Thursday, September 21, 2023

2020 pandemic road trip to from Wisconsin to Montana: Chapter 2

Photos and videos by Retiring Guy

Sioux Falls masks up

Thursday, September 17, 2020 

We chose Sioux Falls, South Dakota, for it geography, not its attractions. It is located approximately halfway between Middleton and Rapid City. Not that there isn’t anything to do here. It is, after all, with a population of 180,000, the state’s largest city. 

The Food Network series, “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives”, proved to be the deciding factor. 

“I wonder if Guy Fieri has ever visited Sioux Falls?” I asked while JoAnna, Andy and I watched an episode one evening. 

A headline in the 6/26/2020 edition of the Sioux Falls Argus-Leader provided the answer: The article named four restaurants, based on the fact that they all announced irregular temporary closings during the last week of June, although not all of the owners, when contacted, offered a clear confirmation. 

So just like that. Lodging: . Dinner: . (Our restaurant choice was the Bread and Circus Sandwich Restaurant, which offered patio seating.) 

What about an activity, I wondered. 

After 8½ hours in a car, exploring the center city of Sioux Falls on foot made the top of the list. Admittedly, we had few other options, especially in the Age of Covid. 

The city was named for a series of waterfalls on the Big Sioux River, located on what is now the northeastern edge of the downtown business district. What used to be an industrial area powered by the rushing water was transformed ten years ago into Falls Park, an expansive green space with numerous overlooks of the river and falls. In fact, much of the downtown and uptown areas appear to have been extensively redeveloped during that past 30 years: hotels, office buildings, apartments, a river walk an architecturally stunning new county courthouse and public library. If I had grown up in Sioux Falls, moved away and hadn’t visited since high school graduation, I wouldn't have recognized what I saw. 

After our walk, we spied a sign for the Severance Brewery, housed on the ground floor of one of the new apartment buildings on the western edge of the park. 

“Let’s have a pre-dinner beer,” JoAnna suggested. 

“Sounds good to me,” I agreed. 

Although inside seating was permitted, we preferred the open space of the brewery’s patio, which was occupied by just two other people. All the staff wore masks, and everyone who walked into the business did likewise. The same was true with the hotel staff as well as the staff and customers at the Bread and Circus. This series of observations surprised me, pleasantly, as South Dakota Governor Kristie Noem, a Trump sycophant of the first degree, has consistently dismissed the seriousness of the virus, rescuing to issue statewide orders for wearing masks and social distancing. She encouraged attendance at the annual Sturgis motorcycle rally but probably won’t take credit for creating a superspreader event. Granted, it’s a very small sample of the population we encountered in Sioux Falls, but what we saw is people taking the virus seriously. 

Will this practice continue as we move farther west? 

Stay tuned for the next installment.

Read about the entire trip

And check out "Covid Chronicles" here.

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