The Temple of Conspicuous Consumption

A photo essay…

In honor of the 25th birthday of Mall of America®, here are 25 incredible facts + figures about the nation’s largest retail and entertainment destination (as reported by Mall of America).

  • 1.15 MILES: Walking distance around one level of Mall of America
  • 8 ACRES OF SKYLIGHTS: What allows about 70% of the natural light to enter the Mall
  • 4 OUT OF 10: Visitors to Mall of America who are tourists
  • 9: Yankee Stadiums that can fit inside the Mall
  • 27: Rides and attractions in Nickelodeon Universe®
  • 43: Boeing 747s that could fit inside the Mall
  • 65: How many semi-trucks were needed to transport trees to the theme park to create the outdoor feel of an indoor park
  • 70 DEGREES: Temperature inside Mall of America whether its spring, summer, winter or fall
  • 100+ POUNDS: Amount of food fed daily to animals at SEA LIFE® Minnesota Aquarium — plus 90 extra pounds on the days the sharks are fed
  • 347: Statues of Liberty that could lie inside the Mall
  • 400+: Events held at Mall of America each year
  • 520+: Stores located in Mall of America
  • 8,700+: Weddings that have been performed at Mall of America
  • 11,000: Year-round employees at Mall of America (13,000 during peak periods)
  • 12,750: On-site parking spaces at Mall of America in two ramps
  • 30,000+: Live plants in Nickelodeon Universe® — plus 400 live trees climbing as high as 35 feet tall
  • 32,000+: Tons of trash recycled each year
  • 170,000+: Legos that have been lost in the LEGO® play area
  • 1.3 MILLION-GALLONS: Size of the aquarium at SEA LIFE Minnesota Aquarium
  • 5.6 MILLION: Square feet of gross building area
  • 40 MILLION: Visitors annually which is more than the combined populations of North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa…and Canada
  • 174+ MILLION: Number of rides ridden in the park since opening
  • $650+ MILLION: Cost to build Mall of America
  • NEARLY $2 BILLION: How much Mall of America generates in economic activity annually for the state of Minnesota
  • 0: Sales tax on clothing in Minnesota

amusement park




drone race


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Rig or Mortis

If looking at people’s pet(s) can tell you a lot about their personality, then it stands to reason that their RV rigs are no different. RVs come in all shape and sizes–as do their owners–and it’s a challenging game matching up who belongs to which rig, because looks are deceiving.

Fortunately, there are no shortage of contestants at Two Rivers RV Campground in Nashville, TN, just down the road from the Opryland, so there’s plenty of entertainment to be had.

To call this place a campground is ironic, as nobody looks like they’re camping here (no tents are allowed). Purists would call this cheating, as there doesn’t appear to be a close connection to the great outdoors, because everyone here is parking.

But it would be inaccurate to call this place a parking lot. Two Rivers RV Campground is really a make-shift community participating in a wonderful experiment called neighboring, where people are forced to live in close quarters and in close proximity to each other.

New acquaintances are made daily, but they are fleeting. Everybody says hello, and acts friendly, but “Here today, gone tomorrow” is our casual mantra.

Nevertheless, looking around, it’s easy to see people sharing tools, detergent, stories and most importantly, lots of advice: who to consult; what to see; when to visit; where to shop; how to fix something; and why to navigate on certain roads. Know-how is the most valued currency for those of us on the road, and it’s usually free for the asking.

People from all income streams participate simply by paying $42 a night at this location, which gets you a semi-level pad equipped with electricity, water, sewage, and cable TV provided you bring your own power cord, garden hose, flexible tubing and co-axial cable. Just in case you’re unprepared, there’s always Camping World for all your accessory needs, and it’s no accident that Camping World is right next door within walking distance.

Walking through the aisles of an RV supermarket can easily rouse a variety of deadly sins. First, there’s gluttony—that insatiable feeling that everything in the store would make life much better or easier if only I could fit it all in my storage-deprived Airstream.

Next, is pride—given the unlimited combinations of cleaning and polishing products on the shelves that will bring a super shine to your tiny home. In fact, my next-door-neighbor spent half the morning wiping down his 34 ft. 5th wheel toy hauler, only to watch it pour later in the day.

Lastly, it’s difficult to ignore the many expensive and over-sized rigs crowding the campground, creating little doubt that there is an RV pecking order associated with ownership, which could easily bring about a costly disease otherwise known as RVNV (RV envy).

It seems that RV living is trending higher every year. 2016 saw record growth in RV sales with 430,000 units (trailers and motorhomes) sold, and a 2017 forecast expected to exceed 500,000 units.

It seems that the dream of traveling has become more competitive.