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Old 09-02-2014, 02:00 PM   #1
Herky OP
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Location: On a long winding road which started in Iowa
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You're Not Lost If You Don't Care Where You Are

In Spanish there is a word for which I canít find a counterword in English. It is the verb vacilar, present participle vacilando. It does not mean vacillating at all. If one is vacilando, he is going somewhere but doesnít greatly care whether or not he gets there, although he has direction.
-John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America

While my Spanish is far from bueno, I think I am close to vacilando. My direction is west, so I suppose you could say my first destination is the west coast. Who knows after that. Iíd like to get to both coasts if possible, but my itinerary is pretty relaxed. After spending the last four years living life following my college notebook planner, I wanted to spend some time traveling without too much structure. So here we are.

Iím currently writing this from a coffee shop in Bozeman, Montana (Wild Joeís for all you Montanans). Iíve been a lurker on ADV for some time now, but I thought Iíd make my own contribution after reading so many great reports which helped in my planning (what little planning there actually was). I decided that if I waited until after the trip to write this, it would never happen. Plus if any of you locals or grizzled veterans have any route recommendations Iím all ears.

Quick bio for those prefer insight into the protagonist:
I just graduated from the University of Iowa this spring with a degree in biology (go Hawks). Iím currently applying to medical schools, and took a year off after graduation to take a break from academic life and do some traveling before I become a full-time library resident. I spent the last three months working as a wilderness guide/trip leader around the Jackson Hole/Yellowstone area, leading backpacking, white water rafting, kayaking, and rock climbing expeditions. Iím hoping to spend the rest of my year off traveling, maybe picking up short-term work here or there (now accepting job offers).

I will give a quick report of the trip so far, then give live updates as I have internet access. Thanks for riding along.

Obligatory teaser pics:





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Old 09-02-2014, 02:49 PM   #2
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Old 09-02-2014, 02:58 PM   #3
Herky OP
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Location: On a long winding road which started in Iowa
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Day 1:
Kickstands up!

I left my hometown in Winterset, Iowa, on August 26th, which was also the day of my 23rd birthday, mainly for a poetic start. My father had planned to join me on his Victory Vegas for the first week of the trip before driving back to the farm in Iowa. This did not stop off-pavement travel, however it was generally not intentional.



First stop was the pride and joy of Winterset, the birthplace of John Wayne.



We continued on west through Iowa, which is just as exciting as you imagined. The objective throughout the trip is to avoid interstates, so we took the Loess Hills Scenic Byway north towards the Nebraska Ė South Dakata border once we reached western Iowa. Plenty of rolling hills and great scenery, so if you have to drive through western Iowa, this is the road to take.

Plenty of gravel opportunities/road construction detours.



Lunch included the ďOld Home Fill-er Up and Keep on Trucking CafeĒ in the metropilos of Pisgah, Iowa (population 245) made famous by a C.W. McCall. Had to look up the song, but the prime rib sandwich was the real take-home.



Donít miss the Freedom Rock south of Guthrie Center, a dedication to Iowa war veterans.



There are also some gorgeous sunflower fields right after the Nebraska border.



To save yourself from reenactments of scenes from Tommy Boy, just make sure not to pull over next to bee hives.


BEES!

After successfully avoiding bee stings and making it to South Dakota, we pulled in for the night at Yankton, SD, after crossing Gavinís Point Dam (I was unable to take a picture so youíll have to take my word for it).
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Old 09-02-2014, 03:00 PM   #4
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Day 2
We left Yankton around 8 am with our sights set on Chamberlin for lunch, driving along the Missouri River, with plenty of twisty roads overlooking the Muddy Mo.



Drove through several apparently abandoned towns along Native American Reservations, with run-down houses, barns, and community buildings.



A few signs of life remained.





Stopped in at The Anchor for lunch in to Chamberlin, which is a gorgeous town along the Missouri River.

Most of the patrons here appeared to be the imaginary guests.



We took Hwy 50 north out of Chamberlin, which had great views of the river, crossing over to the west side along a dam at Fort Thompson.



We then rode along the gorgeous Native American Scenic Byway towards Pierre.



Be forewarned, the turnoff to Hwy 10 at Lower Brule comes up fast. We ended up taking a slight detour, which included a free bike wash.



