Dakota HorizInn: Making Ends Meet in a Small Town Economy

motel sign (480x640)

The Dakota HorizInn reminds me of the small-town businesses in northern Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula because it offers a number of unrelated services to make ends meet. Parkston, said the sign by the south parking lot driveway, is “A great place to grow,” a community “110 businesses strong.” And 1,508 residents, according to the 2010 Census.

Checking in, we noticed that the lobby was filled with black garment bags. The clerk, a robust and ruddy man wearing facial hair, a ball cap, and a sleeveless t-shirt that exhibited his arm ink, said they were for an upcoming wedding and not everyone had picked up their rentals. The sign out front said they also rented U-Haul trailers.

motel-2 (640x480)When a women drove up, hauled a comforter out of her trunk and disappeared into a room to the left of the office, I had to get up and find out why. The Dakota HorizInn has a laundromat that’s open the the public. Ed just toddled in that direction with an armful of clothes that, he’s just discovered, didn’t stay dry in the waterproof fabric bag that rides behind him. It has a rain cover, and he put in place when we left this morning, but it didn’t stay in place in the buffeting wind.

rags (640x480)Our room was fairly pricey at $86 for the night, but it had two dry beds, heat, and hot water. It could use a few more robust hangers and secure stanchions from which to hang them. There were, however, rags on the back of the toilet for cleaning “gear, guns, boots, bikes, and makeup.” And Teresa thanked us for using them. All we can do is hope everything will dry by dinner, if not tomorrow. It looks like the rain has stopped. I hope that lasts, and that we can find someplace within walking distance for dinner.

motel sun (640x480)Just before 1700 the front passed and the sun poured through a sucker hole in the stratus layer of clouds. Taking up residence in one of the plastic chairs outside Room 27 with Jack Daniels and Rocky Patel, I made grotesque shadow creatures with my toes and watched life pass by on SD 37. Ed read his Kindle. A number of Harleys grumbled by, and a few of their pilots, seeing me sitting by the clothing draped bikes, would wave.

Serendipity smiled at us. Across the street from the Dakota HorizInn was the Pony Creek Steakhouse. Simple by city standards it expanded on the northern Wisconsin/UP theme. Paint and plywood and Formica dominated the décor, and locals filled almost every booth, restaurant table, and the bar stools that faced the glass cooler of bottle beer.

motel bikes (640x480)There was some special event taking place in the back room, perhaps the rehearsal dinner for the wedding responsible for all the tuxes in the HorizInn’s lobby. Things were hopping this Friday night, and so was the staff of four, two women out front, the bartender and waitress, and two men in the kitchen, the cook and his helper. They didn’t stand still long enough to discern any family resemblance, but the odds of their relationship was high. The Steak-eze sandwich, a shredded steak patty on a bun with grilled onions and peppers under two slices of melted cheese, was good and filling.

When we crossed the street for home the sky was clear, with just a few laggard clouds to the south. Ours were no longer the only bikes in the parking lot, but they were still the only BMWs. Tomorrow the newcomers will certainly be in Sturgis. We’re hoping for Hot Springs, SD, a perfect staging point for our visits to the Crazy Horse Memorial and Mount Rushmore. Unless it decides to rain again.


About smspangler

Freelance writer, editor, and photographer of myriad aviation topics and the exploration of America's small towns.
This entry was posted in Lodging, Motorcycle, Travel and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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