The Great American Road Trip II - 5 - Fiery Paleontology
We left for the Mall of America at 12:20 and arrived a few minutes later. It's strange seeing the place - there's really nothing quite like it.
It's not because of the shops. It's because they have roller coasters inside.
We walked through this gigantic area en route to the LEGO store, but had enough time to get all-day wristband passes to (nearly) all the rides. The kiddie rides are mixed in with the larger ones and the larger ones were built over, around, and occasionally inside each other. The one we rode first was sponsored by Pepsi and had no real theme to it save for a gigantic Pepsi logo.
We got to the LEGO store which we poked around a bit, discussing the modular series with employees and admiring their three-story Pick-A-Brick wall. (There was no way to get to the top levels of parts which were repeats of parts found down below; the wall is mostly for show.)
This is where we met Paleo and, briefly, his mother. (I asked him if he dreamed about farm animals.) Paleo and I went to get a wristband, but the machine proceeded to break on him as soon as he swiped his credit card and did not print out a wristband. Fortunately various employees came over, voided the transaction, and supplied him with a wristband.
As this point we all put Spongebob-themed hats on our heads for some reason and took insane pictures.
The next stop was one of the more fun rides - I forget the name of the thing, but is carries four people and spins you around as you go down hills and around tight turns. Each time we rode it was different because each car they have spins just a wee bit differently. (The second-to-last time we rode it, the car was very loose and spun around at an alarming and possibly dangerous rate. We got the same car the last time around but they had apparently tightened it up.)
While in the line for this ride Paleo found a small pile of pennies barely within reach along a small ledge on a wall. I don't know whose they were but whoever they are, they're out roughly eleven cents.
Paleo and I attempted to get on a ride where you get harnessed in and walk a series of planks and ropes up three stories. However, this ride was not included on our wristband and neither of us felt like paying more for 45 minutes of tedious walking around three stories high.
Having not eaten breakfast at this point, we got ice cream (a dairy product and thus acceptable for breakfast) and meandered around the theme park area for a while talking about various dumb things that I can't really remember at this point. Somewhere in here we met back up with my mom and dad and we headed over to do another ride themed around the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which is just about the single dumbest concept for a show in the recent history of ever.
This ride was interesting because of its uniqueness - you get locked down into seats that have wings on them. The seats can be rotated left and right by moving the wings, but the seats could neither lean forward nor spin. Each seat was attached to a large pole, which was controlled by a massive spinning hand which was set at an angle. The large counterweight would have kept the ride spinning indefinitely, as you climbed up three floors and then flew back down to your feet nearly touching the ground. To stop it, the brakes had to be engaged at the apex of the flight.
Somewhere in here we went to a Peeps store and looked around at all manner of Peeps-related items including large plushies, small hats, and mouse pads. We found a reincarnation of Toxic Waste Bunny amidst all this which we all rubbed our faces on for posterity.
Also in this store was a Mike & Ike candy dispenser. I found no difference between Mike & Ike and regular jelly beans, aside from the shape of the candy. Present in one section of the store was a display where you placed your hand with a gigantic stylized thermometer next to it to tell you how hot your hand was. I rubbed the palmprint icon like there was no tomorrow and achieved the highest level possible on the thermometer. (My dad was next, followed by Paleo and my mom at about half what I got.) I won nothing for this endeavor save for an enormous amount of disbelief in my own sanity.
(Some time before this we wore baby-sized hats and made the dumbest of faces at each other. These moments were recorded for the sake of posterity, and for emergency use if I ever begin to take myself seriously.)
After this (I think?) Paleo and I went over a bridge (over part of the water slide ride) doing Gangnam Style. We taught him my dad's "Hamster Dance" as we walked back over to the spinning ride.
Nestled within these events was a trip back to the LEGO store, where I acquired three collectible minifigures, one of which is likely the 10th series baseball player. Paleo also got a few, and we were both helped in our endeavors by a highly knowledgeable pair of enthusiastic six-year-olds.
I stopped Paleo on a number of occasions from telling me the plot of the Doctor Who season finale. All he was able to say was that "everything finally makes sense." (Please keep me away from spoilers for the next few weeks, will you?)
I know other things happened but I'm incredibly tired while writing this and I'm only remembering some bits, like when Paleo told me that the way I said something sounded British. (I wish I remember what it is that I apparently say British-like.) Also he kept telling me that I had to see the new Star Trek movie, even though it was packed with references and I have seen very little Star Trek in my life. (Two episodes of the original series, one and a half movies, an understanding of phrases that have made it into the vernacular, and the plotline to the Tribbles episode is literally all I know.)
Around 5:30, Paleo and I hopped on the Pepsi ride for the last time. This is where we somehow became interested in what US Patent No. 1 is - apparently it was given to some Senator who invented something for steam locomotives.
After departing the ride, we walked over to the LEGO store where my parents had just finished off some banana milkshakes from Orange Julius. With a little bit of time left, Paleo and I went on the spinning ride one last time before he had to leave.
On the way out we got more pictures of the place's sheer vastness. We also got a good look at a project where a bunch of people were painting old pianos to apparently get young people interested in music.
We took the shuttle back to the hotel and, being drained from being up and on our feet all day, we rested up. At 8:30 we left the hotel bound for Culver's to see Takuma Nuva. I ran in a few minutes after 9:00 and saw him (and Tom, his incredibly tall cousin) for the first time since last BrickFair. We hung out at a table, and I ate something called the S-Mizzle, a variation on the M-Drizzle (or something like that; I can't remember the exact name) that Takuma invented. It had chicken with bacon and of lettuce and pickles and mayonnaise on some toasted sourdough bread and was delicious.
Takuma could be a comedian with his sense of comedic timing. Stories of his family's trips and his experiences working at a drive-thru were made even funnier by his descriptions. (For example, he described his dad's snoring as "so loud it would vibrate you and digest things in your belly even if you were dead" and the seasons in Minnesota as "almost winter, winter, still winter, and road construction.")
Takuma was also generous enough to pay for our meal, and we promised that if we ever were within 500 miles of Minneapolis we'd make a detour. We had the first ever Cheese Curd Ceremony where I gave him a cheese curd and he ate it, in recognition of his generosity. My dad retrieved the hot dog hat from the trunk and sandwiched it in a small hatpile between Takuma's hat and Tom's hat. After this was over I donned the hot dog hat, and no sooner did I do this than a fellow who looked like a teenage Bob Costas walk of the bathroom and said "dude! I love your hat!"
(We also made a ton of puns about fire, which explains half of the entry title.)
But it was 10:30 by this time, Culver's was closing, and we had to get back to the hotel as it began to rain.
Tomorrow: Grand Forks, North Dakota. The second leg of the road trip is about to begin.