As I sit here at the second truck repair shop we’ve slept at in less that a week, I still can’t get over what a great month+ we’ve had in Sioux Falls (with a 10 day trip back to ROC sans RV).
Even sitting in this repair shop, with our broken drive axle & jacked up differential – I just feel so happy about so much of the stuff that we got to experience over the past little bit.
Repair shop? Yeah, we screwed our axle. And f*cked up our differential. Which I also learned is called a ‘pumpkin’ or ‘punkin’ or ‘big expensive metal object that contains gears to make your drive wheels spin’. And apparently our ‘pumpkin’, which again, is not the delightful orange carvable, pie fodder variety, was specially designed for Dyna (and the other Dyna rigs which were built in her year or two) so we can’t just pop in a new ‘pumpkin’. We need to get a re-furbed or re-built or salvage yard variety of greasy ‘pumpkin’. So we’re waiting. For that to happen.
How did we bust our axle and yucky ‘pumpkin’? Well, that goes back to the great time we have had in Sioux Falls (which also involved a trip in the Jeep home to Rochester, NY). We let Dyna sit for over a month at the W.H. Lyons Fairgrounds in Sioux Falls while we gallivanted around town and half-way across the country in our orbiter (Jeep). While we were playing, Dyna was sitting. In the snow. And the rain. And her brakes were rusting up.
And then, when we were ready to roll-out, Dyna told us “nope.” And refused. And we were stupid. And we pushed her harder than she wanted to be pushed. And we busted her axle. And also that horrible pumpkin.
We’ve been paying for towing insurance through Coach-Net since we hit the road in 2015, and we finally got to use it! Isn’t that great? It’s good to have towing insurance if you run the risk of needing a 23ton wheeled house towed. We confirmed this on Friday, June 6th. When we needed to have Dyna towed.
But guys! Sioux Falls was so good to us! Because so many reasons.
Most importantly, and most exciting:
Like, THE Clydesdales.
The ones from Budweiser.
They just freaking rolled up in their 3-semi truck Clydesdale posse. Yup. They just caravanned 3 deep into the fairgrounds where we’d been living for a month. And my heart. Because they were also going to be living there. For a full week. With us. At the fairgrounds. (And my heart.)
And oh-my-flipping-fan-girling-god. I lost my shit. I was just typing away at my laptop, completing a project for the Mobile Internet Resource Center (where I work), and I happened to look out the the window, and, good-golly-miss-holly!
There they were.
I didn’t even save the project I was working on. I just ran out the front door screaming like a 13-year-old Justin Bieber fan.
We sat outside and watched the Mid-Westerner Budweiser Hitch unload their team (the horses!) and all of their team’s accoutrements. And then, the pony-girl gods shined down on me. The Budweiser team said we could come into the barn and watch them finish setting up. I promptly bombarded the handlers (Dennis & Rudy) with questions to the point of them not being able to do their work. So they told me to go walk their dog.
Their Budweiser hitch dog.
The one who sits atop the wagon when the hitch is pulling.
The pup’s name is Bud. Because Budweiser is super creative. Bud likes to go for walks. And is really good at sitting when you say ‘sit’. And also he’s good at finding gophers. Gophers are plentiful at the Sioux Falls Fairgrounds. I liked watching the gopher families play from the window of Dyna. Bud the dog liked chasing them back into their holes. Dennis said Bud wants to eat the gophers. I doubt it Dennis. I doubt it.
For the remainder of our stay at the fairgrounds (until the day we tried to roll-out and then busted Dyna’s rear end), I walked Bud everyday. Like a dog walking boss. I love other people’s dogs.
The Clydesdales live like royalty. They ride in semi-trucks. Their hay is flown in from St. Louis (their home). They are bathed and clipped weekly. Their farrier flies out to trim their feet every 6 weeks. They are hand-walked for an hour everyday that they are not ‘working’. They are watered throughout the day – and night. They are assigned security detail in both Bud and human form when their handlers go to their hotel for the evening.
If you ever want to hear me talk for 3 hours about horses ask me about our stay at at the fairgrounds in Sioux Falls. Because I will go IN with you.
We also met the horse trainer/groom, Shelby, for a traveling jousting team. During the same week that we met the Clydesdales. Yes, like medieval jousting. Yes, I almost died of happiness.
