Category Archives: life

Falls Park, Sioux Falls – Let’s Relax

Falls Park in Sioux Falls, South Dakota? A little time to relax!

After leaving Minot the second week of February, I never imagined I would have found myself heading back north three weeks later. On March 4, I found myself on a journey back to the Dakotas with Aberdeen, South Dakota as my destination. Prior to reaching it, my first true exploration on the journey to the frozen land was Falls Park in Sioux Falls.

In the past, the Native Americans used the quartzite from this area to make ornaments and utensils to use in everyday life. This same material from here has been used by the white man as early as 1822. Presently, it is used today in concrete construction.

Sioux Falls had the nickname of Queen City, with the falls being the center of the city years ago. In addition, the Queen Bee Mill was there to take full advantage of the falls’ power. The mill was a seven-story building at one time, however, there are only parts of it that remain after a fire in 1956.

The park is a wonderful area for exploration as it covers 123 acres and approximately 7400 gallons of water drop over the falls every second. If that isn’t enough, the beauty and history of the area add to the allure.

Unfortunately, during my visit, the observation tower wasn’t opened. Things up here tend to be very seasonal due to weather conditions so if you plan a visit, plan accordingly. Thankfully there was no snow to contend with and I just struggled with the strong, cold winds during my visit.

As I walked through the park, I noticed a tower off in the distance. It resembled Big Ben. And then there were twin towers off to the right of this clock tower. I had to check them out to see what they were and was not disappointed.
Old Courthouse Museum
Roman Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls
Old Courthouse Museum
Roman Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls

Both Falls Park and finding these two buildings gave me a great break in my travels and allowed wonderful photo opportunities.  I am going to try to go back here on my return trip (assuming I return this way and don’t have another assignment straight away) and go up in the tower, as well as have a bite in the cafe at the park.

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More of Minot, The Scandinavian Heritage Park

I refuse to even acknowledge how quickly time passes. Okay, so I guess that was somewhat of an acknowledgement. Let’s just say that we do not need to mention it further. This post is to continue my journey in Minot. While there, I was fortunate enough to have a decent day or two to explore the Scandinavian Heritage Park located near the middle of Minot.

I had driven by it several times before the weather permitted me to make a stop there the first time. It was in the early morning hours and I was on my way back to the hotel from work. The lights draped in the trees beckoned me to stop if only for a few minutes. I complied and as I gazed around at the snow-covered park, I vowed to make it a point to take a day to explore it further.

That day presented itself a short time later. The temps rose from the subzero mark to the high 20s and low 30s. I parked the Jeep and gathered my gear. With a long swig of the steaming Starbuck’s concoction, I opened the door to brave the frigid air, piled snow, and slippery ice.

My first stop was at the visitor’s centre, where I enjoyed the heat for a bit longer than I should have. I did pick out some unique gifts for the twins and little Steven.

I proceeded down the pathway and was greeted by none other than Hans Christian Andersen. As one of my friends pointed out, he was up to his bum in the snow for our meeting and I wondered what stories he would write about if he knew just how deep in the stuff he was. Regardless, he and the ugly duckling made me smile as I attempted not to slip and slide too much on the pathway.







The windmill replica was beautiful against the blue sky even though it seemed frozen at the moment. The blades stood motionless in the cold air.

Continuing on the pathway, I noted the water was covered in snow and therefore was unable to see the babbling brook that meandered through the park. Temps just were not feasible and the babbling was non-existent on this particular sunny morn’.

In one of the pathway bends I came across Leif Eriksson, or Leif the Lucky as he was also known, with his unwavering gaze peering across the snow-clad park. If you do not know who this Viking is, read about him. His life just may interest you.

The waterfall wall, too, was frozen in time and no water fell down its face during my visit there. I could envision it, though…the water falling to fill the brook. Maybe I’ll visit it another time when it actually is flowing.

Past the waterfall, two gentlemen made my thoughts drift off to taking to the slopes and speeding down on skis. I quickly reminded myself that my skiing consisted of water and not snow…boats and not slopes.







Soon, I was upon the beautiful church, with its intricate carvings. This church was simply stunning and although I wasn’t able to go inside, I knew what it looked like from my previous exploration of a church like it in South Dakota. You can view the video here.

