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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by JB2, Oct 6, 2013.
One big bumper for one big dude.
Cute dog tho.
Unique, for certain!
Start: Murdo, SD. End Murdo, SD. Miles Traveled: 229.9
It rained pretty hard at times overnight. Our plan today was to take Brian through the Badlands and avoid I-90 at all cost The day started out with a light breeze and the temps over the past 3 days had went from the low 90's on Saturday and Sunday to now the low 80's for the daytime high. There were several restaurants in town so we did a slow cruise and found a diner, but they weren't opening until 8:00am. We killed another half-hour and came back for breakfast. It was a little chilly so the delay and the sun helped warm things up a bit while we ate.
Today we'd take a frontage road that runs along I-90 all the way to Cactus Flat where the east entrance to the park lies just a few miles south. It's kind of fun being on a road next to the interstate, or railway, and watch the bustling traffic fly by. They're on a completely flat road buzzing along at 80+ mph and have absolutely no connection to the land around them. Meanwhile we're going over the hills, around corners with the road completely to ourselves at 60 mph. The wind would yet again be a part of our ride, the same east wind, predicted to last until Thursday. It was the only thing we had to fight this day because we were rolling in the hills blessed stretches that blocked wind simply by the contour of the land.
At Cactus Flat we filled up with gas and restocked our water and snacks then headed south on SD240 to the entrance of the Badlands past a private park called Prairie Dog Town. This was going to be a great day!
Also note that we are without luggage today. Hurray! It was the only day we rode without it though.
At the gate I was offered the choice of paying $28.00 for a 3 day pass or, "if" I was 62 or older, I could buy a year's pass for $20.00. Sign me up I says to which she requested my I.D. Transaction complete she slides the card out face down and instructs me to sign it. I do. Then she hands me the receipt and park map which I scoop up and stuff in the tank-bag. When we stopped at the Visitors Center I reorganized the paperwork. Imagine my surprise when I flipped the card over. A senior? Really?
Brian was placed up front after our stop at the Visitors Center. It was his first trip here so he could pick the photo stops. As you can see in the image the VC had very few visitors, at least this early in the morning. We made a lap through the store and bought some t-shirts, stickers and postcards. Of course!
One of the stops he chose was this empty pullout in the radius of a corner. The Indian Scout looks at home. Here. Nowhere else. Here in the Badlands.
Brian was so excited to finally be here that he offered an ADV salute to work and COVID.
This is the last stop we made on the paved road. You can see the in the distance the road winding through the painted hills.
Near the end of the paved road and the other entrance is Sage Creek Rim Road. It's a gravel road traversing the western side of the Badlands ending in Scenic. We had stopped at this intersection to view all of the prairie dogs and spotted this sign. The road seemed to be moderately traveled but still sparse enough to satisfy the needs of three adventurers trying to avoid... people.
The Yamaha also looks at home here.
Jim's working on that same bag of jerky, or maybe it was a new one, and Brian's got his eye on those prairie dogs. Me? I'm finally taking some pictures.
Near the west end of the park we had our first buffalo encounter when a medium sized herd crossed in front of us. Brian chose to stop and view from a distance.
More buffalo still coming. Bikes turned off and viewing.
Something caught my eye as we were wandering around waiting for a clean road. Upper left corner. This one is for you Matt Ware and you too @Prior .
We followed Sage Creek Rim Road all the way down to Scenic only to find every business was shuddered and only a few of the homes looked occupied. Ghost town. We hopped back on a section of SD44 we had not been on yet and pointed out bikes towards Interior. The highway was just as bad to west of SD63 as it had been east of there the day before. Terribly frost heaved. Beautiful scenery, rough riding. We stopped here at the Cowboy Cafe for gas and snacks when this couple pulled in in their new Polaris with a teardrop camper in tow. What a setup. Jim and the owner talked for a bit about their journeys and the new Slingshot.
Back up SD240 to Cactus Flat and the frontage road back to Murdo. Although we weren't on the big road next to us we still had a strong easterly wind to ride against. The frontage road was twice the road as 44 with much better pavement.
We cleaned up a bit, it was dusty on the gravel today, and headed back over to the Rusty Spur for supper and conversation. One thing slammed us in the face that it was a 150 mile, one way trip to the Black Hills. That's 300 miles just getting there and back. The obvious thing to do would be to cancel the rooms at the Sioux Motel for the next two nights and head to Hill City. I had tried to make reservations with the Trails End Cabins but they were full. We had stayed there in the past so I called Mary Klar and asked for an alternate option. She recommended the Lantern Inn not far from Trails End. Gentleman Jim made the call and hooked us three rooms there for the next night. Changing plans like the wind. We'd get up early and search for breakfast along the way.
