Day 8 – Return to Deadwood

Posted: August 18, 2010 in Uncategorized

Well, day 8 was the last full day for us at Sturgis 2010.   Not a lot planned, other than cleaning up the site in preparation for our return trip, and a full evening at the main stage with the Scorpions.  But we did decide to take one more spin back to Deadwood.     Mike had a few things he wanted to pick up, and I had a brilliant idea to find the original Boot Hill.

But before I tell you about that, let me tell you about Karen and Ed, owners and operators of the Dog House Cafe.

We had not had a tremendous amount of success finding a good breakfast spot, until the final day, when we found ourselves at the Dog House Cafe, where there’s “no fast food, only good food fast”.    No only did we have an excellent breakfast, but they took care of us like we were long lost friends.    That’s Karen, Ed and the lads in the shot below.

Every rally week Karen and Ed leave their home and camp right behind the cafe.   They want to be up and the food freshly prepared for the hoards of early morning riders.   Not only that, but they make their now vacant bedroom available for whatever soul needs it.. no charge of course!

I hope I see Karen and Ed again.   Truly beautiful people.  If you ever find yourself in Sturgis, go have breakfast at the Dog House and be prepared for lively conversation and a full belly!

Right… back to Deadwood.   Boot Hill you may already know, is the final resting place for all those gamblers and gunslingers that had left the mortal plains of Deadwood still wearing their boots.   There were actually TWO.. The first was located close to town but lasted only a few years before the townspeople realized that the flat land better serviced the living than the dead.  So, everyone was uprooted and moved to Mount Moriah, the new Boot Hill.

It’ll cost you a buck to look, and if you can manage the climb, you should definitely go.   Beautiful place, and if you take the time, you’ll find the last last chapter in a thousand stories.   We visited Wild Bill and Calamity Jane, Potato Creek Johnny and Sheriff Seth Bullock, the mass graves of diptheria victims, and another for miners who perished in a boarding house fire..

Righto.  Back to camp for our final night.  The lads went off to see the Scorpions, and I stayed back to draft the final blogs.  Too bad they were lost (ARRRGH!).

Day 7 – Reach for the Sky!

Posted: August 18, 2010 in Uncategorized

Up again at the crack of dawn on onto Spearfish, Spearfish Canyon, Cheyenne and Deadwood!

Spearfish Canyon.. Another amazing ride.  It’s not as twisty as the Custer State Park ride, but a little faster and more open Very dramatic… With every corner a new and impressive panorama opens up in front of you.. The high and undulating hills are all capped with a ridge of rock.  They look like the ramparts of some ancient city up there.. mysterious and foreboding.

Deadwood!  Stomping grounds for the likes of Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hicock, and the site of the last great American gold rush!    Very rich in history.  Once a dirty-dealing, mud-in-your-eye, fist-in-your-gut gold mining town, it’s now a largely a tourist spot.   Very busy during Sturgis week, and overflowing with motorcycles, noise and exhaust.   Great place to pick up souvenirs, or to try your luck at the casinos.   Still no shortage of saloons, but the brothels have all long since been shut down!

Back to Sturgis in preparation for Ozzy, with a quick stop at the Full Throttle Saloon..  Even seen Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome?  That’s the Full Throttle.. That’s enough about that.

Back in the camp,  I had JUST found the spot in the vendors area where they were selling a variety of good drafts ( I had been suffering through Budweiser all week.. eesh ) and had been primed enough to want to go out and KICK SOME A.. EESH!  Now I’m doing it!   I mean, to engage in some lively political debates.

When I got back to the stage, Mike and Lee were having a conversation with a local biker couple.   Well, before you could say “Go soak your head Stephen Harper”, I introduced myself and offered up this little bit of political dynamite:

“So, why is everybody so bent outta shape over health care reform?!”

Little did I know.. Steve and Maggie from South Dakota were.. REPUBLICANS!   Whaa!

AND THEY’RE OFF!

Well, to make a long story short we had a great time.   My new friends were clearly entrenching the right, myself planted in the left, and Mike and Lee providing a mediating influence from the middle.   We parted company laughing and shaking hands.  I wish I had a photo of those guys.   Steve and Maggie, wherever you are, may your highway be free of potholes and may your rubber side always be down.

Its Dead Jim!

