With our heads still pounding from the 4th of July drinks, we crossed the border to our next state and so far, the most adrenaline packed one. It was our 15th state and went by the name of Iowa. After taking our traditional state line photo, we headed to Madison County. Home of the famous “Bridges of Madison County”. We were excited to drive over these wooden bridges. There were 6 in total. I haven’t seen the film or read the book so I had no idea what to expect. I set the GoPro camera up on the car roof and as we approached it, it was closed off. You couldn’t actually drive through it. It was a bit disappointing but at least we saw it. We hoped that the next bridge was different but it was identical. To be honest, they looked very old and rickety (they were built in 1864). I was quite glad I didn’t take the car through it just in case it collapsed! We gave up with the rest through fear they were the same and headed to our home for the next couple of days. The EconoLodge was based in Des Moines and like every other place we’ve stayed in, was surrounded by every type of restaurant you could think of!
I was quite happy with the location, as there was a big theme park just down the road. It was AdventureLand. It was two parks in one. On one side you had the roller coasters and rides and the other, Adventure Bay, was a large water park with slides, a lazy river and a pool with a wave machine.
We bought the 2-day ticket and went in. It sort of resembled Magic Kingdom as it had a train station at the front and a small town as you go in. Although, the only person we saw dressed up was a bear. At only $65 for the two days, I didn’t miss all the extras that Disney throws at you.
We walked around for a bit and decided to hit the Raging River. It was a 6-person water ride that splashed around a little river. The queue didn’t look long but in true theme park style in wound all around the place. You could see people walking off the ride – some of them were drenched and some bone dry. I just knew I was going to sit in the wet seat. 40 minutes later and we got to the front. There were two main reasons for the long wait. They were letting each party have their own “boat” – even if there were only 2 of them! But the biggest problem was that to secure you in the “boat”, you had a seatbelt. It was the type that you have in planes. I don’t know how many Americans travel in planes, but judging by the fact that all the people we watched didn’t have a clue how to secure it, I’d say it was very high! Each time a worker had to get into the “boat” to assist them! When it was our turn, we didn’t mind sharing so an American family jumped in with us. We all managed to secure ourselves without the need of help – I think it must have been a park record. As we splashed around the river, water gushed in. Obviously, I was the worst off. I looked like someone had poured a bucket of water in my lap!
Then we walked to their newest ride, the Storm Chaser. It takes you up 260 feet into the air and spins you around at 35 mph. There was no queue and I went running up to it like a kid in a sweet shop. It was closed. Great.
For the rest of the day, I went on a number of roller-coasters. Alone. Stef had become a bit of a wuss and didn’t want to participate in the highs and lows. She did queue up with me once but freaked out at the last moment. It all comes down to our mate Dave’s experience at a theme park in England, Alton Towers, where his harness didn’t lock into place during a coaster and he had to brace himself in! I love the rides so you’d never scare me. A few days later a roller coaster came off the tracks at a Six Flags (an American theme park chain) but that just made me want to go on it even more!
We did go on a log flume together though. Stef sat at the back and gripped on for dear life. I promised not to moan at her for not joining me and I never did. But eventually, she saw sense and joined me on The Outlaw. It was a frail wooden coaster that was more speed than anything else. It would throw you from side to side and you could really feel the G-force as it did. As it pulled back into the station, there were no more passengers waiting. We could stay on for another ride, which we did and I was very surprised with Stef for doing so. As we pulled back in again it was the same story. Stef quickly decided enough was enough and we got off. She did me proud though.
The next day we just chilled at the water park. We relaxed on the beds and sunbathed, as it was very hot. To cool off, we took a dip in the wave pool. Getting thrown about and crashing into everyone else was far from relaxing though.
That night, we went to Buffalo Wild Wings for dinner. Now, since coming to USA, we’d done nothing but eat fast food. 52oz cups of fizzy drinks with greasy burgers. It wasn’t a good experience. I felt like we were making our very own Super Size Me documentary. So we decided this would be our last ‘fatty’ meal for at least the next week. After this it would be low fat meals with either water or fresh juice. As you can see from the photos, we went for the healthy Wasabi Wings, fish tacos and beef burger with a pulled pork topping! I, of course, washed it down with lemon water.
The next day, we waddled to the car but before we set off to the next state, we found a note on our windscreen. Fearing it was a parking ticket, we opened it up to see it was from a young girl called Kim. She had read our blog and was on a road trip with her dad. So Kim, we hope you had a great time at the park and get in touch to tell us all about your little adventure. Reading her note was a pleasant start to our day!
On to the 16th state. Man had named it Minnesota. We checked into the LivInn, in Minneapolis, for the next few nights. It was a really nice hotel with a large bed and bathroom and it also had a large garden. However, this was a garden with a difference. It was inside! Still a nice place though.
A short drive down the road and we arrived at the Mall Of America. It’s the US’ 2nd biggest mall. It’s twice the size of Bluewater back in England. It was so big, that it included a 14-screen cinema, a Sealife centre (which houses the largest shark aquarium), a mirror maze, a Lego Shop with massive statues, a few exhibitions, oh and a large Nickelodeon Theme park in the middle! We were trying to find a replacement screen for my GoPro (as the fall from the car roof had cracked it) and we must have walked around the mall no less than 4 times trying to find shops!
Who could go to a mall and not go in the Amazing Mirror Maze. We’d never been in one before and it was certainly a confusing experience! It felt like it was massive and it took us a while to escape. They gave us gloves to wear whilst in there as I would imagine cleaning would take forever. Plus the cleaner wouldn’t know what mirror they cleaned or how to get out – maybe they were a resident cleaner! We finished the day by watching the film Tammy in the cinema. An average price of a cinema ticket in the UK is about £10. Here, it was £3.60 and it had massive reclining chairs! Not the best film I’ve seen but it killed a few hours.