Heading South

SIOUX FALLS, SD: Good to get on I-29 going south of Fargo, probably the least-used stretch of interstate highway in the United States. Sioux Falls is a logical stop before I decide whether to head south to Tucson, or go west to Rapid City for a little scenery.

Fell for a billboard promotion of Microtel Inn and Suites. When I got to the room, I found out why they call it Microtel. It is the smallest room I have seen this side of the Atlantic. All flourescent lights. Polyester pillows. Cheap bedspread.

Seems funny to say this, but Sioux Falls traffic is miserable. I have been here three times in the past six years, and every time I end up frustrated. You see where you want to go, and it may be right across the street, but you can't get there. Last year I put 4 miles on trying to get to the Perkins across the street from my motel. Rather than cut across four lanes of traffic, which never seemed to cease, I turned right--but never could figure out how to make a U-turn.

Ended up at the Empire Mall food court for supper. I like food courts when I am traveling alone. Cheap food, pretty good, with none of the restaurant rituals to endure. Tonight, I had pizza and a cucumber salad. Very good. Went next door to the gyro shop for some dessert--balooorma, spelled with three o's, at least on their sign, a delicacy which consists of pistachio nuts wrapped in filo strands and dipped in honey. Wow.

Well, I don't get out much. There were many things at the Empire Mall I hadn't seen before. The most exotic? An oxygen bar. Yes, a place where you can pull up to a bar, stuff at tube up your nose, and get a little oxygen. Its "refreshing, rejuvenating, replenishing" said the sign. I thought it was crazy when they started selling bottled water. Now they are selling air!

There was a full store front devoted to manicures and pedicures. There were many automatic massage chairs which took dollar bills. Then, of course, the water massage machine, which looks too much like a casket for my taste.

Kiosks everywhere. At one, you could get your name engraved on a grain of rice. At another, entitled "The Identity Store," you could get a t-shirt proclaiming that whoever you are, a mechanic, a teacher, a janitor, a musician--you do it better. That seems like an old schtick to me.

I managed to take advantage of a shift change at the Hickory Farms kiosk to get two sets of samples of the same thing within ten minutes. Thought I had pulled a fast one until I realized that I still had the toothpicks from the first set of samples in my mouth when I went for the second. Pretty smooth.

Then, I spent a while at the art print store. Terry Redlin is big here. His museum is just up I-29. I passed it today. It is a $15 million dollar brick monstrosity which faces right onto the interstate. I don't find his paintings particularly tasteful. In fact, some of them seem to lack some of the basic perspective skills taught in Art I. But boy do they sell.