Saturday, September 24, 2016

Sioux City, Iowa: Spirit of Discovery

After a few busy weeks of working with Habitat, Doug was hoping for a week of rest on the shores of the Missouri River. But when I realized that we were on the Lewis and Clark Trail, we decided to adopt their motto, "Spirit of Discovery", as we explored the Sioux City, Iowa area.

We were technically camped across the river in Nebraska at the Scenic Park Campground located in South Sioux City. This is a beautiful city-run RV park that is connected to sports fields, riverside parks, and the YMCA swimming pool by a nice bike path. 

Following the bike path over the bridge, we found an easy two mile route into downtown Sioux City ... and just a tad bit further up is South Dakota. We saw three state welcome signs on our way here promising us ... 
The Good Life ... 

Fields of Opportunities ...

 and Great Faces, Great Places!

As we settled in for the week, we came to realize that "the good life" may be just outside our door as fabulous "bike trails of opportunities" lead us to many "great faces and great places".  

Our first "discovery" along the bike path was a festival put on by the local Hispanic community with amazing musical talent as well as delicious authentic Mexican food. There is something about hearing wonderful Hispanic music that makes us crave tacos and enchiladas ... see if you agree!

Crossing the bridge the next day into Sioux City, Iowa, we "discovered" a downtown area that was filled with creatures even more unique than the Pokemon that Doug searched for.  The Sculpt  Siouxland exhibition brings art into the public places for all to enjoy.

"Let's Go" explore!

There was something for each of us at the free Sioux City Public Museum.  We discovered a rich history of a prosperous boom town in the late 1800s. In the land where corn is king, they boasted of building some of the first and finest corn palaces

Livestock production and the arrival of the railroad brought prosperity to the town, but devastating floods and economic downturns also affected the town. A catastrophic flood in 1892 wiped out much of the downtown area as well as the livestock yards.

Kevin, at Chartrand Computer Central, in 1992
Likewise, one of our first computers, Gateway, enjoyed only a short stay in Sioux City. It couldn't be the Holstein cow markings on their boxes that did them in??!!

In the musical section of the museum, we discovered one-hit wonder, Dick Thomas, who made Sioux City famous in 1945 with his hit, Sioux City Sue. As you listen, I'm sure you will see why Doug is reminded of his Rochester Redhead with the lyrics:

Your hair is red, your eyes are blue. I'd swap my horse and dog for you!

Do you think that he would??!!

Another day while biking along the Perry Creek bike path, we made a "sweet" discovery ... Palmer Candy Shoppe has called Sioux City home since 1878.

After a few free samples, we each picked out a pound of our favorite candy ... and left the shoppe with the same candy ... 2 pounds of Malted Milk Balls ... yes, sometimes we are very compatible!

After I gave Doug a day to install our new cell phone booster (leave him a comment if you want to know the "nerdy" details), he was up for a "touristy" day. Our visit to the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center and the Sgt. Floyd River Museum helped us discover the strong spirit of our country's early explorers. Movies, large murals and interactive displays made this a fun way to take in a history lesson.

Their two year expedition up the Missouri River to its source in Montana and over the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean was filled with hardships. Amazingly, only one man was lost during that difficult journey. Sgt. Floyd died of a ruptured appendix in August 1804 as the group passed by our present location. An obelisk similar in design to the Washington Monument stands high on the hill above the river marking his burial site. The Iowa Riverboat Welcome Center is named in his honor.

Other great discoveries along the bike path during our week in Sioux City included:

A point along the bike path in which we can see three states:
Iowa, South Dakota, and Nebraska
Memories of Ragbrai of years gone by ...
 That's where Doug started his one and only Ragbrai in 1993
Beautiful flower gardens and pavilions 
A Spanish Mass in the Cathedral ... 
we still need LOTS of practice with our Duolingo Spanish app
The ever changing assortment of microbrews and plenty
of friendly folks at Jackson Street Brewing
And, as always, the continuing search for Pokemon!

While it may not have been as restful as Doug would have hoped, we are once again reminded of how much we enjoy the "Spirit of Discovery" as we "proceed on" with RVentures!

Until next time ... embrace the spirit of discovery ... and enjoy the adventures in your life!

On to Omaha, Nebraska tomorrow for another Habitat for Humanity build ... As always, would love to hear your top discoveries in that part of our beautiful country!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Habitat For Humanity Build #3: Brookings, SD

Our most recent Habitat for Humanity build took us to Brookings, South Dakota. During our three week stay, we saw great progress that could only be made through the dedication, skill and teamwork of our Care-a-Vanners group.

Every morning before we started working, our group gathered for a devotional lead by one of our members. The leader might share a reading, bible verse, personal story, or special saying. The following quote was shared by Alan, the father of the future homeowner, who worked with us every day. I felt that it eloquently states the reason our work with Habitat has been so meaningful for Doug and I.

