Upper Mississippi Vacation (Part Two)

Brain Surge ride at Mall of AmericaYou can’t do an Upper Mississippi trip without stopping in the Twin Cities (well, you could, it just wouldn’t be right). We got to Minneapolis and had a few hours to do the rides in Mall of America. It wasn’t very crowded, surprisingly, so we had time to ride about 10 rides. My favorite one was Brain Surge (pictured), where you use a joystick to spin yourself forward and backward. I wouldn’t recommend it to people with motion sickness or who get queasy.

20170613_093050The Mill Museum was our next destination. We walked around the Mill Ruins Park, a beautiful little area by a dam that was next to the Mississippi. There was a large stone bridge that we also walked across before we went into the museum since we had time to kill before it opened. I think I’m starting to appreciate architecture and rustic things more now because I found everything in the area beautiful. Once we were inside the museum, we walked around and explored the old mill’s purpose. I had fun before our tour with the interactive water example. It showed how the mills would use the water from the 20170613_110641Mississippi to power water wheels and other items. Our tour, once it started, consisted of getting on a big elevator and listening/watching a documentary of sorts. I don’t quite know how to put it, because we heard people recount their experiences working in the mill before it exploded and burned, but we watched examples of the stories as we went up and down eight various floors. We got to see old “vacuums” that took the flour dust out of the air and pumped it into the Mississippi, before the rules about disposal of stuff. We got to look out over the ruins of part of the mill once we reached the ninth floor, as well as learn about why the side walk was made out of wood. There was a canal below the road and sidewalk that all the mills in the area drew their water from.

2017-06-13 12.14.48As we continued, my mom had her heart set on finding a Minnesota classic for food: a Juicy Lucy. She found a restaurant that served them. It turned out to be a place that claimed to be the home of the cheese-filled hamburger, 5-8 Tavern and Grill. They were fairly big hamburgers and very hot, but they were delicious. From here on out, it was just a ride back home. On this ride, I found a true monster truck.

Hopefully, we’ll be able to do a “reboot” in the next year and see the stuff we didn’t on this trip.

Upper Mississippi Vacation (Part One)

We planned to do an Upper Mississippi River vacation since we had already seen the lower part, and my mom really wanted to walk across the headwaters. We didn’t have as much driving as previous vacations, so that was a plus. It was also only a four-day  trip.

First stop was the Wisconsin Deer Park. Wisconsin Deer ParkWe bought deer food when we arrived and got to pet and feed the deer that were out and about. I never realized how cute deer were until then. They were really affectionate when it came to the food, and they even ate out of our hands. The antlers on some of the deer were very soft and fuzzy. After we finished feeding them, we walked around and looked at the other animals for a bit. There were rheas, peacocks, goats, bison, and a lot of types of deer.

20170610_130255Next stop was Villa Louis. Villa Louis is an old Victorian house with mostly original everything inside, which is pretty rare in old homes. It was a pretty neat place. We got to see the old office building on the property along with the adjoined billiards room. During the tour of the inside of the house, we saw the bedrooms and even some of the clothing people wore. There was a display of Victorian wedding dresses going on, so we saw all the old types of dresses as well. The original owners of Villa Louis raised racing horses. 20170610_131036They believed that if the horses drank mineral-filled water, they would run faster. They drilled artesian wells that put out the water that had a lot of iron, which also makes things around it red. Whether or not it helped the horses at all, I don’t know. But we did get to try the water from one of the wells, it was pretty good. As cool as the place was, we had to chug along to continue with our vacation on schedule.

20170610_165133Our next destination was to the American Pickers‘ place in Iowa. My dad really wanted to come here since he likes the American Pickers show. It took us a bit to find it, but we did. And when we did, we were kind of…surprised. My dad compared his reaction to when Ralphie decodes the Ovaltine message in A Christmas Story. It’s a somewhat interesting place, but they don’t have many antiques for sale there–mostly a lot of American Pickers t-shirts, coffee mugs and magnets. It was funny though to see my dad’s reaction.

