Out West 2021 – Part 8 (Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin)

Day 27

Carla drove us through the panhandle of Idaho and then to Billings, MT today.

Really pretty scenery in Montana!

Dad would love to fish this river! We followed it for miles.
This was really overkill! We’ve gone down similar grades that well over 50 mph with no issues (and we’re at 40,000 pounds)

We saw the “Lady of the Rockies” 90 foot tall statue!

Terrible zoomed in image from the freeway, but you can’t see it
This is a photo from the Internet. See how small the people are? It’s a 90 foot statue

We didn’t plan on making it all the way to Billings today, and we had a reservation at a nice KOA in Billings for tomorrow night, but they didn’t have anything for tonight so we had to cancel the reservation and forfeit the $100! Ouch!!

We ended up trying to stay at a Walmart parking lot, but there were some pretty sketchy looking people staying there and we didn’t feel comfortable. We relocated to a Cabela’s, which was much better, but we were crammed next to other RVs in their RV parking section.

So…$100 forfeited in exchange for a Cabela’s parking lot, but it means we get home a day earlier since we made great headway and we are glad for that!

We head to North Dakota tomorrow, which is one of the remaining four new states for us!!

Day 28

As we got toward the eastern part of Montana, the landscape started changing to look like the badlands

Woohoo!! There was lots of cheering to see this sign. A new state for us, with only 4 left to go!
We stopped off at a rest stop and it just happened to also be the parking lot for Theodore Roosevelt National Park, where there are some badlands (which are not the only badlands, according to the book Dad has….ha!). We couldn’t believe our luck! They had a nice little gift shop.
We got settled in at the Jamestown Campground in…Jamestown, ND. Really pretty RV park, super friendly staff, and fast Internet speeds! Also one of the cheaper places we have stayed on this whole trip. This was the first time we’ve had someone lead us to our site who was riding one of these cool one wheeled devices!!
The RV is pretty nasty! It got a nice thick coat of dirt way back when we were at the RV park near the Sequoia National Park. Lots of dead bugs to layer on top of that!
The kids had fun playing on the playground for just a couple of minutes until I was getting eaten alive by mosquitoes! We’ve not had any insect issues the entire trip until now
It’s 10pm and look how light it is outside! It’s because we are way up north and on the western side of the time zone (Nice to be back in central time). I could actually see my shadow on the ground as I was walking outside!
For comparison, here’s how dark it is at home right now!

Day 29

We made our way to Minnesota today! One more state off the list. Tonight, we will go to Wisconsin in the jeep to knock it off the list as well.

Bug on the windshield!
Looks a lot like every other state in the middle of the USA. Might as well be Arkansas! Just more farms and fewer trees than Arkansas.
The rest stops in Minnesota have really nice signs to tell you what is that each one
It was so cool to see you! It’s where all the stories take place that Garrison Keillor tells. Those were always fun to listen to.
We stayed at Dakotah Meadows RV park, which is connected to a casino. Those are always nice because they are paid for by the losings of gamblers! Ha! Same thing with Seven Feathers RV resort in Oregon.

As soon as we got the RV parked, we headed straight to Mall of America! Carla and I had been here years ago before moving back to Arkansas.

This is just one of the massive parking garages. The Jeep was too tall so we had to park in that outer lot.

It is really hard to explain how massive the mall is. There are two and sometimes three of the same store at opposite ends of the mall.

I took a screenshot using Google Maps to show you the size of the mall. To get a sense of the scale, I circled a group of 18 wheeler trucks at the top. On the left and right sides I circled the parking garages in blue. Everything between the parking garages is the mall. The amusement park is under the massive dark areas of skylights that are in the middle of the mall.

Giant corridors like the one below are all over the place, and then there is a massive open interior where an amusement park sits.

We headed straight for the aquarium, since we had tickets and we were running late. The aquarium is located below the first floor of the mall. It’s the only aquarium we’ve been to that is completely underground.
This is the stingray touch pool where one of the stingrays slapped its wing at my hand and freaked me out many years ago when Carla and I were here. It’s closed to people reaching in it right now though.
Avin came across this crazy exhibit! It’s a rare Trippy!
We loved the shark tunnel!
There goes Tripp, clowning around again! 🤣
Avin was playing around with an underwater camera in the stingray tank!
We were super excited to find a Wetzel pretzel! They have these at Disney Springs and we always look forward to eating one when we get there.
This was a crazy ninja turtle ride! It was like a modern, high tech version of Dumbo and we would like to have ridden it, but we didn’t have time.
We laughed out loud so hard at this shirt we saw at a gift shop!

Now that you’ve seen a glimpse of the mall, here are some incredible facts about it:

Mall of America Fun Facts

  • 4 out of 10 visitors to Mall of America are tourists
  • 4.3 miles of total store front footage
  • 7 Yankee Stadiums can fit inside the Mall
  • 24 rides and attractions in Nickelodeon Universe®
  • 32 Boeing 747s could fit inside the Mall
  • 65 semi trucks were needed to transport trees to the theme park to
  • 70 degrees create the outdoor feel of an indoor park inside Mall of America no matter if it is spring, summer, winter or fall
  • 86 hours is the length of time it would take to complete your visit to the Mall if you were to spend just 10 minutes in each store
  • 258 Statues of Liberty could lie inside the Mall
  • 350+ events are held at Mall of America each year
  • 520+ stores are located in Mall of America
  • 5,000+ weddings have been performed at Mall of America
  • 11,000 year-round employees at Mall of America (13,000 during peak periods)
  • 12,550 on-site parking spaces at Mall of America in two ramps
  • 30,000+ live plants and 400 live trees climbing as high as 35 feet tall in Nickelodeon Universe
  • 32,000+ tons of trash recycled each year
  • 170,000+ Legos have been lost in the LEGO ® play area
  • 1.2 million-gallon aquarium at SEA LIFE Minnesota (formerly Underwater Adventures)
  • 4.2 million square feet of gross building area
  • 40 million visitors annually which is more than the combined populations of North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Canada
  • 130+ million number of rides in the park since opening

We left the Mall of America and drove about 25 minutes to Wisconsin! One more state off the list!

This is the grocery store that Carla and I went to years ago to buy some Wisconsin cheese. it was neat to be back here with the kids!
Say cheese!!!!!

Unfortunately, the grocery store didn’t have any stickers or magnets like we always collect from each state, so we headed to Target.

No stickers or magnets, but the kids found some Pokémon cards they had been looking for.

We went to Walmart next, but no stickers or magnets there either! We then tried a gas station, but no luck. Carla found a T/A truckstop a few miles down the road and we found a magnet! it was weird pulling into a truckstop without the RV.

We headed back to the RV, which was almost an hour away at this point. There are lots of Indian-related things around here, including the casino next door. They make a cool teepee out of spotlights at night time.

Our newest magnets!

Today was a significant day. It was our last day of driving away from home. Not just on this trip, but in the RV for good. We are going to try to sell the RV when we get home. Tomorrow we head to Omaha to knock Nebraska off our list! That will leave only Hawaii!

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