Friday, Aug. 2nd
After work, Mo & I got the trailer and bikes packed up and ready to go.
Both of us were itching to get on the road. We briefly entertained the
idea of riding into Wisconsin. We had 575 miles to go the next day to
make it to our hotel reservations in Sioux Falls, SD. Mo & I decided to
just get a good night's sleep. In retrospect I wish we had headed out!
Saturday, Aug. 3rd
We were up at 7am. Mo & I got the coolers packed, stopped for ice, and
went to Kappy's for breakfast at around 8. We were officially on the
road around 9am. The first 12 hours of our trip was rather uneventful.
We dawdled a bit at our frequent stops. Due to the trailer, Mo's gas
mileage was pretty poor, so we had to stop every 75 miles or so. We met
an interesting guy at the MN welcome center. He was a local to the area
with a very old Panhead. It was all original, and boy did it look it. He
was a very cool guy and wished us well on the rest of our journey. About
8pm that night we made it to Albert Lea, MN and stopped for dinner at
McDonald's. Come to think of it, Mo & I ate a lot of McDonald's this
trip. We really wanted a sit down meal, but we still had 170 miles still
to go that night, and it was getting late. Our next gas stop was Blue
Earth, MN, the beginning of the adventure.
As we were filling up, a guy came out of the gas station to inform us of
an impending storm headed our way. (We later discovered his name was
Todd.) It sounded pretty severe, so I checked the local hotels for
availability. The woman working let me know that there was absolutely
nothing available from Blue Earth on through to Sioux Falls 120 miles
away. The sheriff was offering up free camping at the local fairgrounds,
but by then it was dark. Todd and his friends decided to wait it out in
a restaurant next door to the gas station. After checking the weather a
few more times, hearing reports that the Tornado warnings had just
ended, and the storm was heading north; Mo & I decided to venture on.
The next town was only 15 miles away. Bad call! We only made it 7 miles
out of town before we encountered a 60 mph headwind. We pulled off the
road under an underpass, and decided to turn around at the next
opportunity to head back to Blue Earth. The winds were terrible, but
just before we got to the next U-turn the rain and hail began. It was
terrifying. Somehow we managed to make it back to our previous underpass
intact. The only thing we could do was wait for it to end. It was bad
enough that semi-trucks were pulling over. Another guy had pulled over
on the other side of the road to wait it out as well. The sad thing is
that the only person in a car that stopped as well, was a guy that had
to pee. He didn't even ask if we were okay or could do anything to help.
We started calling friends that might be able to access the Weather
Channel. We learned that the storm wasn't going to pass until about 4am.
Finally, the rain died down and we made back to Blue Earth.
We joined Todd and his friends at the restaurant. The workers at the
restaurant were very nice and very patient with us. We walked in
completely drenched. After a putting on dry clothes and having a cup of
coffee, we learned that the restaurant was closing. What to do now.
There was nowhere to go, but Sioux Falls (which was still 120 miles
away). There was still a light rain, so we geared up as best we could. I
swear I will never leave on a long trip again without my leather jacket
or before I purchase a set of Frogg Toggs! Mo & I decided to ride with
Todd's group. We figured the more lights we had, the better off we would
be. That was about 11:30pm. For safety's sake we took it slow. At a gas
stop almost 2 hours later the rain finally quit. At 3:30am we made it to
the hotel in Sioux Falls. I have never been so happy to see a hotel in
my life. A couple of members of our group had filtered in other
directions, so all that was left was Mo, Todd, Carol, and myself. Mo & I
had a suite and they still had nowhere to stay, so we invited them to
stay with us. All of us pretty much crashed as soon as our heads hit the
Sunday, Aug. 4th
The sky was thankfully pretty clear when we finally got up the next
morning. Todd and Carol became our new riding partners. They didn't even
mind the frequent stops. Heck, they were even grateful enough for the
shelter we had provided them the night before, that they bought us
breakfast in Mitchell, SD. We picked up the pace as much as we could. Mo
& I had to make it about 450 miles to Gillette, WY that day. When I was
checking us out of the hotel that morning, I realized that it would be
dark by the time we would make it to Marty's (the SCRC guy that was
letting us camp at his place for the week). The idea of riding 450 miles
on only a few hours sleep, and then trying to set up a tent in the dark
just didn't appeal to me. So, I booked us a room about 30 miles from
Marty's house. I figured a good night's sleep would do us some good
before we tried to make camp. That one was a good call.
The trip across SD was windy and a bit chilly. Thankfully, there was no
rain. We stopped at the Trading Post at the beginning of the Badlands.
Todd & Carol made camp there, and we found some fleece lined rain
jackets that were a saving grace the rest of the trip. Again, I will
never leave home without my leather jacket!
was getting dark by the time we made it to Rapid City for gas and
dinner. Blunder number 2 occurred here. The driveway for the gas station
had a steep decline. I stopped quickly with my handlebars turned while
going down it to exit the station, and dropped my bike. Nothing was
damaged but my pride. I was pretty embarrassed. Oh well. Lesson learned.
Make sure your bars are straight when stopping. After dinner, we plugged
on. Wyoming was interesting. It was very windy and really dark. I was
amazed at the complete nothingness there. No lights in the distance
whatsoever. The only thing you could see were stars, which was good
because that meant no rain! We made it to the hotel in Gillette at about
10:30pm. What a dump, too, but we didn't care because it was a place to
Monday, Aug. 5th
First official day of the Sturgis rally. We got up, and went next door
to the laundry mat. Many of our clothes were still wet from Saturday
night's adventures. Once everything was dry and packed up we headed to
the Harley dealership in town. We saw a beautiful Electra Glide there
with a really cool Arlen Ness rear fender. Mo was definitely drooling.
