Archive for July 2009

Baseball Cards And Bikes

Posted: Friday, July 31, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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Well, it’s come down to this.
My creativity lapse has led me to stealing ideas from other writers.
At least I’m swiping from one of the best; James Lileks.
One of his recent columns in the Star Tribune featured a kid named Adam who had come up with, what he thought was, the coolest new idea for making his bicycle sound like a motorcycle. He’d used a clothes pin to attach a playing card onto the front fork so when the wheel turned, the spokes would cause it to make a flapping noise like (if you use your imagination) a motor.
Mr. Lileks didn’t have the heart to tell Adam that kids have been doing that for nearly a century.
 
Most of us who grew up in the fifties, and are now 21st century geezers, like to tell stories of how we used  baseball cards to get that motorbike effect; cards that now might be worth a fortune to collectors if we’d only known.
I doubt that.
Even back then we knew a great card when we got one. We wouldn’t think of destroying a  Mickey Mantle, Duke Snider or Hank Aaron if we were lucky enough to get one in a pack. But most of the time, the ones that showed up were guys like Art Ditmar, Jerry Lumpe or Danny Kravitz.  Perfectly good candidates for spoke work.             
They weren’t much good for that either. They’d give a pretty nice crisp “fwapping” sound for about a block before they turned soft and silent. We might have had better luck using those flat, pink square pieces of crumbly dry bubble gum, that came with the cards.
Playing cards worked better but the ones in my folks dresser drawer were for canasta games..and don’t you forget it!
 
It’s funny..I can’t even remember what kind of bicycle I had back then or even what it looked like.  I think it was my older brother’s hand-me-down because I do recall he got a brand new bike from Montgomery Wards. It was a 26 inch model in a sort of greenish yellow color. It had an enclosed cross bar, one of those thumb-operated bells on the handle bar and a headlight on the front fender for night riding. It was powered by a generator on the wheel so the faster you went, the brighter the light. Unfortunately, if you peddled down you were back in the dangerous darkness. It was like this one from "Monkey" Wards only in chartruse instead of orange. I also remember my little brother’s bike; a 20 inch red model with no bells, lights or whistles.
 
I suppose the reason I don’t have any memories of my own bike is because at age 13 I didn’t need to stick cards in the spokes to get a motorcycle sound… My dad bought me the REAL deal!
It was a 1949 red and black Harley Davidson 125..one cylinder beauty that belonged to an older cousin who was going into the service.
I’ve written before here about what a thrill it was to ride up and down the streets of Volga on that thing; the envy of all those kids on their expensive Schwinns.Me on my magnificent red Harley..surrounded by admiring friends and cousins.
But my Marlon Brando days as the “Brookings County Wild One” were short lived. The cycle would sit idle for months at a time because it needed a part or repair that I couldn’t afford.
Plus I came close to getting killed..or at least neutered..on the thing when I slammed into a car at an intersection. It sent me somersaulting over the handlebars catching my crotch on the headlight.
The accident bent the Harley’s front fork which the local welding shop managed to straighten out again..but by that time I was losing interest in both bicycles or motorcycles. I wanted something with four wheels. 
I was finally old enough to take my “Driver’s Test”…which I failed.
But that’s a story for another day.  