Next was the upper Mississippi. We drove around in the Lake Itasca park and did some walking on steep nature trails. It was beautiful, although there were a lot of bugs. After getting a little turned around, we headed up to the headwaters. Well, we walked across the “mighty” Mississippi where it was about 18-feet wide and 2-feet deep.Wading across Mississippi River We walked down the stairs to get to the river. It was cold and sort of slimy in the water, but we did it. We hit the road again and then realized after looking at a postcard…we didn’t actually reach the headwaters (disclaimer: there were no signs where we were to point us in the right direction). Mom guesses that she was just so excited to have walked across the Mississippi that she didn’t even think about it not being the actual headwaters. So, now we’ll have to do a reboot of this vacation to go up to the actual headwaters of the Mississippi.

Watch for “Part Two” of our mini-vacation next week.


Northwest Vacation: Part Five


Chateau de Mores in Medora, North Dakota

North Dakota is the 49th state I have been in! In my 49th state, we went to Medora, where we saw the Chateau de Mores.  It’s a 26-room hunting cabin from the Victorian Era West that belonged to Marquis de Mores. He wanted to be the richest financier in the world by sending packaged meat in refrigerated train cars. His first step was to build right by the railroad that led east to the Chicago stockyards.

You can tell the Marquis and his visitors liked to drink!

He named the six-square mile land he built upon Medora, after his wife. It went though several economic booms and busts over the years, but now it is home to historic landmarks and small businesses. While we were there, we went to a restaurant there and got buffalo burgers and I got sarsaparilla, a type of root beer. It was really good. We then went to the old slaughterhouse of Marquis de Mores, which was almost all rubble except for a chimney. After we took our pictures, we headed to the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. It was a long drive, but we saw thousands of prairie dog mounds in the prairie dog “towns.”

In the upper left-center, there are buffalo, and in the lower right-center, there are two prairie dogs.

We also saw deer, horses, and a lot more sage. I saw a group of some sort of animal on the way in, but I didn’t know what they were. On the drive on the trail, we saw lots of pretty scenery, then the trail circled back. It turned out that the animal herd I saw before was a herd of buffalo! We took our pictures and left the park to start on our journey home.P1010312
Now, the only state I have left to visit is Hawaii! I don’t know when I’ll get there, though. My mom started planning a trip for the Upper Mississippi River when we were headed through Minnesota, since it starts in Lake Itasca. Geez! We just finished this one, and she’s already thinking about the next one!

Northwest Vacation: Part Four

rainbow at Shoshone FallsThe next day, we went to Twin Falls, Idaho, also know as Shoshone Falls. There were some neat waterfalls there, and we even saw a rainbow! The site of one of Evel Knievel’s jumps was also there, but the path to get there looked like a death trap, so we decided not to go there this time. It was close to lunch, so we headed off.


We had a lot of fun on vacation so far, but 20160618_120147when we went to the Idaho Potato Museum, we probably had some of the best food all vacation! We walked through the small museum and learned about potatoes and their 20160618_120431history. I even learned that there is a Potato God, which I thought was pretty neat. There are four categories of potatoes, too, including Red, Gold, Russet, and Fingerling. When we learned about the process potatoes go through before they are sold or consumed, it was a lot to look at. They’re picked, cleaned, stored, cleaned again, examined, “perfected,” examined again (bad ones are thrown out), peeled, boiled, cut, packaged, and then sent off to stores or french-fry places. They certainly go through a lot of work for the perfect potato!

potato chocolate milkAfter our walk through the museum and seeing some of the equipment they use, we stopped in at their Potato Cafe. We ate a chili baked potato, some southwestern fries, potato chocolate milk (yes that is a thing) and potato cupcakes. The chocolate milk was actually pretty good, considering it was something that sounded so bizarre! The cupcakes were good, too!

Waffle fries with southwest topping at the Potato Museum-yum!

Waffle fries with southwest topping at the Potato Museum-yum!

Stayed tuned for part five – North Dakota!

Northwest Vacation: Part Three


One of the several signs we saw that made no sense of being there (I think we know we are in air and breathe it) ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

The next day, the 16th, we saw some pretty weird signs before we went to the Ye Olde Curiosity Shop. It was like a miniature Ripley’s Believe-it-or-Not museum, but in a store. I got a wooden “voodoo” doll. It was bizarre looking, but still cute.20160616_110634[1] On our way out, we saw a cupcake truck. We got two cupcakes and ate one of them. It was very good. The other one we saved for later. Continue reading

Northwest Vacation: Part Two

In part one of the Northwest Vacation, we went to Mt. Rushmore, Little Bighorn Battlefield, and fed prairie dogs. After the battlefield, we drove through Montana, Idaho and most of Washington. In Tacoma, we went to our hotel to rest up for the next day: Seattle, Washington!

