Okay, I messed up: last part was supposed to be Pt.2. Whatever. Who
cares? Why did I even do parts?
After leaving Jasper, we returned on the Yellowhead to Edmonton on
what was a boring, terrible drive that never seemed to end. Without
mountains in the distance, I will tell you that it is a tedious
experience behind the wheel. Like Kansas, but worse. We got into the
city into our Priceline room of the trip: The Edmonton Coast Suite
Hotel. Among the worst hotels we'd ever stayed at, its downtown
location and size was offset by the worn down nature of all the
furnishings inside (aside from the TV) and tiny bathroom. If it was
wood, it was discolored and the edges beaten up. If it was fabric, it
was stained. The only thing not stained were the beds, which featured
comforters with patterns straight out of the early 1980s in a glorious
shiny polyester. There was room service from the restaurant
downstairs; food wasn't half bad, but it was over half an hour late.
Not a great move.
I do feel as if I can't give Edmonton's downtown a totally fair shake.
Its art gallery is physically impressive as is pretty much every
aspect of Churchill Square. The Royal Alberta Museum is supposed to be
a fantastic natural history museum. We didn't have time for either,
unfortunately. Nor did we have time for the Petroleum Museum by the
airport in Leduc. We instead settled for some night time and morning
walk around time. What was apparent is that Edmonton is not a city
that stays out late in its downtown. Most places were closed up by
6PM, including most of the pedestrian walkways. Like Cincinnati or
Hartford, the e***ment moves to the suburbs, notably that big ass
mall we visited earlier in the trip (where 10% or so of the metro
population was that night) or the River Cree ***.
The area around the provincial capital's main campus is nice, and the
exhibits inside its buildings act as a free museum open bright and
early every morning. Travel within the downtown area is easy with
public transport, thanks to a light rail/subway system; Edmonton is
among the smallest cities in the world with one, and they quite like
it. Driving in downtown is disasterous by comparison, with tight
streets, crazy bridges over the Saskatchewan River, and 5/6 way stops
being oddly common.
Once at the airport, we went through US customs while still in Canada.
This was a huge help to us for the next part of the trip in
Minneapolis. Upon arriving, we were able to immediately merge into the
public, drop off our bags in terminal lockers (a rarity in the US) and
run over to the light rail system.
-MALL OF AMERICA/NICKELODEON UNIVERSE-
The last time we were here, it was still themed to Snoopy. How things
have changed in what seems like such a short time; Cedar Fair is gone
and so is the beagle. In its place, contemporary characters, new
rides, and lots of upgrades that WEM so desperately needs like
automated ticket/wristband machines. The place looks great, and the
rides run very smoothly. I credit a lot of that to the older age of
the employees at MOA running the attractions.
-Spongebob Squarepants' Rock Bottom Plunge (#560): Can you believe
this is my first Eurofighter? I can't believe I've gone this long and
not been on one. But really, it is. Its a fine ride too; the first
drop is a gut wrencher, there's airtime, there's some positive g's,
and its longer than I was lead to believe in terms of what it does. I
really like it. My wife liked it more than Mindbender, actually.
-Avatar: The Last Airbender (#561): In the "how the hell is this a
coaster?" file comes the Intamin Half-Pipe. Since its on RCDB, I will
count it, but it doesn't feel anything like a coaster to me. It feels
like a pendulum style flat ride even more than it does something like
a Disk'O. It was okay, I guess? I wasn't really all that jazzed.
We also grabbed a ride on the Orange Streak, AKA Pepsi Ripsaw.
Apparently, as best we can tell, the Log Flume hasn't changed its
theming any, and that's good for everyone. What a great flume that is.
Skipped the spinning coaster because we didn't care, and saw
construction for the new Blue's Clues rides being done. I'm sure they
will be fun or something. The Rotoshake and Hexentanz are still there
and looking good too.
We didn't spend much more time at the mall (only grabbing dinner and
some dessert), but it was enough of an impression to give us an idea
of who was running the better show. Yes, Nickelodeon Universe is more
expensive than WEM, but the difference in operations is all the
difference. I'd be e***d to go there again, but I'm not sure I can
feel the same way about West Edmonton Mall.
We departed and jumped back on the rail line to the airport; its a
short 11 minute ride, but with our constant fears of long security
lines and the always possible "unknown", we wanted to be back with
lots of time. The unknown ended up being an hour delay for our flight.
Figured. We still got what we needed to from the Mall and left still
wanting a little more.