Weekly Photo Challenge: Big

I’ll admit. When I first read the challenge this week, I knew right away what BIG thing I had visited in my recent travels.

This. The Mall of America. The second largest mall in the United States.

That’s right. Second. Isn’t that a surprise? I mean, it’s the MALL of AMERICA. You would think it would be the biggest. The greatest. The most spectacular. You would think if you could fit seven Yankee stadiums inside it, it would be. But alas…it’s not.

Wow.

And I don’t really care……

Believe me, it is the biggest mall I have EVER been to. It is a marvel, and overwhelming, and really, truly AMAZING.

The incredible sights are never-ending and a Nickelodeon land of happy sits right smack in the middle. Who wouldn’t smile when Sponge Bob greats you in such a cheery way? Sponge Bob – we love YOU for who YOU are.

Can you see Sponge Bob in the far right corner now? This is the view from the third floor. There are FOUR floors. He got tiny, didn’t he?

A BIG target.

And look at this awesome place. THE LEGO STORE! And they have BIG Lego figures around it, and on top of it.

The Lego store dragon.

A world of Lego discovery.

And the biggest skateboard I have ever seen.

I spent about six hours in the mall. I walked around each floor, and only went inside a few stores, but get this. SIX HOURS – walking the floors – and I did not even get through them all. I had a floor and half left when it was time to catch the shuttle to the airport.

Seriously.

Actually, I am not a BIG shopper. I am not a typical girl, because shopping is NOT my thing. However, exploring is. Discovering interesting stores, and items on display. A fun park inside a HUGE mall. People watching, and just the overall WONDER of a place this big in the midst of Minnesota.

Well. It’s something. And I am glad I got a chance to go, and show it to all of you.

So, what do think of this BIG mall?

Know what else is big? The participation in the The Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge hosted by WordPress. Check out these entries and meet other big participants.

Fort Worth Water Gardens

What can I say? When it’s a 104º in September, it seemed like the perfect place to go in downtown Fort Worth.

I have heard about it often enough. Even caught glimpses of the structures when driving around the convention center. But explore the water gardens? Not this girl. Not until last Sunday that is.

I was surprised. Astounded even. Not to mention a little intimidated by the great falls. No one tells you, it’s a little dizzy to walk down those concrete steps to the bottom. Or maybe I should have taken it easier on the Gator Punch at Razoos? Heh.

What it all comes down to is this….I have a hobby. My hobby makes me happy. Sometimes, being a PRO puts a little too much pressure on my perfectionism-self. So I walked to the water gardens as – get this – a tourist.

A tourist with a camera and a happy hobby.

Yep.

“The Tourists”

I have no idea why people kept asking if we were from around here.

I mean, really? I only had a camera bag, purse, and a map a guide.

We mentioned over and over, we only lived a few miles way. Yes, we are from “around” here (eyebrows raise). But whatevers.

Hey, if being a tourist gets me photos ops. I will tour all day, and even buy the t-shirt.

First stop, the aerating pool. Looks refreshing, doesn’t it?

I dang near dropped to my knees and bowed to it.

When you walk 10 blocks in a hot, muggy concrete furnace. This view? It’s temptation waiting to happen. I’m not sure why ONE little fountain couldn’t just a spray a little to the outside.

From across the way is the meditation pool. It is surrounded by trees – REAL trees – real forestry-looking. It was so cool (looking). But as you can see, it is also enclosed by walls with water running down the sides (which makes the walls green). Like a slimy water-slicked dungeon.

The water and the trees are lovely to behold…..

:Snap:Smile:Snap:

And I would looooove to meditate by it, if it wasn’t blazing hot…if there was a cool wind on my face…if the walls weren’t algae-moss green and closing in on me.

I couldn’t get to the stairs fast enough. I’m getting claustrophobic in my old age. I needed air. Circulating air.

And maybe even a friendly bird, or two.

The last stop was the biggest attraction. It’s called the active pool. It is literally 38 feet walls cascading down to a pool in the middle. There are these little stepping-stones to get to the bottom.

And I tried…..

I got half-way down and froze. The descent. The walls rising above. The water running quickly towards the bottom. Those little cracks that separate the stones, with just ONE little mishap….and OH HELLS NO.

I could not even reach for my big camera.

Brave tourist that I am, I stilled my shaky legs and used my iPhone to post a pic to Instagram.

See? Half-way down…or so…

I risked heat stroke and vertigo for these shots.

But I don’t mind.

After all, that’s what tourists do.

On Top of a Mountain

Oh, how I love to reminisce!

About travel, about birthdays, and most especially, about my MOST favorite place – California.

A year ago, I celebrated turning forty on a mountain above Palm Springs. What a spectacular day. I couldn’t get enough of the forest, the cliff hangs, and the beautiful desert and city views.

These are nice memories to have (and photos too!).

This year, I celebrate year forty-one by working. Meh.

But hey, it’s not so bad. My husband was out-of-town for a week, and made it back justintime. I have never been happier to see someone in my life. I consider myself pretty tough and independent. And really? It was fine. I wasn’t some kind of weeping, lonely mess. But man was it empty – inside and out. Believe me, being on a mountain is great, but having the best man in the world by your side? That is fantastic.

This is not the best photo, but it’s the only one I have of the sign.

I must say, I LOVE the ocean. LOVE IT. My second love? The MOUNTAINS. Any mountain. My grandma was from Pueblo, Colorado. We visited the mountains every Thanksgiving. This is what I love MOST about California. You have the beautiful beaches. AND (like the Coke Zero commercials) You have the gorgeous mountains too. Just a hop, skip, and highway drive away.

I believe this flower is called Yarrow. It peppers the mountain side and really gives it that pop of color that is so breathtaking among the boulders.

I saw lots of wildlife – lizards, squirrels, chipmunks, and birds.

The enormously towering trees were also amazing. I live in the city and we just don’t have this view outside of our door.

And the fresh pine scent? Heaven.

I don’t know what is not to love about a mountain.

I climbed a rock for this view. It was a little scary as I have zero balance and/or climbing skills.

My husband climbed a rock too.

Show off.

While my king was gone, I was visited by a random black bird.

Um, yeah.

He decided to land on the very rock I was perched on (out of alllll the rocks on the mountain). It was a bit unsettling in my zen state. Wings are VERY loud on a quiet mountain side. And he just kinda marched around flapping and looking at me very curiously. I got quite a few photos of my bird visitor.

Then my husband surprised me with restaurant reservations at this fancy place.

I had a delicious piece of salmon, but mostly I enjoyed the fabulous views.

Table-top flower.

My view from our dining table.

Sunset view from the balcony of the restaurant.

And this? I can’t even describe. As the sun set and the contrast changed, I couldn’t take my eyes off the captivating landscape of the desert.

Truly, my year forty is one to remember – from the start to the finish.

Now? I am ready for the next. Come on forty-one show me what you got. I know it’s going to be good.

Don’t just count your years, make your years count. -Meyers, Ernest

Hot, Prickly, and Beautiful.

I’m talking about the desert, of course.

A desert I visited for the first time.

It was for my birthday trip (the big 4-0). A week-long whirlwind vacation paradise that I didn’t get a chance to post about – I can’t believe it’s been a year – until now.

And a year ago tomorrow, this is where I welcomed a new century. My day of 40 in the beautiful desert of Palm Springs.

Astounding.

A desert is a place without expectation.
-Nadine Gordimer

Now you have seen where I spent the first half of my special day. The next half, I spent on a mountaintop.

To be continued……