Here are a few highlights from the trip:
Visiting the Mall of America...twice. My friend Jessie and I went to the Mall of America not once, but twice. Riding the metro there from was SO easy, so we couldn't resist going out there any chance we got. Let me just say, that place is HUGE. Why the need for three Claire's stores in the same building, I'll never know, but there must be a reason or they wouldn't exist. Needless to say, we didn't get a chance to see everything there, so I would definitely go again if the opportunity presented itself.
|Engaged? It's a one-stop-shop at the MOA!|
|Talk about a little girl's dream right there!|
|LEGO store - What, what?|
|Anyone ever heard of a Peeps store? Not this girl.|
|And the rides...A ninja turtle ride and many more!|
|Oh man, there's an American Girl store too...|
Getting a make-over. Crossing items off that 20 in 14 list...you'll just have to wait another day to hear about this one.
Renting a car and driving to Duluth. Jessie and I spent a lot of time asking the locals for recommendations on where to go and what to do. Time and time again, people kept telling us to go to Duluth (so much so, that we began to wonder if Minneapolis was actually a dud of a place to hold a national conference!). Five of us decided to take advantage of a free afternoon/evening and drive the 2.5 hours north to check it out.
Our first stop was at a local restaurant featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives - Duluth Grill. It was a bit "granola" for our style, but the food was delicious and the people were incredibly friendly. We also drove up to a look-out to see the city from above, and my was it gorgeous. The overcast skies and wispy brush reminded me quite a bit of Boise in the Fall. Later, we got pictures with a cute little lighthouse and did some souvenir shopping at some quaint little downtown stores. I'd say the afternoon in Duluth was one of my favorite memories from the trip.
Seeing Lake Superior (and crossing my third Great Lake off the list - just Huron and Ontario to go!). There's a reason why the lake is named Superior - it's HUGE! I only wish we'd had our passports (and more time) so we could have made the drive up the coast all the way to Ontario, Canada. Surely that would have been a magical memory to cherish from this trip.
Finding my first (and second, third, fourth...) geocache! I've never geocached before, have you? Ohmygoodness, it's the funnest...yes, I did just say funnest...thing ever!! Don't worry, I'll be writing an entire post about this at some point.
Catching up with long, lost friends. The chance to reconnect with so many old friends is one of the biggest reasons I even decided to go on this trip. Christy and I were housemates when we both worked as tour guides in Washington, DC back in 2009. We talk almost every day, but I hadn't actually seen her in person since my wedding almost two years ago. I really enjoyed seeing Christy for several days in a row, and I was even able to give her a cute new Jamicure and fancy hairdo for the closing banquet.
Lindsey and I worked together on a few national conferences in Washington, DC, back in 2010-2012. She's since gotten married and moved to Dallas, and while we live just 5 hours apart these days, we hadn't seen each other in person since 2011. Unfortunately, we were too busy catching up to think about taking any pictures together.
Then there was Danielle...Again, Washington, DC, is the common thread that binds so many of my faraway friends. Danielle and I met at one of those national conferences way back in 2007. While she's been able to meet up with our mutual friend, Dawn, a few times over the years, Danielle and I hadn't connected in SEVEN YEARS!! Nowadays, Danielle is a professor at the University of Wisconsin - River Falls, and she just so happens to live in St. Paul, Minnesota. Graciously, Danielle was willing to meet me at a coffee shop near my hotel for just an hour so we could catch up. Craziness.
So yeah, 28 states down...only 22 to go!