Northern eXposure - gold roads, wilderness trails, and bacon.

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by JMo (& piglet), May 23, 2017.

  1. docwyte

    docwyte Long timer

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    I don't have an issue with Photobucket charging, what I have an issue with is them charging $400 a year. I'm using less than 2% of the free space they allot, so why should I have to pay $400 a year? There should be a tiered payment system based on how much you're using.

    As it sits, many of my auto build threads (one of which is 75+ pages) are full of dead photo links now. I'm not going to go back and repopulate all those links...
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  2. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    I totally agree with you. I was paying a few dollars a month (mainly to go ad free), if its going to be $400 come renewal time, I think there are going to be a lot of useless posts on forums across the world...

    Hopefully Photobucket will reconsider their pricing structure. As I said above, currently they are holding their users to ransom.

    Jx
  3. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    Hi Skibum - yes, I really should use Smugmug these days, but I started out with Photobucket and it just sort of stuck... Similarly, John also uses that host for Rally Raid photos, and it would be a huge job to transfer all the archived stuff over... But come renewal time, I will probably look at using an alternative for my own photos, unless Photobucket reform their latest pricing introduction.

    Jx
  4. skibum69

    skibum69 slave to gravity Super Supporter

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    Bring on the Rally Raid photos:D
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  5. RockyDS

    RockyDS Lost in the wilderness

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    Google Photos and Flickr are free and there are other free online photo services. Some limitations; such as file size - but Flikr for example is 1TB free and photo files up to 200Mb. And if you need more free space, just create additional accounts. :ricky
  6. skibum69

    skibum69 slave to gravity Super Supporter

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    I spend half my life on ADV, I happily give Baldy the few shekels to host my photos.
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  7. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    Apologies for the slight delay in transmission... Season 2 of Northern Exposure will resume once I get back the UK (tomorrow).

    In the meantime, here's a preview of what you can expect... let's just say it gets a lot more dirty from here on in!

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    Toot toot for now!

    Jenny & TP xx
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  8. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    Right, shall we crack on then?

    Day 18: Friday 30th June - Livingston MT to Sheridan WY (375 miles)

    "Golden haul"

    So to recap - I'd crossed into Montana on Tuesday morning, and after an epic day on the trails in the north western corner (having had to forfeit the Going-to-the-Sun highway through Glacier National park being closed due to snow), decided to forfeit visiting Yellowstone and instead plot a far more elaborate off-road (or at least dirt-road) route diagonally south through the state, to ultimately join up with another 'Gold' road - the Beartooth Highway, that crosses the Montana/Wyoming border at around 11,000ft - before continuing my journey east through northern Wyoming...

    I liked Livingston - yes it was expensive accommodation wise, but the brick buildings and neon signs appealed to my aesthetic sense, while "Chadz" coffee house appealed equally to my tastebuds - great coffee and an excellent smoothie, served by a comic if somewhat curt pair of young guys behind the counter, one of which I presume was Chad himself?

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    photo. what do you do with your old towels if you run a budget hotel in Livingston? Make them into curtains of course...

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    photo. the old 'newspaper overnight to dry your boots out' trick will be familiar to anyone who trail-rides in the UK... they are dry enough not to be uncomfortable the next day.

    There is an excellent dirt road [Swingley Rd] right out of Livingston - an excellent way to warm up for the day ahead as it wound up into the foothills, passing some fancy ranch properties where presumably rich Montanans go to live a little way off the grid:

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    Similarly Big Timber (on I90) is another smarter residential area, and I stayed off the interstate on the old hwy 10 route to Quebec (riding between the railroad and the interstate for a few miles, I felt was the perfect metaphor for how cross country travel has changed over the last century), before picking up dirt once again - heading for Red Lodge and the Montana end of the Beartooth Highway.

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    photo. the Bozeman Trail is another long-distance gold pioneer route that joined the gold fields of Montana through Wyoming from what was the original east-west Oregon Trail.

    Staying off the paved hwy 78 as much as I could, it was an enjoyable morning zig-zagging between working ranches and holiday properties in the shadow of Bare Mountain and the imposing Wyoming border beyond, all the way into Red Lodge.

