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Minnesota and the Mall of America
updated: Apr 10, 2010, 9:15 AM
By John McCafferty (aka McSeas)
|Photo shows the famous Midwestern icon, the John Deere tractor -- this one in MN.
Driving into southern Minnesota, I found myself deep in a nice mix of farms and woods. No wonder there are so many Europe types in MI, WI and MN. Really reminds me of Germany. Immigrant Swedes and Germans must have felt at home here, although the parts of Sweden I've seen are more of the mountainous, piney-woods type.
Stopped in South Nowhere, Minn., just to grab a coffee and inhale the farm atmosphere. Lovely, quiet afternoon. I strolled along some rows of corn -- at 2 feet high, surprisingly tall for this far north. An Indiana farmer had told me the corn should be "knee high by the Fourth of July", and this was only mid-June.
I startled a small flock of meadowlarks, which squawked pleasantly and wheeled around in small circles. They settled down to forage in the bare area by what I guess was a big community water tank. There just wasn't any big community nearby.
Reluctantly moved on, and suddenly, it seemed, I was driving into Bloomington, a suburb of Minneapolis -- and promptly got lost, which causes a miserable feeling in any state. I stopped for a pizza lunch. The counter kid gave me excellent directions out of there to the part of Bloomington I had reserved a motel in.
It was a disappointment when I found it. I was expecting a neighborhood full of rosy-cheeked kids and tall blonde mothers, but instead found a mostly barren industrial area with a couple of motels, one burger joint and a few street signs and lights. BOR-ring. And once again I was too early because I had to "make time" (this was to be my last time making that particular mistake).
Oh well. At least I had time to see the sights, which in this case was a freeway system and, not far off (brace yourself!), the MALL OF AMERICA!
I drove a few miles to it and soon found myself taking an elevator down from the (also huge) parking lot to the ground floor of the MofA.
If I understood correctly, the mall is a re-jiggered football stadium, with many concentric, oval floors going to the former football field area, which still serves as a playing field/amusement park. The place is so big (but enclosed for obvious weather reasons) and tall, that there's room for a fairly large Ferris wheel.
This place has to be the National Wonder for mall shopping. It has 400 stores, employs close to 12,000 people and welcomes between 35 and 40 million visitors yearly, Google tells me.
"Well", I thought, "I can easily kill a couple of interesting hours in this place, just walking around gawking." I didn't think about how far one can walk in two hours. I got tired after only a couple of floors and stopped into a "Dollar Store", where I bought a nail-clipper-scissors gizmo for 99 cents plus tax. It broke in the first use.
I went on up, up, and looked into a store that had very pretty alpaca sweaters in the window. Bought an outstanding heavy-knit model for Sharon (she loves it) and felt very good about myself, especially since it was half-price, as the owner lady was selling out at the end of the season to get ready for next fall.
Finally made it to the top of the MofA, planted a flag and, gasping in the thin air, decided to fill the rest of the afternoon with a movie. Bought a ticket to some brutal splatter-flick, there being nothing else that looked more fit to view, but went into the wrong door. Thought it was odd that so many patrons were young girls. Then the feature came on and it wasn't a wicked mean and nasty violence film, but rather, "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants," apparently made for girls younger than my granddaughters! I thought what the heck, I could nap nicely if it was boring and ridiculous, so I stayed, but slouched down so the kids wouldn't think I was an old deviate and call the police. To my amazement, I enjoyed the film!
I concluded the day sullenly ordering a hamburger at the café near the motel. Midwestern food . . . I was getting tired of it. But a perky young man behind the counter asked brightly if I didn't want dessert? "How about a nice hot fudge sundae?" I stared at him, probably scowling, thinking if I wanted any *(_%#%$ ice cream I would have ordered it.
While I was staring he asked, "Do you have any children?" I sighed audibly. "Yes," I husked, "four. Why?"
His smile brightened even wider, almost to a ridiculous degree. "Well congratulations! This is Father's Day, and you get your choice of an ice cream treat! FREE!" He looked so absurdly happy that I had to smile back, and said, "Fine. Gimme a strawberry sundae, vanilla ice cream."
"GREAT! Pick it up when you've finished your meal!"
I had to chuckle while I ate my "meal," a third-rate burger and fries, and drank my Coke. Thinking back, the day was borderline ridiculous, but kind of fun. A fine Father's Day. I smiled my way through the sundae.
Next stop: Storming into Fargo, ND
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