Badlands. Outlaws. Outlaw country music. Motorcycles. Traveling. All the things we were enjoying we had deprived ourselves of because of COVID, because of work, because of... whatever. Maybe we waited too long to get back out on a real road trip. Maybe we did it when we were supposed to. Our days aren't getting longer. For some reason this song kept popping up in my head. No more fucking around with excuses. I'm not passing up any more trips.
Today was a keeper. Tomorrow takes a few new twists and turns. Stay Tuned!
A three rail trailer it is then? We can do that.
I congratulate you for arriving at the Badlands NP entrance sign after the young family in the RV had left. They were there last year when I tried to take a picture of Elvis but seemed to be in no hurry and oblivious to the presence of a rider trying to get a picture of his motorcycle. Some people.
Did you notice some frost heaves and rough pavement west of the VC? It wasn’t constant but it had its moments.
I’ve never stopped nor stayed in Murdo. I should get out more.
p.s. I have a small collection of Waylon, Willie, and Johnny to listen to while I’m riding out there. Marty Robbins’ “El Paso” fits in well too.
+1 on Marty Robbins, the others too for that matter. Give Colter Wall a try. He writes like Marty and sings like Johnny.
My connection to Murdo is personal. I sold a rat truck to Don Hullinger who owned the Sioux Motel there. He was adamant that we come to South Dakota and stay at his place. We did. On our first and second trip he comped our rooms. Wouldn't take a dime for them and spent several evenings with us telling tales of growing up in the west. His brother owned the Rusty Spur and the Hullinger family owned just about everything in town. His family single-handedly rounded up the last of the buffalo in the area and started breeding them. The herds you see in Custer, Badlands and Wind Cave are direct bloodlines of their efforts. We found out Don had passed in 2018 when we took our third trip in 2019 so we did not stay there. I later found out his widow, Bonnie, still owned the Sioux and worked there. Gentleman Jim and I traveled a ton of back roads and gravel roads in the area from his recommendations. Sadly Bonnie has dementia and has a hard time running the place. It almost took an act of Congress to process our refund for the two days we canceled. Kim worked with their granddaughter to complete the process for all three of us. The granddaughter said she was really close to her grandpa. She missed him dearly along with the rides they'd take in the old truck I sold him.
At this point I can only refer to the song posted above.
"In time your time will be no more"
Y'all going to have get something to put on the other two rails :)
Start: Murdo, SD. End: Hill City, SD. Total Mileage: 250.5
Well, not sure how to put this but, today started off with a bang. We chose to roll early and find breakfast on the road instead of waiting until 8:00 am for everything to open in Murdo. West again on the frontage road and windy again. Just before Belvidere Jim comes up from the back and has me pull over. He has no wallet. You know the sinking feeling. He offered to ride back alone and try to catch up to us later in the day. We talked for a minute. I was torn. Couldn't leave him behind especially if he needed money. Should we ride with him? He checked his pants and jacket pockets then opened his tankbag before committing to the extra miles. Nothing. Then, as he was zipping up the bag, I caught a glimpse of what I thought was the end of a credit card. Viola! In a slip pocket on the underside of the map pocket was his wallet. Crisis adverted. This isn't the bang, BTW.
On to Cactus Flat we rode. When we got there is was 7:00 am but they did not open until 8:00. Well, we were going to take a short stint on I-90 because the frontage road pretty much ended here. We opted to run into Wall and hit the first gas station off of the exit ramp. It was a Wall Drug annex. Basically a plaza and convenience store with the Wall Drug name. It was very busy with semis, pickups pulling trailers and scads of tourist traffic. We usually do our big trips in the second and third weeks of September to avoid the crowds. This was the wrong week except that I will say we managed to skirt most of them. Just because of time and crowds we chose not to go to the real Wall Drug... this time.
We filled with gas and parked the bikes next to a row of dumpsters. It looked like the safest place to hang out for a few minutes. Jim and I made our lap through the store. As we returned a newer, silver Dodge Ram 2500 pulled into one of the diesel lanes not far from us. It had a high-end lift kit and was rolling on big rubber. A very Cover Girl worthy lady hops down from the almost monster truck in a white, haltered sundress. A SHORT sundress and no bra. You couldn't see much of her because the pumps blocked her from the shoulders down but two thoughts came to mind. First thought, she's hot and she knows it. Second thought, "high maintenance" as she repeatedly kept flipping her wild blonde hair out of her face. It was windy.
