Tag Archives: South Dakota

Skywatch Friday – Falls Park

While in South Dakota in early August for a family reunion another place I sneaked off to was Falls Park near downtown Sioux Falls. I love it there. A huge park with lots to see and great photo opportunities. The Big Sioux River runs through the park and makes a bunch of beautiful cascaded water falls.

They are very beautiful.

For a time in the early part of the 20th century the energy of the falls was harnessed to generate electricity. Those days are gone but the old power house has been repurposed to a cafe. I will say it again, I love it when buildings are repurposed espcially when they are as beautiful as this one.

The falls are loud and are mesmerizing.

I climbed the nearby observation tower and took a photo of the one area of the park. Silly me didn’t take a photo of the observation tower.

And I found several geocaches while I was there. (Geocaching is an online treasure seeking game. Check this link to learn more.) I love geocaching.

There was a sculpture called The Farmer there. Farmers do lots of sitting and thinking of course if they want to be successful and of course they got to get up and do things as well.

Me, I’m not much of a farmer. I’m a retired natural gas guy. I just take lots of photos. I have 89,006 on flickr so far. Five or six of them are pretty decent. Not sure about the rest.

I’m linking with Skywatch Friday and My Corner of the World.

Skywatch Friday – Big Sioux Recreation Area

While in South Dakota in August for a family reunion, I had a little free time so I went to the nearby Big Sioux Recreation Area near Sioux Falls.

It’s a sizeable state park featuring a lot of different terrain. River bottoms, prairie, forest, valleys and hills.

From a low point in the park to the highest point, where I also hiked.

It has a moderate entrance fee and like it seems everything else in the Midwest, is impeccably maintained.

A small geocache hanging in a tree

I went their for the hiking and geocaching.

I had the place to myself during the weekday that I was there.

The Big Sioux River winds through the park. Tell the truth the Big Sioux River seems to everywhere in my family history. Our family church is near the Big Sioux River and many of my relatives were baptized in it. It runs through Dell Rapids where many of my family live and where the reunion is held. It is one of those long winding rivers that seems to be everywhere.

Something about the wind blowing a cottonwood tree

South Dakota is a surprising state. My vision is that it is flat but for a flat place it has lots of hills and valleys and even mountains and forests. Think Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills.

It has lots of big majestic trees.

And high hills with great views and skiesl

I didn’t spend much time there. Went on a little hike, found a few geocaches and took some photos.

A video of a geocache find I made.

Big Sioux Recreation Area is relatively unknown gem of a place. I’ll be back.

I’m linking with Skywatch Friday

Skywatch Friday – On the Road to South Dakota

In early August I headed up to southeast South Dakota from Tulsa for a family reunion on my dad’s side of the family.

I love the drive up there and the fastest route generally keeps me off the freeways most of the way. That kind of suits me. Lots less traffic and lots more to see. I love the big skies in the Midwest.

I also enjoy the small towns. Lots to see there. I like to see old infrastructure of almost any kind. The Midwest has lots of agriculture infrastructure to look at and photograph.

I also love their county courthouses. Nice big solid buildings for the most part.

Something I noticed on this trip that I don’t remember seeing much before is the plethora of barn quilts. In eastern Kansas it seemed like everybody had a barn quilt, the county courthouse had this one on the grounds. Doing the google thing I find out that barn quilts are kind of folk art that has been in the Midwest states especially for a long time. They are designs painted on wood that are then hung on barns originally. Kind of cool is what I think.

Burlington Kansas. There is a geocache hidden on this sign and notice that an early presidential candidate is announcing his run. This might be my favorite “welcome to” signs I’ve ever seen.

Getting close to my destination as the sun started declining I pulled off the freeway to get this shot.

Anyway it takes me a while to get anywhere and I enjoyed myself. When my wife goes with me she doesn’t put up with that kind of nonsense. I don’t blame her. But I enjoyed my drive up through America’s heartland of Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, and South Dakota.

I am linking with Skywatch Friday

Saturday’s Critters – Horse Drawn Wagon Ride

As explained in my last post, recently I traveled up to South Dakota for a family reunion. It kind of goes on for several days with different things at different places. One of the things we did was we convened at a family member’s farm and he had arranged for his neighbors to come and give horse drawn wagon rides to everybody. You can bet that I was in the first group.

The horses are Belgian mares and furthermore they are both pregnant but they did a great job taking everybody on a ride. The neighbor takes his team to different events around the state and you can tell it is a labor of love for him. The wagon and the horses tack were perfect. He doesn’t pull reins to get them to go one way or another, he says “Haaa” and “Geee” and they respond.

Stuff like this is making memories especially for the little ones on the ride. Big smiles from them, and big smiles from everybody!

Last time I was at the reunion, four years ago, the same neighbor came over with a stage coach. Check it out here. That was also lots of fun.

I’m linking with Saturday’s Critters

Skywatch Friday – Sioux Valley Baptist Church

Sioux Valley Baptist Church, established. 1889

I’ve been traveling again, and I apologize for not being as active as I would like to be. I went up to South Dakota for a family reunion. It’s been four years since my last visit, so I had some catching up to do with a lot of people.

The church above was built on land donated by my great great grandfather way back when in 1889. It was a church for Danish immigrants who settled in southeast South Dakota. The second Sunday in August is the Reunion Sunday service where the little church is packed with family. Afterwards there is a picnic in town. This has been going on for decades. It is always nice to see people.

