On Saturday we got back from a four day mini vacation to Minnesota. It was kind of weird going on a vacation where we used to live only a year and a half ago, but it was fun visiting a few of our old haunts. As usual, the weather was crummy. It seems like the weather is against us on every vacation we ever take. I was disappointed we weren’t able to go to the zoo and a few of the parks I was planning on, but we still made the most of our time with indoor activities.
We left for the trip on Wednesday afternoon, hoping the boys would nap most of the way to Rochester, where we were staying our first night with my sister-in-law, Sarah. When we got to Rochester we ate at John Hardy’s BBQ, a favorite of Greg’s. I’ve been there a few times in the past and wasn’t too thrilled, but it was pretty good this time! I recommend the turkey. 🙂
On Thursday it was raining and very cold so our planned trip to the zoo was canceled. Instead we went to the Children’s Museum in St. Paul. When we lived in Minnesota I took Caden there a couple of times, but he was really too young to enjoy it. We usually spent the entire time just playing in the water area. This time around it was a lot more fun because he’s at an age where his imagination is fully developed and he loves pretending and interacting with new things.
Shepard usually finds joy in just about everything, but I think he got a little overwhelmed after awhile. He kept getting plowed over by kids, running into exhibits, and falling off of everything he climbed on. Poor guy. 🙁
After the Children’s Museum we headed to Punch Pizza in St. Paul. Now normally I’m not a very big pizza fan, but Punch’s has the most delicious pizza I’ve ever eaten. I’m so glad we had the opportunity to eat there on this trip! Yum, yum!
The rest of Thursday afternoon was spent humoring me by going to a lot of my favorite stores. I was able to leisurely browse Bibelot while the guys spent a long time in Creative KidStuff. Then we headed down to Burnsville so I could go to the best TJ Maxx around and then ended with a trip to the Abdallah Candy Factory. After that we checked into our hotel in Apple Valley and settled in for an evening of swimming and relaxing.
Friday was another wet and gloomy day so we decided to hold off on the zoo again. We’ll have to go there on our next trip. Instead we went to the Mall of America. Pretty touristy, but we thought Caden might enjoy Lego Land now that he’s older. By Friday he was pretty crabby and uncooperative, though, so it wasn’t much fun. We still stayed a few hours and I walked the mall checking out new stores.
After the mall we stopped at Ring Mountain in Eagan for gelato to celebrate Caden’s half birthday! Greg and I used to go there all the time when we lived in an apartment in Eagan. I had salted caramel this time and it was fantastic! Shepard certainly enjoyed his first taste of gelato as well!
We then headed back down to Rochester, avoiding a trip past our old house in Farmington. I’m glad that we live where we do now, but I still miss so many things about our lives in Minnesota. I thought it would be too sad to see the house again. So we skipped over it and met up with Sarah right as she got home from work. We played on the playground and walked around downtown Rochester. We ate at Chester’s, where I had an amazing Santa Fe salad. Afterward we checked out all the sculptures and walked by the river. It was bristly cold by then, but we all really enjoyed it.
By Saturday we were all so exhausted and anxious to head home, but we made one last stop to Quarry Hill Nature Center to see the Twilight of the Triceratops exhibit. None of us had ever been there before, but I’m so glad Sarah suggested it!
I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a dinosaur exhibit in person before, but it was pretty neat! The best part, though, was the nature center itself. The outdoor area seemed to have tons of trails and bridges over ponds and rivers.
We even saw a few beavers looking like they wanted to push some turtles off a log. That’s definitely not something you see in nature every day! If we hadn’t been so worn out I would have loved to spend a few hours just wandering around. Next time!
Overall, I’m deeming the trip a success. I wasn’t sure what to expect since our two vacation attempts as a family last year proved fairly disastrous. But despite the weather and Caden’s moodiness, I think we all had a pretty good time. It was great spending more time with Sarah and visiting a lot of the places I miss. I enjoyed the family time too. Vacations are usually a lot of work, but almost always worth it in the end! 🙂