Wisconsin >> Minneapolis

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I wanted to visit “Witches Gulch,” a slot canyon with seemingly beautiful rock formations and curves. It was around 2.5 hours from Chicago, so we headed to the Wisconsin Dells, where it was located. Unfortunately for us, it was closed when we got to the gate (I don’t know if it was the time of day or just the time of year that was the reason), so we drove a bit more down the road and pulled into a parking lot next to a walking trail. We figured we would walk along it for a little into the woods, and see if we could catch a glimpse of the slot canyon. We ended up getting to see some of it, while standing from above. It was “private property” but no one was around.

When we got back on the road, we realized we wanted to eat and ended up at a weird restaurant off the highway called Mocha Mouse. It sold all kinds of things, like a gift shop/restaurant/cheese and beer store. Our meals weren’t excellent, but we did get to build our own 6-pack of craft Wisconsin beers, so that was cool. I obviously bought some cheese too…I mean, we were in Wisconsin! It was a wax-coated Cheddar block in the shape of a mouse. Aww.

Driving to my old friend Val’s house in Eau Claire was beautiful, the sun was setting in front of us as we headed West. When we got to her place, it was great seeing her after 8 years (holy shit) and she had plans to take us to her friend’s house for a bonfire. It was a random Monday night, but people were down to party and it ended up being fun. Plenty of other girls showed up with hoops and fire props, and I was hooping with my LED. I’m sad we didn’t get a picture of Val! We’re trying to get pics of all our awesome hosts along the way.

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Val wished we could stay another night, but in the morning she had work and we knew we wanted to continue traveling. We took a drive through Eau Claire, stopping at the University’s art building for a bit to see the work before continuing on.

We got to Minneapolis around 3:30 or 4, and were really beat from staying up at the bonfire (plus losing an hour to the time change). We laid out the Pendleton and I took a nap while Grant read in Minnehaha Park for an hour and a half. A teenage girl ran up to us at one point and said she got dared to take a selfie laying between us on our blanket, so we let her after laughing at the request.

Grant’s Aunt Janet’s house was our next stop, and she lived in a great suburb about 15 minutes from downtown. While driving to her house, we passed so many parks and lakes, and really thought Minneapolis was a charming place to live. When we got to Janet’s, she was happy to see us and wanted to take us to get some beer for ourselves, so we obliged happily. She drove us around parts of the town to point out attractions, then we drove back to her house for a drink and to chat.

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Eventually, we left for dinner. She had a place in mind, a nice French restaurant and we appreciated having a delicious meal. The rest of the night we talked and did some laundry as well as showered. In the morning, we had breakfast and coffee with her before she let us loose to go alone to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. We thought the photography exhibit was neat, displaying one photo for/from each year that it has been open.

We initially didn’t plan to see the Mall of America, but figured why not…it was an attraction for a reason, right? It surely was. We couldn’t believe how huge it was and how cool Nickelodeon Land looked (the amusement park for kids in the very middle of the mall). It was as though we were walking through Rollercoaster Tycoon – hearing a collection of children screaming as each ride whipped them around. I somewhat envied them, as this was an amusement park for children..whereas Kennywood, Cedar Point, etc. have a mix of kids and adults on every ride. Right next door was the Lego store, with huge statues of transformers, tigers, snakes, you name it. It was all really cool to look at. Eventually we ate at Chipotle (gift card, again) then left the mall.