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    photo. 'Merica!

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    photo. I initially marked this coffee stand as my 'official' end/start point of my Trans-Montana route... although once I rode south down main street, I found there were any number of cafes, bars and restaurants that would make an equally suitable and more salubrious rendezvous point.

    Suitably refreshed with another smoothie and coffee'd up with a large espresso, it was time to make tracks east, by initially going west...

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    photo. Heading up Beartooth Highway - hwy 212 - south west towards Wyoming...

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    photo. Snow banks remained towards the summit pass (10,947ft), although the road itself is ploughed and well-maintained.

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    photo. Starting down the Wyoming side...

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    photo. The Beartooth Highway is not just a Gold road on the Butler maps, but is world-class by any motorcycle standard - a top-ten if not top-five in the world!

    Once you drop below the snow line, if you continue west on hwy 212 you ultimately enter Yellowstone National Park from the east side; but if riding some awesome remote twisty highway is your end game, then a far better alternative is to turn hard left onto highway 296, and head back east on the Cheif Joseph Scenic Byway that passes through the Shoshone National Forest, topping out at 8,060ft over Dead Indian Pass - another Gold road on the Butler maps.

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    photo. looking back west from the top of Dead Indian Pass - I had ridden the whole of this Red and Gold road from the junction of hwy 212 with no other traffic in front of me, except for two pick-ups in last few hundred yards to the summit. Wonderful!

    Dropping down the far side, I spied a suitable looking dirt-road in my GPS that cut across the desert, which would spit me out in Powell, just in time for afternoon tea (well, coffee and a sandwich to be precise)...

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    photo. my first dirt in Wyoming - Sand Coulee Rd - this trail reminded me a lot of Nevada or Utah.

    After an excellent sandwich at 'Uncommon Grounds' - an independent coffee shop in Powell (so good I marked it in my GPS as a waypoint for future reference!) I fell more than ready to continue east into this warm summer evening, and rattled off another two Gold roads in the process - crossing the Big Horn Mountains on the Medicine Wheel Passage Scenic Byway (hwy alt14):

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    ...before cutting another corner on a delightful dirt road all the way into Sheridan, to find a hotel.

    It really had been a perfect 'adventure riding' day - a mix of easy dirt roads, more technical sandy trails, and punctuated in large parts by some truly epic paved mountain highways - indeed the Brits had collected 4 Golds in a single day today!

    Throughout there had been stunning vistas, very little traffic, some good coffee and excellent smoothies - in fact the only dampener to the whole day was finding out that Sheridan is another of those towns where you can't get a cheap hotel - or at least not one you'd want to stay in. I settled for a Super-8 on the outskirts of town, negotiated the rack-rate down to what Expedia had promised, and settled in for the night.

    I'd not really planned much for Wyoming (my goal for the weekend was to visit Deadwood and the Black Hills in south Dakota), and the prospect of a long interstate shlep did not really appeal, but at least it would get me to South Dakota by tomorrow afternoon...

    I then got a text from Lisa: "Are you going to visit the Devil's Tower?" - of course, that's in bloody Wyoming isn't it - and I'd almost be going past the door... time to formulate a [slightly] alternative route that would give me a closer encounter!

    More soon...

    Jenny x
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  9. Wind_Rider

    Wind_Rider Been here awhile

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    Yes, Please "crack on" Jenny, we have been waiting so long to hear the rest of the story....

    Great update and pictures. Looking forward to the rest.
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  10. Patobez

    Patobez Adventurer

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    Wind, you pretty much took the words right out of my mouth! Ha ha
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  11. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    Don't worry, I intend to make sure this weekend is full of fun and inspiration for you all... I had a few commitments in California once I'd got back to San Jose on the 18th July, but now I'm back in the UK I've had time to sort through all the photos and now can turn my attention back to finishing the story in the detail it deserves... I'm sure you wouldn't expect anything less ;o)

