Off to the Midwest Again – Memorial Day Weekend 2014 – Sioux City, IA

Flying… I’m becoming a pro at it after all the trips I’ve made. This time I was flying at night, from Reno to Salt Lake then to Omaha with an hour and a half car ride up to Sloan, IA. I was beyond excited. It was a long weekend for me and I got to spend time with my boyfriend in a place we both have never been before. First stop of the flight, Salt Lake. Might I say THANK GOODNESS for the flat escalators in that airport. That place is way too big to not have them. However, it is probably one of the nicest airports I’ve been to. It was a 51 minute layover me, so I sat back, Facebooked and grubbed on some food. Finally, time to board the plane. I was fortunate enough to have a window seat on the left side of the plane facing the sunset. It was gorgeous and unique in all its own.

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Made it to Omaha and my boyfriend decided to joke that he was running late to pick me up. I was bummed, until I walked out of the terminal and there he was waiting for me! Off to Sloan we went, but not without stopping at the Iowa state line sign to snap a picture first.

The next day (Saturday) my boyfriend, Matt, had to work and his sister, Danielle, wasn’t back from visiting Nebraska yet. I was left to venture on my own with George (Matt’s beagle) in this place I had no idea about. I did plenty of research and exploring on Google Maps, but nothing prepares you for when you are actually there, in the moment, clueless on what to do or where to go. So we headed off to South Sioux City, Nebraska to get stuff at Walmart for my stay. On the way back, we stopped at a Visitor’s Center and I picked up a whole bunch of brochures to help me out. It was a nice area to walk around and get George some exercise. After the Visitor’s Center, we ventured off down a road to do some exploring at Brown’s Lake, a 20ft deep, 500 sq acre, murky brown, watering hole.

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After some time back at the hotel eating lunch and watching some TV, I got bored again.  This time George and I took off to the east down some old country road to a place in the hills called Fowler Forest Preserve. I have never in my life seen a place more green and lush than this. It was absolutely gorgeous and an experience I’ve never had, seeing as how I am from a high desert.

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 That night, Matt and I went to downtown Sioux City. It was absolutely dead. Seriously, there were barely any cars or people roaming the streets. I suppose I’m just used to living in a town that’s always buzzing with people no matter what time of the day it is. Either way, it was a perfect time for us to explore the streets and view the architecture.

After we walked the streets, we went down to some parks by the Missouri River. One was the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center (which was closed). I’ve noticed that the expedition of Lewis & Clark is a very prominent factor in Iowa and Nebraska because of the Missouri River. And being a little bit of a history buff, I find little tidbits of information about our country’s past highly intriguing. Anyways, we walked around looking at the statues and the river boat museum (which was closed too).

The next day (Sunday) I was alone again, just me and George, on a humid, rainy day. Oh, what to do? I have an idea! Back to the green hills we go! This time we went a little south to the Loess Hills State Forest. Mind you, I have ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA where I was going. Google Maps on my phone was my only hope. Luckily, it was on point and never got me lost.

First stop, Preparation Canyon State Park. My genius self decided to wear sandals, shorts and a tank top. It didn’t look like it was raining in the hills. Wrong. I took George out for a little stroll, getting my feet all wet and covered in luscious green grass. We didn’t go very far, but then again, we didn’t have to. There was so much beauty in the 1/4 mile radius we were in. The tall, gorgeous green trees. Vibrant, thick green grass.

After about an hour there, we drove aimlessly, finding an overlook and walking trail. More gorgeousness and luscious greens.

IMG_0952 Needless to say, I was pooped after that walk and exploration, so I took a nap once we got back to the hotel. Bored again, I explored the mall in Sioux City and on my way back, I decided to explore the TINY town our hotel was in, Sloan. There’s not much to it.

On Monday, Memorial Day, Danielle and I decided to make the trek up to Sioux Falls, South Dakota just to get out and about. It only took about an hour and a half to get up there. Our first stop, USS South Dakota Battleship Memorial. It was a jump back in time, seeing all of the salvaged parts from the ship and all the pictures inside of soldiers. After that, we went to a memorial park that had statues and plaques dedicated to those who have all fought in wars that are from Sioux Falls.

We headed over to what is the biggest tourist attraction in Sioux Falls, Falls Park. A historic landmark of the city and what the river and falls did for production of electricity and a mill for wheat. There are remains of the Queen Bee Mill and the Millrace and Dam, along with standing buildings of the Light and Power Company (which is now a cafe) and the pump house. The Visitors Center has a tower overlooking the park allowing for beautiful panoramic views.

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To the right of park in the last panoramic, you can see two towers representing a church. I HAD to go see it. I’m so glad we did because it led to driving around the historic district of the city with GORGEOUS Queen Anne style homes. Anyways, this church was beautiful. So much craftsmanship even on the outside. We wanted to go inside, but they were closed, so we admired the beauty of the outside for a little bit. We even found two more awesome looking churches towards Downtown.

We decided to make one final stop before heading back to Sioux City. We ended up at the Sertoma Butterfly House & Marine Cove. It had over 800 butterflies in an 80-degree tropical room, marine fishes and live coral in aquariums, and even a stingray and shark touch pool! It was pretty awesome to experience those little parts of nature!

Tuesday rolled around. Time for me to go home. The weather even fit my mood… torrential downpour. I didn’t want to leave Matt again. The only thing keeping me positive was that I would get to see him again in 5 weeks. But it seemed like such a long time away. Soon another adventure would be right around the corner…

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