Play That Funky Music White Boy

Posted: Tuesday, July 28, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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Wow..what a writing slump I’m in!
I’ve tried to scribble a few things together over the past few days but then decide its all redundant tripe or just plain crapola..so I give it up… hoping that something better pops into my head or in the headlines that’s worth a comment or two here.
But lately..nothing.
I think the main problem is that my whole life has been in a bit of a slump.
Oh, things are fine with Linda and me, thank God, but I’m mad at myself for not following through on a promise to lose weight before our Holiday Vacations Railroading in the Rockies tour  in early September. Just over a month to go and the only chance I have at making my goal is to have a leg surgically removed.
I don’t know if there’s a connection, but my golf game..which has never been anything to write home about, has suddenly become as disappointing as my ability to say no to a black raspberry shake from the B&G Milky Way.  
There are other things too: a daughter who’s separated from her husband after nearly 25 years of marriage.
Family members and friends with some serious health issues.
The nagging doubts about salvation that I still can’t shake despite assurances received in church each Sunday that my sinful ways are forgiven and my ticket to heaven is still punched and valid despite any misgivings.
I guess there are some things beyond our control that we just have to accept and live with.
For instance, I have a favorite cousin who hasn’t spoken to me since February because I’m sure he and his family blame me for his getting laid off over a blog I wrote in which I relayed some of the humorous things he had been telling me about his job.
I pulled the blog as soon as he called to let me know that his bosses didn’t find it funny.
I thought that was the end of it but a few months later, my cousin joined the ranks of the unemployed and, I guess it’s my fault.
Anyway, I don’t know of any way to make that situation right again.  
Sorry to lay this on you.I think I’ll ask the doctor if he’ll up my dosage of Prozac. That might help snap me out of this funk.
Oh wait..my doctor’s name IS “Funk.”Now that’s depressing.

Are You A Racist?

Posted: Wednesday, July 22, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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rac·ism
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  (ra’siz’?m)    

The belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others.
Discrimination or prejudice based on race.

Come on..let’s be honest. If we go by the dictionary definition above, most of us (me included) are racists.
I’m not talking about the degree of racism associated with masked men wearing white robes and pointy hats or neo Nazis and skinheads who claim whites reign supreme over all other races and won’t hesitate to make their point through acts of hatred and violence.
No, I’m referring to the subtle racist thoughts we have and comments we make on a regular basis. For example, when you hear or read about a crime committed in Sioux Falls are you not the least bit surprised when the perpetrators turn out to be Hispanic, Black, Indian or some other minority?  
Do you resent being told that it’s disrespectful if you do not say African American or Native American like I just did?
Have you ever commented about how working for John Morrell in Sioux Falls used to be a prestigious occupation before the owners broke the union and started hiring minorities to save money?  
Have you ever made comments about the condition of houses or yards while driving through towns on any South Dakota Indian reservation?
Do you cringe when you see the way many Black celebrities or athletes act, talk or dress when you see them on television?
Have you ever thought or said, “If these immigrants are going to live in this country why don’t they learn the language and dress like us?”
Have you ever thought or said, “They’re as racist toward us as we are to them.”
 
Please understand..I HATE the fact that I have these thoughts. I’m just not quite sure how to get rid of them.
I am well aware of..and embarrassed by.. the awful  injustice and deplorable treatment of Blacks and Indians by Whites throughout our history. But I can’t assume responsibility for what others before me have done..can I?Some suggest that we need to really make an effort to better understand those who are different from us; take the first step…get to know them…offer up friendship.
The truth is, very few people are actually willing to do that.
One exception who immediately comes to mind, though, is the recently retired head of “The Banquet” in Sioux Falls, Carolyn Downs. 
I’ve interviewed Carolyn dozens of times over the years and she was and is the epitome of  tolerance be it racial or sociological.  She always respected anyone and everyone who came through her door seeking shelter and a hot meal. The kindness she has shown was not only admirable but as genuine as her smile.
Two others, whom I just met this past winter in Phoenix, are longtime friends of our desert daughter, Christy.
They, also seem to demonstrate the kind of attitude we all must strive for if we’re to live lives free of prejudice.
Amy and Dan Willis live in Indianapolis. He owns an electronic payment processing business and works out of the home. She is a former teacher who is now employed by a private education foundation.
 In 2006, Amy traveled to Guatemala; a trip that included a stop at an orphanage.
The site of so many abandoned children broke her heart.
She and Dan had been talking for a long time about adopting a Guatemalan child and the orphanage visit sealed the deal. 
Before long, they began the long complicated and expensive process of being matched with just such a child.
When they finally met little Eduardo, the mutual affection was instantaneous and permanent.
 Over the next year there were many trips back and forth between Indiana and Guatemala plus lots of government red tape which caused several anxious moments but the green light was finally given and Eddie was theirs to keep forever.  Eddie and his new family shortly after the adoption was finalized.
Even though Eduardo was leaving his country, the Willises were determined that he would always be aware of his Latin heritage and culture. So he’s now learning Spanish right along with English and will be making annual trips to Guatemala with his mom and dad. 
You won’t find three happier people.Back home again in Indiana, Eduardo gives thumbs up to his goofy toy glassesI was surprised to learn later that Dan and Amy didn’t adopt because they couldn’t have children of their own.  They simply decided many years ago that this is how they wanted to build a family; sharing their love and resources with a child already here but with little hope for much of a future.
I think I could learn a lot about tolerance and kindness through the example of people like the Willises and Carolyn Downs.
Maybe we all could. Who wants to take the first step?

