"This will be a memory."
That's what we told the kids as we sat outside the Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis on Sunday, waiting for the Vikings game. We thought the game started at noon, so we left our hotel in Maple Grove at 9:30. There was not much traffic on the drive to downtown and we found a parking spot in the lot between the two one-way streets (the one where the cheerleaders park, Brad pointed out). It was all too good to be true. We paid $35 to park, got organized for the game (a family Christmas present, and the first-ever professional football game for the kids and me). We headed to the door where we had seen people going inside. The gates were closed. We walked to the next gate. That one was locked too. It was four degrees below zero, Lizzy was sleeping (wrapped safely inside a warm Vikings blanket) and Jake was pretty sure he was going to freeze to death. We were on the other side of the building before we ran into another person, who informed us that despite what our tickets said, the game was not at noon, but rather at 3:15. She sent us to the next gate, where a worker then sent us to the next door. No one could let us in the Dome..they were still doing security checks. The doors were set to open at 1:15. It was 10:15. So, we headed back to the van to regroup (after walking around the entire Metrodome, in subzero weather..we were not feeling like parents of the year!). We debated taking the light rail to the mall, but we weren't sure where to buy tickets. Nothing else was open. Thank goodness we had a full tank of gas, new DVD players, chocolate bars and sunflower seeds.
We spent the next two and a half hours in the van. Talk about family bonding. The big kids watched a movie. Lizzy climbed around the van, happy to be out of her carseat. Brad and I kicked ourselves for not double checking the game time.
Finally, at 12:45, we headed to the gates. Thirty minutes later, we were finally in the Dome. The looks on the kids' faces made the wait worth it. Jake was literally speechless when he first saw the field. We stood and soaked it all in for about ten minutes. A very nice grandfatherly usher told Jake all kinds of interesting facts about the building, the field, and the games he could someday play there.
The game did not end the way we had hoped (Vikings lost, 17-24) but it was so much fun! The kids loved every second of it. Jake watched most of the game through his binoculars. Lexi crossed her fingers, arms and toes, hoping the Vikes would squeak out a win. Lizzy made friends with the grandma beside us, stuck popcorn in her own nose, and then later sneezed it out. She fell asleep in the fourth quarter, and we waited for the crowds to thin before we left our seats.