The byway was extremely desolate, but had gorgeous views of central South Dakota cattle country that went on for miles. Wish my camera did it justice.



With bikes still wet and low on gas, we rolled in to Pierre about 6:30 pm.
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Old 09-02-2014, 03:15 PM   #5
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Very nice start.
Good luck on your travels.
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Old 09-02-2014, 03:18 PM   #6
Herky OP
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Location: On a long winding road which started in Iowa
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Days 3-4
We headed west on Hwy 34 towards the Black Hills, which provided a great opportunity to test out the rain gear. Two thumbs up for Nelson Rigg gear if you're looking for something affordable that still actually works.



Reached the Black Hills around 10 am, escaping the rain but not the clouds.



Tried to stop by for a quick lunch beer in Scenic, South Dakota, but the keg was dry.



Made it to Rapid City around 4 pm, so with the extra time we decided to tour the South Dakota Air and Space Museum. A great stop if you have the time (and free). Notice the B52 bomber flying in.



The optional tour of Ellsworth Air Force Base and the Minuteman II missile silo was a ďblast.Ē



The next morning we headed out towards the Black Hills and Mount Rushmore. Iím attempting to ride as many famous motorcycle roads as possible, and the Needles Highway is well-known in the area, with tunnels and plenty of switchbacks.



Less famous but probably more entertaining was the Iron Mountain Road, with more tunnels, great views of Mount Rushmore, and very tight switchbacks (EXCELLENT!). Try to go at an early time to avoid traffic.



Mount Rushmore through a tunnel and in the distance




Make sure to stop at Elk Haven for lunch with a view. It was advertised as ďBikers Welcome!Ē which induces images of Harley riders and Busch Light, however it was a very quaint cafe and western store. Nice place.



Rolled back in to Rapid City later that night, which has a great main street and downtown area. Worth a stay if you're driving through the area (Cabela's didn't hurt, either).
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Old 09-02-2014, 03:46 PM   #7
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Days 5-6
Took the Nemo Road out of Rapid City, which is part of the Spearfish Canyon Scenic Loop. This was great little winding road through forested Black Hills.



The road took us in to Sturgis. Blitzkriegíed the Sturgis sign before Harley riders noticed the BMW and reflective gear.



Stumbled upon the Sturgis Mustang Rally. Jackpot.





Left Sturgis towards Deadwood, continuing along the Spearfish Scenic Byway. Gorgeous canyon riding along a small stream, but traffic was heavy.

Still avoiding interstates, we rode into Wyoming through Hwy 24. Devilís Tower provided a photo with everything Wyoming stands for.



We stayed in Gillette for the night, then pushed on in the morning towards Cody, Wyoming, which would be the final destination for my father.

Leaving Gillette, we took the Bighorn Scenic Byway, which turns in to the Medicine Wheel Scenic Byway, running through the Bighorn Mountains. Our first up-close view of mountains on the trip did not disappoint.

The fence is to prevent you from falling into clouds.


There was quite a gain in elevation (about 4000 feet), which included a brief spat of snow and 37 degree weather. Bring that thermal liner, even in August.



If you are driving through the Bighorn Mountains, make sure to stop at the Bighorn National Recreation Area. This hidden gem was Devilís Canyon Overlook.



If youíre planning a trip in the area, I would really recommend the Bighorn Mountains and the Rec Area. Much less crowed than some of the previous roads I had been on but the scenery was amazing. Ample opportunities for fishing, but unfortunetly the fly rod wouldnít fit in the Kriegas, so I stuck with sightseeing. We had planned on staying in Lovell but lodging was limited, so we pushed on to Cody. Cody has a great main street with lots of Western shops and historic centers. Very similar to Jackson, WY, but much less upscale (i.e. less damaging to wallet).

Cody also has easy access to Yellowstone (about a one hour drive) but I passed on spending more money on entrance fees as I already spent much of my summer in Yellowstone. Obviously a must-see if youíre close by (Artist Point and Norris Geyser Basin for quality photo-ops).
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Old 09-02-2014, 04:42 PM   #8
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Spectacular !
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Old 09-02-2014, 06:43 PM   #9
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I like Your route choices, looks like a great report to follow. Ride safe and enjoy the ride.
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Old 09-02-2014, 07:14 PM   #10
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Looks like an awesome trip with a great destination: "Yonder"!

