We departed Neillsville sometime between 9:00 and 10:00 AM, right on schedule. Jenny’s plans didn’t have us overtaxing ourselves today. The plan was to hit a couple of tourist stops south of the Twin Cities, then drive up to spend the late afternoon/evening at Blaine’s in Inver Grove Heights.
Our first stop was at (LARK Toys)[http://www.larktoys.com/] in Kellogg Minnesota. This was not our typical drive for a vacation as it involved ZERO interstate time. Highway 10 to Mondovi, then meandered south to the river, across the river, you get the picture. It was picturesque, or would have been if there had been any leaves on the trees. We stopped in Mondovi for a soda as we were parched, and were surprised at how WARM it was outside! I think it’s been so long since we’ve felt warm air that we didn’t know how to respond, but the day was beautiful!!
We pulled into Lark Toys around 11:15, parked, then went into the building. Quin still hadn’t quite recovered from the prior evening’s festivities, what with the tick and all, so he was cranky to say the least. What we found, however, was a nice toy store with a bunch of non-typical toys - things you can’t find at WalMart! There were also a fair number of antique toys behind protective glass that was pretty neat. I had read the reviews the night prior to see what we were getting into, and the reviewer couldn’t say enough about the carousel and how much fun they had having a “tea party” after riding the carousel. Well, I promised the boys that we would have an epic Tea Party, and Quin and I had that indeed. He was disappointed that there was no real tea, which he doesn’t like anyway, but he was disappointed nonetheless. The reviewer said they spent 5 hours there and planned to come back 4 times a year. It was fun, but I guess if you don’t have girls that appreciate the British afternoon custom for playtime, it might not be quite the same.
After “tea time” and purchasing some novelties that we didn’t think we could find anywhere else, we got some lunch and officially started “spring break” with some umbrella drinks (as seen below). Ethan and Quin also got to ride the carousel, which was actually pretty cool, all of the animals were hand carved at the toy shop, and they were quite impressive!
We left Lark toys around 12:45, just shy of the 5 hours the Google reviewer promised, and headed north to Wabasha for the National Eagle Preserve on the river there. After paying our admission price, we were told that we could still get in on the 1:00 “show” where they told us all about their eagles and even fed one of them. We got in there just in time to see Angel, a 10 pound female Bald Eagle with a 7 foot wingspan, power her way through a raw rabbit carcass. Pretty cool.
Quin was pretty cranky by now, and we had seen enough eagle stuff - including a huge nest on the bridge crossing the Mississippi on the way over. So we decided to head north to Minneapolis, our ultimate destination for the evening. We arrived around 3:00 and had some time to burn, so we just drove around, a time honored tradition in our family. By 5:00 we called Blaine and hooked up with him and had some dinner at Ruby Tuesday, a fine establishment indeed. Blaine then bonded with his nephews while I took Jenny to a planned workout with a friend up here in the area - yeah, Jenny plans out workouts with friends in distant cities… While she was there, I headed up and visited with Bryce and the family - his boys are getting pretty big! In fact, Vincy is already 17 pounds!
Right now we’re huddled around the TV in Blaine’s living room watching Rush Hour (Quin is still up, Jenny’s asleep, Blaine is in bed). Tomorrow we go to our hotel where our “real vacation” begins according to Quin. We’re also looking to hit the Science Museum, the zoo, and a brewpub before we get the kids into the pool to burn off some much needed energy.