Monday, June 15, 2015

Our Sketching Trip to Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Warm weather has returned to the Upper MIdwest and once again Roberta and I are traveling to interesting places in our region to sketch. Our friends at Jefferson Lines suggested we visit Sioux Falls , South Dakota on same "Big Bluestem" route we took last year to Pipestone, Minnesota. Roberta and I had never been to Sioux Falls, so we were excited to explore a new city on bike and sketch our discoveries.

Wednesday, We took the Green Line from our home in Lowertown's Union Depot to the bus terminal in Minneapolis to catch our Jefferson Lines bus to Sioux Falls. I sketched our bus driver as we made our way southwest from the Twin Cities. Roberta sketched the rolling countryside outside her window. Our bus had wifi, so we were able to upload our sketches to Twitter (click on sketches to make them bigger).

We arrived six hours later at the Jefferson Lines depot just outside of Sioux Falls. We unfolded our Brompton bikes and pedaled our way to the Victorian Bed & Breakfast in the Cathedral Historic District on the hill overlooking the city. We grabbed a bite to eat at The Market, an awesome downtown eatery. After dinner, we biked a short distance to see the spectacular falls in Falls Park. The Big Sioux river tumbles over a jagged escarpment of red quartzite. At  night the falls are dramatically lit by multi-colored spotlights.  Rain started falling, so we were unable to sketch. We returned to the Victorian B&B and hoped we would have an opportunity Thursday to sketch the falls.

The sky, the next morning was overcast and gloomy. We were prepared for a day of indoor sketching at several museums. We walked next door to the Pettigrew Museum. The museum is housed in the former residence of Senator Richard Pettigrew, Roberta took the tour while I sketched some of the objects and curiosities in display cases.

We biked downtown to the Old Courthouse Museum. We split up. Roberta sketched the exhibit about the history of the purse. I sketched the Fawick Flyer, an old automobile fabricated by Thomas Fawick, a local inventor. I also sketched another curiosity, a tree trunk with a tornado-driven section of railroad track sticking out of it. I found Roberta with a crowd of children surrounding her, bombarding her with questions about her sketches. My favorite remark, "I didn't know you were real".

We left the museum and biked to the Falls Overlook Café in Falls Park for lunch. We enjoyed eating while gazing out at the park. The rain was coming down pretty hard when we left the café, so we biked back to the B&B. After we dried off, Roberta sketched a vintage fainting couch just inside the front door and added the fainting woman from memory.

After the rain ended, we biked to Parker's Bistro in the heart of downtown Sioux Falls. Parker's Bistro has excellent food, great service and a great selection of fine wines. Roberta and I sketched the lively crowd in the restaurant. They have a lovely patio dining area out front with live soft music, but due to the cooler weather, that wasn't happening that particular night.

The rain ended Friday morning, so after eating a delicious, sumptuous breakfast downstairs, we split up again. Roberta biked to Falls Park and painted this awesome watercolor of the falls:

I biked down to Fawick Park along the Big Sioux River to sketch a bronze cast of Michelangelo's David. The full-sized, exact replica of the original sculpture was a gift to the City from the Fawick family. The nude statue scandalized some of the city's more puritanical citizens at the time.

After sketching the stature of David, I biked south of downtown to check out the Sioux Empire Medical Museum in the concourse of the Sanford Medical Center. I love small museums devoted to esoteric branches of scientific knowledge. The Sioux Empire Medical Museum has an extensive collection of medical curiosities including a foot-powered dental drill and electric-shock therapy machines. I sketched the vintage iron lung attended by a nurse mannequin in period uniform.

I wished I had more time to sketch the other ancient medical devices, but Roberta and I had tickets to a Saint Paul Saints vs the Sioux Falls Canaries game at "The Birdcage".

Roberta and I like to sketch everywhere, and especially at baseball games. We sketched the Saints earlier in the week at the new CHS Field just a short walk from our home in Lowertown. It was a great night for baseball and there was a good crowd on hand to watch the Canaries win the first game. The Saints won the second game.

Our final day in Saint Paul was warm and partly cloudy, perfect for sketching outdoors. Roberta chose to paint the lovely Victorian B&B.

I biked back to the river to sketch the very nice bike and pedestrian trail on the opposite bank:

Roberta and I got together in the afternoon and biked to Philips Street for some excellent pizza at Fiero Pizza on the SculptureWalk.

After lunch, we had an opportunity to bike part of the extraordinary bike trail that rings the city of Sioux Falls on way back to the Jefferson Lines depot. We had a lot of fun sketching in Sioux Falls and look forward to returning to sketch things we missed.

If you take your travel bike on Jefferson Lines,  we think this is the best route for getting downtown:


  1. I absolutely love your sketch blog! You've got a new fan in me!

  2. And in me! I'm a Sioux Fallsian who often teaches abroad. I always urge my students to sketch and paint what they see when they travel. Thanks for showing us what that looks like when someone comes to our hometown doing the same thing.


    2. Yours are far better, but I publish mine so my students can see that even an untrained hand can make a drawing worth remembering.

    3. David, thanks for sharing your post on keeping a journal. My journaling guru is Roz Stendahl. She has great tips on making and keeping journals:

  3. I really love your write-ups guys continue the good work.
    hotel web sites


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.