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Minnesota's Largest, Mankato and Minneopa State Park

Scott had another job, this time in Mankato, and since we didn't have anything else to do Meadow and I came with. 

Conveniently Minnesota's Largest Candy Store happened to be on the way.

We hadn't been here in two years.

I now know it's actually called Jim's Apple Farm. Not sure where the apple farm is, but they do sell apples.

So much sugary goodness.

I got myself a homemade nut roll.

They had an international section this time. I was hoping they would have Daim, but sadly they didn't. I got Watchamacallit and taffy instead. 

I'm really surprised they still sell candy cigarettes.

I guess Big League Chew isn't a much better product in that regards. I didn't really get the whole chew analogy here when I was a kid. We always got one before little league games.


Meadow loved all the colors in this place. 

We also each got a soda. I got an orange cream from Goose Island. I couldn't even finish it it was too sweet so Scott drank the rest.

I love Dog n Suds. I'd like to go to one of those again. My pops and I stopped at one on the Wisconsin/Illinois border when I was young. I've never seen one of their drive-ins since.

 I guess they're still around the midwest. We'll have to stop by the Tomahawk, Wisconsin location sometime on a trip to the cottage or the one near Grand Rapids, Michigan since my sister moved there.

What a great place.

Then we arrived in downtown Mankato for Meadow's second hotel stay. 

Meadow's first crib experience. 

We arrived early and the weather was beautiful so we went for a walk around town. 

We were hungry and stopped at Tandem Bagels and shared a Nutella chocolate chip bagel. I was sick of sweets, but that was all they had left. 

It was a nice first impression of Mankato. Wish we got there a bit earlier.

Mankato wasn't as cool as Wausau. 

They had converted part of the downtown into a mall that clearly died a decade or two ago. I guess they wanted their own version of Minneapolis's skyway system.


It wasn't all sad malls. There were quite a few dive bars.

The old part of the convention center was a looker.

I saw what looked like a city hall when driving in. So we walked up that way.

Brooke wasn't impressed.

It turned out to be Blue Earth County's courthouse. Wanted to go inside, but it was closed for the day.

It was time for dinner. We planned to go to the restaurant in the Hilton, but it seemed too fancy for Meadow. During our walk we walked by a British pub, but the menu there didn't seem appealing. 

Another Paul Bunyan for Meadow.

She's going to be a big Paul fan.

We finally settled on pizza. The place was noisy, perfect for Meadow. She slept the whole time.

This place is called Pagliai's Pizza, to be precise.

Had I brought some bottles we could have shared a pitcher.

I got Mankato Brewery's Haymaker.  Hoppy and delightful.

The beer was cheap (~$3) and the pizza was thicker take on midwest-style pizza. I'd go back to Mankato just for the 'za.

We purposely picked the Mankato City Center hotel because of the size of the pool. Meadow loves the bath so I figured she would love swimming. We brought one of her cloth diapers to use.

Cloth diapers are actually made for this. You've just got to remember to remove the liner.

 Meadow was a pro. She knew what to do and kicked her legs and arms. I was too nervous to let her go. Scott wanted to.


I didn't swim until is was in sixth grade, so let's get this little gal started already.

The pool was warm but it was cold when we got out. 

We were still hungry after swimming and ate the leftover pizza.

I think Meadow wanted some.

We also picked this place because of the free breakfast. The food was horrible. Worse than the place in Wausau. 

At least they had belgian waffles. Can't go wrong with waffles.

We dropped Scott off and went to Target and Hobby Lobby. I needed to get some new knobs for her dresser and Mankato has the only Hobby Lobby in Minnesota. I can't wait to take Meadow there when she's older to do some crafts. 

Then we picked up Scott and went out for lunch.

Seven Rasmussen Colleges down. Only seventeen to go. Not a bad gig.

Meadow fell asleep here too. 

We decided to share a margarita  I can charge my meal to Rasmussen, but I make sure to separate out Brooke's meals and any drinks.

Despite it being super windy we went over to Minneopa State Park to see the waterfall. We weren't expecting to see everything bone dry. 

The Minnesota River looked rather dry driving in on U.S. 169. The waterfall lies on an offshoot of the Minnesota, Minneopa Creek .  I guess the Minnesota flows from the Laurentian Divide into the Mississippi. Western Minnesota must still be in a drought. 

I'm not sure how I feel about humans carving into sandstone.

We were warned that it was dry everywhere.

They didn't lie.

We went down one side of the valley and planned heading back around.

Part of the trail had washed into the ravine.

Instead we walked in the emptied creek.

You got to take advantage of moments like this.

This must happen a lot as there were lots of carvings in the rock.

Good point.

Thought this would be a good moment for a panorama. I wish Meadow was in this. 

(Click on it. It's huge.)


We checked out Mom and Pop's Ice Cream. We thought it had a parking lot and realized it was for the building next door so Scott moved the car. As he walked up to us and got closer Meadow had the biggest smile on her face.

Got to love that little bug.

I was a little disappointed that it wasn't homemade. At least they served Madison's Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream and not Kemp's or Cedar Crest.

Afterward we headed back to Minneapolis.

I had Scott pick up some apple cider at the candy store on the way home. 

Couldn't help, but snap a few more shots and get another nut roll.

Nothing says succesful fall road trip like apple cider.

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