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The trip with no name....

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by Yooper_Bob, Mar 16, 2018.

  1. Yooper_Bob

    Yooper_Bob Insert witty saying here....

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2005
    Oddometer:
    5,184
    Location:
    Da UP, eh! (Marquette, MI)
    If you have come here expecting the usual enthralling tales of survival against all odds...testing the limits of human endurance...the never ending stuggle of man against nature....mechanical breakdowns solved with Macgyver like solutions, you'll get none of that here.

    This is a simple story of two middle aged men who ride their mechanical steeds west and then back again with nothing more troubling than a rather long line at the Starbucks in Deadwood, SD.

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    This journey of non-stop adventure (or is it non-existant adventure?) took place in July of 2017. I am only getting around to telling the story now, with no other valid excuse for the delay, other that my pure laziness.

    Over the previous winter I had put together a roughly 500 mile loop through the Black Hills, starting in the southeast corner and working it way in a clockwise manner west, and then north towards Devils Tower, and then back east to Spearfish. I also had lots of extra little side loops, in case we made better time than anticipated. I made sure we had more than enough stuff to ride for the time allotted. I used a comination of the Dakota Adventure Loop tracks, Cannonshot's Black Hills tracks, and my own stuff. I wanted as much dirt as possible, without being too challenging for my riding partner.

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    My riding partner Thomas, is a long time friend of 25+ years. He had only recently got back into riding after a long hiatus to focus on family and career. He had picked up a fully farkled 2013 Weestrom only a couple of months before the trip. He spent as much time as possible before the trip putting on the miles and getting familiar with his new ride.

    I had picked up a left over 2016 Honda Africa Twin in April, and had equipped it for the trip.

    Our plan was pretty simple, we would ride each day until we were tired, and find a place to camp. We didn't want to bother with all of the extra gear required for camp cooking, so we figured we would never be that far from civilization, that we wouldn't be able to grab a couple
    of meals a day at a restaurant along the way.

    All of the crap I took along (excluding my clothing).

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    We left early afternoon on Friday July 21st from my home in Marquette, and headed west on our adventure! It was definitely warm and muggy. The heat was to be a constant for the first half of the trip.

    It wasn't long until we hit our first border crossing....Wisconsin, here we come!

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    I had planned on getting a "welcome to.." photo for each state we went through, but because the route out followed such quiet country back roads, this was the only "welcome" sign we saw on the whole trip.

    We jumped on highway 70 for our sprint across Wisconsin. This is a great way to cross the northern part of Wisconsin. Just a nice, quiet country road that goes thru the many national forests of the area.

    We rolled into Minoqua in the early evening and headed for Patricia Lake Campground. This was the only spot we had made a reservation for ahead of time.

    We set up our tents for the night in a great spot overlooking the small lake.

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    Day 1 was in the books. 160 miles.

    We were up and rolling early the next morning. Trying to get as many miles in as possible. It had rained a bit during the night, and the morning was very comfortable, with just a slight mist in the air for the first hour or so. We rolled west taking in the beautiful northern Wisconsin forests and lakes.

    It wasn't too long and we crossed over into Minnesota. As the day progressed, the sun came out and the temps spiked. Before long it was approaching 100 degrees.

    We stopped several times to find some shade and rehydrate.

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    Where as Wisconsin is easily crossed by simply following highway 70, Minnesota has no nice east/west corridor, so when I was laying out our route, I simply drew as straight a line possible from east to west across the state. We found ourselves on everything from short jaunts of divided highway, to little gravel farm lanes. The gravel didn't slow me down, but since Thomas was still getting used to his new bike, and had very little dirt experience, our pace was reduced
    a bit. It didn't matter though...just being out on the bikes and seeing new country was all worth it.

    We continuted our slog west thru the heat, and the furthere west we went, the hotter it got. We stopped for a quick dinner in Sauke Center, MN, and pressed on.

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    We finally hit the South Dakota border, and the temps hit 104. We were sweltering. We tried to find a camping spot in the Pickeral Lake area, but due to the fact that it was a Saturday night in the middle of July, every place was full.

