Wednesday, December 10, 2014

November in Mid West USA / Part 2

I only managed one trip to my favourite casino in Flandreau.
Seeing November was my birthday month I was allowed in the birthday booth. From what was said I may have been the first Australian to do this. My driving licence ID was a source of considerable interest to the staff. For 20 seconds, vouchers driven by an air blast swirl around you and you have to grab them, fold them and push them through a slot.
Not as easy as it sounds.
I won $7!
For some reason, that remains a mystery, another $3 was added to my tally and I played the slots for 3 hours with the $10, eventually taking that amount home.
There is a misconception in this country that coffee in the USA is not fit to drink. I think this may come from the days of brewed coffee that sat on a warmer for hours. But certainly we have found that the coffee culture is alive and well especially in the mid west. You don't get better anywhere than at Caribou.
While doing the Sioux Falls sculpture walk, we needed something to ward off acute hypothermia and found Coffea Rosterie on Phillips.
They presented us with a slate tray on which stood a bubbly water palate cleanser, a shot of extra strong but smooth espresso and a cappuccino.

Talking of the sculpture walk we were anxious to do it again. Each year new works are presented and the concept  has now expanded to three venues. Always worth a post of its own (coming soon!), there is a preview below.

We spent the last 3 days in Sioux Falls covering quilt shops, yarn (wool) shops and looking for last minute goodies at Sears, Macy's, Younkers and Kohl's. I managed to sneak off to Scheels, a very large sporting goods store, that has been recently revamped to include a big Ferris wheel as a centre piece.
Seeing we are both now devotees of Amazon Kindle books, we hardly ever go to a book shop. But we made a pilgrimage to our old haunt, Barnes and Noble for old times sake. You forget how good a book store smells. And I bought a hard cover by a favourite author.
It was obvious that Christmas was just around the corner. All the towns had their decorations up in the streets, houses were being strung with lights and front yards filled with icons.
Karen G had the most beautiful tree I have seen in their front room.

Our last night was date night which has always been at Foley's Fish, Chop & Steakhouse. The daughter had got wind of our plans and had called them to organize a gift card as a birthday present.
We got a particularly warm welcome from the manager (I don't think he gets many phone calls from down under) and had a great meal of a crab cake starter and a tender steak entree washed down with some excellent wine. The Clark & Telephone Pinot Noir from the Santa Maria Valley in California was outstanding.
Talking of great wine I forgot to mention that K4 had bought an expensive bottle of Salento Negroamaro, a red wine made from a native grape grown almost exclusively in Puglia in southern Italy.
Get some if you can for a completely different wine experience. Deep red colour, unique perfumed nose (maybe as a result of a small addition of Malvasia Nera) and earthy flavour with fine tannins.

So our time in SD was soon up and we headed for home with our bags jammed packed to the limit with goodies. The flights were the reverse of those coming except we transited through LAX rather than SFO. Again on the long haul across the Pacific we had spare seats beside us easing the cramped conditions of economy considerably. And no screaming kids or disruptive passengers either. It always seems longer flying back but we made it in one, albeit tired, piece. Our bags were among the last out which caused a little concern (who would want to misplace all that shopping?) and we got pinged for a quarantine inspection but, as expected, the AQIS beagle, Axel, found nothing. But he certainly did with the lady behind us. Who knows what happened. We were out of there!
Stirls was at Sydney International to meet us. The first thing we noticed as we headed for the car park was the heat and humidity but no complaints.
At his home we crashed for a few hours before enjoying a steak dinner and a couple of bottles of wine.
Next morning after a good sleep, we were up early and headed for home stopping to pick up some groceries in town on the way. Board shorts and bikinis seemed to be clothing of choice for a lot of people. The Christmas tourist influx has already started.
Welcome back to summer!

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