Our Minnesota adventure began ridiculously early on Saturday morning.
Getting a flight out of an airport in the gulf coast region in the middle of March proved difficult (and expensive) because most of the rest of the U.S. is on spring break. However, we found that if we were willing to drive four hours north to Birmingham, not only could we get a flight for almost half the price, but it would also be nonstop each way. We just had to be willing to get up at 4:00 a.m.
We drove up on Friday evening and spent the night with my dad and stepmom, then headed for the airport at 4:30 for our flight. The Birmingham airport has really come up in the world since I last flew out of there – they now have Starbucks AND Chick-fil-A – so we got our chicken breakfast and waited to board.
We were the first ones to board the plane, since we had the wheelchair with us (and the last to deplane when we reached Minneapolis). Sarah Kate hasn’t flown since she was not-quite-three so for her it felt like the first time. I thought once we started to taxi that she’d focus on the outside but she played Deer Hunter on her Kindle Fire right up until takeoff.
The flight was fairly uneventful, but when we began our descent and flew below the clouds, she got pumped. Snow on the ground below!
We arrived at the hotel around 9:45 and got checked in quickly (thank goodness!) The complimentary breakfast was still being served so we ate again. I had a made-to-order omelet and Sarah Kate had roughly ten slices of bacon (not exaggerating) and a donut.
(Here’s the part where I sing the praises of Facebook)
Years ago (8? 9?) I started doing a home video fitness program called The FIRM, and became a member of the FIRM Believers Club. In 2006, I met my friend Katie on a fitness trip organized by the FIRM people. Well, another one of the “FIRMies” back in those days was a lady named Maggie. None of us still do The FIRM, but we do all run marathons, so we connected through Facebook and Maggie and I have kept up ever since.
So, anywho… Guess who lives in Minneapolis? Yep. Maggie. She saw that we were headed to St. Paul and was so thoughtful and generous and offered to round up coats, boots, hats, gloves, mittens, what-have-you for us and to meet us at the hotel. And by generous, I mean that she seriously took care of us – she brought two garbage bags full of stuff!
The wonders of Facebook brought us together with Maggie in St. Paul! Because let’s be honest…without Facebook we would have probably lost touch. Instead, we got to visit with her AND be warm. 🙂 (Let it also be noted that Sarah Kate is IN LOVE with the pink coat and pink boots that Maggie brought her, and I appeared to be somewhat festive in my green coat on St. Patrick’s Day).
On Sunday, we caught the hotel shuttle to the Minnesota Science Museum. At 10:30 when we left the hotel, here’s what the Weather Channel app said:
I thought that was kinda crazy cold (FEELS LIKE 4?!?), but a guy walked outside just after us and said something to the effect of, “Let’s just walk. It’s nice out today.” It should also be noted that most everyone we saw was wearing outerwear that most closely resembled a jacket, while Sarah Kate and I looked like we were headed to Siberia.
The Minnesota Science Museum is a largely hands-on experience covering a variety of topics from the human body to paleontology to electricity. We were there for several hours and skipped one whole section of the museum and barely skimmed a couple of others.
Sarah Kate’s favorite part of the museum – hands down! – was the area focused on electricity. She spent about an hour there – over a half hour at the circuit-building table and another half hour divided between the electronics and wind turbine stations.
I guess she comes by it honestly with two power engineering parents. 🙂
We ate lunch at the museum (it was way better than I was expecting!) and then headed upstairs to an exhibit including information on the nature, peoples, and cultures of the Mississippi River (the museum is built into a bluff overlooking the river). While Sarah Kate played on a machine that simulated weather patterns, I heard a lady walk behind us and say, “Oh, that’s a kingfisher. We have those up north.”
WHA? I thought Minnesota WAS up north.
Maggie later clarified for me that “up north” is actually used more like a proper noun to refer to people’s cabins in northern Minnesota.
When we pooped out, we waited outside for the hotel shuttle in the “nice” weather (I think it was 24 degrees by that time…). We’re in downtown St. Paul, so most of the snow here has been piled up for who knows how long, melted a little, then refrozen. A lot of it is gray and dirty, but even the snow that’s white isn’t really snow anymore – just big hunks of ice. We did manage to dig a little in one pile and find just enough powdery stuff to make a single snowball.
More on that tomorrow!