Day 34

Tuesday, June 28, 2005Brandon, SD
Miles: 4002Sioux Falls is pink, pink I say!
Today we woke up at the Super 8 and partook of the continental breakfast. This was quite possibly the worst continental breakfast we’ve ever seen. White bread for toast, coffee, little plastic cups of apple juice and some sad looking, half sized donuts. It was sad. But we ate it anyway and took some extra jelly packets for our lunches. It is an exciting day when we get PB AND J. After breakfast we did some accounting work, decided we still had enough money and headed out to see Sioux Falls.

While we were packing up the van, we smelled the wondrous odor of curry as it wafted from the Indian buffet next to the hotel. We couldn’t resist. And it was a good thing we didn’t. While we waited the half hour for the Indian buffet to start, we remembered that we had wanted to go to AAA for some more maps. To kill the half hour, we got our maps, plus some guidebooks and some good advice from the kind people of the greater Sioux Falls AAA.

Then we had lunch. Yum.

Our first stop in Sioux Falls was the Falls Park. Oddly enough, this park displays the falls for which the town was named. They were very pretty, partly because they were pink. The rock that the river runs over is jasper or pink quartzite. This is harder than granite and almost as hard as diamond. Because of its hardness, it stands up well to erosion and the falls are in the same place they were 10,000 years ago. By contrast, the force of Niagara Falls has eroded the rock a couple of miles in the same amount of time. Granted, there’s more water, but you get the idea.

When Sioux Falls was first founded, the downtown area was connected to the Falls. There were mills along the water, and shops and people lived there and recreated there. In recent years, however, the arrival of a train yard and some seediness has separated the two. In an attempt to reconnect them, the city has started providing free trolley rides between the downtown area and Falls Park. We took advantage of this and took the trolley to the old Courthouse, which is made entirely of pink quartzite. It was a very pretty building and had some very interesting exhibits inside.

The exhibits were interesting but too involved to go into much detail about here. One illustrated the first explorers’ routes through the state and told the stories of their meetings with the Dakota tribes. Another was an interactive exhibit detailing how South Dakota was settled by the Europeans. Upstairs was an interesting exhibit about the history of toilets. Want to know why the moon is the symbol most frequently seen on outhouse doors? We can tell you. Want to know what peoples of the world use to wipe their bums? We know. (Sand, anyone?)

After our informative time at the old Courthouse, we took the rest of the tour around Sioux Falls. Since we don’t do much shopping, and our budget is limited for eating out, we did not exit the trolley, though there was some cool sculpture to look at while we rode.

Back at the van, we were both feeling a little sleepy. So rather than go out to Garretson and Devil’s Gulch, we decided to go to Wild Water West, a water park out in the middle of the farmland. We had a lot of fun sliding and splashing. Ceridwen got so good at speeding herself up on one of the slides that she almost managed to fling herself over the sides. She also bruised one hip. Such is the price of watery fun.

By the time we finished at the water park, it was time for dinner. Having had Indian for lunch, we settled for PB & J for dinner. But there would be s’mores later. We settled into our campsite and munched on nummy s’mores. We did have to make a run out to buy fire wood, since being a prairie, there wasn’t much of it lying around the site. There are trees, but they were planted here when the campground was put in a few years ago and they haven’t dropped many branches yet.

On our way back from the Great Plains Firewood Run of '05, we pulled off to the Brandon, SD scenic outlook, just as the odometer quietly announced "Hey! You're 4000 miles from Concord!" So we posed for a silly photo.