Monday, July 27, 2009

Mall of America and More

We've been busy this week exploring northern Iowa and Southern Minnesota. We always wanted to see the Mall of America, and spent the day in amazement wandering this huge complex of shops, restaurants, theaters, an aquarium, and even an amusement park. With over 520 stores in four individually-themed wings, it can take days to see everything, and if you're hungry, there are 18 full-service restaurants and 26 fast food places (we ate at "Bubba Gumps"). It's over 1/2 mile to walk each of the three main levels, and we did that plus the fourth level, which has a 14-screen theater. What is amazing is the center of the mall, where Nickelodeon Universe, an amusement park, is located. With over 25 rides (including three roller coasters), it's a neat place to take the kids while mom shops - but at $29.95 for a day's pass it's a bit pricey. Interesting piece of trivia - the park is built on the former site of Metropolitan Stadium, and home plate is still preserved near one of the rides. Also, it took 65 semi trucks of trees to create the outdoor feel of the park. You can read more about interesting facts here. The Mall of America is now the 2nd biggest mall under one roof in North America, next to one in Edmonton, Alberta, with over 800 stores. But there's good news; the Mall of America has acquired land which will allow expansion to 900 stores! Hopefully, the "Scooter Store" will open up an outlet so that we'll still be able to see all the new additions.
One of the neat things about our lifestyle is the ability to visit little interesting places that intrigue us. The movie "Field of Dreams" was a movie that we both enjoyed, and so we drove to the Iowa town of Dyersville to see the actual movie set. As movie sets go, it's a surprise; first of all, it's all real (and free), and second, the only commercial aspect is a small stand selling t-shirts and movie memorabillia. There's not a lot here - the field and the farmhouse, surrounded by corn fields; but we had a chance to stand at home plate where Kevin Costner stood, sit in the bleachers, and walk in the outfield. What's neat is that families were here with the dads playing baseball with their kids. There's no restriction on using the field and it's well maintained. The house is beautiful and is still occupied by the family that owns the farm. You can read about how the farm was selected, and other interesting facts here. We enjoyed our visit here, and seeing the movie again will be a bit more special.
Another of those interesting places to visit is Northfield, MN, where Jesse James, Cole Younger, and their gang tried to rob the local bank and were surprised by armed townspeople. The movies "The Long Riders" and "The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid", were movies that we remembered, and we thought we'd see where it happened. Northfield turned out to be a picturesque town with a beautiful shopping district along the Cannon River. The bank is now part of a museum, and we were given a tour by a delightful young lady dressed in period costume. She explained how the robbery occured, and how a bank cashier refused to unlock the safe (it turned out that it was open but the door was closed) and was killed protecting the town's money. The townspeople, alerted to the robbery, grabbed their guns and met the gang in the street; as a result, two of the gang members were killed, two badly wounded, and the rest fled for their lives. Jesse and Frank James made it to their home in Missouri, but it marked the end of the James gang era. It's an interesting story, you can read more about it here.
We had an unexpected surprise while visiting an Indian casino in Minnesota - there was a large Indian Nation Pow Wow. Hundreds of members from tribes around the country were represented, and the highlight for us was watching the ceremonial dance competition. Although I can't tell you much about the types and meanings of the dances, the dancers were spectacular, and here are a few photos from the event:
We've enjoyed our stay in this area, but now it's time to head for Forest City, IA and the home of Winnebago Industries for the annual Grand National Rally. Come back and see what it's like when over 1200 senior citizens driving huge motorhomes get together!

No comments:

Post a Comment