Brian makes a beeline for the store while Jim and I try to figure out how many of the high spots we can hit today. A youngish man, short-n-skinny, week old beard gets out of the passenger side of the truck. He looks like he's way out of his league but walks around to the driver's side and steps up on the threshold to begin cleaning the windows. He can't quite reach the center of the windshield and is now being observed by the blonde who finished fueling. Obviously it doesn't suit her as she walks around to the passenger side with a dripping squeegee in hand. She steps up on the Monster Mudder tire, leans all the way over to start scrubbing from the other side. Mind you her dress is very short but Jim and I are getting the full frontal cleavage view from our vantage point. Brian is now on his way back across the lot and damned near trips over his tongue. He's grinnin' and pointin' at her backside. About that time another woman yells, "Hey! I can see your ass!" The blonde replies, "Well quit fucking looking!"
We're laughing, Brian's trying to tell us, "You got to come see this! She ain't got no panties on either!" He's stopped in the middle of the lot and we are now walking towards him as she jumps down from the tire and is walking back around to the driver's side. Once she makes sure all three of us are looking she does a half-spin, bends over part way and with a big smile flips up her dress, winks at us and walks away. Kind of a rear facing, stripper version of the curtsey. And yes, she had no panties.
You know we expected to see buffalo, deer, hawks, prairie dogs, snakes, antelope, but beaver? Hell, we ain't even had breakfast yet and already spotted beavers in the wild. Brian duly noted that the carpet did not match the curtains. Brown on the down. Yep, we seen it. It was time to get back on the road and avoid the things that can get 3 married men in trouble.
I think when Ray Wyllie Hubbard and Hayes Carll wrote this that it was either about her or someone like her. Enjoy.
I got a woman whose wild as Rome
She likes to lay naked and be gazed upon
Crosses a bridge and sets it on fire
Lands like a bird on a telephone wire
Oh Lord. Back to Two Jims' & A Brian's Excellent Motorcycle Adventures
I've taken SD79 south from the east side before and knew it skirted Rapid City then west on SD40 into Keystone. Hopefully the restaurants were open. We stopped in a motel parking lot outside of town while Jim checked his phone for restaurant options. There was one just down the connected parking lots, around the corner. He rode down there to see if they were open. Yes! We had to park on the main street to get close to the Front Porch Cafe and it was just starting to get busy in this little tourist town. At the cafe we chose to set inside. It had been a brisk ride so far so we wanted get some blood in our extremities and set on something softer than metal deck chairs. We hatched a plan to ride south on Iron Mountain Road and past Mt. Rushmore. The side trip to go in is no less than two hours so we'd just ride up to it and not pay to get in. From there we hop over to the Needles Highway via SD16A through Custer State Park and then head north to Hill City. Supper at Desperados, accommodations at The Lanternn and maybe even a little shopping. Brian was needing a long sleeve shirt to warm up his morning rides.
Our first image of the day. Note the haze in the sky. That is smoke from the fires burning west of here. This shade of gray hung with us all day.
This was at the second one-lane tunnel heading south. We finally lined up the bikes for an appropriate picture. It shows the bikes but doesn't show the reason they keep this swath clear of trees.
The smoke combined with the wind is hiding this from another great vantage point. It's cool to come through the tunnel and see this.
Our next stop was Custer State Park to see more buffalos. After getting the bikes banded and paying the entrance fee we headed to the Visitors Center, I had hoped to buy a shirt but it was an information center, which is good, but no gift shop. We talked in the parking lot and notice the crowds starting to pick up. About the time we were ready to roll this guy rides in from Alabama. Folks meet Brian(with an 'i') Jackson. forty-five minutes later with jackets back off we parted ways. He's a 30 year Navy vet. He had just retired then COVID hit. Had problems with his BMW during the pandemic and could not get his warranty work done. Bike sat. The Jonesin' for a road trip grew. Went to the dealer and asked about the Goldwing on the floor and says "You keep the BMW, I'll take the 'Wing." Done deal. Wife tells him he needs a road trip and they say goodbye. He was on a mission to see a couple monuments and ride the Black Hills. Imagine that. We talked bikes and marriages and traveling. Jim, being retired Air Force, found common ground with Brian. Brian's dad was Air Force and maintained a class of transport planes. He was retired too and gave Brian a hard time(in good nature of course) for not joinging the Air Force. It was cool to see the conversation develop between Jim and him. He stated several times that, "This is why we ride." Yessir, it is. Good to meet you Brian Jackson! You can find him on FaceBook. He may have posted some pictures he took of our bikes. Dunno, cause I don't FaceBook.
