Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Sioux Falls & Brookings to Graduation in North Dakota

Tue, April 23rd - Wed, May 29th
Another big snow storm in Sioux Falls after the trees were cleaned up, but as you can see lots of power lines, cable lines, etc. still down all over the back yard. 
I didn't think I was ever going to get a chance to get out on the bike trail and start getting some training in for the RAGBRAI (Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa).  We got to Sioux Falls on April 15th and it took until May 7th before I was able to use the bike path. 
But I must say, considering the horrendous amount of trees down all over town, especially where the bike path runs next to the river along the east and south sides of town, the city has done a tremendous job of keeping the path cleared for use.   Here it runs between two golf courses and it runs by another golf course just a little further north.  It also runs behind the zoo, where I usually see animals as I ride by, including buffalo, zebras, leopards and such.
On the east part of the main 20-mile loop, the path runs through beautiful Falls Park, with the ruins of the old Queen Bee Mill in the upper left corner and the tower of the Old Courthouse Museum downtown in the far background center of the picture.  Sioux Quartzite provided the financial base for the city and there are many beautiful old buildings and homes built with it in the old downtown area.  It is harder than granite and nearly as hard as diamond. 
This is just a couple blocks east of downtown.  Several groups of inmates with guards were working to clean up the branches in different areas on several different days that I was out riding. 
One day I went by a group that was working along the path on the right side of the river here.  About a half mile farther on I came across a lone inmate that was looking all around like he was lost.  I said, "They left you, huh?"  He just said, "I guess so."  And we both laughed.
This bridge takes the bike path over the Big Sioux River at the northeast corner of the loop around the city.  On my various rides, I saw a great blue heron, several white egrets, a turtle, four deer and one deer that jumped across the path about ten feet in front of me. 
Heading south back into town, the path runs behind the State Penitentiary and down this switchback next to the spillway, overlooking John Morrell Meat Packing Plant on the right.  It can sometimes be a little smelly in this area, depending on what direction the wind is coming from.  On the left is one of the huge piles of branches being collected by the city workers from the ice storm.  
Down the switchback and over toward Falls Park, I stopped for a view of the State Pen behind me on top of the hill.  Armed guards marched gangs of prisoners down the bluff to quarry the Sioux Quartzite.  The prisoners used horse-drawn wagons to haul the dressed blocks up the 100' bluff.  In two years it was nearly complete, including a residence for the warden and his family.  Then they built a wall to replace the wooden one enclosing the prison yard. 
Beautiful flowers I got for Mother's Day from my number one daughter, in spite of the fact that our long stay at her home was a bit trying for her.  We stayed with her for five or six weeks while John went to physical therapy twice a week.  He is progressing pretty well and just has a slight limp now, but it will probably be a while yet before he is back to full steam.
View out the front of our RV as we camped at the home of our friends in Brookings.  Thanks again Rich and Kathy for all your great hospitality.  The Baaing of the sheep puts us to sleep, just like the sound of the waves when we are camped on a beach. 
View driving by the public beach at Lake Campbell, about ten miles south of Brookings.  After finishing up all of our doctor, dentist and eye appointments in Brookings, we headed to North Dakota for my niece's graduation. 
Milnor High School Class of 2013 graduated 19 students.  I was in the Class of 1971 with 27 graduates, one of the smallest classes at that time. 
Congratulations, Morgan!  Time to Party! 
My baby brother, father of the grad, and now a Grandpa!  And what a cute and sweet little guy he is!  And I don't mean Grandpa!  Although he's still pretty good looking for an old fart.
Thursday we will be heading to Helena to spend five or six weeks with our grandkids, before we start heading back toward Iowa for the RAGBRAI.  I may not get anymore blogs done until August, when we will be spending sometime at the lake with my baby brother and his family, which I am very much looking forward to. 
Happy Pedaling,

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