Recent Op-Eds

Summer Road Trip

August 2, 2019

“Great faces. Great places.” If you live in South Dakota or have traveled to the state, you’ve seen it on license plates and billboards, and some of you might have even had the catchy South Dakota Department of Tourism jingle (“Great faaaces. Great plaaaces. South Dakota!”) stuck in your head at one point or another, too. If not, maybe you do now …  

It’s a great slogan for a state that’s home to the faces of Mount Rushmore and some of the best scenery in the United States, but it means more than just the obvious. South Dakotans – the faces that visitors encounter in communities large and small across the state – are some of the friendliest people in the world, and they play an integral role in showing off so many of the state’s must-see tourist destinations like the Corn Palace in Mitchell, the Missouri River, the Badlands, Wall Drug, the Black Hills, the Crazy Horse Memorial, or Mount Rushmore, just to name a few. In my completely unbiased opinion, they all make South Dakota the best place to take your family on vacation or for a road trip.

 I know how great South Dakota is – and so do you – but I thought it was important to share everything our state has to offer with my colleagues and the rest of the American people directly from the Senate floor. While I can’t say this with 100 percent certainty, I would venture to guess that my recent reference to Tubby Burgers on the Senate floor – I’m looking at you, Brown County – was the first in Senate history. Anyone who’s had a Tubby Burger, though, knows they deserve the Senate’s undivided attention.

I commute to and from South Dakota nearly every week, but with the Senate having just begun its traditional August state work period, lawmakers like me get an extended stay back home, so bragging about South Dakota from the floor was a fitting end to this most recent Senate session. Having more time at home means more opportunities to travel to some corners of the state that are a little more difficult to get to between back-to-back weeks of voting in Washington.

Many of those opportunities revolve around fair season, and that means two things. First, some of the state’s best events are right around the corner: The Sioux Empire Fair. The Turner County Fair. The Brown County Fair. The Central States Fair. Yankton Riverboat Days. And pow wows in tribal communities around the state. It also means food. Lots and lots of food. Ice cream at the fair in Parker. Pork sandwiches with the pork producers. Milkshakes at Dakotafest. And cheese curds at the state fair. Now that I’m thinking of it, I pretty much just eat my way across South Dakota in August.

Summer travel brings back a lot of memories for me. I distinctly remember traveling to the Black Hills with my family when I was a kid. We used to go out there for Labor Day, stay in this little non-air-conditioned cabin, and just glory in the outdoors. And as a parent myself, I have just as many memories traveling around the state with my girls, and now their kids, too.

How many miles is it from Wall Drug to Washington, D.C.? Way too many. So I’m looking forward to closing the gap this month and seeing all of the great faces and enjoying the great places that make South Dakota the best place to be, no matter the season.