I had lots of stuff to write about after talking with Gary Hunn, the Australian musician who wrote the song “Christmas in South Dakota,” his daughter-in-law, Carisa Larson Hunn, and her parents, Tim and Ruth Larson of Plankinton.
But I had limited space.
So here are a few more things I want to share from the interviews:
* Gary Hunn says the buffalo ribs he tried during his visit here last year were the best ribs ever. “I thought they’d be like Flinstones, massive ribs,” he says. He also enjoyed buffalo stew. “A lot of food, I didn’t know what it was, and that was OK, everybody explained it to me,” he says. “I was working through the different beers I liked.” One of those? Bud Light.
* Spots to visit on his return trip (they arrive Dec. 21) include “definitely Deadwood.” They will spend three days in a cabin near Rapid City, exploring the Black Hills. After traveling from Australia, Gary won’t mind driving across the state. “I’ve got to say, you guys have the best roads in the world. I could not believe how great your highways and roads were.”
* Tim Larson is planning on taking Gary through the Badlands. He’s only seen it once during the winter himself; snow and just the winter atmosphere make it an entirely different place, Tim says.
* Gary has written a song about his daughter-in-law, Carisa. It’s titled “Just Like a Daughter.”
* Gary likes traditional country music, singers like George Jones, George Strait and Merle Haggard. “Christmas in South Dakota” is receiving airplay in Australia and Europe with a number of Australian radio stations picking it up.
* With a trip back to South Dakota this year, Carisa is hoping for a more traditional Christmas to show her in-laws, who live in a tropical climate. “Last year it was so warm it was almost shorts weather in South Dakota,” she says. “But we were able to see the big fluffy snowflakes fall in Deadwood.”
* Carisa says her father-in-law’s enjoyment in his trip to South Dakota didn’t surprise her. “I knew my family would love him and that he would enjoy seeing everything that South Dakota had to offer,” she says. “I was really surprised when in June he said, let’s go back home for Christmas.”
* The first time Carisa heard “Christmas in South Dakota,” she says, “I cried and laughed at the same time. Made me so proud of my family and state to have someone else I am close to enjoy where I come from.”
* KSRB in Sioux Falls and KGIM in Aberdeen both are playing “Christmas in South Dakota,” Carisa says. “I would LOVE to get it on KMIT in Mitchell,” she says. “It would just have the most impact on the people in Plank if they would just pick it up.”
* Carisa and her husband, Kelly, are self employed with a company called Mac & PC Doctors, which fixes Apple and PC computers. She has a bachelor’s degree in environmental science from Wesley College in Dover, Del. She worked with Project Oceanology, a nonprofit that teaches kids about the ocean and estuaries, then had to leave to work at a Bath and Body Works because it lost some government funding. She then decided to obtain her master’s. “I looked at schools in the U.S.A., and they were all too expensive, so I looked abroad, and I had always wanted to go to Australia,” she said. “So I thought, why not spend 1.5 to 2 years there and get my degree and see the country.” She was accepted at James Cook University for a master’s in conservation genetics.
* If she wasn’t going to be in South Dakota this Christmas, Carisa and her husband probably would skip a roast entree in favor of something on the grill. “Some people still do the big roast meal, but most people now have a BBQ with shrimp on the barbie,” she says, “and hang around the pool or go to the beach. Kelly and I stay home in the air conditioning and watch movies or play with our new toys. We also try and Skype with everyone at home on Christmas as well on the day. They have brought the presents we have sent to them to the computer for us to watch them open it.”
* Things Carisa misses about South Dakota: Hershey’s Kisses (it’s not a brand of chocolate sold in Australia); “proper ranch dressing”; and snow and a bit of cold on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Also, her parents, her sister Rebecca, brother-in-law Jon and their baby Dawson, about 18 months old, and her Grandma Mabel.