Me and Diana got back tonight from Minneapolis, after spending a few days with Kara and her current home town. I haven't seen Kara in person in a year, and Diana hasn't really spent any time with her. That troubled me because it was strange that one of my best friends and my fiance hadn't really had an opportunity to get to know each other.
I mentioned awhile back that it was exciting to see younger friends doing their thing, and that it was inspiring to see them out conquering the world. Kara is definitely conquering hers, and it's crazy to see how much change she's had in her life in the last year. So naturally, we wanted to corrupt, er, expand her horizons some more!
Our first day in, she picked us up at the airport and we dropped her off at work at Valleyfair. We crashed at her apartment since we were up a bit early. We headed up to the park around 3-something and had a good time riding new-to-Diana coasters. We checked out some of the haunt stuff too. The park looked really good, and it got progressively busier as the night went on. Kara joined us after she was done working and we did some more riding and haunt junk.
I think Kara was worried about entertaining us, but we ended up simply going out to a Cheesecake Factory for dinner just to enjoy each others' company and hang out. I really enjoyed that dinner as we all traded stories about each other. It made me appreciate more than ever how amazing a friend Kara has been, especially the last few years, and how lucky I am to have landed the perfect partner for life in Diana.
Sunday's agenda had us seeking out a movie while Kara was working. We saw Flash of Genius, which I really liked. I still love the experience of a movie theater.
We picked up Kara after work and went to the casino. She has never gambled, so we agreed to brief her on something simple like video poker. The casino doesn't have any table games beyond blackjack, and they don't serve alcohol, so it's a really strange vibe to the place.
The old grandfather sitting next to her gave her the best casino advice: Stay home! But she picked a budget of five dollars, and did quarter bets. At first she wasn't hitting anything at all, and it was hard to sell the idea that this would be fun in Vegas. But she did start to hit and played on that five dollars for a little more than 20 minutes, so she could see how with some free drinks and the entertainment value of playing, this could certainly be fun. I mean, you piss away more playing Skee-Ball and at best you win some worthless plush doll!
We rounded out the day with an on-demand movie (Vantage Point), and played with her cat, Maggie. Cutest cat evar. She has a little under-bite, lots of personality, and she's tiny despite being about two-years-old. She obviously could tell we're cat people.
Our last full day was reserved for retail bliss and Nickelodeon Universe at the Mall of America. It started with my first visit to Ikea. That was fun, and it made me wish I had a new place to decorate. And an Ikea where ever that may be. We had breakfast there for a huge 99 cents. Yummay. I got some $25 LED lights to mount under a shelf. And a squeegee.
In the mall, we hit the coasters right away. First was the SpongeBob coaster. It's not bad, perhaps a little average. I think that Gerstlauer's Euro-fighter platform is pretty cool, but I think they have pushed what they were asking it to do a little too far in the space they had. If a few of the transitions had a little more room, I think they'd be smoother.
Avatar Airbender was is the shockers that blew me away. Wow... what a fantastic ride. Sure, the capacity is dismal with only 12 people on it, but the sensation is amazing. I can't remember the last time I rode something that was so free feeling and comfortable. It totally exceeded my expectations.
We did have one little mishap, when the log flume somehow sent a wave over the front of the boat, soaking Diana.
Aside from a little looking around the Best Buy, and a fun stop in Lovesac, I stayed out of the shopping while the girls did some light shoe shopping. We also scored a bottle of wine, which was another thing we intended to introduce to Kara.
And so we did, after picking up some bake-at-home pizzas from this pizza joint that makes it, but don't bake it. Kara likes girl beer and Boone's, so we figured since she was living an otherwise grown up life, it was time to get her drinking a grown up beverage. We got a $20 bottle of muscat, but it wasn't quite as sweet as we hoped (or the wine guy led us to believe), but Kara said she liked it.
We closed up the weekend with a yarn purchase (Diana is gonna make a scarf and gloves for the Minnesotan), and some lunch. Kara was a gracious host, a great friend and a ton of fun. I'm so glad we finally got out there. She hated that we kept buying her food out, but it was the least we could do for giving us a place to stay and a car to drive. Great times, that's for sure!