No Scandinavian park is complete without the Dala Horse. The one here was colorful, even if a little cold, with icicles hanging from the belly. I simply loved how they designed the park with the pathway going underneath this creation.

After the horse encounter, I came upon a simply adorable cottage and imagined I could certainly live inside with no difficulty. Again, the intricate carvings and details left me in awe.

And then there was the Sigdal House, simple yet perfect. This too could make a special home without a problem.

The park was a perfect way to spend some time and to learn more about this culture. I definitely would go back to visit again when I’m in the area.


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Mirror Lakes – Spearfish, South Dakota

I stumbled upon Mirror Lakes near Spearfish, South Dakota quite by accident when exploring the area for those perfect scenic backdrops. Having just finished working the night shift, I rushed to the hotel to pick-up Thade. When I arrived at the hotel, he was waiting impatiently and we jumped into the car and started riding.

img_0042I had turned off the main highway onto the gravel/rock roads that seem normal around here if you’re going up the mountains. I turned a few times from one road to another and then noticed a side road. The side road was the same gravelly type road, though much narrower than the one I previously was on.

Coming upon a concrete barricade, I pulled off the road and parked. Getting out, I noticed the sign prohibiting vehicles but open to foot traffic. I leashed Thade and we went through the barricade to find ourselves on a wooden bridge, a stream running underneath at a rapid pace.

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From there, I cannot begin to describe all we saw. There were hawks, turkeys, deer, a number of other types of birds, and miles of one-lane gravel road that is slowly being taken over by nature and small pathways.

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The dewdrops glistened on the plants and grass in the morning sun, prettier than even the most expensive diamonds.

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We followed the pathway for a bit before rounding the corner to look upon one of the lakes.

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Making our way to the water’s edge, we admired the crystal clearness of the water that allowed us to see the plants and fish; as well as the reflection.

img_0023-cr2 img_0022After a bit of relaxing, we once again went along the path only to hit a dead-end where the hill jutted toward the blue sky. I looked across to the other side and thought instead of going back, surely we could make it to the other side if we went ON the hill.

So, off we went, trudging along till we were walking the rim of the red hill wall. Finally, we chose a gully, washed out by rain and snow to go down and safely land on the other walkway. Thade looked at me as if I was a mad woman for making him hike up a hill and then down again. img_0210But he soon got over it when we came upon the other lake and enjoyed the view and the breeze of the morning air for a while.

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After two hours of walking and hiking, Thade and I decided it was time to return to the hotel for a meal and a nap. Since finding the lakes, I have been twice more. While there, I have not seen another human. It is very serene and a great place to meditate while watching the rising sun.


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Country’s Center

IMG_0031Although sick this weekend, I decided to get out and see some stuff especially since it has been my only weekend off since starting this nursing assignment in South Dakota. Plus once the weekend was over, I have a seven day work stretch ahead of me and knew that I had to take the time when it was presented…sick or not.

My hotel room hadn’t been serviced since I got here because I took care of just washing the sheets and all when I did my personal laundry. So, I felt like the room needed it and requested service while I was out yesterday.

I took Thade to see the Center of the Country while the cleaning was done. Belle Fourche has this particular site set up nicely. There’s a Tri-State Museum located on grounds, but being a Sunday it was closed. I did, however, get to read this little tidbit of information on Belle Fourche.


Regardless, there is also a little log cabin built in 1876 on grounds and it was pretty neat.


Descending the steps to the marker, you’re surrounded by different flora and it is very pretty and well maintained.


The marker itself is amazing and I love the directional pieces of it. The pathway is bordered by different flags from around the country. Thade was more impressed with the trees he could pee on than anything else.

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And yes, I stood on the little marker for a minute or two…just to say I was dead geo center of the country.

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A well-maintained pathway leads off to the riverwalk, which we walked on for a bit before returning to the car. I plan to walk the full riverwalk before leaving the area, time permitting of course.

I especially liked this piece of art.  The only thing that may make it better is to have a fountain around it and have water running down the “river” and falling into a pool below. Lord knows we need all the peace we can get in this country right now.

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It was pretty interesting to see the center of the country and Thade was able to get a bit of exercise before we returned to the room, where I had to leave him before heading out on my hike up Bear Butte.