Posted: August 18, 2010 in Uncategorized

I had a few dandy blogs all drafted up for you folks that encompassed the last few days of Sturgis..   All I needed was a spot to deliver reliable data.    Well, some distance outside Sturgis and close to Wisconsin, I fired up the BB with intent of delivering my final blogs.. Hmm..  I fired up the BB with the intent of.. funny..   Fired up the BB with the intent…  of all the…  c’mon.. FIred up the BB…. FIRED UP THE $^%$*^ BLACKBERRY!!  ARRRGH!

Its was dead Jim!   Yep!  I just rolled over and flippin’ well died!    Well that’s just GREAT!

So, there’s mostly good news.. We are all back alive and well.. Slightly worse for wear, but intact and unscatched.. AND I my photos were on the SD card, so they’ve been recovered.   My drafted entries though, have disappeared into the ether.

Have no fear!  I will dredge up a few details from the last few days and post them.  I’ll also be updating all the daily entries with photos, so revisit those later and there’ll be a few pictures, and perhaps some updated text to review.

Stay tuned!

Today we were back on the bikes! South to Rapid City, Rapid City to Mount Rushmore, then onto Crazy Horse Memorial. A trip through Custer State Park and then home again.

Beautiful ride! Mount Rushmore is truly an amazing achievement. A quick story… I was in the giftshop talking to the sales lady, a very charming woman from Georgia. The conversation went something like this:

“Did y’all know that I’m turning 72 next week?”
” Why no! You certainly look to be a young 72!”
“Why thank you. I’m from Georgia y’know, where y’all from?”
“Oh we rode down from Ontario in Canada”
“Really! All the way from Canada! I have some friends up there. Y’all have such a beautiful state!”

I just smiled, “yes, that’s true…”

Custer State park is beautiful ride as well. Its a little slow ( what with 100s of bikes on the same road ), but great fun. At one point you emerge from a tight corner and into the midst of giant rock spires! Massive columns of stone! Very imposing and impressive.

We did stop at the Crazy Horse Monument. Its not yet complete, and unless you take the bus tour you don’t get that close to it. But the information center is very good. I don’t know much about Crazy Horse, but the experience has inspired me to learn more about him, as well as General Custer and the events of their time.

On another note.. Perhaps not the best to end with.. While riding along, it appeared to me that some parts of the forest looked….. Well, stressed.. I noticed clusters of trees that were brown.. Dead… Like they had suffered some sort of blight. I later learned that the forests of the Black Hills are under seige from the Pine Beetle – a non-indigeous insect of Asian origin that has no natural preditors or anything to keep it in check.. The information center at Mount Rushmore had a foreboding display.. “Our forests are dying…”

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Day 5 was a maintenance day.. Yesterday’s inadvertant trip in the back country eventually did yield results and the dealership was found. Mike and I needed oil changes. Mike and Lee both needed new rear tires. The dealership had a first come first served policy, so we resolved to arrive first thing this am.
Mikes tire was not yet available and wasn’t expected to appear for a few days. But, the other work was completed and we were off again!
Back at the camp, dirty undies and socks were the priorty. Hazard-free tighty-whities were critically low.
Which reminds me.. If I didn’t mention it before, Buffalo Chip campground is a varietable dust bowl. Its dusty… tumbleweed dusty…. and every motion from a flopping sandle to a rolling tire (and there are a LOT of those) produces a billowing cloud of dust.
Even the dirt here is dusty..
Don’t bother trying to be clean. Just resolve to be dirty for the week. Remind me to tell you about the showers later…

So, in the afternoon, Lee and I attended a custom bike show. Many impressive pieces there, none lf which I’ll attempt to describe, but I will update this post with photos when bandwidth permits.

What else…

As with every evenlng in the Buffalo Chip, bands were on stage in the vendor area and it was here that I was first reminded that I wasn’t in Kansas.. Err, Canada anymore..

Now I know my American friends are going to read this next bit and maybe raise an eyebrow. But I think I can jot down this next bit and we can talk about it in the spirit of mutual respect and understanding right? I mean.. I love you guys for all sorts of reasons, even more so as this trip goes on.. but frankly… sometimes you just weird me out!

Ok.. Here’s the question.. What’s up with this “kick your ass” thing? I mean I see it everywhere.. On stickers, T shirts, patches.. Over and over, the same message – “I’m gonna kick your ass!”

