Thursday, October 7, 2010

A nice little ride

It occurred to me, halfway through the week of August 8th, that once again I was missing my long awaited trip to Sturgis, SD for the annual motorcycle rally. So in typical fashion, I thought about it some more. I was busy on Thursday, then Friday it rained. Crud.

Saturday morning: 5:30am. I made up my mind to ride on out. Heck, it's only 800 miles. I can make it by nightfall. And I did. After 13 hours in the saddle I made downtown Sturgis with 15 minutes to spare before the HOG (Harley Owners Group) display closed down. I got my free pin...and in the process, offered up further proof to my wife that I'm nuts.

Needless to say I missed a great many of the 500,000 bikers that attended during the week. From the steady stream of bikes, both trailered and ridden that I passed heading out, I thought it would be empty out there. It wasn't. It was a lot more subdued than I'd heard about. And having not stepped into one bar I wouldn't know how that scene stacked up. I rode until sunset each day, then stopped to eat, arriving back at my flop spot each night after 11, ready for a hot shower and sleep. Some might call it boring. I call it maximizing my scenic-time.

Met some interesting and friendly people. Saw abundant wildlife: buffalo, prairie dogs, turkeys, white tail deer, antelope, burros, mustang horses, hawks, eagles and all manner of other critters. Rode some agonizingly straight highways and others that are amazing feats of engineering. And took in as much scenery as my mind could process. It's completely different than if I was looking out a windshield hemmed in by a roof and doors.

After five days I returned home with 2000 miles added to the odometer, 450 photos and a slew of memories no one can ever take from me. All good.

There were so many more stops like Deadwood, Boot Hill, Lead (pronounced Leed), Canyons, Mountains, Badlands. Here's a sample.

Downtown Sturgis. And this is the last night of the rally?!?

Some of the "carnival-like" roads out in Mount Rushmore area.

Every tunnel has a view of the presidents. Reading the signs I learned that the tunnels were carved out, then a road was built to connect them. What a feat of engineering. Try doing that today.

A "traffic jam" in Custer park wildlife area.
A photo op everywhere you look.

An equally great monument. Especially since you can fit the entire Mount Rushmore sculpture into Crazy Horse's hair. And this sculpture will be carved on all sides, not just into the flat face of the mountain. Very interesting ongoing story. I don't remember my folks taking my sisters, grandma and I to see this in 1970 during our four week western tour in the Ford Wagon Queen family truckster.

Stavkirk Chapel in the Hills-Rapid City: A replica of a Norwegian church. Had to take a quick tour since we have a similar church on Washington Island off the northern tip of Door County, or Wisconsin's "thumb".

This is typical of the interesting road-side scenery. I just had to stop to check it out. This place has a long and storied history as THE general store on the way to Devil's Tower.
Took a two-lane black top home through Pierre, SD. Hooked up with a scenic by-way, a portion of the Lewis and Clark Trail and traveled through 5 different reservations.
Ever wonder where your sunflower seeds come from? Probably North or South Dakota according to the packages I checked in the gas stations after seeing field after field like this.
Up early. Last morning on the on-ramp. Heading East towards home.

Followed this ride up a month later with a nice leisurely ride to Tomahawk, WI for the annual MDA Fall Color Ride. Short by comparison at 500 miles round trip. Nice weather and great to see old friends and relatives in Northern Wisconsin's fall color display.

Talk about reigniting the travel bug. So many places to see. So little time.

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