    Jx
  12. appliance57

    appliance57 Long timer

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    Some of my favorite places. Beartooth with its glacial lakes and ponds, the climb into the Bighorns and the lush plateau. There's some great camping off the gravel roads next to streams and forest. The woman who ran the site (German by way of Alabama!) thought we could use some smokes trout from a recent catch. She was right about that.
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  13. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    Day 19: Saturday 1st of July - Sheridan WY to Deadwood SD (272 miles)

    "Cowboys and Aliens... and Pirates"

    Sketchy wifi, no guest laundry and being woken at 5.45am by another f**king train (a word of warning - the Super-8 in Sheridan backs onto a freight railway line - avoid!) meant there was little that had endeared me to this particular establishment, in fact the only saving grace was the prospect of a breakfast waffle machine... indeed had it been out of commission I am confident the Super-8 in Sheridan would have been burnt to the ground for the good of all travellers coming behind me.

    As I chewed over my second* crispy syrupy delectation (*well, there was a long day ahead and it wasn't even 7am yet), I considered how people who live this far north and central - so far away from Washington, New York or Hollywood - can so easily consider those places [and people] as alien - the current political climate and ecological issues (never mind any superficial celebrity 'news') seemingly having little if any bearing on their day to day life here in rural America... there sure are a lot of churches here though!

    Having been gifted this early morning thanks to the BNSF railway company (bastards!), I'd already plotted a route east on dirt roads across the desert to Gillette, followed by a short interstate section before heading north on the scenic hwy 14 towards the Devil's Tower...

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    photo. Fortunately, the weather was...

    The route due east out of town (past the Motel 6 if you're planning on staying there - it's not cheap either, but at least it's away from the damn railway line!) started out on fast gravel, before deteriorating into softer sandy two-track after I crossed over hwy 14 and headed south east for Gillette.

    It was a close shave, but I think I avoided any obvious puns as I picked up I90 for thirty odd miles, before turning north on hwy 14 towards the Devil's Tower - which is the USA's first designated National Monument, trivia fans...

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    photos. I was able to take a good number of photos of the Tower from a distance, but elected to skip the actual visitor centre and associated hike as it was already busy on this holiday weekend Saturday morning, with lines of traffic queuing to enter the park.

    Rather than retrace a few steps south, my Butler map revealed another dirt road a little further north that would connect the cowboy/rodeo town of Hulett to Sundance - and Hulett was certainly worth the visit, if only for the old west ambiance and particularly good sandwiches at this particular joint - heartily recommended!

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    Over lunch I considered that not only had I been spending a lot more money than I'd intended on hotels these past couple of weeks (and cursing lugging my camping gear with me while not actually using it, especially every time it had got soaked and needed drying out and repacking); but coupled with the fact I was now heading to a major tourist destination, over one of the busiest holiday weekends of the year (July 4th), felt I'd have no option but to start camping, starting tonight...

    Fortunately there were a number of commercial campgrounds listed in my GPS around Deadwood and the Black Hills, so the risk of being eaten by a bear would be greatly diminished I felt. With that decided, it was time to hit the trails, and head towards the location of another of my favourite TV shows: Deadwood*

    *Note. I realise that [unlike Twin Peaks] the TV show Deadwood was not actually filmed there on location in South Dakota, and that indeed the current town was vastly different to the original wooden mining camp of 1876 where the show was set. But my main reason for visiting was actually to pay respects at the real-life graves of wild west legends Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane and Seth Bullock, among others of course.

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    photo. The trail south [through the Black Hills National Forest] towards Sundance went this way according to the 'shortest route' in my GPS (always worth a punt in my experience)...

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    photo. ...despite being denied, the alternative loop back to the main road was no less fun than that initial decent too!

    I picked a through-route on dirt roads and trails from Sundance across the State-line towards Roughlock Falls (a popular area for OHVs, and rental SSVs particularly), and rather than ride straight into Deadwood on the highway via Cheyenne Crossing - a scenic and popular route in itself, especially with the Pirate brigade it would seem - the Garmin revealed what turned out to be an absolutely corking OHV route up and over the mountain in between, past the Terry Peak ski resort:

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    photo. Yes, Deadwood actually has a ski resort - who would have guessed?!

    The whole afternoon had been one surprise after another... I hadn't really considered that a lot of this part of the country is also at high elevation, which in turn is riddled with old mining dirt roads and trails, and some stunning scenic highways to ride too.