Everything But The Stewart Cink

Posted: Sunday, July 19, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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Lund At Large
My heart is broken and I’m disappointed to the point of gloom…all over a game of golf.
But not just any game of golf..this was the  British Open, considered by most to be the most prestigious golf tournament in the world.  
 
Many figured this year’s event in Scotland would be a bust since the world’s greatest player, Tiger Woods, had a tough time finding the fairways of Turnberry and wound up missing the cut for the first time since..who the heck knows? Forever.
The second best player in the world, Phil Mickelson wasn’t there either opting instead to rightfully remain stateside with his wife who is being treated for cancer.
 
So what could possibly make the tournament interesting?
How about 59 year old 5 time British Open winner, Tom Watson playing like he was 29 again..leading the darn thing by one stroke going into the final hole?!
 
32 years ago at that same golf course, Watson brought huge ovations from the normally restrained British fans when he outdueled the great Jack Nicklaus to win. 1977 British Open also at Turnberry in which Watson (left) claimed victory.
Now, all he had to do is par the 18th to make history as the oldest player by far ever to win a major.
You see, I, and every other geezer golfer out there had a personal stake in this.
We needed someone to step forward and champion our cause by giving all these flat bellied, emotionless, long hitting kids a lesson in how the game used to be played..when woods were actually made of wood and golf balls would tear apart if not hit properly.
 A year ago, we seniors almost had our hero when 53 year old Greg Norman came out of retirement and wound up leading the British Open only to crumble like a soda cracker with 8 bogies on Sunday losing out to a much younger Padraig Harrington.
 
This weekend, Tom Watson had everyone believing that he’d managed to turn time on its ear. Thanks to recent a recent hip replacement, there was a spring in his step, a game plan in his pocket and confidence in his eyes.
The announcers, most of them retired golfers much younger than Watson, were giddy at the possibility that he could actually win.
On 18, at three under par and with all the pressure one can imagine, Watson gave his club the familiar three waggles and launched yet another perfect drive.
The players he’d been battling all day had fallen by the wayside…everyone except for Stewart Cink.
Cink, who’d been playing several holes ahead of Watson, managed a rare birdie on 18 to finish at two under par making him the leader in the clubhouse.  
Not to worry, though, Watson, still calm and determined, hit his second shot dead at the flag..but a little strong and the ball rolled off the back edge of the green against the taller rough.
The crowd, realizing they were witnessing perhaps the greatest moment in the game’s long history, roared as Watson strolled up 18.
Anyone who has followed Tom Watson’s career knows him to be a terrific chipper and a lousy putter..at least short putts.
So it was puzzling to see him try to putt the ball out of the rough and run it eight feet past the hole.
Oh, no!
If he makes it, the world of golf as we know it, changes..at least in the hearts and minds of those of us sixty somethings who need to believe we still have some good..maybe great.. games left in us.
 If he misses, it’s a four hole playoff against a well rested thirty something giant of a man dressed in a goofy green outfit and hungry for his first major win.
Apparently the enormity of his situation could no longer be controlled as Watson’s putt made sort of a sickening clunk off the blade and rolled pitifully off-line and short. Amid the groans of the partisan gallery, he tapped in and headed back onto the course for the playoff.
But it was too late. Tom Watson was totally deflated. He’d blown his chance at immortality and  knew it.
The four playoff holes are just too sad to talk about except to say that Cink clobbered Watson by six strokes!
Then, as the new champion relished his victory, and the gracious loser smiled through his tears, the disappointed fans drifted away in stunned silence as if the poor guy, Cink,  had just peed on Princess Diana’s headstone.
As for the rest of us?
Well, we’ll drift away too..dejected..at having been reminded of the very dissatisfying reality that time travel is only a dream and dreams don’t always come true..in golf or life.  