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Old 09-02-2014, 08:34 PM   #11
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I bicycled 14A into the Bighorn mountains and concur this is one helluva beautiful route, bicycle OR motorcycle. Medicine Bow Pass, with the radar station...steepest grade in America??? Not only that but the motels in that part of the country are still cheap.

I've also bicycled through Winterset, on RAGBRAI. Iowans are the greatest people in America. Salt of the earth, give you the shirt off their back if you needed it. You EVER stop in Durango I'm gonna take care of ya...
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Old 09-02-2014, 08:58 PM   #12
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GREAT pics....looking forward to more.
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Old 09-02-2014, 11:39 PM   #13
Herky OP
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Days 7-8
This morning I said farewell to my riding partner as he headed back to Iowa. The perspective of the journey is definitely different when you are going solo. I suppose this was part of my reason for deciding to do a ride report, as there are so many spectacular sights and experiences that I want to share.

My grief was short-lived as I pointed the front tire to my next destination 70 miles north Ė Beartooth Pass. If there was one thing I wanted to do on this motorcycle trip, it was this. In my planning for the trip, I first looked up places I wanted to see, and then determined how I could fit them in. Google searching top motorcycle roads had a common theme, and that was Beartooth.

The approach to Beartooth was thrilling in itself. Coming from the south, I went along the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway. While traffic was relatively light, I was still competing for road space.



Smooth switchbacks all the way to the top provided an excellent overlook to the west for what was to come.



Finally reached the start of the pass, with a great view of Pilot Peak.



The first few miles of the road was actually slightly concerning. The road texture was very slippery and did not inspire much confidence in the corners, which was not exactly the feeling I was going for. Luckily the road developed into normal pavement after about 5 miles, and all was right in the world.

I also went up a short service road to an observational tower, staffed by rangers but open to anyone. The rangers were very friendly, and the tower provided stunning views of the neighboring mountain range.




The climb up definitely lived up to the hype, with breathtaking views at every corner.



There was a little snow on the summit, but nothing on the road. Managed to snap one photo before being barraged with questions by a group of four older women, a common theme every time I stopped (questions about the trip, not the women).



The ride back down was just as thrilling, although I would say the southern side had better scenery. Traffic had also picked up as it was later in the morning.



I made it in to Red Lodge shortly after noon, and managed to do some product placement for my Crazy Creek camp chair. Now accepting sponsorship offers.



I had a quick lunch in Red Lodge with a co-worker from my summer job, then headed North on Highway 78 to get to Bozeman, where I would be staying with another coworker from this summer. I can see why they call it Big Sky country.



The next day in Bozeman started with a morning run in the mountains. Acclimation is real.



I spent the rest of the day catching up on the ride report and doing a few supply runs. Dinner consisted of bison tacos at the wonderful Bozeman farmerís market. Dessert was at Lockhorn Cider House. Itís still manly because itís in Montana.



With that, I am now caught up with the previous days and will be updating when I can. Up next is Glacier National Park, then heading west to Washington. Might dip up to Canada before coming down along California. If anyone knows of must-do roads or locations, feel free to share. Out!
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Old 09-02-2014, 11:42 PM   #14
Herky OP
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Originally Posted by wadenelson View Post
I've also bicycled through Winterset, on RAGBRAI. Iowans are the greatest people in America. Salt of the earth, give you the shirt off their back if you needed it. You EVER stop in Durango I'm gonna take care of ya...
If I come back through Durango I'll be sure to let you know. Thanks for the kind words!
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Old 09-03-2014, 08:53 AM   #15
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I was born in Iowa and just this year got to do most of RAGBRAI. I can concur that I never came across one single person who wasn't glad to be there or glad to help out anyone. That was a wonderful time.

Now, this trip report is got me digging through maps and back country route books again.
Great stuff.

Keep it coming.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wadenelson View Post
I bicycled 14A into the Bighorn mountains and concur this is one helluva beautiful route, bicycle OR motorcycle. Medicine Bow Pass, with the radar station...steepest grade in America??? Not only that but the motels in that part of the country are still cheap.

I've also bicycled through Winterset, on RAGBRAI. Iowans are the greatest people in America. Salt of the earth, give you the shirt off their back if you needed it. You EVER stop in Durango I'm gonna take care of ya...
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