Monday July 20, 2009
started the trip with a flight from atl to msp at 8:10 am. we found a quick sale on airtran.com and jumped on it. mom’s buddy pass would have been $131 on delta so it stood to reason that a fare of $175 on airtran was more than worth it. since it was my 40th birthday trip and flights were looking iffy already, chuck allowed me to buy my ticket and fly with mom with the caveat that i had to raise my airfare. the boys miss their toys i sold on ebay but nonetheless, i raised the money in about 48 hours! just kidding, there were many things they didn’t play with anymore and i did sell them but they were totally in on it!
we called the hotel that hosts the delta crews in msp and asked if we could have the crew rate of $69 a night since chuck is a pilot and they were happy to have us. not sure what the regular night’s fee would be but i’d be interested to find out. my review of the holiday inn express is a+++++. free wifi, free hot breakfast, pool (indoor – which i guess is normal in minnesota!), the most comfortable beds i’ve ever felt in a hotel room, great pillows, hot shower that had plenty of pressure, free shuttle to the mall of america and free shuttle to and from the airport too. the drivers are more than accommodating and very polite. the staff at the hotel was very nice too. if you don’t have a laptop with you, there is a little 2 computer business center where you can use the internet for free. i’d highly recommend the HIE for your mall stay!
with all that said, i can now cross this off my bucket list. it’s great, it’s big, it’s fun, it’s a must see. i’m not sure that i’d need to come up here again. however, if someone offered me a free trip, i think the kids would enjoy it. nickelodeon universe is in the middle of the mall. i don’t know how many rides there are but there are more than a few roller coasters and several other rides like the log flume, free fall, etc. many kiddie rides but the height requirement may cause you to ride with your kids so research the current height requirement before you decide to go. also, another point i’d like to make… was it just the mall that made me want to make this trip… maybe… but really it was just to get away and do something fun and different. it really wouldn’t have mattered where we went. i was with my mom. there are only a handful of people in the world i’d choose to spend my last few minutes on this earth with and mom is one of them. (don’t worry, the kids and chuck are on the list too) the last trip i took with my momma was to NYC in december of 2001. it was right after sept 11 happened and her planned trip with a church group basically fell apart but she still wanted to go and i was pregnant with john but could fly free so i went with her. we met up with some friends up there that were in ministry and had a nice dinner with them. we just did all the regular ny things… shows, dinners, walking, shopping. i was exhausted because i was about 9 wks pregnant but i was just happy to be with my mom so it didn’t matter. i knew then that our frequent mother/daughter trips were going to severely slow down but the kids are worth it too. fair trade off if you ask me. this trip this time was a present from my dear husband for my 40th birthday to get to go off with my mom. he knew we hadn’t been off together in 7 years so it was time. like i said, wouldn’t have mattered where we went, just that we were on an adventure together. good times from our good God.
we got in about 10 am, checked in, dumped our bags in the room and headed back down to catch the free shuttle to the mall of america. the shuttle, however, goes every hour on the hour so we should have prepared for that. we decided to walk to the mall since it was only a short 15 minute walk. the ikea store is basically in the mall of america parking lot so we went through that on our way to the moa so it broke up the walk and didn’t see so far. we arrived at the moa around 11 am but weren’t hungry at all so we got a map and headed in. i’d also highly recommend the coupon book. don’t buy it ahead online since there’s a fee for shipping it to you. there’s no tax on it so it’s $9.95 right there at the door. we saved way more than that on food and stuff anyway. the rainforest cafe, for example, will give you a free appetizer with an entree with the coupon out of the book so there’s $7.99 right there. we split the appetizer and the entree and got water to drink and spent less than $15 on the meal for the both of us.
i can’t emphasize enough how important it is to wear comfortable shoes. you will walk until your dawgs are barkin’. i promise this place is bigger than you think. it’s laid out nicely though. north, south, east and west and every store is numbered on their store window so you always know where you are. if you want anything from qvc, get it here and save on shipping. oh and take advantage of your airlines bag size for carry on. i was surprised to see that a carry on with airtran was 55″ around. this is a huge bag. even the security guys thought it was too big but airtran didn’t flinch. no one measured it, looked at it, nothing. we walked right on both ways with this huge bag. it was almost empty coming up here but on the way home was stuffed to the gills. if it’s carry on, no one weighs it either. i’ll weigh it at home to see just how heavy it was. i’m certain we wouldn’t have gotten away with this on delta.
