While it might not be surprising that a place called Sioux Falls has actual water falls in the downtown area, it’s still pretty cool that there are actually water falls in the downtown area. Since I was in an actual city, I also made sure to look around for some good food and got some sparring in. And on my way out of town, I also learned way more about sheep (and beer) than I ever thought I would.
The waterfalls that currently inhabit downtown Sioux Falls (probably the other way around) were formed at the tail end of the last ice age by runoff from the Big Sioux River. The town built up around it because the falls could be used as a hydroelectric power source. Since back then, it was more difficult to move power over long distances from the generation point, the downtown area sprung up nearer to the power plant. The falls themselves are roughly 14,000 years old. There is a huge park around the falls area which made for a great oasis downtown.
I asked around and there wasn’t a whole lot of places that Sioux Falls residents revere for their food. However, Sickie’s Garage happens to not only be a good place to hang out, it has great food too. When I saw that they had a Mac and Cheese burger on the menu, I kind of leapt at it. Their wings are also up there with some of the better ones I’ve had in general. They have a lot of sauce options which made choosing a flavor more difficult. But all the wings were really juicy (picture doesn’t do it justice). I finished off that meal with a turtle cheesecake. It’s rare that you get the right texture on cheesecake at a bar, but they nailed it. While Sickie’s delivered a great all around meal, the best part about it was the staff. Easily 6 or 7 different people stopped to hang out and have full on conversations with me (which can obviously be taxing to some). That’s not something that happens at every place I eat.
I was able to pop in to one of the MMA schools in Sioux Falls for an evening of training. As sometimes happens with the training combat sports, you get injured. During one of the rolls, I got heel hooked, tapped in time and as we were disentangling, my knee popped. As a result I spent the next day or so mostly in bed doing minimal walking. Thankfully it happened at the end of the class rather than the beginning. This definitely didn’t take anything away from the training. Everyone there was awesome. The jiujitsu was super relaxed and I got to experience a style of teaching BJJ that I’ve never seen before. At the beginning of class, the instructor handed out a laminated sheet of roughly 20 moves. Each of those 20 moves are demonstrated in a YouTube playlist that everyone is expected to watch before class. Then during the class, you go down the list of moves until both partners feels comfortable with them while the instructor walks around helping people who need it. It was refreshing to see a different methodology to teaching jiujitsu and to see it work well.
Palisades Park felt like a pictorial lesson in geology. The entire park was beautiful with some great hiking and gorgeous scenery. The bluffs that lined the sides of Split Rock Creek are covered in glacial striations. Striations are long smooth cutouts of (in this case) Sioux Quartzite where the glacier slowly dragged rocks and other embedded material in the bottom of the glacier across the quartzite. These striations are how geologists know the directions in which the glaciers receded at the tail end of the ice age. Overall, Palisades Park felt like a research project in geology and the development and change of the Earth. It had all sorts of interesting features including bluffs, rock joints, cross bedding, ripple marks, and mud cracks. The trick was just identifying them and what they meant.
Agricultural Heritage, Beer, and Sheep
At South Dakota State University, they have an agricultural heritage museum that’s only a little ways off the highway. It just so happened that they had 2 special exhibits there that aren’t normally there. One exhibit was on sheep, the other one was on beer (but sadly no free samples). They did, however, have a color chart of beers that compared lagers and ales. What I thought was even more interesting was the chemistry of beer. While I generally knew the process, seeing it broken down by chemistry at each stage of the process was really interesting. And then there was the sheep exhibit. There are roughly 20 different types of wool producing sheep each with their own unique characteristics of wool. Most people think of wool as hair, just on sheep. While that is partially true, wool has scales which is helps it stay together after the Lanolin is removed. Lanolin is a natural oil secreted by wool producing sheep and is present in raw wool. During the cleaning and processing of wool, the Lanolin is removed and used in things like body lotion and lip balm. After all that is done, the last part of the museum was an exhibit demonstrating all the different parts of a sheep (or lamb) to be consumed. It is part of the consistent theme of making full use of what our environment has to offer us.