Making Hay While The Sun Shines

Posted: Wednesday, July 15, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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That noise you hear coming from the Keloland countryside is the sound of corn, soybeans and alfalfa growing.
I know that some farmers have suffered hail and wind damage because of all the storms passing through over the last several weeks but in the fields that have been spared, I don’t remember ever seeing such rapid crop growth thanks to bountiful rainfall and hot sunny days.
 
When I was a kid in high school, this was the time of year when I hated to hear the phone ring at our house in the morning.
Instead of one of my buddies calling to see if I’d like to hitchhike to Brookings and go swimming, chances are it was Cub Becker or some other area farmer wanting to hire me out for the day to help haul hay bales. Not the round bales the size of Volkswagens that you see today piled up in giant hay mountains. These were rectangular blocks of hay manufactured by a bailing machine pulled behind a tractor which tied them together with twine and spit them onto the hay rack it was towing where one or two sweating kids, with badly scratched forearms..would stack them up. When the rack was full, an empty one would be waiting at the end of the field.
 I was a town kid and hated hauling bales but if mom answered the phone, she’d commit me to the job despite my pleas that I might die of heat stroke.
“Piffles,” she’d say. “A little hard work never hurt anybody..besides you want some spending money for our vacation don’t you?”
So, off I’d go mumbling something about child abuse.
Actually, some farmers..mostly my uncles..took pity on kids like me not used to such back breaking labor. They’d let the hay dry in the fields so the bales weren’t so heavy. We only had to stack them four high on the rack and, if we needed a break, they’d stop the bailer long enough to catch our breath and get a drink of water.
Cub Becker, on the other hand, ran his operation like a boot camp. He paid a little more ($1.25 an hour) but he expected a lot more from us poor schlubs on the rack or in the hay mow.
Cub liked to start early and work fast. He didn’t care  if the alfalfa was a little greener than when most farmers cut it..or if the bales which came shooting out every few seconds, weighed twice as much as anybody else’s.
If we were struggling to lift them into position and got behind..he’d turn around from his seat on the tractor and..like a Marine drill sergeant..start yelling at us about being soft and commenting on our manhood. A view from "the rack" where many soft town kids were tortured.
But Cub was also the first one to trust me with the responsibility of driving a tractor and operating the hay rake. I’ll never forget the feeling of  fear..power..and satisfaction when..at the age of 14.. I sat atop that Farm-all “M”  in total control.
When I’d finished, Cub was waiting in his pick-up at the end of the field. He gave me a little nod and a wink.
His way of saying, “not bad for a town kid.”
 

