Mall of America And Other Travels

We have returned from a trip now off our bucket list–the Mall of America in Minnesota. I gotta admit, I wondered about a trip to…a mall. But I’m making the gradual psychological transition to retirement and pretending is the only practice I can get right now. When I’ve got a few days off, I’m unofficially retired.

I found a couple of articles for doctors on two views of this phase of life, one enthusiastic about early retirement, and the other not so much. I can tell you I’m not likely to spend much of my retirement in malls but the Mall of America has a lot to offer, including the adventure of finding a place to park.

I walked more than I do on an average day in the hospital where I work as a general hospital psychiatric consultant–5 miles on Memorial Day in fact.

One challenge some might wonder is how to find a space to do mindfulness practice. It can be a matter of moving furniture or using the space in clever ways.

There are mall walkers even in the Mall of America, just a few thousand more than you’re used to. There is a store for everything, even a popcorn shop for doctors. No kidding, it’s called Doc Popcorn. The line was long.

There is an entire amusement park inside the Mall of America. The only things missing are animals like tigers and elephants. On the other hand, there are plenty of Ninja Turtles.

The Fly Over America virtual tour of the country was a definite highlight, no pun intended or maybe it was. It takes you right over Area 51 where we caught a glimpse of Secretary Hillary Clinton clambering over some rocks, looking for aliens no doubt. Part of the experience is getting water mist blown in your face which can choke you up a bit, briefly. The views are spectacular.

You might want to try the Barnyard Hayride, which is a spiritual experience. Bring plenty of liniment. I didn’t try the zip line; I value my life too highly. The Brain Surge is fitting for psychiatrists. Don’t forget your barf bag.

The Mall of America has 4 floors and covers the square foot area of Alaska, approximately. They tell you that you and your family should have a contingency plan if you get separated from each other. It should include calling out a search party and knowing how to pitch a tent in concrete.

Things can happen unexpectedly on trips like these, and what happened to us was magical. It didn’t have anything to do with the Mall of America. On our way back home, we saw a sign that led us back to a place to which we have not returned in almost 40 years–the Little Brown Church in the Vale in Nashua, Iowa where we were married.

The place has not changed. It’s in a time warp. The trees dropped a fine green misty dust on us, gently charming us. We got a little choked up on it.

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