South Dakota: Day 1

I’m in Plankinton, SD as I type this, though by the time you read this, I will likely be further west.  Since we do not have Internet access at our hotel, I decided that in order to keep up with my blogs, I need to write them each day and then when I get access, I can post them and it won’t take as long and I will make sure you get all the details!  So here’s what we’ve done so far (part 1 of 2, anyway).

My mom’s sister, Judee, her husband Louie and one of their companion trainee dogs flew with my sister, John and I out of John Wayne to Sioux Falls, South Dakota via Denver on Saturday.  It was a full day of flying, complete with a long, almost 3-hour layover in Denver, which brings me to my first story of the day – meeting part of another goal on my 101 list!

While we were in Denver, my sister had discovered that there was a “Pet Park” just outside of the parking structure at the Denver airport.  Since we have Emilio with us (that’s the dog), we thought we’d take him to this park.  Well, turns out it’s not much of a “park” – it’s more like a small fenced area (maybe 10’ x 12’) that’s cement and dirt/gravel with a pet waste bag dispenser and trash can.  But, it gave Emilio time to be outside and relieve himself…AND, according to my criteria for counting states I’ve visited, I can now say I’ve been to Colorado!  Granted, we didn’t see much of anything at all and I definitely want to go back and visit again, but that’s one more state I can mark off my list!  I’m up to 17 states now!  The photo below is of John and I just outside the airport.

Our flight from Denver to Sioux Falls was pretty uneventful, though apparently I was quite the entertainer to the other passengers on the plane.  First, you have to understand that this plane is the typical commercial plane most people fly on when traveling…its small…really small.  Okay, so I’ve been on smaller, but never for traveling very far.  It had 12 rows, I think, with just four seats across (two on each side of the aisle…yay for no middle seat!!!).  The overhead luggage storage area was really small, which meant we had to gate check our luggage we had carried on to our last flight, my 6-foot tall uncle couldn’t stand up straight inside and it felt like the seats were a lot more narrow, though there was actually foot room!  I think you get the idea…there’s a picture of the outside of the plane below (I apologize for the glare).  I will have to take an interior photo when we fly home next weekend.

Okay, so back to my story…I’ve never been to South Dakota, so as we were getting closer, I was looking more closely at what was beneath me, and being curious and liking to know things, I started asking questions.  I guess I sounded like a tourist or something because some of the native South Dakotans (is that the right way to do that?), had quite the laugh at my expense.  I still don’t see what was so funny about asking if the farms were actually functional farms or if people just lived on them (yes, they’re real farms)…or feeling sorry for the mail delivery people because the houses were REALLY far apart (I guess mailboxes are grouped together in one place out here)…or getting excited at the prospect of walking on the tarmac at the airport after exiting the plane on the stairs just like the President does (we didn’t actually get to do this…Sioux Falls has the covered ramps like most major  airports…and no, I’ve never flown out of Long Beach Airport before).

Once we landed in Sioux Falls (marking the second new state…South Dakoa…18 and counting!), we headed to our hotel to get checked in and meet up with my grandfather and some relatives (Gene – my grandfather’s nephew – and his wife, Joan).  We headed to eat at a place they recommended as something we could only do in Sioux Falls, a restaurant called “The Keg” that is famous for it’s chicken and something called chislic, which is apparently something popular and well-known here in the mid-west because when I asked Gene and Joan what is was, they look at me with utter shock that none of us had ever heard of it.  I still don’t know what it is exactly.

On our way back to the hotel, we stopped at Walmart for a few things…wow, what a difference a few thousand miles makes!  These Walmart stores are actually neat and clean and very pleasant to shop in – and they’re HUGE!!!

I ended my day early since I pulled the first all-nighter I’ve had in a VERY long time to finish getting ready for our trip.  Plus that whole time-zone thing is not friendly in the mornings and we had an early start for our 4-state road trip, which you can read about in Part Two.

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