Friday, September 21, 2012

September, South Dakota and food, of course!

Sometimes life and adventure get in the way of writing, which is what has happened this month. This will be a longer post, as it is about when we ventured to South Dakota for Mike at the first of the month for the Dakota 5-0 race held Sunday. After traveling across the state a few times, we've decided leaving in early evening is the best and a way to avoid the iconic Wall Drug signs for part of the drive (we counted the signs one year. Surprisingly, there were fewer than we thought!, though still free coffee and donuts for veterans--so they need to do some road tripping with their family!)   We drove and drove and drove and then crossed the border into SD. Agh.  Slept for a few hours in the car at a rest stop (yes, lots of people do this, we were not the only car). Not sure I'd do this with young children, but people do, as well as those with campers.  Finally got to sleep only to be interrupted by someone who pulled in via a diesel truck. Time to get on the road. 

Rest stop after driving for a few hours, need to stretch.  View of sunrise seen through the bike frames.  [photo by The Mike]. 

We drove into Rapid City and had breakfast at Arnold's, a 50s themed diner off the interstate there.  MUCH better than Denny's we tried last year (where we sent back the frozen hashbrowns only to have frozen hashbrowns served again).  We weren't sure of what to do in town, but we had time to kill.  We picked up the magazines from the diner and decided on the Geology museum at the local University.  Sadly, it starts its "winter hours" the Saturday OF the holiday weekend, not on the holiday, as the AAA book said.  We decided to head to the next spot, the Stavkirke church, exact replica of a church in Norway. 

Quite an experience to visit and I highly recommend this visit, especially if you think you'll never get to Norway to experience one of these churches.  The original was built in 1150 and is still standing, this one was built in 1969.  There is also a Norwegian shed which is the gift shop, as well as a historic log cabin which serves as a museum.  After visiting, we looked in the city magazine to see what else was in town and headed over to Memorial Park to visit the Berlin Wall exhibit. WOW. I had no idea there would be part of this historic wall in the black hills!  This is truly something to be seen. The whole display and signs do great justice to the item which was such an injustice to the city, country and citizens. 

It is true that you never know what you'll find when you journey.  I had looked ahead of time for a race in the vicinity of Spearfish and an hour or so away and could not find anything.  Imagine my surprise when we had pulled into the parking lot for the park and found a race in progress!  Turns out it was a first ever Wounded Warrior run!  I picked up a brochure in case we are this way again.  They had a 5K and a 1 mile option, run at different times so runners could do both if they were interested.  Had I had more than three hours of sleep, I would have been quite tempted to put on my shoes; however, the military men running the race completely understood not wanting to run on so little sleep! Phew.  I hate the idea of looking weak when these guys put their lives on the line for us.[Ellsworth AFB is nearby]. If you are interested in this race for next year, the website is . 

We then headed to Spearfish for Mike to get checked in for the race.  We picnic'd in the park.. . always a treat to dine out in nature. This was no exception. We could hear the stream babbling and took a walk to it after we were done. . . we could also occasionally smell skunk. ICK.  They must have been living in a historic building in the park and every once in a while the wind would shift and we'd get a light scent. Interesting indeed!

In the evening we drove to a restaurant on the Spearfish Canyon road. We had seen this last year, it looked like a good place to visit though it was quite packed after six last year.  Thus, we decided to ventured to the Dry Creek Bar & Grill early (they're on facebook too).  We got there at the perfect time, had a table neighbor who was quite "happy" with herself and hugged everyone as she was leaving, and I mean everyone.  Our waitress was also part owner.  

They knew what gluten free was about  :-)  I ordered the Walleye and asparagus, served with a side salad.  and Mike got gluten in the form of a pasta dish served with chicken,  sun-dried tomatoes, bacon and a creamy white sauce.

Race day Dakota 5-0

Smokie the Bear always starts the race.  Sadly, while we were in South Dakota we heard of a new smokie. . . the forest fires left a cub with burned paws and limbs. His name is Boo Boo and he's being rehabbed and cared for so he can be released back into the wildness where he  belongs.

While the Mike was racing, I went for my long run, 18 miles!  I wasn't sure how I was going to do at 3,500elevation, but I was only at elevation for two days when I ran, and usually breathing is hardest on the third day.  I ran out from the park and headed towards the north end of town. I was feeling great, then I turned around and ran those two miles and realized there was a slight incline now, so of course I felt fabulous earlier when I was running downhill. ha ha ha .  I then headed west out of town, after getting a glare from a woman on her way to church, for I crossed against the red light (no traffic was in existence except for her car stopped at the light) and I still felt good, even when I headed out on some small rolling hills and a great decline.  

