Mrs. AJRitz took over the driving as we pulled away from the Clear Lake Denny’s. The kids initially asked for another movie, but we told them that we’d probably be at the hotel before another movie ended, and they again fell asleep by the time we were back on the highway.

After about a half-hour driving, Mrs. AJRitz asked if I could take the wheel back. The lack of sleep was getting to her. So we pulled off of the highway for a quick Chinese fire drill (which the kids slept through) and I took us on to the hotel. We had called ahead to the hotel at about 8 a.m., to let them know that we were arriving early, and to our delight they had our room ready for us shortly after we pulled up at about 10:00 a.m. The PLAN had been to take a nap until lunch, but those couple of hours of sleep the kids had in the car after breakfast had them ready and raring to go. I did really need a rest, so Mrs. AJRitz took the kids for a walk around downtown Minneapolis while I got my nap.

Our original plan for Friday afternoon/evening was to spend it with one of my old college buddies and his family. We’d hooked up with them on last year’s trip, and The Bug and his daughter had become instant friends. Unfortunately, my friend sent a text at about the time I woke up, letting us know that he’d gotten stuck in Chicago on a business trip, due to weather. So we went to the well of things we’d enjoyed doing last year, and headed toward the Minnesota Children’s Museum in St. Paul. We were all hungry by the time we got there, and luckily there was a table for four open in the tiny Mickey’s Diner. Mickey’s was a great find for us – we didn’t realize it, but it’s on the National Register of Historic places, and had appeared on a couple of Food Network shows. Sorry, no food porn pics – there was barely room for the four of us to sit, let alone to whip out a camera.

The kids had a great time at the Minnesota Children’s Museum again. They started in the nature/habitat areas, crawling through ant tunnels and beaver dams and moving clouds to create a thunderstorm. From there, they moved on to the traveling Wizard of Oz exhibition, and then the “occupations” area. Squeaker thought looking at x-rays was pretty cool, and The Bug liked pretending to drive the bus. But both kids’ favorite area was still the one where they make “music videos.” Squeaker always grabbed an instrument, but The Bug preferred scarves that would flow while she danced and sang. Both kids were wearing out as we made our way through the water play area, and they briefly napped again as we headed back to downtown Minneapolis and our hotel.

For our evening entertainment, we lucked into a street festival of sorts just a couple of blocks from our hotel. We walked over, but were ultimately disappointed in the choices available from the food carts. With an assist from Yelp! on my Palm Pre, we discovered that Ping’s Szechuan Bar & Grill was nearby – a name Mrs. AJRitz remembered from her days as a student at the U. We had a really nice Chinese dinner. The Bug tried egg rolls for the first time, and liked them. The kids impressed the restaurant staff by eating with chopsticks (sort of). The food was excellent, and the staff was wonderful – from seating us where the kids could watch the fish in the fish tank to chatting with the kids while we were waiting for our food, to help keep them from getting antsy. After dinner, we had promised the kids ice cream, so we headed back to the street festival and the Ben & Jerry’s cart. As you can see in the picture, I think Squeaker wore as much of his ice cream as he ate.

We returned to the hotel after ice cream, got everyone bathed, and got to bed not too far past usual bedtime, with promises of starting our morning on Saturday at Nick Universe at the Mall of America.

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