    We continued on our track, and by the time we hit Webster, we were about done in. After stopping at the local A&W for a cold drink and to look at the phones for a camping spot, we had our first serious "discussion". It was mainly due to a combination of the heat and the long day. Nothing serious, but as I hunted for the nearest camping spot, Thomas pointed out the little mom and pop motel across the street and claimed that is where he was spending the night. Who was I to argue against air conditioning when it it 100 degrees out. Turns out, it was the right decision. We both were able to get cooled down and a good nights sleep for the day ahead.

    Day 2 stats: Minoqua WI to Webster SD. 440 miles.
    #1
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  2. Yooper_Bob

    Yooper_Bob Insert witty saying here....

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2005
    Oddometer:
    5,184
    Location:
    Da UP, eh! (Marquette, MI)
    We had both agreed the night before to be up early and get started before the heat set in again. We were up and packed shortly after the sun came up, and hit the road for the journey across the rest of South Dakota. Again, my route was simply a line drawn as straight east/west as I could make it, so we rode a mix of gravel and pavement. As the day wore on, the temps again soared. It was not long until they were hovering between 104-105. Brutal temps for a Yooper!

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    We stopped every now and again when we could find a bit of shade. If you have ever crossed SD, you know that trees are few and far between!

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    We crossed the Missouri River at Pierre, and had a nice long mid-day meal in the air conditioned comfort of a local diner.

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    We made it to the Badlands in the late afternoon, and rode thru the park. It was BLISTERING!

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    Who's photographing who?

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    Get me outta this heat!!!

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    Initially, we had sort of planned on camping there, but the temps were way too hot to deal with, so we pressed on for the Black Hills. We rode out the gravel west entrance of the park, and then took some back roads to Hermosa.

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    As we were scooting along at about 45 on one of the many gravel farm lanes I had us routed on, we hit some really loose gravel, Thomas was leading at that point, I saw him start to lose control, and the bike start to gyrate back and forth into what would in seconds be a full on tank slapper. Thankfully we had bluetooth commnicators, and for once they actually worked, and I was able to holler at him to pull in the clutch. He did so, and was able to safely recover.

    That was a close one!

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    After stopping to recoup from that harrowing experience, we continued safely on. We fueled up in Hermosa, booked and camping spot at Spokane Creek, and headed into the Black Hills. It was much cooler at elevation (80's feeling much cooler!). We got a great spot to camp, had a quick pizza dinner, and then relaxed and hit the rack early.

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    Day 3 stats: Webster SD to Spokane Creek SD. 434 miles.
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    #2
  3. Yooper_Bob

    Yooper_Bob Insert witty saying here....

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2005
    Oddometer:
    5,184
    Location:
    Da UP, eh! (Marquette, MI)
    We were up with the sun, and on our way to the real fun! This is when our route went from mainly pavement to mainly dirt. Now, I was very excited about
    the next few days, as I have decades of dirt experience. Thomas was not nearly as excited. Being a bit of a noob on a fully loaded adventure bike in the
    dirt can be a bit challenging, and definitely requires a lot more exertion than an experienced rider.

    The morning was quiet and smooth as we rode highway 16A up past Mount Rushmore and then headed back south on 87.

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    We then jumped on the dirt and headed southwest thru the little burg of Pringle and off into the hills.


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    The temps quickly soared and before long it was time to lose a layer. Some took off more layers than others!

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    We rode mile after mile of great little forest roads through the rolling hills and valleys. Never saw another vehicle, let alone another rider.

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    Temps again hit 104-105. We were baking!

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    As late afternoon rolled around, we found ourselves in Custer for fuel. We booked a camping spot at the Roost Resort just east of town, and it turned out to be a fantastic little spot. They have mainly cabins, and only a couple of camping spots. It was very quiet and had a great shower house.

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    After we had set our tents up, Thomas claimed he was suffering from heat stroke. Being the caring and thoughtful friend that I am, I said "Tough, I am starved and headed back to Custer for some dinner!"