When you are living at a fairground, fairground events happen. Like a renaissance fair. Renaissance fairs require a jousting team. And this jousting team requires Shelby.
We spent some time with Shelby and her cohort Sydney, and even went to a Budweiser Clydesdale hitch show at the local supermarket (which is HyVee in case you are curious) with them.
On our last evening in town, while we were fighting with Dyna regarding a re-installation of slide-topper awnings on Dyna, Sydney came over and cooked us black bean burgers! Then, Shelby invited me over to ride her precious jousting steeds. Jake told me ‘to just go’, and he would finish the slide topper repair. I wasn’t much help anyways. And Jake is a good man.
Budweiser Clydesdales and riding a Percheron. A Percheron who is completely seat ridden. Who side passes and pivots. And was a big baby. Thanks, sweet Anna, for the ride!
If I die in the next few weeks – know I died very very happy.
You might be lead to believe that the Clydesdale/Percheron party was my favorite part of Sioux Falls. You’d be gosh-darned-right.
There was some other great stuff about our stay here in Sioux Falls. Much of the great stuff occurred because of our decision to live at the fairgrounds. The fairgrounds were our cheapest option, and they could host us for as long as we wanted to stay. It is also the closest RV parking option to the Sioux Falls bike trail, which loops around the city along the Big Sioux River and a diversion channel – passing behind the zoo (hey rhinos!) and through Falls Park (hey awesome waterfall situation) and alongside the airport (hey fighter jets whizzing past my head). It’s a really great 20mile path, and I thoroughly enjoyed using it for running.
It’s a good thing that I enjoy running. And that Sioux Falls offered great opportunities for me running. Because while we were in Sioux Falls we discovered fried cheese curds.
My life is forever changed. I will not look back. While I will still appreciate the mozzarella stick style fried cheese snack, I now understand that the true fried cheese snack royalty is the fried cheese curd.
We did find a few other Sioux Falls eateries that met our low standards for being edible. Our favorites were Bread&Circus, where I ordered and ate the Curried Cauliflower Pita thing all 5 times we visited, and Queen City Bakery, which bakes up sugar (cookie) on sugar (frosting) topped with sugar (sprinkles) sandwiches. The macaron shop baked macarons that I could have eaten everyday all day forever if it weren’t for going bankrupt on macarons if I tried to do that.
Good thing I run.
Life at the fairgrounds provided unique forms of entertainment – horse shows and kids horse camps, hotrod swap meets and parking lot car racing, a dinosaur show, and even a helicopter landing in our front yard. In case you were curious (and you should be), the helicopter landed on a morning that the Clydesdales were in town and being walked. They didn’t flinch – but the air from the copter sure did make their manes look even cooler!
We did leave the fairgrounds to explore on occasion. And once, near the beginning of our stay, we even left to meet up with a friend from our former life in Rochester – a former roommate of Jake. Ashley and her sidekick Vita were driving cross-country and noted that we were in Sioux Falls, so we met her and Vita at Falls Park then she and Vita spent the night on our couch. This was very exciting for Lucy, as Lucy watched Vita grow from a puppy to a dog – making sure to remind Vita of her place in the world (lower on the totem pole of power than her clearly) as she grew. It was a very short visit, and in the morning we all woke up to snow coating the ground.
We also ventured out to Palisades State Park and Devil’s Gulch and on the recommendation of our dentist. Both were geologically interesting, but neither offered hikes of any decent length. We still had a nice morning.
The dentist (and doctor and DMV and courthouse and treasurer) were the reasons that we decided to spend a month in Sioux Falls. Getting our lives in order and our bodies checked up. So it was nice of the dentist to give us some recommendations of things to do. And also to do a decent job of teeth cleaning. The doctor, on the other hand, gave me a vaccine injury.
Ok, I jest. The doctor was fine. And also, please vaccinate yourself and your children if the disease being vaccinated for is communicable. But also, the shingles vaccine is a b*tch.
Yes – I am much younger than 50. Yes – I still got the shingles vaccine. They are my kryptonite. And also, the vaccine itself is apparently my kryptonite. That sh*t knocked me on my ass!
Best cure for getting knocked on your ass?
