Monday, August 30, 2010

At long last – the Thomas trip diary

I know… It’s been a while.  I’ve had a busy summer.  Here’s one of the stories of said summer.  We took Dean to the “Day out with Thomas” event in Minneapolis.

Day 1

This was the outset of the trip.  We wanted to leave as early as possible, but despite being entirely aware that this day was coming, we didn’t really get packing until the night before, which meant that we weren’t out of the house until like 930.  But off we went.  Dean travelled awesomely.  Slept nearly all the way there.  We made a point of saying “we’ll have to stop at the gas station with the dinosaur on the way home to get a picture of dean with it”.  The neat thing for me this trip was to use my phone as our GPS.  I had finally gotten the maps to work and figured out the problem with why it would lose GPS signal (still don’t know why, but a force-kill of the app, then restart it locked it in quickly).  Funnily, we had Greg’s GPS as well as ‘backup’, which lead to some funny arguments between Lisa and Emily (the 2 different voices).

We arrived in Minneapolis just shortly after 3 their time, which meant we could check in.  We did so and then called Mandy’s grandmother, who promptly invited us for dinner (older people have dinner earlier).  Dean was really reluctant to be out with all those people looking at him (he’s still a little shy).

We ended the day with some shopping at Target to replenish some of the lunching supplies we had used up on the drive down…. mmm… they had a grocery section with fresh fruit – blackberries were good.

Day 2

This is the THOMAS DAY.  A quick check of google maps to ensure where we were going (the street view didn’t look like any museum or anything…), and we arrived there.  They turned a train loading station into a THOMAS mecca.  There was stuff everywhere.  We got our tickets, dismayed to find out that the extra souvenirs we paid for weren’t there for pick up (more on that later); but Dean didn’t mind.  There was bubbles, train rides, thomas sets and miniputt and more for him to play with.  Did I mention it was hot?  It was extremely hot.  By the time we were ready to ride Thomas (a regular train with one car on it shaped like Thomas) Dean was hot and done… plus there was a million people all milling about trying to get into the train.  So as the train started he was really upset and crying up a storm.  The air conditioning and the soothing train motion soon relaxed him (and the views of corn and corn and more corn).  After the ride we went for another loop of the festivities, picked up some souvenirs (another Thomas train, the scavenger hunt item) and then Dean looked ready to go back.  We went to the car and he was out in minutes.

We travelled back home and then took a nice nap.  Dean decided to do some pb&j painting on the bed sheets after having made a sandwich.

Mandy’s aunt took us out after our nap for a nice meal at Culvers (love the ice cream there), and she gave dean some nice gifts. 

Day 3

We decided this would be a good day to go and visit the zoo… heck it’s free!  So we went on over nice and early with the dueling GPSs telling us how to get there.  After some conflict resolution between the 2 we found a nice parking spot pretty close to the zoo actually (a little bit of a walk through a beautiful greenspace).

We saw all sorts of animals, some of which Dean could recognize and name.  Dean got himself a new snake and really enjoyed the penny drop thing where the pennies roll around a big bin.  By lunch time we were all getting a little bogged down by the heat.  Especially after watching the worst animal show of all time (picture an animal talent show with a turtle, rabbit and a chicken… yah, it was that entertaining).  So we went back towards the car, but stopped to enjoy the greenspace and have a lunch.  This was awesome I must admit.  making sandwiches and hanging out on our picnic blanket.  The topper of that was when Dean had a really messy diaper and we had no wipes… luckily we had some serviettes.   So it was a sign we were to just head back to the hotel.

It was as we were loading the car that I realized that the thing on the ground near the back was actually my rearview mirror!!  Somehow somebody had knocked it out of the housing off of its clips.  I was able to snap it back into place, but it’s all scratched up… cosmetic damage only, but still the principal of the matter that somebody would somehow knock it off (had to have been a person walking. a car would have knocked the whole thing off) but not do anything about it (and somehow they would have had to knock it off and get it BEHIND the car).

We went back to the hotel for a quick dip and then we were off to visit the Kolstad’s.

Dinner with the Kolstad’s was great and then we went for a playtime at the playground and that’s about when Dean woke up and started to warm up to everybody.  He had a blast with George.  It was a perfect amount of playing as by the time he was back in the car he was asleep!

Day 4

Ever remember Sharon, Lois & Bram?  Well, mix them up and add in some teddy bears and that would give you the TEDDY BEAR BAND we saw at the Mall of America.  Dean wasn’t so much into playing with the teddy bear we brought, not until he saw other boys beating each other up with theirs; well that’s when he had to join in.  He wasn’t as excited about it, so Mandy decided to fuel him up with some chocolate at the store across.  We went for a stroll in between sets and some lady gave us some tickets… awesome… until Mandy found out (after lining up in line and Dean waiting patiently) that it was only 2 points, and not tickets… so much for that.  But that’s alright, Dean more than enjoyed the escalators there as rides.  Then we were back for round 2, which was less populated… which meant Mandy easily won her swag at the end of the show (they said “anybody come on up and get something”).  Then we went for lunch at the Rain Forest Cafe.  THis is about the time the chocolates kicked in.  Dean was super hyper and wasn’t sitting still for anything.  He barely took in the surroundings (Except for the elephants whose eyes would light up eerily and Dean would say “scary monsters”).  We were ready for a quick nap, which we headed back to the hotel for.

After the refreshing nap it was back to the mall for round 2.  It was a long day at a mall… a full work day’s worth, which included BUILD A BEAR and some chocolate cigars.

Day 5

We decided to pack up and start to head out, but guilt got the better of mandy and she called her Grandmother, and so we had lunch with her before we left.

After lunch we had a great tour of the facility her grandmother lives in.  Imagine a nice neighbourhood, then enclose it all, then removve anybody under the age of 50.  That’s about it!  Very nice place…

We then were on the road again and heading to Duluth.  Once in Duluth we checked into our hotel and wandered around downtown of Canal Park.  This time without getting a parking ticket.  We had some Stone Cold Creamery and Dean saw horses and we got a little rained on.  It was a nice time… funny how the hotel was more expensive, yet smaller… ah touristy areas.

Day 6

This day we pretty much just travelled home.  We made a stop in Grand Marais to visit the Fisherman’s Picnic and take in the city.  It’s such a nice town, wish I could have stopped in and stayed longer… ah well.  Had to be home for band.   Dean got some more souvenirs (a picture taking book).

It’s funny how we tried to spend very little on this trip, but after adding up the totals, Dean still had spent quite a bit (gotta put that kid on a budget!).

Great trip – pictures are up on the live spaces.  Go see and enjoy.  I glossed over it pretty heavily, but it was almost a month ago now… great trip.

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