    I got back from dinner to find Thomas still alive and feeling a bit better after rehydrating and resting a bit. We watched the sun go down over the hills to
    the west and hit the sack.

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    Day 4 stats: Spokane Creek SD to Custer SD. 145 roasting miles.
    #3
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  4. Yooper_Bob

    Yooper_Bob Insert witty saying here....

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2005
    Oddometer:
    5,184
    Location:
    Da UP, eh! (Marquette, MI)
    It was much cooler and overcast when we woke up. A quick packing up (we were getting pretty good at this), and off we went. We had agreed the evening before that today would be a much shorter day, and we would find a good spot to camp and rest up a bit. We headed west towards Jewel Cave, and then turned north on those awesome little forest roads that permeate the Black Hills.

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    (Remember...photo's add 10...no, make it 20 pounds!)

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    For those who don't know, only about 2% of the roads in the Black Hills are paved, and the rest are dirt/gravel/rock trails that run everywhere. You can ride for miles and miles and never see another sole.

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    We started working our way north thru the rolling hills towards Deer Lake. The route led us through some burned over areas. I am not sure if these were from controlled burns or natural. Although the skies were dark and ominous looking the whole time we were riding, it never rained more than a stray drop or two.

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    We ended up hitting Deer Lake in the early afternoon. After a quick, but very good meal at the Mountain Meadow Store, we went to check out the campground. The south shore campground was partially filled and a long way from the lake. We then headed to check out the one on the north side.

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    It was totally empty, and we took the two spots nearest the lake. We set up our tents and then spent well over an hour trying to rig up my canopy over the picnic table. The ground was extremely rocky, and the only way to get the stakes into the ground was with the exuberant amount of creative swearing.

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    Finally the task was done, and it was time to relax. Of course, the one and only time we are camping on a lake that is crystal clear and looks great for swimming, the temps are suddenly only in the mid 60's. I took a quick bath in the lake regardless.

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    As the afternoon drew on, and we remained the only ones in the campground, we began to gloat about having the whole place to ourselves....of course, we had no sooner been a bit too boastful, when we could hear the crunching of gravel as a vehicle approached. Turned out to be a lone younger (younger than us, anyway) gal who set up her tent as far from us as she could. She then opened herself and beer and sat quietly playing cards at her picnic table.

    The evening drew on, and as it was just about dark, we figured that heck...we still had the place ALMOST all to ourselves. Then...you guessed it...the crunch of gravel as yet another vehicle approached. Darn! The gal on the far end of the campground suddenly hollered out "Well...there goes your solitude!" We chuckled over that.

    The rain started as a young couple pulled in and scrambled to get their tent set up before they got soaked. We sat under my tarp and listened to it rain for a bit, and then off to bed.

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    Day 5 stats: Custer SD to Deerfield Lake, SD. 84 miles.
    #4
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  5. Yooper_Bob

    Yooper_Bob Insert witty saying here....

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2005
    Oddometer:
    5,184
    Location:
    Da UP, eh! (Marquette, MI)
    After a restful night listening to the light patter of rain on the tents, it was up and at 'em again the next morning. We made quick work of packing up
    camp, and hit the trails. It wasn't very long before I realized I was a bit chilly, so I stopped to close my jacket vents. What the heck is crawling
    around inside my jacket???

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    Thankfully, he was also chilled and not very active...we both escaped without incident.

    The next segment we were to ride today was to be the most challenging. I was excited about it, and Thomas...ummm....not so much. We headed off along Castle
    Creek, and the trail got smaller and smaller (and more fun in my opinion). Pretty soon I heard venting coming over the intercom that not even the local
    cows would be taking a trail like this!

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    Shortly after this gate, there was a huge pine tree completely blocking the trail, and we had to retreat.

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    A bit of creative re-routing, and we were back on track. The cooler temps made riding today much more enjoyable.

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    Just miles and miles and miles of fantastic riding.

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    I look slimmer with all of my gear on!

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    Wonder if they have any vacancy?

    As the day wore on, the skies eventually cleared and although the temps increased, it was no where near as sweltering as the prior days had been.