I’m linking with Skywatch Friday

Our World – Cruising Split Rock Creek in search of Jesse James

On our recent family reunion in South Dakota, a cousin arranged for us to go on a Jesse James Pontoon Boat Tour on Split Rock Creek at a park of the same name near Garretson, South Dakota. It didn’t cost very much and it didn’t take very long but it was a load of fun.

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We were about twenty or so people on this “Norwegian Cruise Lines” vessel. The guide and pilot is Norwegian by ancestry and was a total hoot. He gave everybody a nickname. His regular job is teaching Native American History and Language at a local high school. He knew his stuff.

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As we poked along in the boat he told us about the Lakota Native Americans and a little about their culture. He talked about the flora and fauna, he showed us flint tools and talked about what they were for. All the while asking us questions and making fun of us. He engaged the kids a lot, and didn’t make fun of them. I bet he is a great teacher.

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He grew up in the area and he knew my cousin very well. He also pointed out that the land on both sides of the creek was privately owned. The fine for trespassing is $105 per person. I don’t think he was joking about that.

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He showed us where Jesse James hid out for a while in a cave high up from the creek. He talked about how in years past the landowner let people go look at it. He’s been there apparently the cave is extensive and has ten foot high ceilings. No tours any more, no trespassing, stay away!!

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We got to the end of the creek’s dammed up portion and he pointed out the nice cottage. That looks perfect to me.

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On the way back he hailed the kayakers. Everybody was a target for this guy. Totally good natured and fun. The tour only lasts a half hour or so but he packs a lot of fun into it.

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Here’s the dam across the creek. Built by the WPA way back when. It’s amazing how much the WPA and the CCC built that is still being used today. What a legacy all these years later.

Here’s a link to the Jesse James Tour facebook page.

And here is some more information about Jesse James and the Split Rock Creek. And yet even more information about this beautiful creek in southeast South Dakota.

I am linking with Our World Tuesday

Sioux Valley Baptist Church

Sioux Valley Church-Edit

Earlier this month I drove up to southeast South Dakota for the annual family reunion on my father’s side of the family. It was fun, connecting with my cousin and his family and an aunt and uncle and met many other relatives. The day of the reunion it is tradition to attend the services at Sioux Valley Baptist Church, a small country church on a dirt road on land donated by my great great grandfather, Nels Norgaard, back in 1888.

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It usually has about six or seven people attend but on Norgaard Sunday it was full. Quite a testament to the church and its people that they have kept it going for 131 years.

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My uncle said that the interior is just like it was when he was a kid, the furnishings, paintings on the wall, and the decorations and he is in his 80’s now.

Sioux Valley Baptist Church family # Church #southdakota
Photo from 2013

The high point of the service has always been the singing. There was a family member who was really talented but he passed away. It was hard to replace him on piano but hey youtube was at the ready and so we sang “It is Well with my Soul”, “When the Roll is Called Up Yonder”, and everybody’s favorite “The King is Coming” a great song about redemption. It starts out slow and builds to a climax. The lyrics include:

"Happy faces line the hallways
Those whose lives have been redeemed
Broken homes that He has mended
Those from prison He has freed
Little children and the aged
Hand in hand stand all aglow
Who were crippled, broken, ruined
Clad in garments white as snow"

Every stanza ends with, “Praise God, He is coming for me!”

I don’t care whether you are believer or not, the idea and the imagery is wonderful!!

Later on we had a picnic in Del Rapids with everybody. Here is a photo of some of us. Can you spot me? Or at least the top of my head?

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I am linking with Our World Tuesday



Stagecoach Skywatch

Last weekend I drove up to southeast South Dakota for a family reunion. I met up with my aunt and uncle from the east coast and my cousin and his family from the west coast and joined countless others in a weekend of learning about the family, visiting, seeing the sights and other activities. One evening under a beautiful blue sky at a relative’s farm a gorgeous stagecoach powered by two beautiful horses showed up. A “Surprise” by our host.

And it wasn’t just for looking at, we were all offered rides and I do believe every single person there had a short ride or two.

Some even got to ride shotgun with the driver.

It was a beautiful sight.

Smiles all around inside. You can’t ride a coach and be unhappy.

My aunt and uncle from the east coast loved it.

They were there for a while making sure everybody got to ride. I loved the shadows on the stage. The workmanship and finish on the coach was exquisite.

Shotgun was a favorite of the younger set. They had the ability to climb up the wheel to get there!

It was a get together that nobody there will soon forget.

I am linking with Skywatch Friday

Skywatch Friday – South Dakota Skies

Soybean Sky Edit

South Dakota is truly part of the breadbasket of the world. As far as you can see and for miles beyond is soybeans like this field or corn. To most of us it is just a matter of patriotism when our government announces possible sanctions of agricultural exports to Russia for their misbehavior to Ukraine. To a lot of farmers it means a possible loss of markets and lower prices for their crops. Nothing is cost free.

Skywatch Friday

The Damn Dam of Flandreau

The Dam

The Damn Dam spans the Big Sioux River just outside the small town of Flandreau, South Dakota where my dad spent his boyhood. He and his brothers and another friend all went in together and bought a canoe and lived what sounded like the Tom Sawyer life on the lake behind the dam. Fishing, camping, canoeing, and “hanging out.” ┬áIt still looks like a good place to hang out.

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It was called the Damn Dam by my mother and my Aunt who were very tired of visiting the dam every year and never missed an opportunity to not go. It was all in good fun though. My Dad and his brother still like to go and I like to go because they like to go and they have great stories. The stories get better ever year. I’m much to polite to say anything about that though.

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Cousin Robert, Dad, and his brother at the Damn Dam.