    Of course I now realise why Sturgis [bike week] is held where it is - not only is the [road] riding and scenery exceptional around the Black Hills, but you also have any number of premier visitor attractions such as Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse, Deadwood, Custer State Park [Needles Highway] and the legendary Iron Mountain Road*; while for the off-road fanatic [be that on two or four wheels] - as I was increasingly finding out, there is a huge network of OHV trails though the forests too!

    *note. There isn't currently a Butler map for South Dakota, but if there was, Iron Mountain Road and Needles Highway would be Gold standard motorcycle routes for sure, and were certainly on my list to ride this trip...

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    photo. Despite the whole town being rebuilt in brick [and therefore bearing little resemblance to the original wooden camp], key locations are suitably marked to help us hapless tourists navigate between the copious casinos and tacky souvenir shops...

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    photo. Seth Bullock was one of the original pioneers (and ultimately the first Sheriff) of Deadwood, and his name became synonymous with the city as it grew over the years.

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    photo. this was originally a little wooden shack back in 1876.

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    photo. Fancy designer hat shop - a refreshing if expensive alternative to the tacky t-shirts and caps for sale up and down main street.

    I'd enjoyed visiting the miniature model railway in the basement of one of the tourist shops (pay a dollar, watch it run for ten minutes - who'd not love that?!), felt slightly peeved at paying five bucks for half a glass of rootbeer and a scoop of cheap vanilla ice-cream in the Wild Bill Bar, and ultimately couldn't stand the crowds and noise that filled the town - not least the steady procession of Harley hogs with open pipes flatulating their way up and down Main St. - no one is fucking impressed by your exhaust you douches!

    I sought a little solitude a short way up what turned out to be a surprisingly steep hill - where Mount Moriah Cemetery is situated, overlooking the town.

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    photo. the graves* of Calamity Jane and her unrequited love, Wild Bill Hickok. Through the trees you can just see some of the roof-tops of the town - it was a damn long way up here!

    *note for history buffs - the original Ingleside Cemetery (and Hickok's original grave) was further down the hill nearer the town, but was moved to this new and much larger location in 1878 - presumably as it was getting too full with all the lawlessness at the time! Interestingly, houses have long since been built on the original cemetery site, and as recently as 2012 remains of an original gold-rush pioneer were dug up in someone's backyard!

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    photo. And blow me if Seth Bullock (and his wife Martha) are not buried even higher up the hill - another 778ft up the hill!

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    photo. Still, it is a beautiful spot to be laid to rest.

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    photo. Just in case you have any trouble finding it... it's even in the Garmin Topo maps!

    As the sun began to slip down behind the tree-line, I felt Deadwood had finally begun to redeem itself. I'm not a religious person, nor do I care much for mawkish reverence of graves in general; but the tranquility of this place, high above the Sin City below, was refreshing... and I left Deadwood behind with a sense of calm, ready to set up camp a few miles down the road, and consider my next move.

    Stay tuned!

    Jx
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  14. Oyabun

    Oyabun 親分

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    Jenny, this is really some epic ride report written in great style. Keep it up. Wish I could run at least some part of the route once.
    Keep it coming.
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  15. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    Thank you!

    I've actually been talking with Alan at the Rocky Mountain Adventure Bike Touring Company (based in Canada) who are considering expanding their range of guided tours into the USA, and certainly a number of the locations I passed through during this trip are on the radar for future potential tours. That might be an easy way for you (and any other Europeans) to get a taste in more manageable bite-sized chunks perhaps? - and you'd be able to do it on a Rally-Raid CB500X too of course!

    Jx
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  16. RMABTC

    RMABTC Been here awhile

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    Yep watch this space!!


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
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  17. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    Day 20: Sunday 2nd July - Deadwood SD to Sioux Falls SD (505 miles)

    "Black Hills gold - the motherlode"

    I freely admit I'd forgotten how much of a faff it is breaking-camp compared to leaving a motel - especially when you've been camping on grass at altitude and everything is damp. I'd been awake since 6am and now it was after eight!