We backtracked back to the Wildlife Loop and found our buffalo. Although the VC's and tourists towns were hopping traffic Iron Mountain and Custer was pretty sparse. Just the way we like it. There's almost enough smoke to make it appear the fire is next to the tree line.
We had managed to this point to only come in brief contact with the touring public but Needles Highway changed that. This is the only photo we took on one of the best "reach out and touch nature" roads in America. The road was congested with vehicles that should not be on that road. Drivers constantly stopping in the middle of the road to take a photo. An oversized F350 dually that had to stop and wait for cars to pass so he could take up the entire width of a turn. The pullouts were jammed. The parking lot at Cathedral Spires was packed. ARRRGH! However, (insert long sigh) we got to see it. We got to show it to Brian. This is a turn-n-burn trip. It really was more about planting a seed for more trips with more time and, in that vein, even Needles Highway was a success. We'll be back.
After our escape from the Needles we rode into Hill City, secured our rooms then Jim took off for some gift shopping at the rock store and a t-shirt place. Brian and I wanted to unwind for a few minutes and reorganize our packs. We'd be starting our journey east tomorrow, taking four site-seeing days getting home. With Jim back and everyone freshened up enough to be in public we took a short ride down to Desperados.
We even got a sprinkle or two. After consuming a feast Jim was showing Brian the t-shirt shop where he had stopped earlier. I waited with the bikes and called Kim.
This is the third trip that we've patronized this restaurant. We haven't had a bad meal yet. Doesn't seem to matter what you order, it is good.
Back at the motel we crafted our first steps of the next day. We'd ride down to the city of Custer, find a cafe and eat breakfast then part ways. Brian and I would be heading south and east, Jim would be heading north and west. I wanted to show Brian the sandhills of Nebraska and Jim was going to see a friend in Cody, WY and stay at his place for several days before the final leg home.
Man, it had been a day. We were ready for a good nights sleep and got it.
Since we're ending this day with good friends I'll share another good friend who shakes my soul with his words and music. We were all feeling the burn of being in the saddle for 5 days straight. The wind, the cool mornings , hot afternoons, the rough roads and being unprepared(out of motorcycle shape) was taking its toll on Brian and I. Even Gentleman Jim was feeling the burn between his shoulders. We felt like a train. Old, smoking, sweating and tired but turning towards home. Enjoy!
Ah yes. The beavers in the wild. Wasn't till later that I realized I could have taken a picture. DUH.
Oh well still firmly etched in my mind.
Those packs you guys were using looked great. Were they as functional as they looked?
Joel - The short answer is yes. I'm used to the old fashion duffel bags with pockets. These are sans pockets. They open from either end so I had to rethink the way I pack. Start in the center with the heavy stuff and work your way out. I readjusted my pack several times during the trip and finally had it set up to be convenient. The great thing is they are 100% waterproof. I was able to get everything in one bag that I normally packed in two bags. When I first got it the bag overhung the tiny luggage rack on the Yamaha. We were leaving for a trip so I loaned mine to Brian and used my old luggage. Brian liked it so well he bought himself one. I'm looking into Mosko Moto's tool roll that attaches to this bag. I'm sold.
BTW, Itchy Boots is touring Africa at the moment on little 250 Honda and using Mosko's full complement of luggage including the 30L bag Brian and I have.
Start: Hill City, SD. End: Broken Bow, NE. Total Mileage: 375.0
Another chilly start to the day had us riding south to Custer, the city. Along the way we stopped at Crazy Horse so Brian could get a picture from the road. There wasn't much in the way of diners on the north side of town but a turn to the west and there was the Cowboy Cafe,. We talked of our plans for the next stage of our now, separate adventures. Gentleman Jim going west to Cody, WY and us to Broken Bow, NE.
Breakfast was good and filling. I was really looking forward to the Sandhills. I'd been through them several times and wondered why they weren't more popular or traveled. I was hoping Brian would be enamored with their magic like I was, and still am. There's 3 unique scapes in this area of our great country. The Badlands, the Black Hills and the Sandhills. For me it's hard to pick a favorite. My plan is to someday actually spend a few days there instead of just riding through.
Our bikes just before leaving. I can hear the roaring silence that I always get when I've been traveling with someone for days then with the start of an engine and release of the clutch... someone is missing. Safe travels Jim. It was good to ride with you again.
