Full-time RVers know that finding camp sites on a holiday can be tough. The 4th of July is the worst, as we struggle to share the limited number of sites with the rest of the country celebrating our nation's Independence Day. This year we decided to spend this holiday at the fairgrounds in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, for several reasons.
First, this is our chance to stay in the state of South Dakota. If you're keeping track, this is our fourth different state in four stops. We came from Missouri, and made one stop in Iowa, Nebraska, and now South Dakota as we have been hopscotching along the Missouri River basin. So we saw another state sign through the windshield.
Secondly, the Lyon Fairgrounds has over 200 camp sites, and they rarely completely fill up. We were a little bummed to find that our site backed up to a railroad track. But the camp host calmed our fears when he let us know those tracks only had traffic from a little shuttle train from the granite quarry in our backyard.
Our third (and main) reason to be in Sioux Falls, was to attend the city's Fourth of July celebration. It started in the morning with the parade downtown. We were excited to see the cloudy skies, that gave us a break from the sweltering temperatures as we waited for the parade to begin.
It was a good parade, with emphasis on the American flag, our military heroes, and red, white, and blue.
We enjoy a good marching band, but this was an interesting twist. The Sioux Falls Municipal Band was divided into brass quintets and woodwind groups that rode in the back of pickups while entertaining us with very well-done patriotic tunes.
We enjoyed a number of the floats, but this was our favorite. It included a pickup pulling a ski boat on a trailer. Walking behind the boat were 15 "skiers" holding onto their ski ropes. At each intersection the pickup would stop so the performers could form the pyramids they normally make in the ski show.
As an added bonus, people were walking along the parade route, giving away free tickets to this afternoon's Catfish Bay ski performance. We scored two free tickets and that looks like it will be a fun way to spend our Fourth of July afternoon!
This parade also gets the award for the best free food sample ever! The Stensland Creamery had a nice float, and walkers were giving away free cups full of cheese curds. Delicious!
We thought it was a great Fourth of July parade! Afterwards, we made the walk towards Falls Park, adjacent to the parade route. The upper part of the park looks like we are wandering through a natural forest with a rushing river. But in fact, we are in the center of the city of Sioux Falls.
Later we would climb to the top of the observation tower to get a better view of more of the park, including the main falls.
But for now we're in a hurry to get into this very long line. We read that the city of Sioux Falls provides a free lunch to the first 5,000 people in line after the parade, and we fully intended to be in that group. We had a nice sliced pork sandwich, a bag of chips, bottle of water, and an ice cream bar. It was all done quickly and deliciously. Good job Sioux Falls!
We ate under the trees in the park while being entertained by the entire Sioux Falls Community Band playing patriotic medleys and other melodies.
Then we moved to another location in Falls Park to listen to a popular local band. They were so entertaining that we sat on the front row until the end of their concert.
We made one more stop by the falls for a picture of the happy couple enjoying a great Fourth of July. Notice that we are both smiling and standing up on both feet, because that won't be happening again for a while.
Yes, it had been a great Fourth of July UNTIL . . . We were hurrying back to the car, as we were heading to that ski show with our free tickets. When a young volunteer offered us a golf cart ride back to our car, we accepted. When Denisa stepped off that tall curb to get into the golf cart, IT happened. The area next to the curb actually had a steep angle towards a drain. Not looking down, Denisa hit that angle with one foot, and managed to tear up her ankle. She fell to the pavement in a heap! Mark got her loaded onto the golf cart, because there was no way she could walk to the car now. In fact, it looks like she won't be walking anywhere for a while. This is the way she spent the rest of the Fourth of July--leg elevated with ice on that ankle.
Mark thought we should go to the emergency room, but we were pretty sure nothing was broken. It's definitely the worst sprained ankle of Denisa's life, and she spent the rest of the evening with it elevated and icing every hour. What a bummer!
We had sprung for the more expensive camping spot at the fairgrounds, because that was where the fireworks show would be that evening. It was a great plan to be able to watch the fireworks through the windshield, and then not have to battle the traffic after the late night show. Without being able to walk, this was the perfect place for us to be this evening. Mark even cleaned the windshield so we could watch the show without the bug splatters. So we were very sad when the rain started around 7:00, and stayed for the rest of the evening. We saw a few private fireworks shot off in the rain, but this was our sad view from our camp site.
It started as a great Fourth of July celebration, UNTIL things (like Denisa and the rain) fell.