Ok fine, its a biker party, I get that. But I never expected to hear the same message from top ranking military!

Here’s the story: Between acts a few smartly uniformed marines and brigideer general so-and-so come on stage and address the crowd. The general made some inpiring comments about national pride and the strength of America, which drew an apprective response.. Cool.. Very good stuff.
But then went on make some uhhhh… aggressive statements regarding the ever present and lurkng enemies of the free world and that we’re always RIGHT and they’re always WRONG and that its our god given charge to go out and “KICK ASS” wherever these threats to way of life exist..yada, yada, yada… The crowd erupts in a nationalist fervor.

There is was again!

Well, honestly I found the whole situation.. a bit unnerving… I mean, what the hell was he talking about!? Kick ass? KICK ASS?! What kind of foreign policy is that!? Someday, we’ll sit down over some beers (not Budweiser) and you can explain the whole thing to me…

Sorry for the polical commentary..

Ah well, onto day 6…

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Day 4 – A Happy Place

Posted: August 12, 2010 in Uncategorized

Wow! Am I behind! While I have data connectivity.. Ok.. Real fast. You know what I said about those looks I received when I first arrived? Well, those looks don’t mean a thing. The people here are in a word, fantastic.. It doesn’t matter what you ride, helmet or no helmet, full riding gear or a thong bikini, folks look you in the eye, smile and tell you the stories from their own road. They want to know who you are, where you’ve been and where you’re going. It happens in every line up, walking to the loo or standing in a crowd. I think you could ride a pink scooter that blew fairy dust out its exhaust! Nobody would care!

Some notes: its hot as hell here… And there’s NO shade to found. Drink water constantly and use buckets of sunscreen or your Canadian ass will fry and you WILL expire. Get used to being covered in dust…

The nights however, are amazing. The temp starts to drop around 9, and the air is cool and beautiful. You’ll sleep as long as you don’t mind blaring music in the distance and the WHUP!WHUP!WHUP! of bikes idling by you tent at all hours of the night.

Mornings are very early. Usually folks are firing up at sunrise. Get out early or its almost impossible to get out of camp.

Wind blew fiercely today.. We lost out shade tarp to the elements.

Mike took us on a wild goose chase up a remote dirt road into the hills… We were looking for a motorcycle dealership! Damned GPS! :-). It turned out to be a ton of fun.. Beautiful up there!

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Let me tell you… Amongst the plethera of rumbling testosterone engorged Harleys, not a single well mannered Japanese motorcycle did I see as we inched our way through Sturgis.. You should have seen the looks. I may as well have been riding a pink scooter that blew fairy dust and bubbles out its exhaust, as well as a vStrom.. it was going to be a long day…

But I’m getting ahead of myself… Let me tell you a bit about the ride..

Well, it was the last long haul. Up again at 5:00AM, and on the road with an empty belly.. I was tired. Very tired.. And as we sped along, it soon became apparent to me I was in no shape to be on the road.

Lee was ahead of me and at one point I looked up at his licence plate.

’58X41′ it said (or whatever it was… I don’t remember.). Seconds later I glanced at it again.

“TIRED?”. Is what it read now..
“Why yes, I could use a nap”
“DON’T” said the license plate.
“Only for a second.. The road is straight” I thought..
“WAKE UP” read the plate…

Well, luckily the conversation was cut short by a breakfast stop. Some large infusion of caffine later we were back on the road.. And the licence plate hasn’t talked to me since.

Cont. Sorry for lack of photos. Ongoing data connection problems. Will update these posts with photos when I’m able..

Somewheres just inside South Dakota I saw a sign that read “homestead of Laura Ingles Wilder”.

I wonder what Laura Ingles Wilder would have thought about 400,000 head of 750 lb., fire snorting hogs tearing across her beautiful prairie in a thunderous ear-splitting roar…

Not much probably.. Walnut Grove sure would have been different.. Laura would have probably would have to take up turning tricks at ‘Nellies’, the towns only roadhouse and bordello. No doubt worth a fortune to its propriator Madame Olsen. Now THAT would put a spin on Little House on the Prairie wouldn’t it!

Oh! Right! Here we at Sturgis! Camp is set up and we’re ready for our first night!