Lund at Large At The Movies

Posted: Sunday, July 12, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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I used to love going to movies.
Now, not so much.
I’ve written here before about how my desire to see a new film has been tempered by the actual movie-going experience.  
First, the cost of tickets and treats causes my jaw to drop from sticker shock.
Then, despite, pleas from the theater management and clever ads on the screen urging people to shut up during the show and turn their cell phones off, you can see the faces of people all over the auditorium reflected in the glow of their cell phone lights as they text their pals outside the building and talk out loud to the ones sitting in the seat next to them..all the while noisily munching popcorn and opening bags of candy.  
After going through this time and again, Linda and I have both concluded that it’s just better to wait until the movies we want to see come out “On Demand” and we can enjoy them on HD in the peace and quiet of our own home.
In the last few weeks, though, there have been two films that I just couldn’t hold off on seeing..so, while Linda went shopping last Friday, I decided to see them both back to back..at two different movie houses.
The first was “UP” at the Century. Just five bucks admission..with the geezer discount. A bag of popcorn and a medium Coke?
$9.50..uffdah!The main characters in Disney Pixar’s "UP." The old guy is voiced byTV’s Mr. Grant, himself..Ed Asner.
I hadn’t been to a 3-D movies since the 50’s and was anxious to experience how it looks in the 21st Century.  But when I asked the kid taking tickets where I should pick up the special 3-D glasses..he informed me that I wouldn’t need them because“UP” was no longer being shown in that format.
“But..but the newspaper ad said it was in 3-D,” I whined.
“Nope…sorry.”
While still in the car, I had made sure to set my phone on vibrate..but for some reason at the beginning of the feature, my pocket started ringing out loud and heads turned in my direction with looks of disgust.
Yes..I was one of “those” people that I complain about; too dumb or too stubborn to shut the cell off!
Ugh..how embarassing.
The movie was cute and very clever. But it was one I could have waited for.
That wasn’t the case with “Public Enemies,” however. So, no sooner was “UP” over, I was out the door heading “down” the street a few blocks for the 1 pm showing at the Carmike.Johnny Depp as Johnny Dillinger. 
Not too many others shared my enthusiasm, apparently, because there was only one other guy in the theater when I walked in during the previews.  But within a minute, two more guys entered and sat in my row. One was big enough to make me look anorexic and between gasps for breath, he consumed great gulps of popcorn and carried on a running conversation with his companion loud enough to be heard over the deafening roar of the volume theater operators insist upon these days even when there are just four people in attendance.
I moved down a few rows only to find myself underneath the air conditioning blower which had been turned to the “Antarctica in January” setting.  
The movie?
I absolutely loved it.  Johnny Depp certainly played Johnny Dillinger different than other actor before him, including the amazing Warren Oates back in the 70’s..But Depp was great.  Director, Michael Mann plays fast and loose with some of the  historical facts but more than makes up for it in delicious action sequences including the best and most realistic gun fights since his movie,  “Heat.”
The 1936 hold-up of Security National Bank in Sioux Falls, when Baby Face Nelson goes nuts with the tommy gun, has a prominent part in the picture.
It’s a terrific film that I’m glad I got to see and would urge you to do also.
Just be sure to shut your cell phone off and bring a jacket along.
 

