Day 80, Brandon to Hastings, MN 241 Miles
"Success is never final, failure is never fatal."
~Coach John Wooden
"Do you have any room?" I asked the motel keeper.
We walked out and QG railed. "We did it again. We stayed out too long, and now we can't find a place."
Previously at dinner, we talked about it. We hit the road at nine and rode steadily to Minneapolis/St. Paul. But taking the blue roads, every town has a thirty mile speed limit. Every 150-180 miles we stop for gas, and then toured the capitol and the cathedral. A stop for a radio interview, The Mall of America, and then we ran over forty miles looking for a bed. No tent tonight, it's blistering hot. We found a place so no regrets, but every bit chips away at the day. Probably should have stopped before the mall. But walking inside a giant deep freeze felt really good!
First, the ride; country and uneventful. The Gold Wing ran like a well oiled clock once again.
Are you ready for some drama? We stopped in Darwin for...(drumroll please) The World's Largest Ball of Twine!
"But wait a minute, Kevin. The World's Largest Ball of Twine was in Cawker,
Kansas. I remember your blog. I printed the photo and framed it. I show it to all my friends."
Actually, that roll was bigger. But this ball of twine was the largest constructed by one man. The drama wasn't nearly as high about who/what/biggest, but QG, remembering her bad experience with the last ball, didn't care a whit about this one. Unbelievable. Some people have no culture. In another stunning disappointment, the museum was closed. Apparently they aren't afraid to turn away the myriad tourists from the spectacle. We hopped back on the MotoBago and rode. Hard to brush the tears away in a full coverage helmet. As we crested a hill, Minneapolis stood on the horizon, blanketed in smog. Soon we're on the freeway with three lanes of cars and trucks jockeying for position. I've been a city slicker my entire life, and the big cities have lost their luster.
We rolled into the capitol grounds and there's no impression like a first impression, right? First we rode up and down streets, searching for the access to the place. Then we rolled in to the parking lot and every meter (you know what I think about parking meters) had a cap on it. 'Restricted parking.' So the peasants park, not in the back, that area was reserved too, but two blocks away in a lot. At a meter.
We caught up to a tour group, the best method as there's no waiting. The building is beautiful, with a nice dome unlike Bismarck and plenty of marble, more than the limestone of most buildings. Along the halls hung paintings of past governors. Who knows a past governor of Minnesota? Right. Jessie Ventura. His looked pretty good in a suit with an American flag tie. Didn't look like a wrestler at all.
Opposite the capitol stood the cathedral, built like another sentinel over the city with a similar cupola on top. The archbishop made sure their building stood taller than the capitol. Inside, a glorious edifice, with stained glass and hushed tones. In the back sat an exact replica of the Pieta, the statue made of Mary with her son Jesus after His death. It's exact because they built wax impressions of the original. Awesome. The building took nine years to build, from 1906-1915.
Taking a wild cultural swing, we putted to the (PP!) Mall of America. In American tradition, the place is huge. They're considering making it the fifty-first state. Okay, maybe not.
The Mall has it all. However, it's just like any other mall, except it has every shop. Want to buy flip-flops? There's a store that sells only them. But most other stores you've seen before. Lego Land rocks. We're all children as we walk below, gawking at huge Lego statues of soldiers, helicopters, motorcycles, trees, and superheroes. Any Lego toy or kit you need sits on the shelves. Kids sit at computers and do...something.
The center of the mall screams (literally) with roller coasters, rides and toy shops. Sleds twist and flash through the air and water while foolish kids attempt to win stuffed animals in the arcades.
I recommend you see the mall. Bring your kids. Bring a thousand dollars. Have a good time. Have lunch. Get another thousand.
We cooled off in the (PP!) Rainforest restaurant, complete with plastic monkeys, parrots, and plants. Steam erupts from a channel by the tables, and water drips indiscriminately. Overpriced food makes sense, as one pays for ambiance. Lots of ambiance.
Quilter Girl wants to ride tomorrow, with little stops. Actually she desires to get to Iowa. Time for a new state. We have a really cool (hopefully cold) route along a river. Should be a good time.