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    Took a nice mid-afternoon break along the Pactola Reservoir.


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    "What the heck has this crazy Yooper gotten me into?"

    We continued winding our way north through the Black Hills. By this time, we had really settled into a nice rhythm of the trip. We spent the day checking out a few campsites that we went by, but none of them really spoke to us. Late in the day, we hit the southern end of Spearfish Canyon and came across a FANTASTIC little campground. We quickly grabbed a couple of tent spots and set up camp.
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    The bikes are holding up excellent! We have had zero issues with either.

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    After a quick bath in the creek, it was off to find some dinner. Turned out that there was an excellent little place to eat only a couple of miles from the campground. Cheyenne Crossing. We ate there several times over the next couple of days.

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    Day 6 stats: Deerfield Lake SD to Cheyenne Crossing SD. 135 miles.
    #5
  6. Yooper_Bob

    Yooper_Bob Insert witty saying here....

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2005
    Oddometer:
    5,184
    Location:
    Da UP, eh! (Marquette, MI)
    Intermission:

    So lets take a moment here and talk about gear. Everyone on this site loves talking, researching, and buying gear. Thomas and I are no exception. We both had a grand time buying all sorts of neat gadgets in preparation for the trip.

    I however, brought along a couple of items that Thomas thought were a bit....overboard.

    I brought a sleeping cot, and a down pillow!

    Now I know...hand over your ADV card right now...what sort of pillock brings a cot and a down pillow on a hardcore "adventure".

    I suffer from insomnia, and getting a good nights sleep is often very difficult for me. One of the key components is I have to be comfortable. The second is I have GOT to have my melatonin.

    So...if you have not already noticed, I am a bit on the "large" size, and exceed the weight limits of pretty much every lightweight cot with one exception. The Sleeprite by Travelchair. :spam

    I know...sounds like an infomercial, but it really works for us bigger guys. It will support 300# and is 78" long, which is great, because so am I.

    Anyway, I combined the cot and down pillow with an inflatable pillow (yes...2 pillows), and a Klymit inflatable sleeping pad, and I was in heaven!!!!

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    Meanwhile, Thomas had simply the Klymit pad and inflatable pillow. By this time in the week, he was feeling the effects of sleeping on the ground, while I was like... :snore
    #6
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  7. Yooper_Bob

    Yooper_Bob Insert witty saying here....

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2005
    Oddometer:
    5,184
    Location:
    Da UP, eh! (Marquette, MI)
    Back to the program...where were we?

    Ah yes....that great little campground. It was such a peaceful spot, we decided that we would spend two nights there, and just do a day trip up to Devils Tower and back. This had the added benefit that we would be able to travel light.

    We hit Spearfish Canyon as the sun was still coming up over the cliffs. We headed north for a bit, and then jumped off on to dirt to the west.

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    The bikes feel light and nimble without all of the extra weight.

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    There may have been some more complaining about following "cow trails", but it wasn't coming from me!

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    The only thing better than a great trip, is great friends along for the ride!

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    Somewhere near Cement Ridge...

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    Stellar views!

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    The roads just get better and better!

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    So...what I haven't mentioned before now, is that my front tire had been "melting" at an extreme rate. I had a set of Motoz Adventure tires. The rear was holding up awesome, but the front...not so much.

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    Still well over 1,000 miles of riding yet to come, and looking a bit rough. I tried to source something locally, but not surprising, they only had street tires. I finally just decided to ignore it, and run it until I could see the chords, and worry then! :lol3

    Before we knew it, we found ourselves in Wyoming. I guess they don't put up welcome signs in the middle of nowhere.

    Checked out the Warren Peak fire tower.

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    Someone must not like heights, because I ended up climbing the tower by myself.

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    The views were fantastic, and the wind at the top was howling!

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    Back on the ground, and continuing on towards Devils Tower.

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    The first peeks at our destination.

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    Getting ever closer!

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    And we finally make it! We hung out for a bit taking glamour photos.

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    To be continued...
    #7
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  8. troutwhisperer

    troutwhisperer Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 20, 2009
    Oddometer:
    140
    Location:
    Amherst, VA
    Your ride report meets this middle aged guy's approval!!!!

