From MA to IL: Then to South Dakota and Back Part 1

After a week of fairly constant activity, we three again packed into our rented SUV and journeyed even further west into the heart of the country. The goal was for me to meet Ali’s grandmother. Since you can never really tell how many trips one might make to South Dakota and Marion isn’t getting any younger, Ali really wanted me to meet the matriarch of her mother’s family and only living grandparent. So westward we went and we brought along a healthy dose of humor, as well.

The trip out there is not without interest, albeit it is a long ride. Most of the ride is through upper Midwest farm country, which is not terribly exciting, except for the fact that the land rolls quite a bit more than say Illinois or Indiana. However, we couldn’t miss some of the roadside attractions, such as the one in Blue Earth, Minnesota. While it is getting harder to see from the highway, the Jolly Green Giant proudly stands, surveying the wide open landscape. To the left is a view through the adjacent trees of the Dairy Queen we stopped at for refreshment; while the right photo gives you a bit more sense of the size. That is a little girl in the foreground. For a better sense of scale visit this newfound, glorious site. Below is a picture of the girls, flanking the pedestal.

Photo: Jolly Green Giant - Trees Photo: Jolly Green Giant - Long Shot

Photo: Ali and Keri at Jolly Green Giant Pedastal

From the ironically green sights of Blue Earth, we continued into South Dakota. Having never been in this particular locale, I made sure we stopped in Sioux Falls, to see what the place had to offer. Surprisingly, Sioux Falls was not without appeal, at least to me. I will admit the place seemed practically empty on a Saturday afternoon, but it was about 100 degrees outside. So who could blame the natives for staying in cooler climes. There were some beautiful buildings in the Old Courthouse & Warehouse District of the city, including the old theatre.

Photo: Sioux Falls Courthouse and Tower Photo: Sioux Falls Courthouse and Tower - Side Shot

Photo: Orpheum Theatre

Most impressive was the Cathedral Historic District, that sits on a high ridge looming, in Catholic austerity, upon the Downtown Historic District. It was an impressive site and even more impressive building. I have to confess a personal fascination with the power and beauty of the Catholic cathedral, with all their command and contradictions. It is also in what once was the prime residential neighborhood, with some magnificent old palaces. The photos don’t quite do this area justice.

Photo: St. Joseph Cathedral Photo: Sioux Falls Courthouse and Tower - Side Shot

Photo: Pettigrew Mansion

Perhaps more interesting than anything was the number of public sculptures on display in the city. This wild boar was a rather intimidating dedication to the once local game. However, it was the incongruous placement of a Michelangelo replica, in Fawick Park, that was perhaps the most strangely interesting. I have to say I am not entirely sure why it is there, looking askance of the banks of the Big Sioux River that cuts its way through the city. Nevertheless, it is pretty awesome and may be the closest many Americans ever get to seeing the real thing. Although, for some larks, get a load of what the Convention and Visitors Bureau has to say about it. For all its splendor, it sounds like David might be the city’s insufferable step-child.

Photo: Wild Boar Sculpture

Photo: David Replica - Long Shot Photo: David Replica - Medium Shot

Still more to come and we haven’t arrived at Grandma’s house yet.