I left Oshkosh as the sun was setting and stayed with another fellow Advrider about a half-hour south where I enjoyed more fantastic company, quality garage-hang-out time and all around wonderful hospitality. Many thanks are in order:hail (post up!)
From there I saw a lot of this
I motored on
The scenery wasn't terrible and as would be a trend, road construction was never-ending.
It went on like this till I was about 20 minutes from the South Dakota state line. There I hit a wall of heavy, cold rain. My rain gear is old and not-so-waterproof any more and I didn't bring any heated gear or very warm clothes. I was wet, cold and not too happy. I pressed on, but didn't take pics. I got colder and colder. I couldn't stop shivering. Eventually quick bite to eat to attempt to regain some warmth. When stopped, I found a garbage bag and put that on under my jacket for a bit of extra wind protection.
Still cold, I pressed on. I rode another 65 miles or so in the rain and stopped for fuel only to find that I couldn't find my wallet anywhere:( The sun was setting, I was in the middle-of-no-where South Dakota freezing cold, in the rain with no fuel and no money at all. Not good. I was able to find the number of the McD's where I had stopped earlier and gave them a call. I was so extremely happy to hear that they had my wallet. Still, it was 70 miles away and I was very nearly out of fuel.
There were loads of bikers around though and one kind looking soul must have noticed my distressed appearance and asked if all was ok. I told my story and without prompting he gave me $5 to get me back to my wallet. I was never so happy to see $5!
With my $5 worth of fuel I turned around and rode back up the 70-miles of I90 I had just ridden down, still in cold rain. They had my wallet and it still even had the cash in it. Seems I had dropped it in the parking lot when I was donning my garbage bag and another biker found it and gave it to the cashier.
Freezing cold, I desperately needed to warm up a bit before heading back west again. With my new-found wallet I purchased a hot chocolate. I also met a dude on a Harley in the parking lot. He was very friendly, we sat together and both drank hot chocolates. He wasn't your typical butt jewelry, bike-in-the-trailer sturgis HD dude, no his Harley looked really beat and he'd just gotten off it - the only trailer involved was the one he was towing with his bike.
Turns out he was from Texas and had just ridden the Dempster in Alaska on his HD. In fact, he had 176,000 miles on his HD that he'd bought new 6 years prior! He said the thing was sort of crap and broke a lot, but that he still liked it anyway;) He had great stories of his trials and tribulations taking the heavily loaded HD though Alaska where, according to him, most folks stick with knobby tires and dual sports. Seems belt drive doesn't fair well on unpaved surfaces - he went though several and had some choice words for whoever thought belt-drive was a good idea for a motorcycle...
Refreshed from the hot chocolate and good company, I quickly dismissed thoughts I'd had of calling it a day and finding a hotel right there or tossing my tent up on the side of the road. No, I decided that I'd keep with the original plan and press on to the Badlands, I was on a mission!
I rode a bit (still raining), got fuel (still raining) and rode some more.
I put my head down, tucked onto the tank bag, wound the throttle lock up to a very respectable cruising speed and let the big 1250 propel me across the rain soaked, barren land of SD. I didn't stop except when I needed fuel and I kept those quick.
The camping spot I intended to stay at was strategically chosen. It was very remote (even for the badlands) with about 20-miles of dirt road required to reach it. There were no hookups, no electricity and no water. This all of course ment no RVs, no annoying tourists and no generators.
Luckily the rain stopped just as I got to the dirt portion. I picked my way down the dirt road in the dark on the heavily loaded bandit. The bandit actually was quite planted for a street bike in the dirt. I, somewhat to my amazement, found my campground in the dark. I wasn't able to find directions or a reliable map prior so it was a bit of a crapshoot, but I had a general idea of the area from my travels last summer in the badlands on the 919.
I found the first inviting area, parked the bandit and pitched the tent. It was a bit of a pain in the dark, but I was so relived and satisfied to have finally made it I didn't care. I slept like a rock despite having only a sleeping bag an thin tent floor between me and the rocky soil.
I awoke to coyotes making noise and some very fine scenery.
Peeking out my tent at the Bandit the next morning
The fabled target-tent
I decided to go for a hike up the bluff overlooking the campsite.
Seems Mr. Bison had a similar idea. Fellow campers said he wandered right though the middle of the campsite earlier that morning (I slept in till 6:45am as I'd had a rough day...).