Brian and I pointed our bikes south on US385 from Custer through Wind Cave. We had hoped to see more buffalo and did. Well, at least Brian did. There were two taking a morning nap in the low ditch along the edge of the road. I was looking the other way. Go figure. From Wind Cave we wound down through Hot Springs. You really begin to see the change in landscape by the time you reach Chadron, NE. In Chadron we turned left onto US20. Just outside of Rushville the beauty of the terrain starts revealing itself just as you hit NE27. We turned right here and south again. It might be worth noting that I believe I could ride this road from end to end all day and never want for more. I tried on numerous occasions to find a good place to pull off. Constantly distracted by the rolling hills and sweeping turns I would get tired of trying to find one about the time I picked the speed up and blew by another one. You've been there. Truthfully I should have just stopped in the middle of the road. We seen maybe five cars that morning.
I missed the pullout for Mari Sandoz for the fourth or fifth trip down this gorgeous road. But managed to get it chocked down in time for this one. Interesting.
Neither of these images do justice to the road or the magic of the scapes here but I think the smile on Brian's face pretty much tells it all. I always felt like I was riding through an enchanted place. The up and down, the long sweeping and gentle turns, the miles and miles of no cars, or people. Can I stay here? My wondering whether or not he'd like this place was soon displaced. We had just passed one of the only homes visible from the road. There were maybe 10 guys sitting on the porch. Couldn't tell if they were cowboys, farmers or construction workers but every damned one of them gave us a big wave, which we retuned. Good times we'll never forget.
Just before the intersection of NE27 and NE2 is Wade Morgan's Hunting, Fishing & Gun Supply. It is a cool place and really everything other than four homes that's in Ellsworth, NE. It is the post office, food counter and outdoors outfitter. The only thing that separates it from the number two highway is a set of tracks that is very busy with long trains of coal. Brian and I had cold ham and cheese sandwiches and a pretty thorough tour of the store.
Jim and I first found this place in 2014 and stopped here. Cool to be able to show it to Brian.
Trains would play a major part of the scenery from here to Broken Bow. The Sandhills along 2 are just as beautiful but less intimate with the actual contour of the land. Maybe a little flatter would be a better description.
The traffic was light and it would make the next leg to Broken Bow more timely than the miles we had covered in the morning. We stopped in Hyannis for gas and had a chance meeting with members of the Bandidos. They were two couples on two Harleys and were fully patched and rockered. One of the girls went inside while we talked with the two guys. They were on their way to the Black Hills and we were on our way home from the Black Hills. They were admiring Brian's Indian when one of them stepped past his, looked at mine and said, "Oh, it's a Yamaha." The woman returned and he mumbled a question to her and her answer was , "No." Our conversation was over that quick, they peeled out of the gas station and were gone.
One of the cool things along NE2 is the trains that run parallel with the highway. You'll pass a train that seems to be a mile long. You stop for gas or a break then it catches and passes you. Eventually you catch it and pass it again. If you're on the road for a long enough stretch you can pass two of them. We raced trains all the way to Broken Bow. Also of note, we passed several groups of 2-3 Harley riders in club formation. The groups were spaced out about 20 miles apart from other groups. They never waved and were running well over the posted speed limit. I also noticed they were also patched Bandidos. Brian and I surmised they my choose to travel like this rather than as a large group to avoid scrutiny from the LEO's. Who knows?
We made it into Broken Bow and snagged two ground floor rooms at an off-brand, big box motel and ate at the Pizza Hut next door. We had a very talkative and funny waitress which made the food chain meal a whole lot better. She talked us into their new breadsticks. Mistake. They were so good and filling that we almost couldn't finish our personal pan pizzas. It had been a marvelous day of riding. Further south and east of the fires meant we had crystal blue skies all day. The landscapes were outstanding along with the people we had chance encounter with. Sleep came easy again.
I tried all day to think of a good song to go with our day in the Sandhills. Colter Wall? Marty Robbins? Tom Russell? L.D. has a Dark Country channel on his Pandora that he plays on a killer sound system in his work bays. I heard the distinct voice of Joy Williams and The Civil Wars and the song Devil's Backbone come on and stopped working long enough to listen to the words. The sound of the song matches the feel of the hills but the words maybe not so much. Her haunting and magical voice really makes this song so I've listened to it several times while posting this. I think my wife Kim feels like this about me sometimes yet she allows me to ride off into adventure because the road calls me. She worries about me constantly ever since Dad passed. If you changed the word sinner for rider it could be her song. At times I feel guilty because of it but I go. I have to. The roads today were like riding a serpent's back, or the Devil's Backbone. Enjoy!