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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by JB2, Oct 6, 2013.
Lol! I'll have to give it a shot.
Another Steak n' Shake run?
Probably. Might even go to a Pacers game.
Scratch that. No Pacers game on this trip. Not interested in pre-season. Maybe I should check Colts schedule. No Colts game either.
Not too late to tag along, just opened a bottle of 12 year old single malt
I will let Jimmy tell the story!
You look very happy for a guy with lots of clean up to do!
Looks like more fun than I am having. AT WORK.
Hey JB you are a dirty biker.
Almost 300 miles in 3 days. All but a few of those miles have been on dirt. Heading to the Great Buffalo Roundup on Friday in Custer. Not sure what we are doing tomorrow.
Damn I miss work!
Go to Spearfish Canyon Lodge, turn into the parking lot and keep going straight. Hundreds of miles of more dirt roads/trails.
And hit the Steerfish Inn in downtown Spearfish for a great steak.
I bet you'll get over it.
Looks like a great time!
I am sorta interested in that bike. I have been looking at "MT-xx" "XSR-xx" and FJ09 Yamaha's but I like the SCR most of all looks wise - and, well, I am a VStrom guy so I like that engine too.
Is it a rev happy engine or is it more like a happy lopey "cruiser" engine ?
Just back a couple hours ago. Loooong story... with pictures.
@jdfog2 - You'll get a run down of the bike as the days unfold. You might be surprised.
@radianrider - Did Spearfish on the first trip. We didn't really look into the dirt roads in the area. Seeds for another trip. Except for Crazy Horse we completely ruled out any of the high-points/tourist-destinations and asphalt while trying to cover every dirt road in a square on a map.
Where to start? Gentleman Jim and I planned on a South Dakota redo about a year ago. Due to some scheduling with my wife we landed on the last full week on September. Having already done a road trip on the Scrambler knowing its limits, and mine, would require 2-1/2 to 3 days to complete the 1156.7 miles trip to Hill City. I opted to haul the bike. That would let me get there in a day and a half. It became a decision that proved more right the further we got into this adventure.
Jim opted to ride even though he had to pass through areas that would normally have their first snowfall by now. However, he left on Wednesday and had five days to get there. It is exactly half way for both of us... within a mile. Can you believe it?
I had booked a room at the Trails End Cabins in Hill City for 6 nights. We had stayed here before and knew Doug & Mary Klar who own this fine establishment. Our plan on this trip was to avoid all the touristy stuff that we had already seen to focus on the part of the Black Hills that less than 10% of visitors ever see; the back roads. More gravel, almost no asphalt.
To get this show on the road turn this one up.
DAY 1: This is the view I had almost all the way across Illinois and Iowa. In fact I didn't see blue sky until I crossed the Missouri River. It was a constant drizzle to light rain mix. I hate to admit it but with the grind on I-80 and the weather considered, I was happy to be in the truck.
That's the Mississippi River ahead. I've been over this bridge many a time. It's kind of the point in the trip when you can actually say, "I'm in the west."
This is my third trip with Jim to South Dakota. We've covered a lot of ground and traveled numerous routes to and from the Black Hills. This really cool, old iron bridge is where I chose to cross into Decatur, Nebraska. It is exit 112 off of I-29, go west and turns into NE51 when you cross the bridge. Not many of theses beautiful old relics of iron engineering remain. Even the floor is still open-grated. Absolutely beautiful.
The mighty Missouri River. The exploration of Lewis & Clark. Note the blue sky that popped out of the rain. Now we're in Nebraska. I love northern Nebraska! From here it would all be two-lane, state routes. I was done with the interstate and intentionally decided I was going the "slow-roll" across Corn Husker state.
I ended day one with just over 900 miles on the truck and had Kim call ahead to book a room in Valentine. My routes went NE51 West to US275 North, US275 North to US 20 West to arrive in Valentine but, not without an eye-opener.
I had started out the day with a glow in the rearview mirror of the eastern sky but in the rain from Chicago to Decatur it had caught me. I set the cruise on exactly 65mph(the speed limit) and watched it pass me and fade into the Nebraska skyline until the Sandhills became a silhouette against an orange sky. You feel the change in the scape and the priority of farming. In the eastern part it is mostly agriculture but as you pass Norfolk it slowly begins to change to cattle ranching. By the time you arrive in Valentine its mostly vast areas of large ranches and large herds of steaks.... er, uh.. cattle.
