Posts made in July, 2012

Recurrent Annoyance

Grocery stores in small towns that do not sell beer or wine (looking at you De Smet and Tracy) – Prohibition was repealed in 1933; long past time to accept the fact that the wets won out (possible truthy fact: Harry Truman used to go into bars declaring his intention to “strike a blow for liberty.”)

While the local gas station will sell a frightening simulacrum of the potables in question, not having them in grocery stores tilts the playing field against the self caterer.

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Brand New State, It Ain’t Great (Yet)

Today I crossed into Minnesota, but the occasion was underwhelming – not only was there no “Welcome to Minnesota” sign but the wind was in my face, there were hills and the shoulder on Hwy 14 looked like this:

On the bright side, there were wind turbines, lots of wind turbines:


And Benton Lake looks quite nice:

So I stuck it out on Hwy 14 until I got to Tyler, where this refrigerator at the BP caught my eye:

While stopping there for a rest, I fell into a chat with a couple of retired locals named Tom and Clarence who had lived in those parts pretty near all their lives. We had the usual banter about the craziness of biking cross country in the heat and the unfathomability of why anyone would live in a big city, but I’ll say this for them – they knew the back county roads all around them and which ones had good shoulders and which had what kind of road surface (though it took me awhile to understand what Clarence meant when he said a particular road was “tard.”)

I got into the little town of Tracy just as it was getting hot and went down to see what time and/or misfortune had done to the historic section.




This last shot is of a bank that is now on its third incarnation as a restaurant; I may go there for dinner but it seems a little sketchy; might be a better idea to save the ducats for New Ulm, tomorrow’s destination.


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Brookings, South Dakota

This town was my final stopping point in South Dakota. I got there yesterday after a short quick ride from De Smet and had some time to have a look around.

Here’s the County Courthouse, still looking good:

And the “Carnegie” Library – the town was initially turned down in its bid for funding so the locals raised the money themselves and established the library. A few years later, Brookings did get a grant from the foundation for its library.

There’s still a nice historic downtown but the imposing old banks, emblematic of a prideful yet sober prosperity, have been turned into bars and restaurants; not sure what the moral is there.

This one has a restaurant on the ground floor and a bar in the basement.

This building anchors the southern end of Main Street:

and looks like this on the inside:

One side of Main Street has fared better:

than the other:

I saw a similar sign in Walla Walla; more anti-Keynesian pablum:

I took this picture in the basement bar for my brother John:

The bartender there was a local SDSU student named Alex:

She will graduate in December 2013 with a degree in marketing and wants to head to the mid-Atlantic coast. I told her about legal marketing and gave LMA a shout-out so you never know – some of you may hear of her in the future.

I ended the evening by self catering a nice dinner from Walmart of all places (in my defense, it was the only grocery store at all near the motel; in its favor, the quality, selection and price were quite good – way better than what I’ve been seeing in the local IGAs):


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So There’s This Town Called De Smet

And it’s in sort of southeastern South Dakota and it’s where Laura Ingalls Wilder grew up when she was a kid. The town is full of old buildings with placards that pair historical details with relevant passages from her books, and there’s a big pageant in the summertime and guided walking tours and the like.

Long-time friends of the blog won’t be surprised that I couldn’t be arsed to give a monkey’s so there are no pictures. For anyone for whom that’s a disappointment

a) you’re probably well advised to stop reading this blog and

b) the books are treacly nonsense written by the daughter and the show was execrable.

But to show I’m not all hard hearted, here’s a road sign to assuage the slight:


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Look Ma!

Good shoulders!


Hwy 14 out of De Smet toward Brookings is a good ride.

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About Me

Born in Baltimore and raised in Cincinnati, I have lived on both coasts and driven back and forth across the country a number of times. I now have the "midlife opportunity" to do so on two wheels.