    Airing my tent while I snaffled down a Clif bar and coffee for breakfast, I'd got chatting to a couple of Goldwing riders who had camped in the spot opposite. They'd ridden over from the east side of the State (one of them tugging a trailer!) and regularly ride the Black Hills, so were a great source of information regarding those 'must ride' routes... thank you!

    Of course I already had a pretty good idea of where I wanted to go and what I wanted to see - the only proviso was that I'd accepted a generous invitation to spend Tuesday (the 4th of July) with a friend and his family on the North Shore of Lake Superior, which was still a good two-days' ride away (850 miles direct, or thereabouts). But at the same time, I wasn't going to forfeit all this excellent riding just to shelp along an interstate...

    I rolled out of camp around 8.30am, and fuelled up on premium (no ethanol!) at a gas-stop a couple of miles down the road - jostling for position at the pumps with dozens of side-by-sides and ATVs, many of them rentals by the look of it - although interestingly it seems that Polaris (and their ilk) are quickly becoming the OHV of choice compared to the otherwise ubiquitous Jeep of one size and shape or another... with any number of privately owned examples, hugely modified and being trailered in to what I was soon to realise was a honey-pot of OHV trails!

    Once again I trusted my Garmin's 'shortest route' function to plot an alternative to the paved highway, right through the middle of a huge OHV trail network - heading generally south past Custer Peak via Mystic and ultimately Hill City on hwy 395.

    From here, I planned to continue south on pavement and visit the Crazy Horse Memorial (still under construction of course), then double back through Custer State park on the Needles Highway, before passing by Mt. Rushmore, and finally leaving the Black Hills behind via the epic Iron Mountain Road (hwy 16a)...

    But first, it was time to hit the trails - and boy, what trails they turned out to be!

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    photo. I hoped this was not the lasting memory I'd take away...

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    photo. This was starting to get interesting...

    The network started out on easy wide gravel trails - ideal access for any rigs and campers trailering in OHV vehicles I'm sure. Soon enough I was faced with a choice - continue on the wide gravel [Rochford] road, or take a minor trail ominously named "Bloody Gulch" - well, which would you choose? - exactly!

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    As the network continued to take me deeper into the forest, so too the trails started to get more narrow and less maintained - although I figured that since they all had [OHV] route numbers, it was likely that someone had already been down here before me this season, and most likely on an ATV or in an SSV, so would have cleared any fallen trees and other debris that might otherwise mess up my morning...

    Sure enough, while one NF trail was particularly overgrown and washed out, there was always enough room to get a bike through - priceless!

    While I can always trust my Garmin to hunt out the best trails, I still tend to utilise my 'coffee nose' when searching for a decent espresso - and sure enough, back on the highway south of Hill City (I mention it particularly for the following reason), the Pine Rest Cabins [hotel] also has a fantastic espresso bar behind their check-in counter - what a result!

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    photo. The Crazy Horse Memorial is only partially finished - although the face itself is already 50% taller than those on nearby Mt. Rushmore. Ultimately the intention is to carve the whole mountain into a huge rider and horse's head that will stand 563ft tall!

    Although the entry lines were not excessive, I decided that since I was already on a roll this morning, to continue onwards and make the most of the rest of the day, all the while continuing my long journey east...

    A few miles further south of Crazy Horse is Custer, and highway 16A east of here passes though part of the State Park, which requires a fee - however, I was pleased to learn (and pass this information on for anyone else planning on visiting the area) that as long as you promise not to stop and use any of the park facilities you can continue east without paying the $10 entry fee.

    However, as I was soon to find out, if you then want to head north again on Needles Highway (hwy 87), they'll get you at a second entry booth. Ah well...

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    photo. The Needle's Eye tunnel on hwy 87 (Needles Highway) in Custer State Park.

    Needles Highway is an excellent twisty and mostly narrow (and even single lane in places) scenic highway, that winds though canyons and along terraces surrounded by huge monolithic rocks - reminiscent of southern Utah.

    I'd suggest it's certainly worthy of a Gold status once Butler finally get around to it, however - and I had been warned by my new friends on the Goldwings earlier that morning - it's best to ride it very early in the morning, since by Sunday lunchtime, especially on a major holiday weekend, it was crawling with slow cars and campers.