The magic of the moment had me thinking I should stop for a picture but I waited too long. I was intent just to drive and watch. I did have a pang of guilt for not enjoying this from the seat of the Scrambler but... OH SHIT!!!
Slight movement to the right becomes the shape of a deer breaking the edge of the road from a steep ditch. Hard on the brakes I veer right. The deer lands in front of me but I'm going to miss her. Then she falls...
It was the unmistakable sound of a body being crushed and torn limb to limb. The truck jumped up in the air twice for each set of wheels. I damned near drove off the edge of the road. The bike in the back caused the truck to sway heavily and I almost lost it. I kind of coasted for a few feet... I still had lights, I still had air in all four tires and wasn't leaking fluid. I had no cell service but was reasonably sure I wasn't leaving behind a "struggling-to-live" deer. It was pitch black out by then. I was 15 miles from Valentine. I decided to drive on. Twice I was jolted when more deer parts exited from underneath the truck. I didn't see them under the truck so they must have been stuck in the wheel-well or above the axle.
Man I hate killing animals. Shit. However remember, I was just lamenting how much I wished I was on the bike to witness that sunset.
DAY 2: I awoke and was on the road before light. I checked the truck again in the dimly lit parking lot at the Super 8 but the damage seemed minimal considering the size of the doe. When I seen the sun rising over my shoulder I stopped to get this. God paints some beautiful pictures, eh?
My route today would be to continue west on US20 to Chadron, NE then north on US385 all the way to Hill City. Even with the wonky path through Hot Springs the drive is one of the best "set back and enjoy the drive" roads.
Further down the road I stopped when the sun was fully up so I could really inspect the truck. Now that I could see under the hood, the radiator and AC were not damaged nor were the headlights. But, the front bumper was toast...
... and there was blood and deer dung all down the left side. Man, if she wouldn't have fallen or if I steered just a little harder to the right.
I tried to get back far enough to not show the gore for this shot. Sorry my dear Doe. Enough already! The Sandhills make even the simple look sophisticated.
Have you noticed from the few pictures already that I nearly have the road to myself? This is my kind of travel. You drive for miles and miles... no cars, no homes then, as big as a monument, a beautiful farm.
You may noticed the "baby warthogs" in the window. They usually ride in the tank bag for good luck. This is their third trip to South Dakota. It's a warm, fuzzy thing between Kim and I, but hey, we've been married for almost 43 years.
So they always ride along but this time they're in the windshield of the truck. Notice how happy they are when we're crossing into South Dakota. They know we'll be seeing buffalo as we pass through Windcave and don't want to miss it! Tails up. Sorry for the butt shot!
Talking about buffalo. The kids wanted to get out and play with him but I wouldn't have it. Kim would shoot me. (Don't even start. My wife will read this so play along. Ok?)
I arrived late morning on Sunday and shook hands with Doug & Mary. They had just cleaned the room and was okay with me unloading my things into the room. I had just finished unpacking the truck and found a good place to unload the Scrambler about the time Jim showed up. He had about the same distance to travel and we were only and hour apart in time zones so the timing worked out perfect. We made short-order of unloading the Yamaha and unpacking his bike.
The aura said this was going to be a memorable trip. We opted for a restaurant we had broke bread several times before. I didn't get a picture but the restaurant is Desperados. Jim had prime rib and I had a ribeye steak. Its nice to be this far away from home and in familiar places. Good to be back. Even better to see Jim again. We saluted each other, the forthcoming adventure and blessed the ride with a toast of 12 year old Scotch.
It's time get out of my comfort zone on a street bike with dirt tires. The next few days were going to be spectacular. Here's another great song that fits by Sean Rowe. Enjoy.
Great start to the story! Sorry about the doe, but happy you were in the truck if it had to happen.
Got your timing down--finished the post just as the first song ended!
DAY 3: There was frost on the bikes and it was a balmy 42 degrees when we were ready to ride. We opted to skip breakfast and get something to eat later in the morning at the Moonshine Gulch Saloon in Rochford, SD. We found the place on previous trips and have returned every adventure. Knowing the older lady who ran the joint usually didn't open until late morning we decided to hit the first long route there.
This was our first dirt road of the week. We did a lot of this, just stopping and soaking it all in.
