Dec 19

Deadwood, South Dakota

In the final installment of our day out while in Keystone, SD we went to Deadwood the place here Wild Bill Hickok was killed.  We had 3 hours here, but would have been happy with one hour.

The city is about 3 blocks long and consists of shops, casinos, restaurants, bars and hotels.  I was surprised by the number of casinos in the town, though if I had thought about it in the frame that Wild Bill was killed here gambling it might have been a little more obvious.  Most of the casinos were just slots, only a couple places had table games.  The shops consisted of cheesy western merchandise and some expensive high end stuff too.

There appeared to be a few other activities outside of the town, but you needed a car to get to them.  Otherwise there didn’t seem to be much else to do.  We did attend the western shootout, twice.  It’s a cheesy little show they do on the street simulating a shoot out.  It was entertaining the first time, less so the second time.  Deadwood seemed like a nice place to stop for dinner or maybe a night while traveling through the area, but I’m not sure there is much else in the area to really entertain you if you’ve already been to Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse.

Oct 10

Corn Palace and Wall Drug

In the state of South Dakota we managed stop and soak in some cheesy america at the Corn Palace and Wall Drug in one day, the excitement of Contiki. I know you’re jealous.

I had never heard of the Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD of course since going there I have heard it mentioned a few times on TV.  I have to say I’m still not 100% sure how to describe the Corn Palace.  There is a museum, which we didn’t visit and then there was a market inside, that’s where I bought popcorn flavored lollie pops.  I don’t suggest them, even my popcorn loving newphews didn’t like them.  But the cool thing here was the designs they made with corn:  fantastic, artistic, inspirational!  They really were cool, but I’m not sure they’re worth going out of your way to see.  But if you need a break from driving, it’s better then just stopping at a Walmart, McDonalds, etc.

Wall Drug started out as a simple drug store, when business was slow they posted a sign on the highway offering “free ice water”.  It is now a cheesey american tourist trap, but a fun one.  Wall Drug actually takes up an entire block and has a restaurant, shops, and childrens play areas.  It’s actually a fun place where you can spend a few hours, excercise your cranky kids and do some shopping.  We made this our lunch stop and we all had bison burgers, they were actually very tasty considering they were made in a fast food type environment.  I would say it was a step up from a McDonalds as they were each cooked to order.  I think there was also a regular restaurant, but we didn’t have time for that. As a bunch of adults who had been stuck on a bus we wanted to eat, shop and explore.  The shopping varied from touristy T-shirts, and magnets to full cowboy/cowgirls outfits to fudge and everything in between.  And of course they still have free ice water.

Oct 03

The Great Sioux Falls!

I actually know someone from the internet who lives in Sioux Falls, SD and although I don’t know him well enough to visit with him, I was curious about the place.

It’s a cute little town, it has that small town feel, but also was more sprawling then I pictured.  I thought it would be a main street or two with some houses coming and going from town and then kinda rural when you got a mile or two outside of the town.  I also didn’t realize that it had a waterfall.  It’s not Niagra Falls, but it was set in a pretty park and was a nice size.

Other then seeing the falls we didn’t do too much that is uniqe to Sioux Falls, we had mexican food, it was ok and then went to karaoke.  I did get to meet a real adult cowboy, he was just up from Dodge, ya know as in “get out of Dodge.” I qualify this because he was the kind of guy you could have a converstion with about life in the midwest, he had lived in the area his whole life and knew all the good rodeos.  We had a nice chat and knew we were headed to a good rodeo in Cody, WY.

On our drive to Sioux Falls our Contiki Tour Manager started the game of “assasin” we were all given a card with a name of someone on our tour, you had to “kill” that person, this invovled not getting caught saying “1, 2, 3 you’re dead without anyone else hearing.” I wasn’t going to play, but after I finally figured out who the person on my card was I figured what the heck.  I killed her, as well as my roommate (the card I picked up when I killed the first girl). From there I was sucked into this game!  As cheesy as I thought the game was, I got to know a bunch of people by playing it.

After hour adventures at karaoke, which included a drunk and innapropriate cowyboy, we stopped at IHOP for pancakes.  We had the nicest waitress there who put up with several tables of drunk young people who didn’t know what they wanted.  I tried the red velvet pancakes, which were just ok.  I liked the CINN A STACK pancakes much better.

So what’s my point with this post.  Sioux Falls seems like a nice place to live, but avoid the drunk cowboys, eat CINN A STACK pancakes.  And, it’s easier to “kill” people in loud bars full of drunk people.

Sep 19

Fun With Spam

Many years ago in college one of my guy friends tried to convince me of the virtues of Spam, it didn’t work.  Fast forward to last June when  I was informed my tour would be stopping at the Spam Musuem in South Dakota, I had a chuckle to myself.  Lets just say, no one expected much from this museum and we were all pleasantly surprised.

Thank you for the sign!

The museum was highly interactive and fun.  I didn’t learn a lot about spam that I didn’t already know.  Incase you are unaware, it’s very popular in Hawaii, an after effect of WWII.  They had displays of Spam from around the world, and games.  The museum was also pretty photogenic, giving some interesting opportunities for photos.  The store was surprisingly expansive, you could buy anything from an air freshener (no, it didn’t smell like Spam) to a costume or a christmas village house.

If you’re in the area then you already know it’s not a hot bed of activity in this area, but the museum is worth a stop either way.  It’s fun for kids and adults and it is free.  Plus, you might find you like some of the recipes they offer.