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    photo. Chaos at almost every lay-by and parking lot... (who thought it would be a good idea to try and bring an RV through this tunnel?!)

    I wouldn't say don't ride it - especially if like me, it was your first time here - but I'm confident you'll have equally as much fun if you stick to hwy 89 [north] out of Custer, and you'll avoid the fee and the traffic - especially if it's after 9am.


    Once again I trusted my Garmin to cut a corner on dirt, and swooped down hwy 224 heading east - towards the entrance to Mt. Rushmore.

    My. God. The traffic here was horrendous! Fortunately for me, it was all heading uphill in the other direction - both lanes locked solid for over three miles, going nowhere. Being a National Monument, they do not charge for entry; however, they do charge $10 (per vehicle) for parking, and by early afternoon it was now one-in one-out, and suck-it-up buttercup.

    I parked the CB on a grass verge, and grabbed a quick photo with the camera in my pocket - pleasantly surprised that you could actually see the facade in full view of the entrance station, rather that have it tucked around a corner forcing you to queue and pay.

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    photo. We all know what it looks like, but still it is equally impressive in person.

    There wasn't a chance in hell I was going to wait to enter the facility itself (even though they were letting traffic turn left across the highway from the direction I was heading in), so hopped back on and sped off downhill, for my date with the legendary Iron Mountain Road.

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    photo. Riding though this tunnel in the opposite direction, I saw a photographer standing at the far end, and sure enough, recalling what the Goldwing riders had told me that morning, stopped at the exit and turned around - wow! (I'm sure this tunnel was carved at the precise angle to give you this reaction!)

    Iron Mountain road is certainly worthy of it's reputation - twisty enough to be entertaining, but not so much that the Sturgis/Harley crowd can't make the corners - well, most of them at least... Initially there was far less traffic to contend with, and I carved the pig-tail bridges with utter glee (why did they build them? - presumably just because they can!)

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    photo. There are a series of these 'pig-tail' bridges on the northern section of Iron Mountain Road (winding 360° or more) - huge fun!

    However, almost inevitably I ended up as part of either a Harley parade, or else a line of frustrated four-wheelers stuck behind an RV or tourist SUV... Now I'm aware of the irony here of course - after all I am a tourist too and "Don't blame the traffic, you are the traffic" as the bumper-sticker says, regardless of the vehicle you choose... But hell, when you're on a motorcycle, sitting behind a huge SUV with blacked-out windows crawling along erratically at 25 mph is like sitting behind a fat guy in a hat in the cinema...

    note. While you can usually zip past slower traffic on a motorcycle, the problem with Iron Mountain Road is it is so twisty, that it is not really prudent to take such risks - not least as you'd have to be quite aggressive, and that is inevitably going to piss other road-users off... Ultimately, I ended up conceding, pulling over to the side of the road for a few minutes and just waiting - typically until another vehicle appeared in my mirror (to give me the maximum gap between the vehicles ahead) - and then riding the twisty sections with a relatively clear view. Again, this is road for early mornings, or late afternoons - and ideally a little out of season.

    If you were hoping to find a decent meal in Hermosa SD, think again. On either side of the dusty road there were basically two halves of fuck-all, and I ended up with a lame gas-station sandwich at the Flying J on the main highway.

    It was already mid-afternoon, and from here I would have to head resolutely east now if there was any chance of making it to the State line (with Minnesota) by nightfall...

    While I could have headed a few miles north for Rapid City and the Interstate, there was a pretty clear diagonal [on dirt for a good distance] that would also take me though the Badlands National Park... that was decided then - and the CB absolutely nailed the next 40 miles in as many minutes on sweeping gravel farm roads - perfect!

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    photo. although hwy 337 does cut through the eastern end of Badlands National Park, being after 4.30pm the entrance station waved me though with no fee - result!

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    photo. My route gave me a taste of the Badlands - you really need to ride hwy 240 though the middle of the park to get the full effect.

