we are here. now with an ELEVEN year old!!
for the many many readers that are wondering about the video, i didn’t do one this year <sniff, sniff> because jovie didn’t really want me to. and we were on vacation during her birthday.
we went to minnesota & wisconsin. since MN is the land of 10,000 lakes, i hereby dub WI the land of 9,999 waterfalls! in my research of what to do there were so so many. yet another state worthy to go back to. there was a lot i wanted to do but we couldn’t. we stuck around MN a little extra so that we could go to the mall of america on jovie’s actual birthday. (which made her super excited to be traveling on this day!!)
i kept proclaiming that we could see a waterfall every day, and we *almost* made it!
Day 1- Minneapolis, MN
we had a great time and long day spent in minneapolis area. since we were up at 4:30 am, and they are in Central Time Zone, we landed at 9am. which led us to find a breakfast place, drop all our stuff off at the hotel and tool around Minnehaha park. it was a HOT day. so after we rented a surrey we definitely earned Ice Cream #1!
we also went to the sculpture garden which was a great place to meander around a giant spoon, a humongous blue rooster & view the city. there were several sculptures. some were witty & fun. some were just plain weird. one was just not even trying (but funny nonethless- 2 balls on top of each other that was titled “back of snowman“).
by this time- it was hot, late, and we walked and walked a ton. (The Mr. & i pedaled too) so jovie & i waited on a bench across a fun bridge while The Mr. went further and checked out a cathedral downtown.
we were very excited to check into our hotel and rest our feet for a bit before heading to the mall of america for supper & to gander at that monstrosity of a place.
Day 2- St. Paul, MN
notice the name of this place. turns out, there is a lovely part of the park that walks along the Mississippi that is not linked with the sidewalks that get you here! luckily, we were prepared & The Mr. found where this was. it was secluded and lovely. we ended up going to the other parking lot to walk the other trail, and yeah—- what a pain to go there thinking you were going to reach some waterfalls!
from here, we wanted to go into downtown St. Paul & see some Peanuts character statues. as we got there, we saw the large and stately library. but we had to wait a bit for it to open. but right behind it was the river. we figured SURELY we could just walk along the MS for awhile. so we had adventure #1….it was not easy to get to! we walked all around, asked for help, walked around more and turned out- sure, it could’ve been done easier had we just gone a step or ten further the first time! and then we get down there, and the part we wanted to explore had been flooded so the sidewalk part was closed. we were hot & tired so we went back up to the park and got a hot dog from a vendor. THEN the library opened. we enjoyed the AC and some books for a bit before we decided, sure- let’s go to the $cience mu$eum! it was a fun afternoon of something to do.
after we got back to our hotel from being pretty tired, jovie & The Mr. decided to swim for a bit while i chilled back in the room. restful afternoon & evening with a break in there for dinner.
Day 3- BIRTHDAY- Mall of America
sure, that counts!!
we woke up & had planned to just go downstairs for b’fast, but the power was out at the hotel. [adventure # 1 1/2].we went and found a delicious place instead, and by the time we came back, it was on. jovie was super excited for the day. she knew we’d be out & about all day so she opened gifts in the AM. (unheard of!!)
we had gotten her a (blue!) bike that she found before we left; and a panda pillow she had wanted. but we brought some up with us for her to open. one of them was a lego book she found in the bookfair in january i’ve been holding on to. we put a note on it that at the MOA she can choose something from the LEGO store to buy. that thrilled her!! along with my old phone which is now just an app machine. she had gotten my other old one way back when. and alluvasudden, it just EXPLODED. if any of my readers have talked to jovie in the last 6 months, then you would know that she has been
hinting, asking, begging for a phone for this bday. so it’s a phone machine with limits that just uses apps. no texting/calling/etc. delighted nonetheless!
she read her books and explored the phone for all of 20 minutes while the adults when downstairs and had coffee & watched the planes overhead. (i loved being near the airport!!). then we ventured on.
and we spent 6 1/2 hours walking walking walking the mall. it was fun. she spent a lot of time at the LEGO store, which we went to first, and then again later. she had brought her own money so even though we got her a thing, she bought herself another littler thing. when we went back, she spent a little more! we also spent a good amount of time at the barnes and noble. and just walking all over. going to the big aquarium, ducking in and out of some shops that interested her. then we had a blast doing a mirror maze. we did it 3x in a row!
we had already decided we were not actually going to do the amusement park part, which i thought would take up a lot of our day. when we had walked around it at dinner the other night, we saw that many many of the rides were pretty adventurous. and there wasn’t really a little place she could do all on her own. there wasn’t anything she really wanted to ride except the ferris wheel, and she said she didn’t miss that at all. but no worries. we still filled our time! SIX AND A HALF HOURS OF IT.
we rested our feet and backs and whatever else for a bit before heading into downtown to enjoy all the fondues at the Melting Pot. it was a hit!!
she loved her birthday. we did our best to make it exciting! she has even mentioned traveling again next year. (not to MOA of course). but she is a little torn, because according to her, she had to keep reminding herself it was her birthday since she wasn’t at home with the usual happenings.