"The things we do for others are merely the rent we pay for our place here on earth"

In our diverse group of volunteers, we got to see first hand, people "paying their rent" by sharing their talents with others. During the three week build, we worked together to transform these sparse walls into a warm home for Kristen and Jason and their four precious children.

Some remarkable "paying the rent" moments included:

Learning new skills from seasoned Habitat builders and our skillful ... and very patient ... construction supervisor, Ron. I can add "drywall installer" to my resume. 

Being treated to a daily feast with lunches prepared and served by Habitat homeowners ...

... and members of the community.

Learning all about power tools ... but I'm thinking that Alan should probably stand clear once I get going!

Trying to decide which of the "supervisor wanna-bees" we should listen to ...

Working alongside Kristen, the future homeowner, to ensure that the cold South Dakota winds stay outside!

Transforming the dark dingy walls of the Habitat ReStore ...

... into a bright, welcoming store!

Learning the art of hanging Tyvek and siding ... now who put the Tyvek on upside down???

Soaring to new heights with a talented group of women who helped me believe that there is no job that I can't tackle ... 

Getting over my hesitation with heights as I shingled roof with my best friend as well as most patient teacher ...

... and came to enjoy the bird's eye view as we installed the facia on the house peak.

Painting the house, not the town, red!

Enjoying the first "pizza party" in Kristen and Jason's new home. Sorry, kids, you won't be able to eat in the living room like we are! 

Getting a lesson from Mikey on "how to stay safe on scaffolding" and thus avoid a scary encounter with "Nurse Chris"...

 ... even though he loved hearing my "Minnesota accent" ... Yah, sure you betcha!

Becoming friends with a great group of Care-a-Vanners who ...

... skillfully and cheerfully "pay their rent" ... one nail and one smile at a time!

Until next time ... look for ways to "pay your rent"... and enjoy the adventures in your life!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

A Loop Around Sioux Falls

Our current Habitat build in Brookings, SD is making us feel like we are working full time again ... fun but busy days! In the evenings, we usually muster up just enough energy to walk around town hunting Pokemon, admiring the quiet neighborhoods and checking out the local brewery.

Wooden Legs Brewing Co has a unique draw on Wednesday nights with their "Wall Street" pricing. The price of their beer fluctuates during the evening with the supply and demand of their market ... better buy the IPAs when they are low! We enjoyed a successful evening of "buying low" with our new Habitat friends as we celebrated Jeff's birthday!

During our two mile walk from our campsite, I enjoyed the downtown points of interest like the dome of the old courthouse, the covered wagon at the Children's Museum and metal horse sculptures ... as Doug enjoyed catching the Pokemon that typically "hang out" around these sites!

But the weekends are make for the "road trips" to visit friends and sights in the vicinity!

On Labor Day weekend we were happy to be able to spend time with friends at their lake cabin and soak up the beauty of some of the last days of a northern summer.

Last weekend we decided to explore Sioux Falls with some friends. Located 40 miles south of Brookings on Interstate 90, we have always flown past it on our trips out west. The time had come to explore the source of the city's name ... the Sioux "Falls".

Sioux Falls has an 18 mile bike path that meanders along the Big Sioux River, past numerous waterfalls and around the town. Our first stop was Falls Park for a climb among the huge stones left behind by a glacier ... some photo ops.

On to the Sioux Fall's downtown area for lunch at JL Beers ... where all they do is burgers and beer, and they do them well!

Afterwards, we took time to walk through the Sidewalk Art Festival ... 225 vendors selling lots of cool stuff and NOTHING that I need or have wall space for ... imagine that!

As we continued our walk past the Victorian homes and historic buildings, we came to the Cathedral of St Joseph. I had heard from friends that it had been recently renovated and was definitely worth a visit ... we all concurred!

We were able to enjoy a self-guided tour of the artwork that added to the magnificence and reverence of the worship space.

Continuing our walk downtown we enjoyed a "cold one" ... beer and root beer ... out on the deck of the Woodgrain Brewing Co.  Doug was able to collect another coaster ... Bonus!

Walking back to our bikes, we noticed the perfect "fuel up" stop at the CH Patisserie. The vast colors, flavors and variety of the delicacies at this French pastry shop was going to make the choosing difficult, but ...

... the peanut butter cupcake was the winner with the creme brule croissant coming in a close second!

Back on our bikes, we needed to complete our loop and add on a few more miles as we road past more city parks and ... a bison??!!

Welcome to the Wild, Wild West!

We are always grateful to be able to discover the beauty ... and surprises of small town America ... in whichever small town RVentures takes us to!

Until next time ... loop around the beauty in your area ... and enjoy the adventures in your life!