    Ultimately I joined I90 east of Badlands, and there was still 275 miles to go to my intended destination - Sioux Falls. The interior of South Dakota was now particularly hot and oppressive - proper roasty! I stopped for a Subway and to top up my Camelbak with ice from their soda machine, laying to rest the ghost of the nasty Flying J sandwich and weak warm tea from earlier... setting off again with jacket flapping open and gloves stashed in my pocket, iPod dialled up to the max.

    I rolled into a Motel-6 car-park a little after 10pm that evening, having covered over half an Iron-Butt since breakfast. Today, perhaps more than any other day since I've owned it, exemplified just how good an all-round, all-terrain travel bike the Rally Raid CB500X is...

    I'd started out that morning with over 50 miles of pukka ATV trails, in the Black Hills OHV network between Deadwood and Hill City - then carved the mountain twisties on Needles Highway and Iron Mountain Road (and stopped briefly to take some tourist photos too of course!). After lunch, I then hammered out 40 miles of gravel roads at 60mph or more like I was on some open-class rally bike, followed by another 365 miles of highway and Interstate, almost all of which was covered at a steady 75mph (the legal limit of South Dakota of course ;o)

    Not once had the bike complained, nor even hinted it might let me down - and not once did I ever wish I was on anything other the CB... It was better at everything than you might expect - felt like a big dirt bike on the dirt, and a street bike on the highway. In fact I'd go as far as to say it was actually better at both sides of the coin than you'd ever think possible - not just a genuine 50/50 bike, but it's actually a 60/60 bike if you see what I mean? Honestly, I consider this an exceptional travel machine - and without a doubt the best ALL-terrain adventure bike I've ever ridden!

    Anyway, with that conclusion, it was time to get some sleep - it would be another long [highway] day tomorrow if I was to reach the North Shore of Lake Superior as planned; and being Minnesota, there were a couple of pop-culture sights I also intended to visit along the way...

    More soon!

    Jenny x
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  18. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2007
    Oddometer:
    8,595
    Location:
    California
    Day 21: Monday 3rd July - Sioux Falls SD to Tofte MN (487 miles)

    "Dearly Beloved..."

    We are gathered here today to get through this thing called life...

    But first, we've got a huge chunk of highway to cover before we reach Minneapolis - the best part of 250 miles...

    Today was all about getting north as quickly as possible. That is not to dismiss southern Minnesota out of hand - it was a pleasant trip, in warm sunny weather - farmers fields flashing by on either side and Prince's Greatest Hits on permanent rotation in my helmet speakers (yes, I'd 'upgraded' to a Sena intercom for this trip, although if I'm honest at higher speeds, I still prefer traditional ear-buds to help cancel the wind noise more effectively...), but I was on a mission to honour my commitment this evening, and arrive at what was effectively the Canadian border before sundown.

    There really was only one place I wanted to visit in the city, and as it turns out, it's just off the main I94 ring-road too - but my route in from the west could easily take me past Lake Minnetonka too, another location (or not as it turns out) from the movie Purple Rain.

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    photo. Piglet doing his best Apollonia impression - in this case, yes, that actually is Lake Minnetonka...

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    photo. Minneapolis was mercifully free of traffic mid-afternoon.

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    photo. The surface streets were almost deserted too!

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    photo. So much so I was even able to pose my bike directly opposite First Ave. (and the 'famous' 7th St. entrance).

    As I snapped away, I noticed through the viewfinder that a butterfly had landed on the corner of my wind screen, and was fluttering in the warm breeze - a perfectly poetic and allegoric moment I thought - Prince being the ultimate 'Pop butterfly' of course... The analogy even more appropriate when on approaching, it turns out this particular butterfly was very much dead.

    I'd enjoyed taking a moment at this iconic 80's music mecca, but the afternoon heat in the city was stifling, and I was also aware that actually I was still only about half way to my final destination that evening - and it would be rude to arrive late when I was being so graciously hosted at a friend's family reunion.

    I utilised Minnesota's Interstate network once more for another one hundred and fifty miles (Sorry Wisconsin, we're gonna have to leave it for another time), with the aim of dropping by another pop culture location en route - immortalised by Gore Vidal in his eponymous novel Duluth.

