Dakota Territory Welcomes The Burtons

by Kevin Burton

   After more than half a century’s absence, I returned to the Dakota Territory last week.   We determined that the covered wagon wasn’t roadworthy, so my wife and I took the Toyota instead.

   This was part of our long-awaited, much-needed vacation.  We think Kansas is a great place to be, but we wanted to be somewhere else for a week.  We wanted to kick all our normal routines to the curb, at least temporarily. So we got a cat-sitter, stopped the mail and hit the road. 

   What a glorious relief.

   I had never been to South Dakota. There are documents indicating that I was born in North Dakota, but I really don’t remember.  I thought I might have been dragged through South Dakota at some point as a small child, but my mother said that never happened. So this was a first.

   Jeannette has been to Mt. Rushmore and we have talked about going there. But that doesn’t interest me so much.

   The South Dakota visit brought to 41 the number of states I have visited. 

   Jeannette let out a little whoop when we crossed the state line.  We had been warned by a woman at the visitor’s center in Sioux City, Iowa, that the speed limit on the stretch of highway up to Sioux Falls, is 80.  That was a good heads-up. The good Dakotans did all of 80 and perhaps a little more. 

   We spent considerable time tripping over our location in phone calls to loved ones back in Kansas.  We visited Sioux City, then spent three nights in Sioux Falls. Eventually we figured out where we were, but not before Jeannette interrupted one call to her mother to ask, “Kev where are we?” There was a pregnant pause before I said “Sioux….Falls. Sioux Falls.”

   What little preparation we did for this trip did not include South Dakota. We talked about going through Southern Iowa to see some covered bridges, and ending up in Ames, a city we liked when we went there for a beep baseball tournament.  But once we got that close to South Dakota we didn’t hesitate.

    One thing you must do if you go to Sioux Falls. You must get to one of the four Stensland Family Farms locations and order a double dip of your favorite ice cream.  Jeannette’s family is all about the ice cream, so she should know, and she says this was the best.

   For years I have said Graeters ice cream from Ohio is the best ice cream around and I have brooked no discussion on the matter.  Now?  I would need to do an extensive series of taste tests to see if Stensland Farms has taken that crown. 

   The milk they use for their products comes from their own cows on their family farm. We liked the ice cream so much we bought some of their cheese to take home. Haven’t gotten into that yet.

   I just went to their website hoping to see that you can get their product shipped to you in dry ice, as you can get Graeters. Unfortunately, you can’t. But the website did say they are hiring.  If I lived in Sioux Falls, I would go for that. They could pay me in ice cream. 

   In the Sioux Falls souvenir deck of playing cards I bought, the face cards are like regular cards, but the number cards have Sioux Falls facts written on them.

   The two of hearts reads, “The Queen Bee Mill opened on Oct. 25, 1881 costing $500,000 and processed $1,500 bushels of wheat each day.”

   Here’s another Dakota tidbit:

   “On Feb. 22, 1889, outgoing President Grover Cleveland signed an omnibus bill that divided the Territory of Dakota in half. North Dakota and South Dakota became states simultaneously on Nov. 2, 1889,” according to Wikipedia. “President Benjamin Harrison had the papers shuffled to obscure which one was signed first and the order went unrecorded.”

   After shopping downtown, we walked around Falls Park, which features the waterfall that the city is named after. We did that on a very pleasant Tuesday afternoon. It was ideal for walking.  The next day was just a little too chilly for Jeannette so we didn’t do any more walking downtown.  By Thursday we had winds gusting to 45 miles per hour and temperatures in the high 40s. That was a little much even for me. So we did indoor tourist stuff. 

   We were so pleased with our Hampton Inn hotel accommodations in Sioux Falls that we decided to extend our stay there to three days, and to seven total nights on the road for the vacation rather than six. 

   There was one notable glitch in our hotel stay in Sioux Falls. Please come back to Page 7 and read about that Friday.

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