Water On The Brain

Posted: Thursday, July 9, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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Shhhhhhh….don’t say it out loud or you might jinx it..but after many..many attempts it appears our talented Keloland webmaster, Jonathan, has figured a way to get rid of  most of  that spam that’s been infesting our blog world.
I’m not talking about that mystery meat they pulverize and squeeze into square tin cans at a plant in Austin, Minnesota. No, this Spam is the abuse of electronic messaging systems (including most broadcast media, digital delivery systems) to send unsolicited bulk advertising messages by the hundreds which wind up clogging the comments section of our blogs.
Hemmingsen and I have been particular targets of these parasites and spend a considerable amount of time deleting their garbage.
So, thanks Johnathan..and your fellow webster, Karen Sherman, for giving these leaches the heave-ho..at least for now.
Well, with that out of the way, it’s on to today’s topic; water.
Not the biblical proportion downpours that have been keeping Trobec and the weather crew up till all hours lately. No it’s the obsession some of you have with drinking water…huge amounts of water and  your willingness to PAY for it at the store.
I’m not sure just when this infatuation with drinking copious amounts of bottled water started but marketing geniuses have turned it into a 12 billion dollar industry. They won’t rest until everybody’s pee has no color.
It could have been way back in the 70’s when all sorts of weird diet fads came out..including one by a Dr. Stillman who claimed you could lose weight fast by eating fewer carbohydrates and drinking water LOTS of water; a gallon or more each day..and that’s in addition to any other liquids you consume..like coffee or diet soda.
I tried it and did lose weight. But I think it was more from the exercise of running to the toilet and back every ten minutes because I have a bladder the size of a walnut.
 Water is good for you..we were told..flushes out the system. So people decided they needed to drink more of it and started filling gallon jugs at home to bring to work.
That’s when companies like Perrier invaded the United States claiming that tap water was vile stuff and for your own good health you should pick up a six pack of their pure naturally carbonated water which comes from a special deep well in the French countryside. 
Drinking Perrier, though expensive, became something of a status symbol purchased and consumed primarily by the yuppy crowd who’d drink it straight or mixed with a dash of 12 year old scotch at their high falootin’  parties. 
Before long, other companies, including Coke and Pepsi, wanted in on the market and started selling bottled water claiming it came from sparkling mountain springs or some other magically pure source. But after testing dozen and dozens of water brands..it turns out that every single one contains at least some degree of contaminants and 40% of the brands being sold is nothing more than water from a tap ..except 1,900 times more expensive.
I’ve heard a lot of people say they just don’t like tap water because they can taste the added fluoride in it.
I don’t know what fluoride tastes like but I do know that it is proven to be effective in healthy tooth development and preventing cavities.
Most bottled water doesn’t have fluoride so maybe we’re destined to end up like the British who have the most deformed teeth in the civilized world.
But water companies, like Evian, aren’t concerned. In fact, Evian has come up with a hilarious ad campaign aimed at younger H20 consumers..or at least their parents.
Click here to see what I mean.Efforts are currently underway in congress to force companies that sell bottled water to be more truthful in revealing the source and purity of their water sources.I hope our desert daughter in Phoenix is able to polish off her huge supply before she finds out it’s Salt River swill.

Where’s The Fire? (Designs)

Posted: Monday, July 6, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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It usually doesn’t take me long to zip through the Argus Leader each morning. I guess I’m not all that interested in the things the Argus thinks I should be like the latest medical acquisitions of our illustrious billionaire banker, Denny Sanford.
But something on the front page this morning nearly caused me to fall off my porcelain perch.
I wasn’t shocked by the fact that Sioux Falls sales tax revenue is way down which means some city projects, like a new fire station at 41st and Powderhouse Road, will have to be put on hold.
(We’re in a recession, you know)What made me flinch was the fact that the city had planned to spend $166,000 to DESIGN the building!
I know, I know..that seems pretty drop-in-the-bucket-ish when the entire capital improvement budget is 85 and a half million..but, jeeze..166 thousand here and 166 thousand there and before long you’re talkin’ real money..at least in my little world.
We already have ten or twelve regional fire stations spread around town..many of them built within the last 10 years..why not use the blue prints from one of those and save the “designer’s fee?”
I’m sure the city could find one that would fit into the neighborhood. Besides I’m pretty sure people would prefer speed and function over esthetic considerations when the smoke alarm goes off in the house.
 Pick a designAny design..we have lots to choose from.
Let’s see, what else seems odd.
At a time of nationwide unemployment approaching 10 percent and business owners being forced to lay-off people by the boatload in order to stay afloat..along comes news from the state labor department that they’re going to slap a surcharge on them to the tune of 150 dollars per employee in order to replenish the jobless benefit fund which is running dry because of all the newly laid off people receiving unemployment benefits.
If you’ve ever wondered about the term “Catch 22” that pretty much sums it up.
The surcharge should only be in effect for about a year..or until the economy improves. Plus businesses will not charge more for their goods and services to make up for the added expense. They’ll take the hit.
Yah, sure, you betcha..

