys will be boys I suppose…
We got our fill of bent up metal and decided to make our way towards our most exciting attraction yet. Detroit Lakes, Minnesota - home to our first music festival, and to our official mid-way point. This is pretty big, America, so stay tuned. 

Until next time America.


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