9/19/12 – Wednesday
Since there was no one at the gate when I pulled in, I self registered. There were three copies of the slip I filled out, one went with the check into the drop box, one went on the post for the site I stayed in, and one went in the window of my truck. Because there was no true receipt, I was worried that it wouldn’t count for the proof I need to get my driver’s license, so I ran down to the DMV (it wasn’t far) after I got everything set up with the truck copy of the slip to see. Otherwise I would have had to run back to the park to hunt down a park employee the next day then make a second trip.
Yep, it counted. And since I had the rest of the paperwork with me in the car, I was able to get my license that day ($20), mere hours after arriving in SD. I pulled in at about 3:50pm and was out less than a half hour later with my shiny new South Dakota license, fastest trip to the DMV ever.
Feeling much better with that settled, I discovered that not one block from the DMV was a Culver’s restaurant, it was meant to be. There are no Culver’s in the south, at least not in South Carolina, and it was one of my favorite fast food places when I lived in Wisconsin. I enjoyed chicken and frozen custard, and then one block from that was a Hy-Vee store that had free internet so I could get caught up on online things.
9/20/12 – Thursday
I awoke to temps in the mid fourties, brr. After breakfast, it was an hour drive to get to Madison, my actual city of ‘residence’. There I went to the courthouse to get my registration papers and SD license plates. It cost $382 for everything. I’ll write more about why it was so much in a later post when I go into more detail about how to set up your residency in SD as a RVer, but I’ll just say that I knew it was going to cost that much and was expecting it.
There were a couple other things to do in Madison. I stopped by the My Dakota Address office in person to pick up my mail, might as well right? Close to that was a Wells Fargo, so I changed my address with them and ordered new checks with my SD address on them, the more things I can do to make it look like Madison is my home the better.
Back home that afternoon, it was time to do some exploring. Big Sioux has two hiking trails, and this day I took the prairie one. It started along the banks of the Big Sioux river, and then crossed a neat looking suspension bridge to the other side.
We had a bit of this back in Wisconsin and there I had little appreciation for it. I’ve always been a fan of trees and thought Wisconsin’s forests prettier, but the open plains of this area are on a much grander scale than in Wisconsin. Especially after being surrounded by the dense sub-tropical jungles and salt marshes of coastal South Carolina for the past three years it is a dramatic and awe inspiring sight.
Multitudes of grasshoppers leapt out of my way as I crossed the fields past small copses of trees and brushy vegetation. Sparrows chirped to one another and flew in flocks from spot to spot, feeding on grass seeds and berries. The trail climbed up a hill, and at the top I was rewarded with a magnificent view of Sioux Falls and the surrounding countryside. The only sound up here was the gusting wind and the rushing sound it made over the dried grasses. I wasn’t expecting this to be a scenic stop, just a place to stay while I took care of residency stuff, but as I breathed in the crisp fall air and felt the warm sun on my face I wished that I could spend more time here. Sadly this park (and the other state parks nearby as well) are all filled up this weekend, and having been to the top of this hill I can now understand why. This part of South Dakota is beautiful in it’s own way.
9/21/12 – Friday
Temps dropped even further overnight, to 40 degrees. Luckily I had my electric heater courtesy of the previous owner and it did wonders. Last night it was a McDonalds that I got my internet from, and this morning it was another Hy-Vee as I researched where I wanted to go from here.
Let me say that Hy-Vees are kind of awesome. I’d never been to one before, although apparently there is now one in Madison, WI as of almost three years ago, right after I left. They’re mostly a grocery store, but they have a pharmacy and wine departments off to the side, that isn’t so unusual. Besides that though, the walls are lined with little specialty shops: cheese, bakery, pizza, there is even a cafe and sandwich shop with ample seating. A fountain bubbled in the corner of the seating area and TV’s displayed the news. It felt a little like the hospitality area of an airport, but cooler. The one I was in also had three different bathroom areas, there was just that much stuff there.
After that was the second Big Sioux trail, called Valley of the Giants. For those people like me who love their trees, this walk delivers. It follows the river, and there are some massive trees growing along it’s banks, I couldn’t believe it. And I’m use to seeing live oaks, and still I’d call these trees big. Anyone know what kind of trees these are? Because I’m not sure. All I know is they’re pretty, and they’re large. Apparently two of the biggest trees in the state grow here.
After that impressive display, it was time to get ready to pull out. Check out in the SD state park system is 4pm, I left the gate at 3:50. From there I drove South back down I-29, the forecast was full of frost advisories and I wanted nothing to do with that without electric hookups.
9/22/12 – Today (Saturday)
Last night I spent at a Pilot travel center just south of Omaha. This post is actually being brought to you from a Walmart parking lot in St. Joseph, MO. It’s actually a pretty sweet spot for a RVer, the Walmart is right off the interstate and I stocked up on groceries before settling in to write, then just next door is a Sam’s Club where I can park and post it up using their free wifi.
I’m not starting at Amazon until the 4th now, instead of having orientations weekly on Sunday and Monday they’re now doing them on Thursday and Friday which pushed everything back a little. Hopefully I can get my reservations at Big Chief moved back as well, waiting to hear back from them still.
In the meantime, tentative plans have me staying in the Missouri state park system for a while, as several of their parks offer wifi and I’d like to sit still a bit longer to get some more things taken care of. The low tonight here in St. Joseph is 31, so I’ll probably keep going south for now.
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Ack, computer battery dying! Going to post this up quick, I promise I’ll respond to all comments once it’s charged…