Wednesday, June 28, 2017

USA 2017 / South Dakota Part 1

The word was that check in and security at Newark airport could take up to 2 hours and traffic, even early in the morning, could be bad so we placed a 5am wake up call and ordered a 6am pick up .
The drive to the airport took 20 minutes along a basically deserted highway and security was so quick we were air side by before 7am.....our flight was at 10am!
Were we just lucky or was UA airline forum just plain wrong?
Time then for a very expensive airport breakfast.
We arrived early in Chicago and transferred to our flight to Sioux Falls in plenty of time.
The UA flight attendant on this leg was, surprisingly, an Australian. For once I had no language problems ordering a coke and ice.
We picked up our rental and headed into town for the first of many Caribou coffees.
I had ordered a small Nissan Versa but somehow we ended up with a huge (for us) six seater Chevrolet Traverse. In the end we both fell in love with this car. It was a bit hard to park initially and a little thirsty but with the cost of petrol the equivalent of only $A0.75L, who cared!

Then it was off the Elkton to stay for a few days with sister Kelly.
We spent the next few days catching up with family, a financial planning meeting, eating (Mexican and Culvers struck off the list), clothes shopping (Kohls), coffee drinking and relaxing.
The weather was a little miserable ie. cold, wet and windy. One afternoon in Sioux Falls we took refuge in the Minnehaha County Administration Building due to a severe weather and tornado alert.
After breakfast at Perkins (love those pancakes!) a few days later, our destination was Hendricks MN and the bro's lake side home on the SD side.
It was mayfly hatching season and they were swarming. The birds were there too, feasting. It was like a scene from Hitchcock's The Birds. The birds' tummies were so full they couldn't fly let alone get off the road and out of the way of cars.
The mayfly swarms can be so thick they show up on weather radar.

The Saturday dawned cold, windy, wet and miserable.
The day brightened a little when the co driver brought home a dozen yummy donuts from the local bakery for breakfast. Not that I ate all of them of course.

Our plans for fishing in tatters, the bro and I headed into Brookings for an Armed Forces Day display at the Armory. This was very interesting and we had the chance to 'ride' a Humvee desert warfare simulator. The bro was the gunner and I was the driver. The fact I was driving continuously on the wrong side of the road (as pointed out by the instructor "He must be from England") apparently was blamed for us 'taking out' a high number of friendlies.

That evening after a stop at the local Bank micro brewery in Hendricks for some really nice beer, we were a little further north in Gary, SD for dinner at the Rock Room Bar and Grill in the Buffalo Ridge Resort.
This was once the first South Dakota School for the Blind which was a collection of nine buildings on 37 acres. For more than 60 years it served as the state’s educational facility for blind children.  

Average enrollment at the school was 55 to 60 students per year.
From the beginning, the course of instruction offered at the school followed closely what was taught in the common schools of the state. In addition to the regular curriculum, braille was taught, as was gymnasium, industrial work, piano tuning, broom making, chair caning and upholstery, as well as domestic science.

The school was self-supporting with its own dairy, pigs, beef, chickens and gardens.
The garden produce was stored in the root cellar, which is now the wine cellar for the Rock Room Bar and Grill.

In 1961, the school was moved to Aberdeen SD and in the early 1980s the buildings became vacant. Although vandals, weather, and vermin took their toll on the structures, none of the buildings had been altered and most were considered structurally sound and in good condition. The beautiful neoclassical- and classical-revival designed complex includes classrooms, administration offices, dormitories, barns, boiler building, playground, unique water fountain in an old flower garden, and a gym/auditorium with a stage.

In December of 2008, a local entrepreneur purchased the campus from an estate and the restoration of the complex began.
After dinner, we were able to explore all the underground tunnels (just wide enough for the blind students to feel their way) that connected the buildings to protect them from the severe winter weather.
Then it was back to prepare for a family reunion lunch next day with, at the co driver's request, a deep fried turkey.

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