Posted by: G. Lane Cavalier | April 1, 2009

Lagniappe: A weekend “AWAY”, MOA, A waterpark and an Eagle named Columbia

After several months of school and job searching (and a lot of hours of work for my wife), we chose to take a weekend away to start off spring break.

Being as we are extremely cost concious, we chose to drive to Minneapolis, stay for points in a Marriott hotel/waterpark, and then drive back down the Mississippi River Valley before cutting back over to Chicago.

The waterpark at the Rennaissance Depot was small but clean, not crowded, and well staffed. As is my history with Marriott properties, the staff was outstanding, friendly, and helpful both in the waterpark and in the restaurants. Housed in the old Minneapolis train depot, it has a lot of history and time period pieces that more than make up for it’s lack of size, as by Marriott standards it is a fairly small hotel.

The kids had a blast at the Mall of America Nickleodean Universe, as my 11 year old said, “it was awesome.” They actually said they had more fun than on our last trip to Disney because they didn’t really have to wait in lines for the rides.

We had Brunch on Saturday at the Fire Lake Grill in Downtown and it was one of the best dining experiences we ever had, food was exceptional with some of the best service we have had in years. Overall the City of Minneapolis is clean and has a very ‘safe’ and ‘relaxed’ feel to it. The car stayed park from when we arrived Friday night until we left Monday as we were able to walk to everything and take the train to the MOA. Walking over the Old Stone Arch Bridge and through the park was a great family event for us as we like both history and natural wonders. I learned that the falls seen from the bridge is the only natural waterfall anywhere on the Mississippi.

On Monday, we drove back down the Mississippi River Valley stopping to spot eagles and viewing the eagles nest. The highlight was a stop for a class and viewing at the Eagle Conservation Center in Wabasha, Mn. There we were able to meet a Bald Eagle named Columbia with a wing span of 7 feet. We learned a lot of little insights like a Bald Eagle can see and determine a rabbits from 1 1/2 mile away and can see any type of movement for an estimated 45 miles (yep that’s forty-five) when flying. On the way from the center we were able to view part of a ‘mating reunion’ between two eagles, though we weren’t able to stop to watch we were told that soar up high, lock talons together, and tumble as a couple back towards the ground before finally letting each other go a few hundred feet off the ground and soaring back up on air currents without as much as a flap of their wings.

I plan to put a few pictures up in the next day or two of Columbia and the view from the Stone Arch Bridge.



  1. Is it a day or two yet? 🙂

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