Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:
Each year from 2003 to 2013 my wife, my son, and your humble writer headed out on a long road trip to anywhere but here. Our 2014 road trip represented a milestone of sorts: our first vacation in over a decade without my son tagging along for the ride. At my wife’s prodding, I examined our vacation options and decided we ought to make this year a milestone in another way — our first sequel vacation. This year’s objective, then: a return to Wisconsin and Minnesota. In my mind, our 2006 road trip was a good start, but in some ways a surface-skimming of what each state has to offer. I wanted a do-over.
Readers who followed along last summer with the remastered edition of our 2006 travelog may have been disappointed at the dearth of photos in the Mall of America chapter. The great and powerful Mall is an enormous structure with hundreds of places to visit and acquire stuff, but last time we just didn’t think to use our cameras much because shopping and photo ops are two activities that tend to be mutually exclusive activities in our minds.
On our way to the Mall, bright ‘n’ early at the start of Day Three, we grabbed breakfast at Bruegger’s Bagels. At the time we didn’t know it’s a chain because they have zero Indiana locations, so this may seem too commonplace to mention here. For me it was a milestone because their Sriracha Egg Sandwich was my first time trying sriracha on anything ever. To be honest, I remember the pain more than the taste.
We had specific plans at the Mall of America and arrived half an hour before the stores opened. If you’ve ever dreamed of having the Mall of America all to yourself, Monday mornings are the prime time to pin on your calendar.
Eventually the stores opened and shoppers showed up to enjoy four stories’ worth of clothing, food, electronics, Minnesota souvenirs, Mall of America souvenirs, oxygen-bar oxygen, and more.
In the center of the Mall is their world-famous park. Until 2006 it was Camp Snoopy; for the next two years it was the unremarkably named Park at the Mall of America. In 2008 the whole thing was rebranded as “Nickelodeon Universe”, adding several famous faces to the rides and decorations.
We remember the LEGO Store from our 2006 visit, but the giant-sized dioramas had been razed and rebuilt into new shapes since last time.
We looked around a few shops. We skipped the pricey designer items and found a couple of affordable clothing articles. We later grabbed lunch at a meat-scoops-on-rice chain called Ruby Thai, where my thumbs-up combo platter of chicken curry and lemongrass chicken was nowhere near as incendiary as my earlier sriracha sandwich. But none of these side quests were as special as our primary objective at the Mall that morning.
To be continued!
[Link enclosed here to handy checklist for previous and future chapters, and for our complete road trip history to date. Thanks for reading!]