Thursday, August 29, 2013

Battle of the Dakotas... South kicks the North's butt

The past 2 weekends in a row I've had the pleasure of touring the Dakota's to knock state #43 (south)  and #44 (north) off my list. Kim was with me for both weekends, and we generally try to 'experience' the city we're in, even if its just for a small period of time. Not ever having visited either, you would think they would both be similar, however what we found that South Dakota was HANDS down better than North Dakota as there was much more to look at and experience.

Highlights from the 'non racing' part of both states:

South Dakota
Naturally when you think of South Dakota, first thing that should pop in your mind is Mt. Rushmore. We originally were going to go into the park and see it, but instead, we just pulled off to the side of the road and had a stranger capture this gem. Sure beats the $11 parking to get the same photo op!

En route to Mt. Rushmore we had seen a billboard for the Naked Winery. Kim had sampled their wine the week before at the taste of Oregon (they have a branch in Bend, OR), so we decided it would be worthwhile and funny to see what the winery itself had to offer. How random that not only had Kim been introduced to them just the week prior, but out of their 3 locations, one of them happens to be near our destination in Custer, SD... its a sign we HAVE to drink there.

They have a 6 glass wine sample for $3- what a steal! I loved how all the names of the wine were naughty- perfect for a girl's night out. Despite it being 1 in the afternoon, there was a bachelorette party celebrating here with all the puns and witty names. I took a few photos with me and a shirt that says Climax, unfortunately my face is not appropriate for public view, so instead, enjoy these signs below... 

Although we didn't see any bears, we were promised it was Bear Country... and here I thought that was Alaska.... 

Despite lack of bear sighting,  I DID happen to see and go inside a teepee outside the Tatonka reservation. 
Apparently Kevin Costner owns this Bison attraction  that teaches you all about the difference between bison and buffalo, along with some sculptures of the animals as well. When we first stumbled upon this attraction, we were headed to expo and didn't have a lot of time, so we never ventured back to see what all the fuss was about. 

Before heading back to the airport after the race, Kim surprised me with a trip to the Berlin Wall. Sioux City, SD is a sister city to one of the German cities, therefore they were sent 2 pieces of the wall along with a lot of different signs to read about this historical point in time.  For those who aren't aware, I grew up military and was in Germany when the wall fell. I've always had a love for the country, so this was a real treat to further my knowledge. It's crazy to re-live history from a totally different perspective and at an older age who can now better comprehend what was going on. 

North Dakota 
When I think of Fargo, I immediately think of the 1996 film with their thick accents

My cousin lived in Fargo the past 4 years for school and SWEARS up and down its exciting, however Kim and I managed to mostly see strip malls and food chains. Unlike SD which has the Black Hills, gorgeous greenery and hills, ND is pancake flat with not a lot of vegetation. I was informed yesterday that due to the flatness of  the area + extreme conditions in winter, the winds get so high they blow down trees, move grills across patios, and make it difficult to be outside. Suspicions of never wanting to live here confirmed.

Immediately leaving the packet pickup we headed to Scheels (similar to Bass Pro Shop) and we found bronze statues of Abe Lincoln, Ronald Regan, George Washington, and one more who I can remember but that is who Kim took a photo with.  I went for my tallest option, honest Abe. It's really sad when you get excited by statues, but I'm pretty sure Kim is starting to share in my fascination. 
 Inside of Scheels there was a ferris wheel that you had to be a certain height to ride, if I bent down, I'm almost there.
 After race we were searching for something to do so we figured we should head to the downtown area- I saw this bison from the car so I made Kim pull over (Bison is North Dakota State University's mascot) So I've learned they are popular in SD AND ND.
The colorful bison was on top of the hill, and when we looked down we saw a huge art fair going on, so we decided to stop by.  I know I said there isn't a lot of vegetation in ND, which is why I took this photo- it was the exception to the general rule.

 Despite the ridiculous heat, I had fun and even picked out my own letters to spell out travel. They framed and mounted it for me and I have big plans for choosing favorite photos from certain races to make a memory wall.
The other major score was finding these flavored mixes that you either add 1 bottle of white wine or 1.5 cups of vodka to, add to a giant plastic bag, freeze for a few hours and voila, adult fun slushie. I bought 2 at the art fair and happened to find another vendor when I went to MN state fair few days ago that had some flavors you add red wine too. Looks like I'm in for some fun times ahead! 

Sadly that was about the extent of the fun had in ND. I dropped Kim off at the Fargo airport so I could make a headway on the long drive to Buffalo, MN to stay with my bestie, so I was only in the city for a grand total of 19 hours... I guess when you look at it that way we did have some fun. 

Someday I'd like to go back and explore the Black Hills in SD some more, however I'm pretty confident there is no need to ever go back to ND. 


  1. My uncle is a park ranger and recently lived and worked for Badlands National Park. It is a very beautiful place but I agree...could never live there. Looks like you really had fun for 19 hours! That Naked wine sampling really was a steal of a deal. And a feris wheel INSIDE? How neat!

  2. Yup, didn't leave a thing in Fargo, so I never have to go back.
    However, you did make our stay there sound like more fun than I remember.
    See you tomorrow!