After touring around Minneapolis today and visiting the Mall of America it is nice to relax a bit this evening. Tomorrow I will drive to Chicago… according to Google Maps it will take me 6 hrs and 25 mins. However I will take about 9 hours for this as I plan to stop and see some sights along the way.
The Mall of America
The mall is huge! Even the parkades are impressive; I have never seen so much parking in my life. Each of the two parkades are seven levels high. The big challenge here is remembering where your car is. PS. Did you know that “parkade” is Canadian… trust me, Americans do not understand what you are saying when you refer to a “parkade”.
What a playground this is! If you have kids, the Mall of America is the place for you. The centre of the mall is a very large amusement park. The amusement park and most of the Mall’s attractions are built for young kids.
Here is a short video clip I captured while at the Mall. As you can see the amusement park is huge, and it mainly caters to the younger set.
Of course, I now know why there were no stores at “The Mall” in Washington, DC. This mall has all all of them. The amount of specialty stores is astounding. So, if you like to shop and you have lots of time and money, this is the place for you. And, bring the kids; they’ll love you for it.
The biggest message I can give you, is if you are not a kid, or if you don’t like shopping, then an afternoon at the Mall of America is all you need to get a feel for what you are missing.
One thing I have to tell you about is how such a large part of my trip will use technology. For example, on this blog’s right-hand column you see a location map. This map is a very cool thing.
The map is provided by a third party service called Loki.com. ( http://loki.com ) Loki is cool because it is able to estimate your position by surveying the WIFI (Wireless Network) signals in your area. By looking at this WIFI signature, and matching it with a catalog of wireless signatures it attempts to know where you are. In fact, presently, LOKI is placing me exactly where I am in Bloomington, MN.
To use Loki you have to be connecting via wireless internet and you have to install a toolbar.
Loki also allows provides a map and an RSS (Real Simple Syndication) feed that I can easily insert here into my blog.
Another cool technology device I am using now is an IPOD Touch. Not only does the IPOD Touch play music and movies (the music comes in handy during long road trips) it can also connect to the internet via WIFI.
In fact while I was in Grand Forks and again in Fargo, I was able to connect to free wireless on the IPOD Touch and check my email and update my Face book status. In fact all you have to do is park near any McDonalds and you will find free wireless. (McDonald’s in the USA all have free wireless) When I was in the Mall of America I found several free wireless connections where I could make a connect to the internet.
Yesterday it was +18 C here in Minneapolis and it was sunny and a little humid. Today it is 10 degrees colder and quite rainy. (No snow)
On the drive down yesterday Highway 75 was a sheet of ice from Winnipeg to Morris. It was like someone drove a zamboni down the highway… I have never seen a highway that icy in all my life. Needless to say traffic was only going about 50-60 kph, including driving on the shoulder in some spots. Once I hit the US border the ice was gone. Once I got to Fargo it was well above freezing.
Saving Money on Hotels
I am currently in the Holiday Inn in Bloomington, Minnesota ($59.53/night, tax included, booked through the discount service http://hotwire.com). The hotel is a little older, and it is right next to the freeway, but the price was right and it is close to the Mall of America.