Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Stone State Park & Sioux City, Iowa

May 22 - 23, 2017:

We are on the road by 9:30 traveling around Omaha on routes 370 - 75 - 80, then over the Missouri River into Iowa and straight north on route 29 all the way to Sioux City, Iowa.  It was mostly freshly planted wheat fields, very wet fields with large ponds in many places due to the heavy rains recently.  It was about 120 miles of easy highway driving to the park.  The Stone State Park campground is small and the camp sites were are a little tight.  You wouldn’t want to bring an RV larger than ours, about 30 feet in here.  The campground is set in the side of a hill, but the sites are semi level.  We are the only RV in the campground, but practically all the sites are reserved for the weekend.  The park is large with many picnic areas and hiking trails.

All alone in the campground

Stone State Park is in the Loess Hills scenic area, all hills and valleys covered with a heavy layer of forest and vegetation. Due to all the recent rain everything is dripping wet and muddy, kind of like a rain forest.  There are many trails, but no decent trail map and they are not well marked so beware, you can easily get lost.  State Parks seem to spend most of their time on cutting grass and do little to no maintenance on hiking trails.  My opinion, eliminate the mowing and let the native grasses, weeds and wild flowers take over.   We do the Carolyn Benne Nature trail which was very nice, there were lots of small snails on the ground and on downed trees, also very tiny bright red mushrooms and lots of birds.

Trail through the lush green forest

These pretty little snails were all over, it was hard
not to step on them

This wildflower was blooming everywhere as well

View from an overlook of the Big Sioux River Valley

We go to downtown Sioux City where Twinkles drops me off on a street corner and she takes off to shop.  I wander around and find a couple of wonderful old buildings, especially the Woodbury County Court House, which is one of the best in all our travels and that is saying something.  In fact when researching it up on the internet, I find that it was built in 1918 and is considered one of the finest “Prairie School” style buildings in the US.  They have a couple of other gems as well such as the Badgers Building, built in 1933, considered one of the best Art Deco buildings in Nebraska.  For the gambling crowd there is a huge Hard Rock Cafe and Casino, but I was more interested in the “Work & Church Booze Parlor” and the “Crash, Boom and Bang Whiskey Hole” across the street.  My favorite section of town is the 4th street area that is a former industrial area now housing several bars, restaurants and stores.  It started to rain while I was walking around, really dampening my adventure, but I found shelter in a nice coffee and donut shop, the coffee and donuts were a fine consolation.

These columns were saved from the First National Bank

Very nice Public Memorial Statue

The Woodbury County Courthouse is incredible

Close up of the figure over the entrance

The other side of the Courthouse

The Badgerow Building

Close up of the Indian head detail

Detail on the Badgerow Building

Mural on 4th Street

Another brew pub on 4th street

Back at the campground it’s alternating periods of clouds, rain and brief sun, this is getting tiring.  In the evening, it cleared partially and I had to return to the downtown.  I first stopped at the “Work & Church Booze Parlor” where the barmaid was having a wonderful time entertaining a couple of guys at the other end of the bar.  She seemed pretty normal while waiting on me but with them she was spouting out every foul cuss word imaginable like a drunk'n sailor, as they say.  The other bar patron who was playing the juke box came over asking me for a napkin as I was sitting in front of a dispenser, but his speech was so slurred it took a while for me to comprehend what he was saying.  The Food Channel was on the TV in front of me, an episode about ethnic foods in New York City, everything looked fantastic and I was thinking I need to get back there more often.

Work & Church Booze Parlor

I then went across town to the “Buffalo Alice Bar” which had really great looking Pizza and many people dining.  If they had slices or a “bar pie” size I would have had one, but you had to order a full pie.  I got to thinking of those incredible bar pies at “Jo-Jo’s Tavern” in Trenton, NJ, which I became reacquainted with back in February.  The young bar tender liked my Rocky Mountain National Park hat, said he was going there in a couple of weeks, his favorite place.  This place was a couple of rooms, the main bar and dining section wall is attractive but covered with mostly goofy signs, but the room off to the side had a large crazy mural.

Buffalo Alice sign

Dining area

The side room

Lastly, I went to the “Firehouse Bar” which is actually a former firehouse.  Unfortunately, you’d never know it inside as they gutted everything, covering all the walls with typical bar decoration, TV sets and beer signs. I wasn’t that impressed, although they did have free popcorn and cheese nachos.

The Firehouse Bar

These guys pulled up as I was entering the Firehouse Bar

I could easily spend more time in Sioux City Nebraska but with Memorial day fast approaching we need to find a home for the holiday weekend.

The next stop is a few miles upriver at Ponca State Park, Nebraska:

Twinkles and Slick

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