The road diverged and I took the road less traveled (it was the gravel road). So beautiful and even though there were woods on both sides of the road, the canopy was still far enough back that I felt comfortable running in an area that has extreme wild animals (bears, mountain lions, etc).  Instead, I spied a few deer and a lot of turkeys; in one yard alone there were at least a score!

I ran down the road until I heard some scrapping in the trees and blowing my whistle to make some noise and scare of whatever was there. It didn't work. I had no idea of the creature walked on two legs or four, was large or small, so I backed away and then after a while turned and ran the way I had come.  When I got back into town, my MOTOACTV was telling me I still had four miles to go, so I ran up to the cemetery. .Ran is not a good word. Steep hill, made me wonder how winter visits are, so I walked/jogged up and then took a few minutes to walk around.  The things you find when you go off the beaten path.  Apparently  the first guy who died was named Levi Blizzard. Maybe it was his real name or maybe it was because he was wearing Levis and died during a blizzard. The sign said even people of the time were unsure.

After the run and Mike's race we found some pizza place via the computer. Sam and Louie's New York Style Pizza, the online menu said they also have burgers, so I figured I'd have one of those.  That was, until we arrived at the place.  Imagine my surprise. They have a dedicated gluten free section in their kitchen and the GF pizza is so fabulous!  HIGHLY recommend Sam & Louie's. . .They seem to be along I-80 in Nebraska, and then Spearfish and Rapid City, SD.

Note: the pizza is baked and served on its own disposable tray.
Kim, the waitress and manager we had, was very helpful, very informative.  She said they clean their arms and change aprons before even doing anything near the GF section in the kitchen! Definitely safe for Celiacs!

The end of the 18 mile day, calories burned, steps taken.  Since we ate the pizza/dinner in the middle of the afternoon, we chose ice cream for dinner--the mini containers the groceries now sell. 

Monday I needed to do a small run, so I ran back towards the campus in Spearfish and ran up this fabulous staircase.  Found about 80¢ in change on the road leading to this place and some delightful student, sometime in the last decade or so stuck a quarter to the stairs [which is why it's always smart to try to shuffle the change with one's foot, before attempting to pick up said coin].  I wonder if there is a camera aimed to this spot? hmmmmm.

Belle Fourche, ND has a display in town of the center, though the real center [of the USA including AK and HI] is half a dozen miles north of town on a dirt road. Even this sign isn't the center. The real center is about a block in distance into the pasture  and marked by a large USA flag which was blowing so beautifully in the strong wind.

Sanford's. It's a western states chain, atmosphere is a bit like Applebee's, but with southern food and mechanic/car decor, mixed in with plenty early 20th century decor.  Our platters seemed larger than our school lunch plates.  Steak and potato for me. Mike was a bit hungrier, he had a larger steak, bread, sides and he had my side of black eyed peas. Not to forget mentioning, Dickinson, ND, where we stayed the night is a modern black oil boom town. Everything at the off-ramp was all brand new. Our hotel opened in April, other hotels, restaurants and stores were still being built, as well as apartment complexes too.  There are even fracking oil wells set up very closely to Theodore Roosevelt National Park, where we spent the next day.  He came here to recover after losing his mother (from typhoid fever) and his first wife (kidney failure) on the same day!
Our lunch spot. Most of our lunches were from the cooler we packed, UDI's bread, cheese, lunch meats, cottage cheese, Chobani yogurt, carrots, dip and more.  

Very amazing view. While seeing the Badlands of South Dakota is amazing and breathtaking and you can see where the erosion takes place, these badlands in North Dakota just seem to go on forever, there is a driving path and pull off areas and the scenery is there to enjoy and ponder. I can't fathom what the pioneers thought when they got to this part of the country, and how could they write anything home other than 'great time, hard terrain, persevered'. Anything other would have probably let their family 'back east' say "we told you so". ;-) 

I can only imagine that two hundred years ago the herd of bison would have been much larger at this point of the Little Missouri River Valley. 

I didn't get a run in the next day because of the location of the next hotel, it was in the city and while it seemed like a good area, I wasn't sure of going running where there were a lot of hotels and a freeway system not too far away. 

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