After that we attempted to find Marty's house. I followed the directions
as best I could, but missed the turn. We ended up at the Carlisle Store.
The man there let me use the phone as we had no cell phone service and
then helped me find the road we missed. It was gravel. So was the
driveway. It was so wonderful that this person had opened his home up to
camping, but the environment was not very hospitable. We called the KOA
in Spearfish and they still had room. Mo & I packed everything back up
and headed there.
Mo was leading. We start pulling out of town right passed all of the gas
stations. I pulled up next to him frantically waiving at the gas tank.
He nodded a “Yeah, I know I need gas” and continued on. Obviously, he
didn’t remember that it was 35 miles to the next town. We already had 65
miles on this tank. There was no way he was going to make it. Too late
now! All I could do was following along behind and wait. Sure enough 30
miles later, he pulls off the side of the road. I couldn’t help but
laugh. “What’s a matter, honey? Out of gas?” So I unloaded some stuff
from my bike, grabbed a cargo net, and headed off for Sundance. The gas
station let me use a gas can (with a $5 deposit of course). I filled up,
strapped the gas can to the back., and went back to fetch him. All these
bikers gave me this knowing smile as I pulled out. By the time I got
back, another biker had pulled over by Mo. Not to see if he was okay,
but because he wasn’t going to make it to Sundance either. I little
additional dig I couldn’t help but enjoy!
Shortly, thereafter, we arrived in Spearfish. We got our tent up after
fighting a little wind and decided we were done for the night. The winds
were pretty bad that night and it rained a little, but our tent held.
Tuesday, Aug. 6th
After breakfast at the little KOA restaurant, we headed off to Spearfish
Canyon. WOW! That is a beautiful road. It made all of our little
adventures well worth it. The scenery is absolutely amazing. Mo & I took
Spearfish Canyon through Deadwood and went on to Main St. in Sturgis.
There were bikes everywhere. Amazingly, we found pretty good parking. We
spent the next few hours walking the streets checking out all of the
vendors. On our way out, we did a quick ride down Main St., hopefully we
nded up in someone's pictures! We also popped in to see my buddy from
Corbin. As soon as I pulled in the parking lot, he walked right up to me
and said hello. No introduction necessary, as he recognized the seat
immediately. It only sat in his office for 4 months! We took the long
way back to the campsite through Bell Fourche. Mo & I dropped off my
bike, grabbed the camera, and headed back to Spearfish Canyon. I took
pictures and a little mini movie from the back of Mo's bike. After that,
we made a quick stop at the Dairy Queen before calling it a night.
Wednesday, Aug. 7th
Mo & I jumped on 85 South through Deadwood again and went to Mt.
Rushmore. The ride through the Black Hills was again very beautiful. Mt.
Rushmore was pretty cool as well. The sky was nice and clear. We next
took 16 through the pigtails down towards Custer State Park. I was not
thrilled with all the switchbacks. They are still a little beyond my
skill level. It was a very nice ride, but I got a little nervous on some
of those really tight turns, especially when there was also a downhill
grade. Mo however was getting frustrated with the other bikes and kept
catching up to them. When we hit Custer State Park, we decided not to
pay the entrance fee. In going the other way, we missed out on Crazy
Horse. Next year! We headed up to Rapid City and then over on 44 to the
Black Hills Caverns. We had a 16 year old kid that was convinced that he
was a comedian as a tour guide. He actually was kind of funny. He even
took a picture of us. After touring the cave, we headed back to Rapid
City, and then back to Spearfish. We stopped for Chinese right down the
street from the campground. We met a very nice local couple while we
were eating. Naturally when we walked out of the restaurant, it was
pouring and I couldn't remember if all of the tent windows were closed
or not. I gave some poor guy that had no rain gear with him my extra
rain jacket. We geared up ourselves, and headed back to camp. Neither
one of us could see a thing. Mo locked on to the center line, and I
locked on to his taillight. Luckily we made it back safely. Since we
were wet again and were running out of clean clothes, we decided to
spend the rest of the night doing laundry. Not very interesting, but we
did encounter a bit of a laundry room soap opera while we were there.
Some lady apparently decided to hog all of the dryers. Made for some
light amusement. The rain came down a lot harder that night but the tent
held again, though it leaked a little around the edges. Oh well.
Thursday, Aug. 8th
Time to head home. It was hot and we really didn't get very far. We only
made it to Chamberlain, SD for the night. Made it there to a very
expensive hotel room just before the rain hit. (Yes, it pretty much
rained every single day!) On the way there we stopped at the World
Famous Wall Drug and purchased more stuff including some very yummy
fudge! That place is pretty cool! Oh, and we ran into Todd and Carol
amazingly right where we left them at the Badland's Trading Post. They
were in a Budget Rent a Truck. Poor guy's tranny blew so they had to tow
the bike home, which sucks but I was a little jealous of the air
Friday, Aug. 9th
Mo & I continued our trek home. We were taking it pretty slow again and
only got to Fairmont, MN. It was a much cooler day, so the ride was much
more comfortable. Quick tidbit… the western portion of MN smells like
Saturday, Aug. 10th
We made it home. Mo & I stopped for dinner just south of Tomah, WI and
we were both a little tired and saddle sore. We almost stopped for the
night. We made it a little further to Madison, WI at about 7pm and both
decided that we just wanted to go home. It took us several hours because
we took side streets once we reached Rt. 31, but time flew by since we
were in familiar territory. Mo & I made it home around 10:30-11pm. After
unloading, we met a few friends at a pool hall and ended our trip just
where we began it… at Kappy's. Couple more tidbits… Eastern MN is very
bumpy, WI is a pretty state, and IL has a lot of bugs.
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