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Chapel in the Hills

After seeing the Dances with Wolves film set and the Crazy Horse Memorial, I decided to take the rest of the day and see the Chapel in the Hills located in Rapid City, South Dakota. I knew a little about the chapel from reading the brochure I had picked up from my hotel. However, it didn’t prepare me for what I would see and experience at this little chapel.


A Stabbur with a grass roof greets you at the start of the journey and is used for a gift shop. There were several things I liked in the gift shop, but they were out of my budget. I finally decided on two packs of note cards. One pack has the chapel drawn on it and the other pack has a rosemaling drawing on it. Rosemaling is a traditional Norwegian art form.

Rosemaling - Traditional Norwegian Art form
Rosemaling – Traditional Norwegian Art form
Church in the Hills Note Card
Church in the Hills Note Card

The chapel, or Stavkirke, was built in 1969. It is a replica of the Borgund Church of Norway, which happens to be 850 years old. The intricate carvings framing the doorway caught my interest immediately. The detail in those and the dragon heads gracing the top of the chapel intrigued me. I was later to learn that the carvings around the doorway depict the battle between good and evil.

Intricate carvings depicting the battle between good and evil.
Intricate carvings depicting the battle between good and evil.

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There is a covered walkway that goes all the way around the church and this is referred to as the ambulatory.  An ambulatory is a dry place for people to wait for the church to open and it protected the foundation of the church. Additionally, the men would leave their weapons there while they worshipped. I videoed the walk around it and the inside of the chapel. You can view it here:

Inside the chapel, there are carved Apostle heads and crosses. The pegged construction inside amazed me as much as the carvings outside. The altar is a simple stone structure with a cross, the bible, and candles. They do have services Vesper services every evening at 7:30 pm from the second Sunday in June through the last Sunday in August.

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Behind the chapel, there is a prayer/meditation walk. It is a pathway lined on either side with a statue and small prayer posting. I walked the pathway twice, once to take advantage of the walk and have a moment’s peace and again to take the photos.


"Come to me and rest" - Jesus O Lord I long for your perfect peace, You are my resting place.
“Come to me and rest” – Jesus
O Lord I long for your perfect peace, You are my resting place.
"Lord teach me to pray" O Lord to you I lift up my soul, Listen to me.
“Lord teach me to pray”
O Lord, to you I lift up my soul, Listen to me.
"Trust God with child-like faith" O Lord, I surrender my fears to you, Walk with me.
“Trust God with child-like faith”
O Lord, I surrender my fears to you, Walk with me.
"Pray for children and families" O Lord, bring your presence to my Marriage, my home, my family.
“Pray for children and families”
O Lord, bring your presence to my Marriage, my home, my family.
"Trust God to provide what we need" O Lord, I feel your gentle quietness, Replace my worries with Confident trust.
“Trust God to provide what we need”
O Lord, I feel your gentle quietness, Replace my worries with Confident trust.
"Pray for world peace" O Lord, you love the world and all the people, bring citizens of earth into one caring family.
“Pray for world peace”
O Lord, you love the world and all the people, bring citizens of earth into one caring family.
"Amen, God hears our prayers" O Lord, I rest in you, You hear my words and the thoughts of my heart.
“Amen, God hears our prayers”
O Lord, I rest in you, You hear my words and the thoughts of my heart.

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When I returned to the stone walkway, there was a man, woman, and young boy trying to take pictures of each other in front of the chapel. I took a moment to take the pictures of them all in front of the chapel, the bell tower, and then the heather that was blooming.

The woman chided him for asking me to take the three different pictures, but I assured her I had time. Noticing  she was also using a walker and overhearing the comment that she wouldn’t be able to walk the prayer trail due to it being uneven, I offered to sit with her and show her the pictures I had taken of it just a few minutes earlier.  She had tears in her eyes when she finished looking through them and my heart was full.

After the encounter, I decided to walk once more around the church. I had only taken a few steps when this little guy decided to grace me with his presence. As I took a step forward, he seemed to tense so I dropped my stuff where I stood and eased to a sitting position.


He watched me a few seconds and went back to eating. I sat and watched the little guy for some time, thinking about life, about my family and friends, about what I should and shouldn’t be doing, about many things and I came to terms with some things.


All in all, it was a great experience and I was thankful I decided to visit the Chapel in the Hills.

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