Early into the day, while using a map I had acquired on our first trip here, we quickly found out that there is no rhyme or reason to the maps and the way the roads are actually marked... that is the ones that are marked. This issue plagued us, actually blessed us, for all of our back-road travel. We basically had a good understanding of the area we were lost in. The GPS didn't agree with the map and neither agreed with the way the roads were actually marked, or not.
I think we intended to go down this road. This was at the intersection with South Rochford Road. This location was the site of a CCC camp. Who says America was never great?
Obviously the original building has been replaced by a new home but what a location.
I just snapped this on the fly. Even with a UV filter I got a lot of light refraction. I kind of like the way it pegged a big octagon in the dead-center of the gable end.
A right turn here and we'd be at the Moonshine Gulch Saloon. Hopefully she would be open.
The place was locked up tighter than a bug in a rug. The outdoor trash cans were full. Jim asked one of the neighbors when she might open. He responded that she had had a barn-burner that lasted into early Monday and that sometimes she just doesn't open.
We decided that we'd stop later in the morning, near noon, to see if there was a chance. It was worth the double trip. She makes a dozen, deep-fried donuts tossed in powdered sugar. They are "melt-in-your-mouth" good and I had a hankering for a bag of them. Our next destination was the site of Mystic via Mystic Road. We made several stops on this section of road.
There just isn't any bad scenery. And the other tourists? They're all packing the asphalt trails to places like Spearfish Canyon, Needles Highway, Iron Mountain Road, Mount Rushmore, the Badlands and we got this place all to ourselves for the moments we choose to stop to take it all in. We had, on two previous trips, done all of the aforementioned roads and places, a lot of the gravel roads from Murdo to Wall along with all of the asphalt and most of the gravel roads in the Badlands. Our goal on this trip was to avoid all that and take in just the back roads in the Black Hills.
And several miles up the road we reach the site of Mystic. Founded 1876. Not sure what all might have been here in its heyday. There isn't much beside a couple of homes and an old church.
The McCahan Chapel. Built in 1930. We've visited the church several times in the past. In fact this is third different bike I've been here on.
Jim shedding some layers. Its starting to get warm.
If you noticed there was a sign in Mystic for George Frink Road. We haven't been down it and did not get a chance to. I found out later that it was a thru-road. Next time. I edited the image to appear like a water-color painting. Everything looks like a painting out here. Look inviting?
After a second attempt to get something to eat at the Moonshine Gulch Saloon and headed back to Hill City. We had short order lunch at the Hill City Cafe then headed for the Crazy Horse Memorial. We had stopped and shot photos from the road last time but did not go in. This was one of the only touristy stops of our adventure but well worth the time and effort to explore.
We started with a pretty extensive stroll through the museum. I've always had a fondness of old arrowheads. We used to find them as a kid but as prices for the real thing sky-rocketed and farmers quit turning fields they've become harder and harder too find. This is just one of numerous collections on display here.
Some very nice woven horse-hair head pieces. Kind of reminds me of an old Tom Russell song. Maybe not in the same context as Crazy Horse but Mexicans learned the craft from the Native Americans so there is that. See what you think.
The walls are almost entirely covered with the artwork of the western plains. Many by Native American artists. There is no picking a favorite and to capture an image of the enormity of the displays in impossible. You really need to see it for yourself.
This sculpture sets outside on the plaza between the museum and the restaurant. This is what the finished sculpture will look like.
The prototype superimposed over the real thing. It looks like there's a lot left to do. There is. There's a lot of material to remove and they are getting closer to actually being able to carve it.
A closeup of the work going on. Yes, that is a road going up to the top. They shape the material that will eventually be removed to get equipment up to the work area. Pretty well thought out.
When we arrived back in Hill City we had covered just over 100 miles and burnt most of the day. We did take one other touristy stop after we parked the bikes to a rock shop and The Naked Winery and the Sick-N-Twisted Brewery. We ordered up their darkest beer and had a 16 ounce glass of heaven. I bought Kim a shirt and a bottle of wine. When we returned to the room we found a flock of turkeys wandering around the yard across the street. The lady next to the cabins has been feeding turkeys and deer for many years now. Note the doe lying down while the turkeys graze. They showed up early every night. There were as many as a dozen turkeys and anywhere from 15-20 deer every night. They seemed very comfortable around humans and vehicles.
