A Rainy Day in Watertown

Weather: Rather obvious, isn’t it?

Frogwing, wet.
The view from my room at the Guesthouse; Watertown, South Dakota.
That’s Dempsey’s Brewery & Restaurant, with the warm light shining through the window.

It was raining hard in Huron when Frogwing and I hit the road towards Watertown. It was the kind of rain that overloads the storm sewers, and floods the streets. Visibility was about 200 yards, and we could only make fifty miles per hour with any kind of safety margin, even on the long, straight roads.

The rain didn’t stop the hay trucks from hauling the harvest in from the fields. They too, were doing about fifty mph, in the opposite direction. In their wakes, a solid wave of wind and water almost blew us off the road, the first time we encountered them. After that, the technique was to pull over as far right as possible, wait until the cab of the truck passed, and then duck down and turn into the wave as it broke over us.

We endured this about a dozen times between Huron and Watertown, a ride just short of 100 miles. By the time we arrived, we were both pretty drenched. My old pair of “waterproof” boots finally failed me, but the Aerostich gear kept me warm and dry, except for the little bit of water that leaked down my neck and got past the collar, eventually soaking the front of my shirt. As I said, it was raining hard! Thank you, Aerostich, for building this excellent Darien suit.

We pulled up in front of the Guesthouse, a motel right across the parking lot from my favorite restaurant in all of South Dakota; Dempsey’s. I’ve visited this brewery & restaurant several times over the years, and it just gets better every time. But this was my first stay at the Guesthouse.

Built in 1964, the building has that funky post-modern architecture full of sharp angles and straight lines, kind of an anti-art-deco effect. The clerk, who sat smoking behind the desk, looked like she may have been there since it opened. In fact, the entire place seemed like it was suspended in time, right down to the fixtures in my room. More on this later…

After changing into some dry clothes and shoes, I ran across the puddled parking lot to Dempsey’s for dinner. I had heard wonderful things about their pizza, but had never tried one. I ordered the house special, the one with everything on it. As you can see in the photo below, it was magnificent!

Dempsey's Pizza!
This photo is dedicated to Arizona Lucky, the original moto-pizza connoisseur.

The dough for the delicious crust is made with Longship Lager, brewed on-site. Normally just a transport for toppings, this distinctive crust is an equal component in a culinary masterpiece. The sauce is sublime, with juicy chunks of tomato and a blend of garlic and spices which yield a delightful tart-sweet flavor. As you can see in the photo, they don’t skimp on toppings. This pizza is loaded with cheese, meat, and veggies to the point where a 12-inch pie yielded two full meals.

After that wonderful dinner, my batteries began to wear down, and I was feeling like a nap might be in order. This time, I walked through the light rain across the parking lot, steering around the puddles instead of leaping them as I had earlier. A bellyful of pizza and beer will do that to you…

Light, circa 1964.
The perfect illumination for a Philip Marlowe mystery.

Back in my room, I looked around for a moment and drank in the funky ambience. There was a compilation of Raymond Chandler’s “Philip Marlowe” mysteries in my flight bag, along with the sweat suit that sometimes serves as pajamas in my travels. Changing quickly, I turned on the low-wattage lamp by the bedside, and turned off all other lights in the room. Then I sat there on the bed and just listened to the rain falling softly outside the window.

Oh, this was going to be good… The perfect setting in which to enjoy some classic pulp fiction by the master of detective noir. Stacking the pillows just so, I laid back, opened the book, and disappeared into the murky underworld of 1950s Los Angeles.

I can’t tell you where my reading ended and my dreams began, but I slept uninterrupted through that long rainy night.

8 Responses to “A Rainy Day in Watertown”

  1. Brian Says:

    WoW! I’ve kept up with your postings but never commented .. until now. That pizza! Yep, the pizza looks amazing. I had to say it. :)

  2. AZ Lucky Says:

    Sounds like a great ride! Perfect weather and road conditions get boring after a while, and a good meal (and beer) is even better after an adventurous ride.

  3. Gary Charpentier Says:

    Brian: It really was amazing. Dempsey’s Brew Pub and Restaurant is the best place to eat and drink that I have encountered in the midwest.

    AZ Lucky: You know it. If you ever ride up this way, I will treat you to dinner at Dempsey’s. The pizza is truly worth your evaluation.

    Ride (and eat…) well,

  4. jim Says:

    Man that pizza looked good. That aerostich clothing works don’t it.

  5. Biker Betty Says:

    It’s lunchtime and I sure wish I lived near Dempsey’s, lol. My husband and I were each on our bikes and got caught in a downpour for two hours and we actually enjoyed. Lucky for us there weren’t any large trucks splashing water on us. We were riding through the mountains of Colorado. We ended our ride with a yummy mexican dinner and a strawberry margarita for me and beer for my hubby. Glad all went well for you despite the weather.

  6. irondad Says:

    Surfer dude on a Frogwing. Gnarly!

  7. Gary Charpentier Says:

    Jim: Yes it does.

    Betty: Yeah, it’s not often that I have an entire afternoon and evening to devote to recreational reading. In this case, the conditions came together with the subject matter to provide the perfect atmosphere. When life hands you lemons…

    Irondad: TOtally!

    Ride well,

  8. Wendy the waitress Says:

    A little more about Dempsey’s: See the table under the pizza? A lot of the tables are covered with memorabilia from Ireland; brought back to Watertown by the pub’s owners, Bill and Lynne Dempsey. Be sure you ask about the history of the building and of the many flags hanging inside. If you’re lucky, Bill might even play the bagpipes for you! I enjoyed your story. Please come again to Dempsey’s!