we ate lunch at tuchi benucchi italian restaurant where you get a free dessert with the coupon book. let me encourage you again… split the entree. it’s a lot of food!! the bread is delightful and you dip it in the famous italian oil/vinegar/cheese. this is love and happiness at its best! we were sufficiently stuffed ready to go. we shopped the rest of the day using our coupons as we went. don’t do the stores that you have in your mall. we didn’t even go in gap and old navy, for example ’cause we have those then we’d just have to lug that stuff home. go to stores you don’t have. check out a store called ‘the afternoon’. it’s really neat. that night we ate dinner at the rainforest cafe where our appetizer was free and we split and entree again. stick with water for meals and if you want a soda of some sort, get one at one of the places like ‘freshens yogurt’ or somewhere that has a coupon in the book. also you can get a bottled drink at ‘dollar tree’ for $1 to save some $ at the restaurants. mom loves a real ‘icee’ so we got her one of those every day at the freshens place. they had a coupon of course!
tuesday morning we woke refreshed and ready to go. we were in bed the night before by 9 pm and woke at 7 am. there’s something to be said for getting to wake up WHEN YOUR EYES OPEN. i love my kids but it’s sure nice once in a while to wake up naturally. breakfast at hie is from 6-9 so don’t miss is. IT’S FREE!!! off we went to the mall to hit the last few stores from yesterday. i had done some research on some other things to do also other other than the mall so we took off from moa about noon and went to downtown minneapolis via the light rail. this boards from the east garage from moa and is less than $2 to downtown. get off at nicollet station and turn left down the side of nieman marcus (also knows as needless markup) and go down to 7th and 8th streets and get your picture taken in front of the mary tyler moore statue. if you just said, ‘who’s mary tyler moore’ then turn right and go two blocks to the hard rock cafe and don’t worry about it.
on the fourth floor of nieman marcus is the clearance floor. go there and you might have a chance of getting a deal. we snacked the whole time we were down here and just caught the train back to moa before our passes expired. it was a very nice side trip in the middle of the day. we finished our shopping and ate dinner at wolfgang puck express. i had the most wonderful spinach and mushroom pizza and mom had the chicken caesar salad and we used our last coupon of the day. oh wait, on the way out the door, we went to the nestle toll house and got our free three cookies. THEN, we caught the shuttle back to the hotel and we were done for the day. whew!
wednesday morning came soon and we got our last hot breakfast and had plenty of time to pack and head downtown again to grab a hard rock cafe tshirt before letting the train drop us off at the airport. there’s a great restaurant right as you exit security and we split the turkey applewood bacon ciabatta sandwich and then we went to the airplane. the bags were way heavier this time as i said!! i’d also consider trying to fly one of the airlines (if you have a choice) that flies out of the humphrey terminal. it’s much nicer and smaller than the lindbergh terminal so i’ve heard. we had no crowds, no problem with security, etc. it’s just a much smaller terminal and i think southwest, airtran and sun country use it.
can’t wait to see my babies and chuck is going out of town tonight for the night so i’ll let them flip a coin and take turns sleeping with me the next two nights. he’s flying naps this month so he’s gone only at night three nights a week. not a bad gig if you can get it.
God has been so merciful to us this trip. He’s moved in ways we probably don’t even know. If we let Him direct our paths then life is so much better. i didn’t say easier, i said better. i got a starbucks gift card for my birthday this year and i’ve only been to starbucks once so i still had it when we arrived at the atl airport on monday morning. i got my coffee (plain with sugar thank you) and then there was over $7 left on the card. there was a army man behind me and i felt very strongly the Holy Spirit telling me to give it to him. i wish i could bottle that feeling and take it out when i need it because it’s not often enough for me but anyway, i gave him the card and thanked him for his service. what if we all listened every day to what the Lord was telling us to do?? i don’t. 1/2 the time i’m so preoccupied with my to do list and my agenda that i don’t even consult Him except when i’m in trouble or one of my friends is in trouble and i beg Him for a miracle. what if we all got our marching orders every morning from God?? how many problems would be solved by us helping each other in very simple ways?? just a thought.
this trip was wonderful in so many ways but i’m happy to be going home to my family. once again… God is good, all the time, and all the time God is good. what’s more, because of Him… Life is good.