Minneapolis and the Golden Gophers- Days 78-81

Two kids standing in front of inflatable mascot at a football game

It was an early departure from Grasslands National Park as we anticipated an eight-hour day of driving. We had not really planned on it but we were changing our route and heading back to Toronto through the northern states. Fortunately, we had picked up Julie’s passport the day before which allowed us to take this “southerly” route and avoid a repeat of the drive between Winnipeg and Nipigon. Julie was pumped as she was getting a new country and Isabella was excited as she figured out Olive Gardens are more plentiful in the US than in Canada.

So there we were at 8:30 in the morning somewhere on the Saskatchewan / US border (Morgan to be exact) waiting for US border control to open up the border. Talk about ignorance on my part! I just assumed the border was open all hours of the day (as I did not listen to Paige who said it might be closed). But we had to wait an hour for the gate to be opened up and for us to be allowed through.

Two children on the steps of the state capitol in Bismarck
Kids at the State Capitol

We raced across the badlands of Montana and North Dakota and spent an uneventful evening in Bismarck. The one memorable event had to be us going to the state capitol so the kids could get their picture taken. Paigey had a family tradition where she used to stop at state capitol buildings with her brother when they were younger. Actually, I think that her family used to take tours and actually learn something but we only managed the picture part with our kids. Who would have thought the first capitol they got was Bismarck North Dakota?

One other eventful stop on our way to Minneapolis was the Dairy Queen in Moorhead. We needed to stop for lunch so we decided to go to the home of the Dilly Bar (the Dilly Bar is one of the few DQ treats the family doesn’t really eat). Outside of the giant Dilly Bar outside the store, we were intrigued at some of the legacy items this franchise was allowed to keep on the menu. To avoid getting any nutrition we did not order the Monkey Tailz (which was a chocolate-covered banana). Instead, we opted for the Cookie Sandwich and it was delicious in its simplicity. Next time I am at my local Dairy Queen I am going to ask them to get it added to the menu. Ice cream, sandwiched between two large chocolate chip cookies with half of the ice cream dipped in chocolate. We need to bring this legacy item back!

Two kids smiling at a college football game

Our real destination though was Minneapolis as we wanted to spend a couple days there. Paigey had visited a couple years ago and we opted to stay right near the Mall of America, a monument to consumerism. The mall is so large, some chains have multiple locations within the building. I can’t rip on it too much as we did eat twice in the food court and appreciated the air-conditioned climate. As for the kids, they couldn’t believe there was an amusement park in the building with roller coasters, log rides and playgrounds. We missed out on the West Edmonton Mall so this was their first time seeing that type of shenanigans. But the highlight for them was the Lego store (the toy they miss the most on their travels). We have them in Toronto but this one was massive. Plus they had Harry Potter legos on display which the kids are into right now.

Mall of America aside, we were really looking forward to a college football game. Paige and I had never been to one and we decided to see what the experience was like. This would be the only Saturday when we would be in the US so this was the time to do it. We bought tickets to the Golden Gophers on Stub Hub and loaded up on some gear at the mall (a hat for Izzy, a tie-dye shirt for Julie). We took public transit into town with the children waving to all the other fans who got on board covered in Gopher Gear. There was no need to pay attention to directions as we ended up just following the horde to the campus. It was the hottest day of the trip and we had bleacher seats (actually the 5th last row of the upper bowl). We were sweltering until Paige moved us to shaded seats. We needed some beverages and I was proud that I got asked for ID when purchasing drinks (41 years old with 2 kids). But then they told me they ID everyone due to the number of students in attendance and I no longer felt so cocky. What about the actual football? Well, the game was a rout, it was 42-0 when we left at the beginning of the fourth. And don’t quote me on this but I’m pretty sure the first three quarters took 3+ hours to play. That gave the kids plenty of time to learn the basic cheers (Isabella can now spell Minnesota!). Side note, the gophers actually started the season 4-0 and there was some commentary they might move up in the rankings. Unfortunately, they dropped their last two games so a big bowl game is probably now out of the question. But at least we cheered them on when they had a chance.

Up next, the long drive down to Indianapolis (yep, we really picked some major tourist hubs)

Where we stayed (5 words or less):

By the numbers:

  • Items we bought at the Mall of America other than food: 2 (Golden Gophers Cap and T-shirt)
  • Number of transit types to get to the game: 2 (bus and tram)
  • Drinks bought at the game: 7 (1 Powerade, 3 beers, 2 snowcones, 1 sprite)
  • Olive Gardens visited so far: 2 (one in Winnipeg, one in Minnesota)

Ciao for now


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