After a day of dirt roads and a little tourism we chose to eat at the Alpine Inn. They claimed to be an authentic German restaurant. Oddly enough they only serve two dishes for the evening meal. One was the filet meal and the other was a vegetarian pasta option... I forget. I got the filet. The menu for lunch has a lot more options but we didn't get back there for lunch.
It had been a great day. As I drifted off to sleep I was wondering how many wild and free places are left on earth. It's great to be in the west again. Speaking of Tom Russell and the wild west; Edward Abbey comes to mind. I visit Edward's favorite book store every time I go through Moab, Utah. I think Tom nailed this song about one of the original environmentalists of the 20th century.
Stay Tuned. Tomorrow we get real muddy.
DAY 4: Another cool and overcast morning awaited us when we started our day. We opted once again out of an early breakfast and thought we'd stop mid-morning in one of the little towns we'd be going through today. This would be our highest mileage day and include the most pavement of the adventure. We shot south to Custer then took 16 into Wyoming. This was pretty much the extent of our pavement riding.
I did stop to get a photo of the Wyoming state line. Just up the road there was supposed to be a road called Beaver Creek Road. We passed one that was marked FS6. It was in the right place to be Beaver Creek Road but marked with a number? All the roads on the map had numbers in South Dakota but were marked by name. Now in Wyoming the roads on the map are marked with names but the road is actually numbered. WTF? At least the sun had chased away the clouds and was warming our backs as we rode west.
We passed another gravel road heading north that was also numbered but, double-signed. Just as we passed it I spotted a sign up the road calling it Salt Creek Road. According to the map it would intersect with Beaver Creek Road. So we did a U-turn in a school entrance and back-tracked to Salt Creek Road. The first half mile was being graded and was deep in silt. I wondered if my choice to take this road was right or not but within a mile we were on hard-packed, gravel roads. This was the first stop to day on dirt. We shed some insulation and had a drink of water. I was starting to think about breakfast.
As with every place we rode and every place we stopped the scenery was postcard worthy. Looking across Salt Creek Road. We had this view from every direction and it was noticeably different than the Black Hills. It seemed to change at the WY/SD state-line.
Up the road a few miles we hit Beaver Creek Road which was also marked FS6. Duh. This road parallels the WY/SD border just inside Wyoming. We would travel north until we hit FS810 then turn east back into South Dakota. The red layers in the hills would become our nemesis, or at least mine. When it is the surface of the road and wet its like snot.
This road showed on the map to be a spur that would dead-end up a ways. We were looking for FS110 but nothing out here was even marked with a number or a name. We were navigating by feel. I stopped to get his image at the state-line before we back-tracked looking for FS110.
This was the first road we went down looking for FS110. Jim had been trying to get my attention because his GPS was saying this road did not go through. Just beyond our first water-feature of the day is a cattle-grate. In this image we've already passed through the mud hole to find the road dead-ended at the top of the hill. At the top of the hill there was a fenced in area of equipment and signage that said; Hill City Seismic Station.
This was the first of about 6 or 7 water features we'd attempt to go through today. If you notice in the left side of the image there is a semi-solid track at the edge of the grass. Hey we got this, the same one twice. If this is as bad as it gets then GREAT! Note the shade. This seems to be an indicator that there will be mud since it never gets sunlight enough to dry out.
We back-tracked back to the intersection and took the other fork in the road. Jim's GPS said this road would go through. According to the map it should be FS110. It may have been. I'm not sure if anyone knows. We had crossed 4 or 5 other water-features when we came upon this one. The previous water-features had been about 20 yards in length but this one exceeded thirty. Again I was taking the track to my right(left in the image) because of the wider berth. As you can see I'm pretty close to the other side when things went wrong. The front started to wash. The grassy slope is nearly a drop-off so I turned to the rut hoping to ride the edge on out. At the point the front dug hard into the rut and I slammed down hard. Note this water-feature is in the constant shade too. Go figure.
Photo by Gentleman Jim
The front end was turned hard to the left with the left bar end drilled deeply into the rut with the back tire completely off the ground laying on its side. SHIT! What you are looking at here is the result of the effort just to get the bike upright. Mind you this is a 500+ pound bike with a ton of mud clogging the underside and stuck in mud that will suck the boot right off of your foot. We thought we might be able to use the engine to help it out but it would not start. At least we got it up before fluid loss became an issue. Now will the tip over switch reset? We were both breathing hard and left her standing up while we took a picture for posterity. Now we had to get it turned around but its firmly grounded and dug in the edge of the rut. The thumbs-up was only to celebrate it being upright. We had our work cut out.
