Monday, May 27, 2013

My Introduction to South Dakota

I'm not really well traveled. In fact, I'd never been west of the Mississippi River. Until today.

I'm writing this from Yankton, South Dakota, where I'm visiting the in laws and other relatives and friends.
We stopped in Vermillion,  South Dakota today on the way
from the Sioux Falls airport to Yankton, where I will spend the week.
Vermillion reminds me a lot of Bristol, Vermont

I've only been in South Dakota for a few hours, but I'm impressed.

Where my hosts see flat, featureless plains, I see a unique beauty. On the drive from the airport in Sioux Falls to Yankton, the landscape was fascinating.

 I didn't have much time to take pictures today, but I will try the rest of the week.

The scenes were beautiful because they were simple.

An isolated tree in a vast cornfield. A church poking up above the plains with a huge expanse of open landscape and nothing else around it.  A crumbling, abandoned farmhouse collapsing slowly and gracefully in a small thicket of trees.   You could see forever, and watch the cloud formations seemingly 100 miles away.

We stopped for lunch on the way to Yankton in the small town of Vermillion, South Dakota. I felt at home there, in large part because its downtown looked a lot like Bristol, Vermont.

There are quirks in South Dakota that I'm not used to in Vermont. There's quite a few small scale casinos and rather shady looking payday loan centers interspersed among the solid, stolid old businesses in sedate small towns across the state.

And my inner fifth grader came out when I saw the bad humor in the name of a Sioux Falls convenience store. It is called "Kum and Go."  I am not making this up.

I left Vermont at the end of a week of record rainfall and flooding that finally broke on Monday. I arrived in South Dakota to the beginning of what promises to be a  week of flooding,  severe storms and a tornado threat. I feel like that guy who always has a raincloud above him.

Yankton seems like the most peaceful community in the world in which to live, even if it has a minimum security federal prison in a former college smack dab in the middle of town.

Even the prison is relaxing. It is gorgeous,  with tree-lined, park like grounds, with prisoners milling about outside, just chilling. The inmates are all white collar or non-violent convicts, so there's little physical threat to the public.

The prison grounds are so beautiful I almost want to commit a crime. Almost.

I'm staying at Jeff's parents' house, which is adjacent to a beautiful golf course. They have a sunroom, which looks out into the course. Jeff's parents say they often get up early and sit in the sunroom, just enjoying the scenery. I can see why.

We probably won't do much out here in Yankton. Let's face it, Yankton is not Manhattan. Heck, it's not even Manhattan, Kansas. But that's the point. Sometimes we need a place that's calm, solid, homey, quiet.

It's been a tumultuous few weeks in Jeff's life, and in my life. We've both been working our butts off. He's been traveling all over the place, working. We lost our beloved dog Bailey a few days ago.  

The friendly quiet of Yankton is going to be the perfect place to recover and recharge.

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