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Archive for the ‘South Dakota’ Category

A very weak internet connection at our hotel prevented me from posting on our blog last night.  Here’s a bit of info to go with the pictures I shared on Facebook.

  1. We enjoyed one more night at our hotel in Deadwood — it’s such a treat to stay somewhere for 2 nights and not have to pack everything up in the morning.
  2. Needles Highway — in the Black Hills of Custer State Park.  14 miles of sharp turns, low tunnels and impressive stone spires
  3. Iron Mountain Road — another big WOW on the motorcycle.  This road has 3 one lane tunnels, 3 pigtail bridges, 22 switchbacks, 400 bends & curves over 17 miles and two counties
  4. Mount Rushmore — as imposing and impressive as I imagined it would be.  I learned it was built by 400 workers over 14 years.
  5. Sturgis — arriving a week after the motorcycle rally is like arriving at a wedding venue after everyone’s gone.  The downtown was basically deserted and all the bits and pieces haven’t been cleaned up yet after the 76th annual rally.  We had a beer at the famous Iron Horse Saloon just to say we did.

This morning after passing Elvis in the lobby of our hotel we walked outside to feel the cold South Dakota morning.  Yikes !! It’s still August and we had to wear all our layers.  For so many weeks I whined about how HOT it was but we’ve turned a corner into much cooler temperatures.  I didn’t take nearly as many pictures today because it was just takes too long to take off gloves and carefully ease the camera out of my pocket.

I’m not sure how many minutes we were in Wyoming 😀 Looking at today’s route we just skimmed the north east corner before entering Montana.

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We saw more wildlife today than our whole 2 months travel put together.  We saw about 100 antelope and some deer as well as long-horned cattle, horses and thousands of sheep & cows.  And why did the chicken cross the road?  To show the raccoon it could be done.  We have seen hundreds of dead raccoons on this trip.  Absolute raccoon carnage.

Traveling most of today on a secondary highway was great with stunning scenery and very little traffic.  Unfortunately it means very little in the way of services.  We finally found a cafe for breakfast and it was perfect.  Small little cafe full of local farmers and our server chatted us up wanting to know if we were frozen yet.  It wasn’t just cold.  It was cold and very windy.  Windy to the point of Chris having to ride on a tilt we were being buffeted so hard.

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We weren’t sure how far we’d get today so didn’t book ahead.  Here we are in the lobby at Best Western Kelly Inn in Billings Montana.  The decor just oozes “western” and the staff here are lovely.  There’s a bike washing station outside so our ride is absolutely gleaming !!  I’ve done some laundry, sorted through receipts getting read to cross the border and we’re watching a bit of TV before we rest our weary but happy selves.

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Tomorrow is another day of riding until we’re tired but I know we’ll still be in Montana.

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Love & hugs from Billings…

 

 

 

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Just a few miles outside of Kadoka, this morning we started seeing signs for the Badlands.  Even the gas stations are all dressed up in Wild West exteriors and we saw genuine Cowboys at this one.  Had to laugh at the coin operated horse on the front porch.  That’s the only horse I’ll ever ride — my allergies won’t allow me to get near anything with fur, hair or feathers.  The landscape quickly changed and we got our first glimpse of what the Lakota Indians call “mako sic meaning “land bad.”image.jpeg

The national park is more than 242,000 square miles of protected buttes, pinnacles and spires.  We were awed by the enormity and majesty of it all and stopped at quite a few of the view points to take it all in.

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It was another incredible day — very few clouds — glorious sunshine.  The temperature rose steadily to a high of almost 40 degrees celsius or 100 farenheit.

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What a dry and inhospitable environment it seems and yet there’s obviously enough moisture to sustain grass & trees.  No luck seeing Buffalo but Chris pointed out some Bighorn sheep.

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After leaving the Badlands we made our way to Wall and the famous drugstore. We didn’t take the time to tour the whole property but wandered through a few stores like the one selling leather goods.  Look at all those pretty cowgirl boots !! I caught Chris flirting with a saloon gal and we popped into the tiny chapel.

