| Wow, what a day today turned out to be.
It started out with beautiful scenery and then was filled with plenty
Today was the first day that I actually had places I knew I wanted
to stop and see. I had no prearranged route so how I got to those
places was totally up in the air. This is my favorite way to travel.
I started the day by riding north to Badlands National Park. A
very interesting place to visit but I don't think I would want
to live there. Of course the name suggests that people for a long
time have felt the same way.
Since it was early traffic was very light. The main paved road
sees a bit of RV use but a simple turn off onto one of the dirt
roads allows you to explore in peace. Due to the recent rain the
dirt roads were almost perfect for riding. They were not wet enough
to be muddy and not dry enough to be dusty.
is a whole lot of room out here but of course most of it is unaccessibl.
They frown upon you leaving the road but I took a little detour
off one of the roads because I was curious about the terrain.
A motorcyle would do fine in these fields until you came to a
steep walled ravine. At that point you would need to find a way
around or turn back. Two wheeled vehicles are not the tool of
choice for scaling near verticle walls.
see a whole lot of people but there were other critters to take
their place. I like the animals better than I like some of the
people I know. This one reminded me of one of my old girlfriends.
I love to explore places that prompt me to countinually stop
and take the camera out. I pull over whenever something catches
my eye and then take as much time as I want. Not real good if
you are on some kind of a timetable but I wasn't so... A
digital camera also helps. With my 30 GB picture pad along I never
worried about taking too many pictures. With film, the cost was
always a concern and I tended to experiment less since the there
wasn't the immediate feedback. (see a later sidebar for more information
I said goodbye to some cows on the way out of the Park and then
continued on 44 and headed towards Rapid City and Mount Rushmore.
Have I mentioned how much I dislike interstates? Well I dislike
city driving just as much so Rapid City was not much fun. Just
to keep things interesting it also started raining while I was
dodging the city traffic on my way to Mount Rushmore.
Mount Rushmore left me with mixed feelings. The sculpture itself
is very impressive and the amount of work and skilled required
for its creation is amazing. Unfortunately, I heard that about
3 million people visit the place each year and to make all these
people happy certain amenities had to be added. This makes it
feel like frick'n Disney World. Gift shops, restaurants, nonstop
educational videos, you name it. Not only that but I feel a bit
uncomfortable about the mutilation of something as timeless as
a mountain with images of something as fleeting as men's faces.
There is real irony here. That said, I am glad I went but will
probably never go back.
Initially I had planned on seeing the Crazy Horse Monument as
well but considering my experience with Rushmore, the fact it
was still raining, and that my final destination was in the opposite
direction I decide to pass for this trip.
Instead, I went north on 385. I began seeing signs warning about
a gravel detour about 20 miles before the actual detour itself
and I began to wonder just why they needed to warn people so far
in advance. My initial thoughts were that it was some short temporary
road around some small section of construction but that it might
be difficult for trucks. This would be typical of the way they
do road work in the east. Nope. It turned out to be about 15 miles
of local dirt backroads. Of course it was much more entertaining
due to the previous days of rain and the greatly increased traffic
from 385. Luckily, South Dakota mud isn't near as slippery as
Alabama mud/clay and I was on a GS. The bike and I wiggled and
squirmed the fifteen miles and except for getting covered top
to bottom with mud, did just fine. We laughed at the road and
its feeble attempt to faze us. Hubris?
Once off 385/detour I took 212 west through the corner of Wyoming
into Montana. I was getting tired by this time and would have
probably stopped somewhere if there had been any place to stop.
Instead I got to Broadus and experienced Montana's unique road
construction techniques. Note I was in South Dakota earlier. Just
east of Broadus I came to a section of the road that appeared
gone. It was like someone took the top of the road off
and just left the road bed. Odd. I get into Broadus and stop for
gas and ask a trucker coming from the west about the road ahead.
He starts cussing and tells me he was stuck in the road for the
last hour where they are doing "road work" and have removed
the road surface. So that is what that was?
warns me about going ahead but I really don't want to try and
find a place in Broadus, in the rain, to stay so I decided to
chance it. I'm not riding a GoldWing, right? Just west of Broadus
I came upon the road crew. They had literally removed all of the
road and I got in line to follow a roadgrader as it smoothed the
road bed enough to drive/ride on. Luckily, it was still raining
or this would have been too easy... Following the grader was a
semi-truck, a pickup truck, me, and another pickup truck. We were
all moving about 2 mph on the mud, I mean road. I was riding a
GS right, so no problem? Well... actually there were two problems.
The first is that we were moving too slowly. You need a bit of
speed while riding on loose surfaces for stability and I had none.
The second is that the air itself seemed full of this fine mist
of mud and within minutes my windshield became opaque, my helmet
visor became opaque and I couldn't see anything. I ended up trying
to look around one side of the windshield with my face shield
up so I could see well enough to try and keep my tires in the
dirt tracks made by the trucks in front of me.