Friday, April 26, 2013

US Hwy 20: Siouxland

The area I'm in is called Siouxland, probably as much out of convenience as any geographical or historical reason. Basically, you've got a modest metropolitan area that sprawls across the point where three states meet. It's called Sioux City in Iowa, South Sioux City in Nebraska, and North Sioux City in South Dakota. Now you know why the folks here just refer to it as Siouxland.

Because the Missouri and Big Sioux Rivers serve as boundary lines between the states, every time you go over a bridge you're in another state. I've tried to pay attention but have lost track. The local folks don't really seem to care about it at all. When North America balkanizes -- which I still predict it will -- these folks better stick together or they're going to go nuts with border crossings!

There isn't a lot to explore around here, but there are a few gems. One is the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center which is a well designed and fairly interactive facility.

I'd say it's excellent for kids and anyone who is unfamiliar with the Voyage of Discovery, but if you've read Undaunted Courage or done any other thorough research you'll mostly find it superficial and repetitive.

That said, however, there is one really excellent aspect of the facility which I particularly appreciate.

Right out front is a very large sculpture of Lewis, Clark and Seaman which gives the dog his proper place of respect.

Inside there's a special diorama just for Seaman, in which he is ostensibly examining -- with great concentration -- a rare rodent species held captive in a cage.

To make the display truly special, you can push a button which makes the dog's head bob and tail wag while he barks at the rodent. I loved it so much I pushed the button twice!

Nearby is the Sergeant Floyd River Museum which is housed in a river survey and inspection boat of that name. The boat is interesting to explore, and the interior is fairly crammed with informative exhibits and artifacts about the river and all its aspects. It's better inside than it looks outside.

By the way, the name of Sergeant Floyd plays a major role in the area. The only member of the Voyage of Discovery to die is buried here, on a bluff that also bears his name. Floyd is also eponymous for a river, a boulevard, a monument and various other local features.

The downtown area is tidy, but uninspiring. Mostly vintage brick buildings with a few modern additions, it is sparse in layout and seems to be equally sparse in economic vitality. Worth a look for those who are so inclined is the Sioux City Museum. Worth a visit for anyone with a sweet tooth is Old Tyme Palmer Candy.

I've had a good day exploring the area, made all the better by sunshine, warm temperature and soft breezes. I'm going to stay another day, mostly to catch up with myself but perhaps to do some more looking around… Stay tuned!

Click here to see exactly where I am posting this from on Google Maps.

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