It took at lot of attempts to get the rear end of the bike pointed back the direction I had came from. We stopped to take another breather once the bike was aimed out of the hole. It was lying on its left side and partially upright as the footpeg rested against the side of the rut. I started the bike and thought we could walk it out. Jim and I got it up on the first attempt but my feet lost grip and just as the bike was vertical I slipped off the edge and nicely tossed it over on the right side. CRAP! Kill the bike. Get it back up. Take another break.
Upright again, bike running and completely out of energy and adrenaline I sat on the bike and tried to walk it out. If you look at the image again you'll see the next hurdle. The rut narrows. As I got it rolling with Jim pushing the right footpeg bottomed out on the side of the rut and down again I went. Double CRAP! Kill the bike but, this time my left leg is trapped under the bike and I can't get it off of me. Jim gets it up high enough for me to free myself then we threw the bike up to vertical with our last bit of oomph. I stood beside it and we walked it out with help from the engine.
Finally we had it on high ground and the kickstand down. Another break. We start looking over the bike. Both the shifter and brake pedal are bent. The handlebars are tweaked to the left but, there were no broken levers, mirrors or turn signals. The left mirror was knocked loose but not bent. We used a 17mm wrench from Jim's tool kit to re-align the levers. He dug as much of the mud out of the footpegs and levers as he could while I tightened up the mirror. All of the switches on the left side were packed in with mud. I cleaned as much as I could but they were jammed.
We had the previous 4 or 5 water-features to recross to get back out to the main road. Jim informs me we're only about a mile from coming out on FS110 if we kept going the way were headed. I didn't take up on the offer. The truth is he had no intention of trying to cross it so we backed his bike up the hill, across the cattle-grate and turned him around. We took the road that was supposed to be a dead-end road and guess what? It came out on FS110. SHEESH! We spent over an hour digging the Yamaha from a muddy grave and were this close.
We took FS110 over to Deerfield Lake Road then back into Hill City. I had no turn signals. The brake pedal started seizing up so I quit using it. The one thing I was very happy about was the bike tracked the same meaning the fork was not twisted. At this point it looked like the handlebars were just tweaked in the risers.
Photo by Gentleman Jim
Once back at the motel it was a scramble to get undressed, get a shower and clean clothes and still get the bike to a carwash quick. Every inch of our riding gear was covered in red mud. The miles back to the motel had started to dry the sludge and things like shifters and brakes were sticking, badly. Still, I kept the positive spirit.
The only thing that escaped the worst mud was Jim's BMW. We piled our gear into the back of the truck. Jim took off to get carry-out Mexican from Maria's Mexican Restaurant while I showered. We ate then headed to the car wash.
We hung all of our riding gear, boots, gloves, my helmet and tankbag on the floor-mat hooks and parked the bike in the middle. Sixteen dollars later we had everything clean enough to clean.
Back at the motel I began going over the bike and done a little more adjusting on the brake and shifter levers. I loosened the risers and tweaked the handlebars back into place and re-tightened the bolts. I readjusted the mirrors and "thought" I had freed up the left handlebar switches. Thought.
We had no breakfast, a late lunch and were really too tired to do anything else so we called it a night with a toast of McCallum. There was no blood, no broken bones and no heart attacks(as Jim said). No damage to the bike that wasn't minor. Considering the entirety of the day, it had been a grand adventure even though it could have turned out worse. Take your wins when you can and deal with losses like they can be overcome. Talk about toughing it out, try this one out. This was our day.
We watched the deer and turkeys feed at the neighbor's place and talked about the day. No regrets. We survived and I had put the Yamaha to its limits and beyond. It will never be a dirt bike but is a fairly good gravel-runner. Jim announced a new rule that we wouldn't go down any road with grass growing in the middle. I concurred.
Tomorrow we would have our shortest day of riding at 80+ miles but some of the best roads we picked to explore. I was thinking of this song during one of those moments when we had to walk away from the stuck Scrambler to take a break. It ain't Mississippi but red mud is the same no matter where you go in the USA.
"Sixteen dollars later we had everything clean enough to clean."
That looked like some kind of day.
In Joel's back yard, The Newport Antique Auto Hill Climb. Old scoots doing it too! Oct. 4-6. The 2nd. largest motor sports event in Indiana.