Day 4- Duluth, MN
we drove up to duluth. we were excited to see lake superior. we stayed at a quaint hotel on the marina and explored the downtown area a bit after going into lunch. the harbor there has a bridge that raises. we witnessed this a couple times during our stay.
the hotel was nearby a public beach which turned into adventure #2. we all walked on the rocks and dipped our feet in. COLD. and jovie was having fun getting a little further in. she was trying to decide if she actually wanted to swim but we said no because of all the rocks. and also because the beach was filled with annoying and biting sand flies! it was not a good welcome! we walked down the beach a little bit and had to turn around because it wasn’t fun in the slightest. between the painful rocks and the annoying flies….
jovie then went swimming in that hotel pool. it was fly-less!
we headed back to the canal area and had a most delicious & scenic supper. it had rained just as we got in there & before our entrees came, we were greeted by not one, but TWO rainbows! it was spectacular. we went out to see them and i was pretty amazed that they didn’t even break. you could see the whole arc. they faded through dinner, but afterwards we went back out and i saw the end of the main one by the pier.
day 5- Ashland, WI
today was chock-full of waterfalling!
we were really close to superior, WI which had Pattison State Park. this park had both Big & Little Manitou Falls & jovie was excited by the pix of these in my searches for what to do. they did not disappoint. it was a lovely little trail at the Big. but then we drove down to the Little.
From there, we found out about another nearby falls. so- Bonus!!
this was a great trail and lots to explore. including a covered bridge. unfortunately, it was mis-timed and we were all pretty hangry so we got out of there too soon. lovely for a bit, though!
after we stopped at a pit-stop type diner down the road for lunch and ice cream #2, we went to a historic inn in Ashland, WI. it was really cool. when they refurbished it in the 1980’s they did a good job of keeping the historic of the 1880’s.
soon after we checked in, we went to a nearby park that we drove past to get here which was a beach and playground area. jovie got suited up and went swimming in the cold Lake Superior. she did great. she said it was warmer than the fly one. and this one- BONUS no flies!! the lake was fairly shallow (compared to our 5’1″ daughter) and she was having a good time. but she had nobody to play with, so she asked for her favorite playmate (Dad!) to come in. after some debating, he went in, too. he did not look entirely comfortable (chilly!) but he swears it was fine. and they went SO. FAR. AWAY. they loved it. and i loved finding some shade AND a bench. the breeze made me need my hoodie. it was perfect.
we headed back and jovie stayed in the room while the adults explored the landing/walkway at the hotel. it was a hot but nice walk. then we debated on what to do for dinner. little miss independent wanted to stay back so we went down to the lovely restaurant ourselves. we brought her back up the leftovers plus some sprite… she was totally fine.
it was a pretty sunset at 8:56pm.
Day 6- St. Croix Falls, WI
we stayed in ashland for the proximity to Mellen to see Copper Falls. at the bar, a local plus the bartender were telling us if we are going to Mellen, we should also stop in Morgan Falls. they said it was an easy quick little hike.
thank goodness. because adventure #3 and the ruiningest of it all- there were not sand flies, no. but what i think they call deerflies. EV.ERY.WH.ERE!!! swarming. i cannot use that word strong enough. disgusting, gross, huge, black, round, skeevy flies. all over everywhere. and this is after we put on bug spray.
we put our $5 in the slot and stepped on the trail. and that’s where it began. it never let up. every one of us was getting swarmed. think of walking thru’ a spider web and how you flail. now think of doing that all the time that you are walking a mile and a half. there was a point i was going to turn back b/c we couldn’t even enjoy the hike. we passed a sweet bridge that was not enjoyed at all. ben said we were halfway so i trekked on thinking maybe somehow we’d get to the point where they weren’t. we didn’t. i am not exaggerating in the slightest when i say that we got to the waterfall (so not worth it) and i snapped the mandatory picture and in the time it took me to put my phone up to my face a fly LANDED ON IT. i ran the whole way back skeeving and disgusted. flies were in our hair, on our clothes. we put on more bugspray at the fall and it seemed to have helped them a little more, but i was attacked the whole way back. it. was. awful!
so now we were worried about going to copper falls. because that was a bigger park area. and what if it was like this. i think they were attached to the same forest.
but i guess the 10mile distance did wonders because this park was WON.DER.FUL. it wasn’t just one waterfall but several. picturesque rolling rapids and falls. bridges & scenery. we had such a good time. there was a place for The Mr. to skip rocks & just enjoy it. we had a lovely picnic before making the longish & peaceful drive to St. Croix Falls.
on the way we stopped in a sweet little town called Spooner to explore and stretch our legs, and get ice cream #3 for the 11year old. coffees for the adults.
we rolled into town and chilled for a little bit before walking nearby to dinner. we were so glad that the day ended nicer than it began!
Day 7- on our way home
we had a late afternoon flight and were fairly close to minny. we had originally planned to see St. Croix Falls. we had also heard about a different waterfall near the border. but once it was said and done, we just didn’t want to get hot and tired before the flight home. turned out the actual st. croix falls had been dammed up years back, and what i had seen pictures of were in a nearby state park. not being sure what the hike would be like, i think we made the right call. so- we saw 2 waterfalls in one day. save that one for this day and there you have it (:
so instead, we headed back to the mall of america where we spent time (but no money) @ the lego store. walked around a bit & ate lunch and a milkshake (ice cream #4)
it was a fabulous trip. a lovely area. it would be lovely to go back and explore WI some more. but alas…. we have 21 more states to see….