I have driven through here in the past, but I've never flown in - thus I am a bit surprised to land at an airport completely surrounded by ranchland. I think I can see a city off in the distance, but it's a little hard to tell. However, I can see the black hills rolling off in the distance. The sky above them is the deep dark blue of an approaching storm. The prairie between is gorgeous.
I already know that my hotel, the oddly named Ramkota, is located far from downtown. This concerns me. I hate being trapped in urban sprawl.
I am NOT comforted when I ask the shuttle driver about the hotel. He assures me it is in a great location - right next to the regional shopping mall.
I ask about restaurants next, hoping to find a secret local steakhouse with the most amazing aged beef in the west. In answer I am assured that this is a town with many great restaurants - why, there is an Olive Garden and a TGIFriday's, to name just a couple. When I ask where the locals go for great steak, he recommends Outback. When asked if there are any locally owned places, he names one buffet spot near the hotel.
It appears I have been sent to culinary purgatory for the week.
But at the hotel (with great views of the mall and assorted strip development and almost no view of the mountains), my depression over the idea of dinner at Olive Garden prods me into the action. I pull out my laptop, type in "dining in Rapid City" and am rewarded with a list of links. Among them is a link to Trip Advisor.
I decide to start there. There are two reviews. Both identify The Corn Exchange as the best restaurant (albeit a pricey one) in town. At there website, I learn that the chef at this bistro is a member of the Slow Food movement. I know where I will be eating the next night even if I have to walk downtown to get there!
A load off my mind, I relax and can enjoy the evening reception :-)
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