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    photo. Love it or loathe it, you can never leave it or lose it... (I don't mean the bike you fools!)

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    photo. If you've read the book, you'll see the relevance - I actually happened on this building quite by chance, as I stopped to reprogram my GPS!

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    photo. Although I was conscious of time now, I did spend a short while poking around the waterfront.

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    photo. Maybe I need an Instagram account?

    And with that, it was back on the highway, heading north along the lake for the tiny town of Tofte. Noah had given me the address of his parent's house, and on tapping it into my GPS, the screen suggested it was actually on the lake side of the highway...

    Waterfront property on Lake Superior? - Wow, just what had I let myself in for? - I couldn't wait to see it!

    More soon...

    Jenny x
  19. PinkPillion

    PinkPillion Husqy pilot too...

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2009
    Oddometer:
    563
    Location:
    Northeastern California
    Amazing, beautiful, entertaining report going on here!!!! I see one of your first installments was in our neck of the woods. Bikes pass through Susanville frequently, but the photo from Janeville grade of Honey Lake made me laugh because---we have never seen another adventure bike up there. We love Horse Lake Road, and suggested Butler put it on their map, so glad you made mention of it. If ever in the area again, check out the Buckhorn Backcountry Byway from HWY 395 east of Susanville to Gerlach, NV. Wildlife galore! I wish I knew you were near, as I would have made you two a killer cup(or pot) of coffee. Every entry is awesome, looking forward to more. :D

    :lurk
    visualizerent and JMo (& piglet) like this.
  20. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2007
    Oddometer:
    8,595
    Location:
    California
    Day 22: Tuesday 4th July - Tofte MN to the shore and back again... (0 miles)

    "Happy holiday - quitters!"

    I'd been made so welcome by everyone who had gathered at the Horak homestead - and boy there were a lot of people! - siblings, parents, cousins, second cousins, uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews, together with an even further extended family that may or may not have been blood related, it really didn't matter!

    Having arrived in good time the evening before - I was immediately introduced to any number of cheery faces in far too rapid succession for my little brain to cope with, plied with food, and ended up drinking whiskey until the small hours with Noah and a couple of cousins down on the rocky shoreline that was part of his parents' property.

    This really was a little piece of heaven, and was going to be the perfect way to celebrate what is arguably Americas most favourite holiday - July 4th*

    *I will say it this way only once... otherwise it's the 4th of July, you quitters!

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    photo. an utterly stunning location, a series of holiday cabins on the shore of Lake Superior.

    There was a packed programme (again, note the spelling - you ungrateful bunch!) of activity scheduled for the whole day today... First of all, coffee of course - brewed in fine style in a vintage glass flask, and sipped at a leisurely pace while watching the sun rise though picture windows, that offered a panoramic view across the lake. Then we all crammed into a succession of vehicles for a short ride into town...

    The Tofte Trek is an institution - a 10k (yes, that's in kilometres - you philistines!) fund-raising 'fun run' that some people actually take surprisingly seriously. It was actually Noah's father who started the event 30 years ago, and now every year on the morning of July 4th (dang, I did it again...) over 200 people turn out in this tiny town to cross-country run through the local wilderness, often getting filthy in the process!

    Lunch back at the house was a huge family affair - with even more people having arrived throughout the morning it appeared - the centre piece being a huge brisket that Noah had smoked since the early hours. With most of us having drunk far too much in the heat of the day, those of us not already snoozing it off elected to ride bicycles back into town to watch the afternoon parade - fire engines, farm machinery, vintage cars and majorettes - as a Brit I particularly revelled in the damn wholesomeness of it all!

    Weaving our way back to the cabins later that afternoon, we embarked on another huge barbecue for dinner, before returning to town once more for the grand finale - a huge firework display, held over the rocky shore of the lake.

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    photo. It was an impressive display, made more magical by the fact the whole town were perched on the rocks, wrapped in blankets, looking like a collection of sea-lions!

    Ultimately it was another late night chatting and drinking with the handful of us who'd found some semblance of stamina to stay awake... and the perfect way to wrap up a wonderful day!

    cont.
    juno, DualSPRTfan, 2 Dogs and 6 others like this.