This past weekend, hubby and I went to Minnesota for the weekend. This is the fourth year that we've gone to see a Vikings game. We live in south-central Wisconsin, and the drive to Minneapolis is about 4.5-5 hours, depending how many stops you choose to make along the way. The previous three years, we'd made the journey in November but bumped it up to October this time in hopes of seeing some fall colored scenery along the way. Well, with our ungodly hot and dry summer, it seems the color changes happened earlier. Figures! But oh well, we set off Saturday morning on our adventure.
We were happy to see quite a few areas still had quite a lot of color. The best spots were about halfway between home and Minneapolis. I love this picture, with the little farm in the lower corner. It's like jigsaw puzzle quality.
A silly little personal game that's developed over the years is the mission to get the dang Minnesota sign in a decent picture as we fly by on the interstate. Finally got a good one!! LOL
Ahhh, Minneapolis. A sight to behold. And then we were kicking ourselves because just moments later there was an absolutely spectacular view and I no longer had the camera ready. Doh!
Early Sunday morning, beautiful view just outside our hotel. There was another guy standing on the corner with us, gawking up at this. "Mmmm, pretty, isn't it?" he sighed and took some pictures too.
Same time, same corner, but looking slightly to the right more. I love this picture. Born and raised in a tiny rural town, sights like this still fill me with awe. And the morning colors just added to it at this particular moment.
Same time, looking left, down the street towards a cool looking church.
After breakfast Sunday morning, we walked the several blocks over to the Mall of America Field (aka The Metrodome) where the Vikings play. We go down early, before the Party on the Plaza starts to fill up, and buy whatever shirts or trinkets we feel like buying. This is outside the front of The Dome, with the familiar inflatable Viking on the lower roof.
This year we decided to walk around to the back of the stadium and see if we cold find where the players arrive. I have a bigger interest in some of the players this year, and had read something online about people hanging out early to see them arrive. What the heck? We had time, so we wandered back. There were a few other people there but it didn't look like much was happening. Of course it didn't help that we had no idea how early the players arrive. LOL! But we paused to lean on the rail and see what was going on.
There was a main walkway that went uphill and completed the loop around the stadium. There were small private parking lots down below, and apparently a lower entrance below where we were standing on the walkway. There were also a couple people standing down below, parking lot level. Whenever a car parked in the private lot, a yellow jacketed dude would walk out to meet the people and walk them back into the stadium through the doorway below us.
One of the arrivals looked right up at us as he walked by, and he looked vaguely familiar, but I'm not sure who he was and did not take any pics. One of the women down on ground level turned, looked up at us, and asked a semi-frantic "Who was that??" Two young guys next to me mentioned it might have been Greenway. The woman shrugged and said "Snap them all then, just in case. Snap them all!" and turned back to the parking lot with her camera ready. I had to laugh but I too had my camera ready for every arrival after that.
I took several pictures or players I don't recognize offhand, and then when one black car pulled in and I glimpsed the driver, I got a bit fangirl excited. When the guy next to/behind me casually commented "Kluwe," I turned to him and said "That's Kluwe??" He confirmed with a confident nod. WOOT!!! I spun back to the front and started taking pictures.
Obviously, punter Chris Kluwe is my favorite Viking.
Hubby was laughing at my giddiness. It was almost like flashing back to meeting U2 in Chicago with my sister many years ago!
Sure enough, laid back always casual Kluwe got out of that little black car and began walking towards the door. The guy next to/behind me mentioned the guy with him was Cullen Loeffler. Now, with each arrival before this, the small (but growing) crowd of people just watched quietly and maybe took a few pictures. As Kluwe walked by though, someone by us yelled out "KLUWEEEEE!!!!!" and people cheered and clapped. He did a quick glance up at us, gave a quick casual wave of the hand and was gone through the door below us.
It was exciting now and I wanted to stay longer and maybe see Ponder's arrival, or Peterson. Hubby wanted to get back to the hotel though so we could drop off the things we'd bought and he could get into his geeked out game attire. Reluctantly, we left this back area.
The woman sitting next to me had an awesome camera that could zoom in far enough to get decent pics of people sitting all the way over on the sideline benches. I wanted to grab it from her and take more Kluwe pics but thought that would have been awkward. *snort*
The trip this year, overall, wasn't nearly as much fun as the previous years have been. Early on we had considered going to the Mall of America this time but as the weekend drew closer we decided not to bother with that hassle. We'd still planned on going to our usual walk from the hotel though, down to the book store and over to Target and then on down to the Lush store inside Macy's. In the end, we didn't do anything but a quick trip to Target. We got SO freakin' annoyed by how many moochers there on the streets. Really, people? I would never dream of just walking up to someone and talking and touching all buddy-buddy and then asking for money or cigarettes or beer or whatever. And it would even be better if they just flat out asked "Dude, ya gotta couple bucks to help me out?" than to pour on the sugary sweet crap. Other years were not this bad. But this time, it was bad enough to do a huge chunk of damage to our morale.
When we got to the hotel Saturday afternoon, they told us our room was not finished being cleaned yet and would we mind waiting just a few minutes? As we sat in the lobby we saw more and more giggling little girls and many moms, and were overhearing comments about "the concert." Eventually we figured out that Justin Bieber was playing in town that night. OH MY GOD?! JUSTIN BIEBER?!?!?! We just had to laugh. And it was crazy how many young girls there were! They were coming and going, all excited about having been down at the Target Center and seeing his bus or this or that. The hotel staff posted a simple typed announcement about times the shuttle bus would be leaving for the concert and girls were screeching about it and taking pictures on their phones. It was all SO funny! There was even one lady in her 30s or so, had a hand painted I [heart] Justin! shirt on, and was all excited that they'd managed to SEE him! OMG! lol And it amazed me how many moms were there with little girls, having poolside rooms and pizza delivered, just having a grand ol' time. Did my mom ever take me to the big city and stay in a hotel when I wanted to see something??? Nope.
So that was all funny to observe, until our "few minute" wait stretched to an hour. Then I got cranky and went to the desk to ask about it. They didn't know we'd been waiting. They had just had a shift change and no one had relayed that information. Oh, they're so sorry and why yes, the room is indeed ready. Geez.
I don't know, there were just so many things about the whole trip that no longer thrill me. We found that while it's exciting to be at the game, it's so much more comfortable to just stay home and watch it on TV. You can grab yourself a drink when you need it, or dash to the bathroom quick, and not miss anything. You have plenty of room on your couch and room to move around. You are not deaf by the end of the first quarter because of the crowd noise. The only drunken obnoxious heckling you have to put up with is, well, none unless hubby has had a few beers and the game is not going his way.
Last year we'd been thinking we didn't want to go through this again. But as the new season started we were excited again and decided to give it another chance. Well, I never did feel that excitement leading up to it this year, and then all the unpleasant things like the long drive just seemed amplified this year. At this point I really don't want to go back next year. If they start rebuilding the stadium after this season, the Vikings might be playing at the college the next couple years. We're not sure we'll bother going again until the new stadium opens.
And ya know what's really funny? Even for as crabby as I was by the end of this trip, for as tired and uncomfortable as I was by the time we got home . . . as I look back at the pictures and think about the few highlights . . . I think we probably *will* go again next year. We are such dorks.
(You can see a TON more pictures from our trip - HERE - on my Facebook page.)