Lund’s Annual Lake And Food Review

Posted: Thursday, July 2, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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Just back from another mini vacation..or “stay-cation” as some might call it. The cell phone stays in the glove compartment and the computer remains in the case…okay, I did have it along but only fired it up once.
I’ve written here before how much Linda and I enjoy our annual summer sojourns to Watertown..me for the golf..she for the casino.
Our friends and traveling partners, Denny and Joanie accompanied us again and, as always, we consumed copious amounts of distilled and or brewed beverages as well as enough unhealthy but delicious food (with one exception)  to make an Atkins dietician faint.  
We like to get off the interstate on these trips and take the back roads through small towns often stopping to check out some of the local establishments.
One of our favorites is The Lakeview Resort on the West side of Lake Poinsett. The dining area has a terrific view of the water, which, by the way is the highest I’ve seen it in years.
But the real reason we like the resort so much is because of the breaded deep fried mozzarella sticks they serve which are the best any of us have ever tasted. We all agreed too that their onion rings are nearly as good as at Michael’s Restaurant in Sioux Falls which is saying a lot.
I’m not much of a gambler (anymore) but the others can play those dizzying video gaming devices (I refuse to call them slot machines unless they have rotating mechanical cylinders activated by pulling down on a handle) until they nearly collapse from exhaustion after sitting for hours mesmerized by the site of animated characters on the screen hoping they’ll line-up in the proper configuration….or, as is usually the case, the money runs out.
Even if you don’t win any cash, all that playing time does count for something at Dakota Sioux Casino..like cheap rooms ($25) in the very nice adjoining hotel. 
There are discounts on food too but, since I’m not a player, I had to pay full price for the Saturday night buffet which I decided to try even though I was alone and it was getting late. (8pm)
It was prime rib night..but on this evening, the chef (?) decided everybody gets theirs extra fatty and extra rare. I asked the young lady holding her serrated knife for just a little slice off the end..but the blood still squirted out like she’d hit a main artery. Seeing my face turning white, she asked if I’d like it cooked a bit more in the frying pan she had heated up.
Yes, I would.
Let’s see, what other delicacies are there to justify the 16 dollar entrance fee and squelch these hunger pangs?
My options consisted of strips of fried meat in a brown sauce (Chinese?) served over rice that was not only nearly gone but had been sitting there since the Ming dynasty.   
I decided to stick with mashed potatoes and gravy.
I pass by a couple empty pans, which judging from the remaining crumbs had once held fried chicken or fish (no sense putting out more food..we close in an hour) and come upon a soupy yellowish white mass which looked more like cream of wheat than potatoes. The canned gravy was so thick you could almost stand the dipper straight up in it.  The cooked carrots and corn had been sitting over the steam so long they’d shriveled up like your fingertips after a long swim.
I managed a bite of everything. The meat had absolutely zero flavor and rest of what I’d put on my plate was just disgusting. I can’t believe that anyone in good conscience could ever place such stuff out for human consumption.
I suppose I should have complained but I had a big dish of chocolate ice cream..which was good..and went back to the room angry and still hungry.
Sunday morning, Denny and Joanie wanted us to join them for the buffet breakfast.
Against my better judgment I said sure and, to be honest, it wasn’t half bad and only half the price of the “gourmet” glop served up the night before.
After our drive around full-to-the-brim Lake Kampeska to look at all the beautiful homes..we headed for DeSmet.
 I fancy myself to be somewhat of an authority on Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books and wanted to share some of the sites and stories with our friends who hadn’t read them. They found the Ingalls’ homestead site very interesting and were especially fascinated by the five cottonwood trees that still survive 130 years after they were planted by Pa Ingalls..one for each of his girls..nearly 130 years ago.The horticultural honcho at SDSU tells me these are some of the oldest cottonwoods in the stateand it’s a miracle all five have survived this long.
From there we headed on to Lake Madison for a two night stay at the lake home of Denny and Joanie’s daughter and son-in-law who treated us to a long ride in their big boat..before leaving the place to us.
Denny and I managed to get two rounds of golf in at “The Lakes” course which is only nine holes but beautifully maintained and sufficiently difficult.
Plus it’s hard to beat the adjoining bar and restaurant where the four of us thoroughly enjoyed the outdoor patio and outrageously good food..including one of my forbidden favorites, sweet potato fries.Our deck view as we prepared to go night-night at 9pm.
Expensive gas wasn’t our main motivation this time for vacationing so close to home. We’ve just come to love spending time experiencing things that are fun and familiar..be they great places or good friends.