We found several good dispensers of quality liquid hops. My favorite was Monk’s House of Ale Repute – they had some nice beers, and also offered taps that were not brewed in house. The pizza was good too. Woodgrain was drinkable – we celebrated triumphing over the obstacles of being nomadic resident at the DMV by drinking pints there. Fernson didn’t win me over – but we still drank a glass of their swill at two of their locations – downtown on Sioux Falls’ First Friday, and at their main brewery while we were getting Dyna’s differential repaired. Conveniently, Fernson’s main brewery is right next door to the Dyna differential repair shop. Eh’ beer for an eh’ situation.
Which leads me to telling you about the other ‘eh’ situations of Sioux Falls. Most all of them include catching up on Dyna related repairs – and most all of them include the times we took her to a shop to get them done.
Sioux Falls has ‘hiring’ signs posted on nearly every business in town – including every mechanic shop we entered. The city doesn’t seem to be able to supply the talent that the local businesses are in need of, because we got some bad work done here. Our oil change was a nightmare. Our new tire install was okay – but took all day.
Luckily, Jake is a ‘doer’ and took much of the work on himself. He replaced an Aquahot exhaust pipe that we knocked off while hauling up to a BLM spot in Moab. He played with our generator until he got it puffing along normally again (thanks for the tip on that, Bob). He removed our slide toppers – which had detached in places – took them for revitalizing at an awning shop, then reinstalled them. He performed some of the ‘normal’ maintenance that comes with a mobile house – water filter changes and battery cleaning.
And all of that stuff is working great. But damn – take your rig in for an oil change and come ‘home’ with blow-by all up the backside because they overfilled it by several quarts, oil on your carpet, and a scratch on your door – with a hefty bill. Jake has decided to do Dyna oil changes himself from now on – we’ll just purchase a large pan when we need it.
Repair shops stink.
But you know what doesn’t stink? Trips back to the Western NY area to visit friends and family. Even if those trips have to commence a few days earlier than expected because of funerals.
We ditched Dyna at W.H. Lyon Fairground for 10 days – and left Lucy under the care of a Rover based cat-sitter – and drove the Jeep to Rochester. It was an 18 hour drive – and we slept in the back or the jeep during both the trip to NY and the trip back to Sioux Falls.
We spent time with friends, and family, and food. Plenty of Rochester food.
Our emergency trip placed us in Rochester for my birthday. I spent a morning running a familiar route – and into familiar faces. I traipsed around the Lilac Festival with Rita & Sara & Jason & new babies from my old classroom – the classroom I worked in as an SLP in what feels like a former life. I drank hard cider with my sister and Jake and friends, and then dined on one of my favorite delicacies: Modern Indian food fricassee from Naan-Tastic.
We crashed with our buddy Jeffy, and his Jen, and spent time mostly watching him work on his backyard, and occasionally helping him work a little bit.
Jake’s little sister, Emily, stopped through town and we spent an afternoon sauntering about the Lilac Fest, playing VR, and eating at Naan-Tastic. Again. Because I have an obsession.
I spent a teenage throwback evening at a sleep-over hosted by our sweet friend Tricia. I spent the evening drinking, giggling, chatting, eating (more) Naan-Tastic with Tricia and Ricky – absorbing all the love my spongey soul could hold in hopes that I can slowly wring it out during my time away from them. That same evening, Jake gallivanted around town throwing axes and drinking evening mimosas with our friends Janel, Chris, and my sister (because apparently she enjoys hanging out with Jake more than she does me. I jest. A little.)
Life in Rochester was good. We love that city and our people there.
We also made the trek back to Owego to spend my dad’s birthday with him. We got to spend some time doing 8 year old stuff with our Dexter, and spend some time doing mom stuff with my mom.
After a quick jaunt back up to Rochester for a wedding celebration, we headed to Olean to spend an evening with Fred. We love Fred.
And then we steered the Jeep 18 hours back to Sioux Falls to return to our Lucy girl. We made a breakfast stop in Rochester, MN. Because. But we didn’t spend longer than breakfast there – because our girl was waiting impatiently for us in Sioux Falls. And though we didn’t know it yet – a troupe of Budweiser Clydesdales and a jousting team would meet us there too a few days later.
When I started writing this post, we were sitting at a repair shop awaiting an axle and pumpkin/diff repair. I’m happy to report that as I finally finish typing, we are 13 hours down the road – after an evening at a rest stop, and an evening at a WalMart. Dyna lives! And out our front window the Tetons loom large.
And life is good.