We left Friday morning and for the first portion of the trip everyone was pretty quiet, being the driver this was not going to fly with me, I required entertainment while carting these three around. I introduced the boys to the 'Alphabet Game' an old favorite from family road trips, and despite driving and keeping my eyes on the road, dominated. The drive was one long stretch of deja vu, bringing back University memories as I neared my old campus town. We did all the road trip things, played car games, ate snacks and jammed out to music. Upon arriving in La Crosse we checked into our room, but failed on one account. Having only booked for two people I should've had the boys wait in the car, but stupid me they came in, meaning we'd have to pay an extra $20, not worth it for the room IMO, but such is life. We dropped our stuff and went to find food, I passed on most of the car snacks and was thus starving by this time. Per a friends suggestion (and because I never ate there during my college days) we had lunch at Hmongs Golden Egg roll, the name's odd and it's previous location in a bank building were maybe what previously deterred me. It's since had a make-over and the food was awesome, reminiscent of my days in SE Asia, yum.
Up next was the bluffs, I couldn't bring these three to La Crosse and not give them the grand tour, a small hike and views over the city included. They were luck in that we timed our arrival along with that of a train, this way I could share with them the story of when I almost killed myself running across these very same tracks. The hike was just as beautiful as I remember and everyone seemed to enjoy the views from the top. If I'm lucky this trip may have persuaded my cousin to add La Crosse to her possible University options, I'd love to have a reason to go back and visit. We finished the afternoon with a walk through campus, unfortunately being summer vacation many buildings were not open, but they were still able to get a feel for the campus and I a walk down memory lane.
After resting or some time at the hotel, and cleaning up after our hike we contemplated what to do with our evening. Seeing as the three of them were all underage hitting up the bar scene was quite out of the question, instead I had the brilliant idea to see if anything was playing at the Riv, an awesome old school theater downtown which also serves food and drinks. We were in luck, not only was something showing but the time coincided perfectly with my phone interview (for a job in Korea). Finally the next morning we took a walk along the river, another of the natural highlights of this city. Not to brag or anything but I think I was a pretty awesome tour guide fro La Crosse, aside from Ice Cream at the Pearl there's not much we missed.
Back on the road, headed north again, soon crossing the border into Minnesota and continuing on our way. I'd never before actually made the drive from La Crosse to Minneapolis, I was either in a bus or passenger of a friends car, but the sights were spectacular. Aside from worrying we might blow off the road due to high winds the drive was enjoyable and we arrived in the cities after about two and a half hours. I had booked a hotel near the mall, for one it was cheaper being outside the city and we were planning to do some shopping Sunday morning anyhow. After dropping off our things we were right back in the car and headed towards the city to explore, without much of a plan to lead us.
I have a few friends living in the city, two of whom were in town and planning to attend a music festival in Loring park. We wanted to stop by the Sculpture garden which was nearby so I told them we'd try to meet up after doing so. The roads were packed and parking was ridiculous as expected, due to the concert, but we got supremely lucky when someone pulled out just as we were arriving, free street parking is much preferred to the $5~$10 lots! Unfortunately almost all of the sculptures had been removed from the garden, kind of forgot the reasoning, but we were able to see and take a few pictures with the big spoon, so it wasn't a complete let down.
The music festival was free which meant huge crowds, thankfully my friend let us in on a tip to use the 'back entrance' so we were able to avoid waiting in line forever. It was a mission to find anyone in the crowds but we were successful after wandering for only a few minutes. Unfortunately the food vendors (Chipotle, also sponsor) were only offering overpriced burritos and nachos so we thought it better to go find something more substantial and cost effective. After a brief meeting with my friend Mitch and promise that we'd be back later, we made our way to a nearby Chinese restaurant where we ate more than our fill and Hue satisfied his 탕수육 craving with orange chicken. Unfortunately as we ate the rain came down, in buckets, which meant a wet run back to our car.