A picture of the different sizes of grinds coffee can be.

Wednesday morning, we drove to Seattle and parked at Pike’s Place Market. We didn’t do anything there yet because my dad and I really wanted to get to the Starbucks Coffee 20160615_090738[1] Roastery. It was really cool, looking at all the tools they have to use to roast, store, grind, and blend the coffee beans to get the right type of taste. After we looked around, we got a pretzel bagel and a coffee. My dad and I both got an iced “No. 11” brew. It was amazing.

After getting our caffeine fix, we went back to Pike’s Place Market. We saw the famous fish tossers toss a hole bunch of fish, but I only got one on video.

We walked around a lot, looking at the interesting signs and stores and found an ocarina salesman. He makes ceramic ocarinas all the time, from tiny, one inch big 4-hole ocarinas to larger, 6-hole ocarinas. I got a 5-hole ocarina as well as two books on how to play it. Next we went to Honest Biscuits for food. I really liked the Sweet Potato Biscuit. It was delicious! We also went to a chocolate store in Pike’s Place Market, and later saw a steel drum player. We then went to some stores specifically for fans of almost ANY show, band, game, card game, or movie! I got a Doctor Who ID for the Tenth Doctor, or David Tennant’s Doctor. He’s my favorite.

After our walk around Pike’s Market, we went to the space needleSpace Needle. space needleMy mom and I went up the Space Needle and got an amazing view of Seattle. We could even see our car! Later in the day, after some driving north, we did a whale watching tour and saw two orca whales a bunch of times. They aren’t technically whales, as we learned on the boat. They’re actually the largest member of the dolphin family. They didn’t breach at all, but they did surface so more than their dorsal fin was showing several times. We got back to the hotel late, but it was worth it to see the sunset on the boat.

Orca sightingP1050350

We got back to the hotel late, but it was worth it to see the sunset on the boat. Stay tuned for part three about Ye Old Curiosity Shop and Oregon.



Northwest Vacation: Part One

Hi guys!  We had one the most interesting vacations this year. It’s our Northwest-Pacific Vacation!

On Sunday, we got up really early so we could hit the road before traffic got really bad. There was tons and tons and TONS of driving, but we did get to feed the prairie dogs near the Badlands in South Dakota.They were so cute, and they were very funny. Some of them made noises as they reared up on their back feet that made them look like they were chanting, or at least very happy.

Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore

We left the hotel the next morning and had enough time to go to Mount Rushmore! I hadn’t been there since I was four, so I didn’t really remember it. It’s definitely big, and there was a lot of work put into it. Going to it now, since I knew more about the Sioux and their fight to keep the Black Hills area, I appreciated the work that the Sioux did to keep their land more than the monument the government put into the taken land.

open range

The Open Range

Next, we drove some more and found a random oven in the middle of nowhere. It had a sign on it that read “OPEN RANGE.” At first I didn’t get it, but my parents explained that it was an Open Range (stove) on the Open Range (land). My one thought after that was why and how people would get a stove into a field.

These look like big dandelions!

Monument on Last Stand Hill

Monument on Last Stand Hill

By this point, we started seeing more and more wild white sage. It practically took up entire fields in one place! There wasn’t as much sage at Little Bighorn Battlefield (our next stop), but there were some wild horses and humongous dandelions (they evidently weren’t dandelions, but I don’t know their name and they looked like dandelions)!  Little Bighorn had a lot of driving on a trail describing Custer and the “U.S. Army’s 7th Cavalry and the Sioux and Cheyenne in one of the Indian’s last armed efforts to preserve their way of life.” It was sad that so many died. The scenery and hills were pretty, though.

Little Bighorn cemetery

Little Bighorn cemetery

After the battlefield, we went to get food–Buffalo Burgers. They were delicious!

Stay tuned for part two – Seattle!