28.05.2013 23 °C
Day 9 of our three week group tour from the East Coast to the West Coast of the United States. Already we'd seen and experienced enough to satisfy us. Even if we'd gone home this day, it would have been amazing. All the same, I didn't really want to leave Chicago. A day and a half is a mere glimpse into that great city. But we had a continent to cross and the bus was leaving either way, so we got on board and resolved to come back again.
Our first destination was Wisconsin Dells. I had no idea what these even were, other than we were going to ride an amphibious duck once we got there. If fact, I didn't really have any idea about this area of America at all. Happily though, the local wildlife had started to raise it's head to the delight of everyone on the bus. We kept our eyes peeled near the road side and further afield for any kind of animal that we wouldn't normally see at home. This is how I came to know the Pronghorn. Despite stories of them scaling fences (or not), I very quickly suspected they don't actually move at all. They just stand there, staring, with their pronghorns. They kept us entertained for just long enough for the prairie dogs to pop up and grab the mantle.
While we were traveling, our tour guide reminded us of the recent devastating and deadly tornadoes that had hit Oklahoma, and were given instructions on how to run and jump in the ditch if one headed in our direction as we scooted across the top of Tornado Ally. We all listened intently but thought it was pretty unlikely to be an issue for us. That self-assurance wasn't helped by looking out the window though.
Our duck ride was mildly entertaining. The scenery certainly wasn't breathtaking, but it was pleasant enough, and a fun change to riding the bus. Again, my daughter elected to sit this one out, not liking boats. Probably a good decision considering we were crashing in and out of water in between sailing along the dells and overlanding through the surrounding forest. The drivers are young fellows with a few set jokes which they still seem to make you laugh and groan, despite presumably repeating them several times a day. Of course, the highlight for me was that we saw deer, a bald eagle, and a woodpecker. A woodpecker!! That's the first one I've ever seen since watching Woody Woodpecker, and I loved him.
We arrived in Minneapolis in the early evening, our sum total of knowledge being that Prince was from here. Our hotel was pretty close to the town centre, so we walked in the couple of blocks to find dinner. Fairly quickly, we felt a different vibe to this place. It didn't have the same spark of Chicago or New York. We noticed the skywalks between buildings to eliminate the need to go outside in the freezing cold winters. In Nicollet Mall, we stopped to have dinner at the Newsroom, which was pretty cool, except that first tried to sit outside to eat. Our presence drew the attention of a few locals who started to hang around and we ended up moving inside, just feeling like people were staring at us. We just didn't really feel a good connection with the city. It wasn't a problem though, as were here to shop at America's biggest shopping mall, so we headed back to the hotel after dinner to get plenty of sleep to hit the ground running tomorrow.