The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

14 July 2004

And even more Dakota

Pierre, South Dakota — 3026.9 miles

Which, I hasten to add, is pronounced "Peer"; I was sufficiently proud of myself for remembering this at the South Dakota tourist-info booth that it didn't occur to me to check the pronunciation of towns like Watertown. (Hey, you never know.)

The transition between the Dakotas is not abrupt. In eastern South Dakota, farmland predominates, while ranching rules in the West, pretty much the way it is in North Dakota. This far south, the line of demarcation is somewhere along the Missouri River, which is about half a mile from where I'm parked right now. The city of Pierre is built more or less onto the side of a hill overlooking the river, and some of these streets are seriously steep. Outside the city, it looks like the sort of place where they'd film Dances with Wolves, which in fact it is.

Rest areas cost money, and roadside parks usually have just a couple of picnic tables and a trash can. South Dakota splits the difference by equipping roadside parks with actual outhouses. To the extent that an outhouse can be said to be up-to-date, these are; there are proper seats, and someone comes by once in a while to install a new roll of paper. I didn't attempt to measure the, um, drop distance, but it's considerable.

Speaking of drop, the official elevation at Pierre is 1490 feet, which is quite a bit lower than I'd anticipated, what with the Badlands being just beyond the river and all, but still 600 feet higher than Fargo (and 250 feet higher than Oklahoma City). This hotel has a couple of curiosities: hot tubs in some upstairs rooms, and Internet access via the AC power lines. And what would life be without curiosities?

Weird Radio Promo: KPFX-FM in Fargo-Moorhead, imaging as "The Fox," does a commercial-free hour with no DJ announcements weekdays from 9 to 10 am, during which time they, um, Shut The Fox Up. (Of course, they did say that three or four times.)

And it's "Watertown," just like it looks, in case you were wondering.

Posted at 4:10 PM to World Tour '04


Your travels through South Dakota is where my envy ceases. I have been there twice and somehow I missed the outhouse experience. Strange place.

Posted by: Babs at 5:12 PM on 14 July 2004

Had I not gotten, um, sleepy (yeah, that's the ticket) on US 14, I wouldn't have noticed them either.

Posted by: CGHill at 7:05 PM on 14 July 2004

Well naturally you know radio so this comes as no surprise . . but that is only a shameless promotion to keep people listening after the morning show. A rather effective one I would imagine but nonetheless commonplace in the radio biz.

Posted by: ms7168 at 5:09 PM on 15 July 2004

On the other hand, I was hoping to hear how Sioux City's KSUX was imaging itself, and well, it's not quite what I imagined.

Posted by: CGHill at 5:59 PM on 15 July 2004

I did not know that about the pronunciation. It's kinda like knowing how to pronounce "Boise."

I remember seeing a Dances With Wolves spot. Not the ranch, though. Pity about Kevin Costner's career.

Have you ever seen Painted Desert/Petrified Forest National Park? The terrain in Painted Desert seemed to be exactly like the Badlands to me.

Posted by: Erica at 4:09 AM on 18 July 2004