Monday, June 16, 2008 -- Pierre, SD
Before I get started, let me bring up the pronunciation of the name of the city we're near... Pierre. Despite looking like it should be "Pea'-air", it's pronounced by locals (and those in the know) as "Peer". Don't ask why. That's just the correct South Dakota pronunciation and I wasn't able to find anyone that could explain it to me. But because there are only 15,000 people in the whole dang town, I'm sure there are more people in the USA pronouncing it wrong than there are saying it right. So what's right and what's wrong anyway??
After one of our longer drives in recent memory -- 285 miles -- we arrived in Pierre later in the afternoon yesterday, Sunday. It took a little effort to find just the right campsite but once we did we were backed in, jacks down, slides out, and setting up house until I remembered we didn't fill our fresh water tank. A lot of these old Corps of Engineers parks have electricity, but no water right at your site. You've got to go to one of a few water spigots around the park and fill the tank of the camper before parking. Our fresh water tank is 105 gallons and we usually try to travel with only maybe 15 or 20 gallons -- just enough for basic needs while traveling. Today, we were running low and certainly had to add some. So everything had to go back to travel mode so we could get the necessary water on board.
Once settled in the site for the second time it was getting late and we were hungry. There's a small restaurant attached to a marina not far from the campsite and, at least tonight, the vote was unanimous. Dar rationalized the expenditure on the basis that it was Father's Day.
Speaking of Father's Day, both Dar and I had good conversations with our Dad's yesterday. I do find myself appreciating my Dad and Mom more and more as the years go by. The perspective I gain from added years and experience, of having gone through the complete father-cycle myself from birth to adulthood -- twice, and from wisdom and humility that seems to be correlated with age... I understand better now what a tough job it is and how well both my parents did. Thanks Dad and Mom. You are simply the best Dad and Mom in my world!
Pierre is one of the smallest state capital cities in the USA... second only behind Montpelier, VT. It's only one of 5 state capitals not serviced by an interstate highway. It's the only one that sits right on a timezone boundary -- downtown Pierre is in Central Time, across the river in Fort Pierre and at our campground, it's Mountain Time. My suspicion is that most locals that live in the Mountain Time Zone near here probably are living by Central Time -- the same as Pierre. If so, this is clearly against all the rules and these people, if found out, could be in for some serious fines, and perhaps jail time. But I've also found that people in South Dakota, like those in other sparsely populated western states, pretty much do whatever they want to. And I do admire that spirit.
Today, Monday, after a quick trip to the grocery store to replenish our depleted stocks, we did a tour of the South Dakota Capitol Building. It's an impressive and handsome building, modeled after the Montana State Capitol in Helena. Though smaller than Capitol buildings I'm more familiar with -- Wisconsin and Illinois -- it's neat as a pin and feels official -- it exudes the importance of government.
We talked with another couple at the Capitol that was taking a year off to see all the National Parks and all the State Capitol buildings. I'd say they're putting on a lot of miles and rushing more than we've been. I got tired just talking with them. Wow.
Pierre has a series of biking/hiking paths along the river and around an island in the river just adjacent to downtown. After our Capitol visit, we pedaled around for a couple hours, then headed home to grill some vegetables and a pork loin. It was an exceptional end to a wonderful day.