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Next up was the Harley dealership in Rapid City. They were expecting us and took the bike right in for a full tune-up.  And there were lots of comfortable leather couches & chairs, complimentary cold drinks and free wifi. We chatted with Chip and Brenda Roy from Brighton, Ontario who are also on a long distance trip. It was nice swapping stories of life on the road.  Took about 4 hours before we were on the road again with a new front tire, an oil change and the assurance that all systems are go.

We’re spending the next two nights in Deadwood and maybe a third so we can fit everything in – Mount Rushmore, Sturgis and Needles Highway.

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Love & hugs from the road…

 

 

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Impressions of South Dakota…more corn…more cows…more hayfields.  The scenery is changing as we approach the badlands.  Undulating hills and much drier as we head west on Hwy 90.  The first picture is a sculpture park that sadly we couldn’t access from the highway.  It’s most likely a gravel road on someone’s farm.

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Billboards kept us entertained all day.  And I’m looking forward to visiting Wall Drug which is apparently one of the world’s most well known tourist stops.  New to us but hey it’s also our first time in South Dakota.  Wall must spend a pile of money on advertising because we started seeing the signs this morning which had to be 400 miles away from the store.  Sadly I only got a few clear pictures of their signs which advertise a bookstore/free ice water/sluicing & gem mining/homemade donuts and of course their 5 cent coffee.  It’s on the “must do” list of things to do tomorrow right after getting the bike into a Harley shop for one more tune-up.

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The closer we get to Sturgis, the more bikes we pass.  The 76th annual motorcycle rally just ended so there are signs everywhere welcoming riders.   We are purposely visiting AFTER the craziness.  Sure we’d love to pick up some souvenirs and walk the downtown but without the half million visitors that swamped the little town last year.

Chris made a comment today that we’re 21st century Cowboys. I’ve been thinking about it all day.  Our hat & boots and horsepower are a bit different but we do hit the trail every day and we did eat baked beans that one time for breakfast lol. Okay we’re not herding cows or fixing fences but we’re watching cows from our front row seat on the highway.  Close enough…right??

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This beautiful vista was accessible to view behind a visitor’s Centre.  You’ll notice it’s me and not Chris standing beside the sign for poisonous snakes.  Wearing heavy leather boots I figured if I saw one I’d give it a good kick.  Perhaps it’s a way to keep visitors on the sidewalk 😉 At the very least it adds stats to the annual Darwin Awards. If it said poisonous spiders or just any kind of spiders I would have turned right around and run full speed back to the bike and called it a day.

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Again with the umpteen billboards we saw 1880 Town was up ahead.  It was too hot to walk through the old western town but we did stop off at the 50’s train diner for lunch.  It was a blast from childhood to have butterscotch pudding with a dollop of whipped cream on top for dessert.  Eating soup with crunched up crackers was also pretty fantastic.

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It’s a very long way from one town to the next in South Dakota. I can’t imagine traveling these roads in the winter.  Remember the characters all wore parkas in the movie Fargo !!  Long cold winters on the windswept plains.  The weather today was beautiful.  Cool this morning so I dug out my leather jacket but shed a layer at each stop as the day got warmer.

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It’s 30 degrees outside right now in Kadoka, South Dakota.  The front desk clerk here at America’s Best Value Inn says Kadoka is like Mayberry and sounded apologetic that the nearest Walmart is 6 hours away.  According to Wikipedia 654 people were counted in the 2010 census and there is a museum & airstrip with 2 turf runways .  We have all we need with a restaurant & bar right next door and the air-conditioner is turned as high as it will go.

Tomorrow we’re aiming for Deadwood for at least 2 nights maybe 3 to give us time to service the bike, see Mount Rushmore, stop in Sturgis and do some riding in the Black Hills.  This is bucket list stuff folks.  The trip of a lifetime and we’re grinning from ear to ear everyday…so thankful to be experiencing two big, beautiful countries.

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Love & hugs from the road…

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