    Sent from my SM-G930R4 using Tapatalk
    #8
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  9. Yooper_Bob

    Yooper_Bob Insert witty saying here....

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2005
    Oddometer:
    5,184
    Location:
    Da UP, eh! (Marquette, MI)
    Day 7, continued...

    So...after taking way too many photographs, we headed east to the little town of Hulett, WY for fuel for both the bikes and ourselves.

    During our break, we had a little "discussion". Thomas wanted to take the highway back, and I wanted to ride the 100 or so miles of remaining dirt that I laid out so many months ago. We decided that a little break apart would be just the thing the trip needed (there is such a thing as being together too much), so he hit the highway and I hit the dirt. We agreed to meet back up at the campground in the evening.

    As I headed south, I could see some very ominous clouds forming off to the east (the direction Thomas had taken).

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    With the light bike, and being able to ride my own pace, I made good time. All the while, watching the dark clouds get closer and closer.

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    I could tell from their direction, that Thomas was likely getting hammered with rain. The rain eventually caught up to me as well, just as I reached the town of Spearfish. I stopped to quickly close my vents and continue towards camp. As I flew down Spearfish Canyon, I had no idea if Thomas was ahead of, or behind me. As I neared the mid point of the canyon, I suddenly passed a rider taking a smoke break along the road. I instantly recognized the hi-viz helmet, and sure enough it was Thomas. He was soaked!

    He could not believe that I had caught up to him, and was convinced I gave up on the dirt and had also hit the highway.

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    We hustled back to camp, and dove into our tents just as another torrential rain and thunderstorm hit. We huddled in our tents for an hour or so, while lightening flashed and thunder roared all around us. It finally let up early in the evening, and we made the dash back to Cheyenne Crossing for a nice dinner.

    Day 7 Stats: Cheyenne Crossing, SD. 170 miles.
    #9
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  10. Yooper_Bob

    Yooper_Bob Insert witty saying here....

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2005
    Oddometer:
    5,184
    Location:
    Da UP, eh! (Marquette, MI)
    As all good things do...they must finally come to an end. It was time to start thinking about the long trip home.

    Due to all of the rain the night before, it took a while to dry out the tents enough to get packed up.

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    Things sorta dried enough that we could pack up and hit the road. It was Friday, and the tentative plan was to be home on Sunday. I had to work on Monday...someone else has the luxury of being retired.

    With one last look around, we set off...

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    As often happens, once you start for home, for some reason, the cameras get put away, and you don't take any more photos. That is what happened to us. We were a couple of days from the end of our trip, but didn't bother to take any more photos. :baldy

    We set off towards the rising sun. We made a quick trip through Sturgis (hey...we came all this way...why not!), and then started the long slog across South Dakota. We rode and rode and rode, and finally called it a day when we hit Watertown. Grabbed a couple of cheap hotel rooms, so we could bask in air conditioning and a much needed shower.

    Day 8 stats: Cheyenne Crossing to Watertown SD. 390 miles.
    #10
  11. Yooper_Bob

    Yooper_Bob Insert witty saying here....

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2005
    Oddometer:
    5,184
    Location:
    Da UP, eh! (Marquette, MI)
    After a good nights sleep, and the luxury of NOT having to pack up a tent, we were off across Minnesota. We rode a slightly different route on the return, and made slightly better time. I think there was only one gravel farm lane on the return. Soon Minnesota was in our mirrors, and we were headed back across Wisconsin on highway 70. Again...what a great way to cross the cheese state.

    Around dinner time, we found ourselves back in Minoqua WI and the campground we had stayed at our very first night. Over dinner we debated back and forth....continue or camp for one more night?

    It was such a beautiful evening and the temps were so pleasant, we decided to press on. We rode into the dusk as a full moon rose in the east. It was not very long before I realized I had a serious issue. Although the Africa Twin has an excellent LED headlight, all I had to wear were my deeply tinted goggles. We had said we were never gonna ride at night, so they were all I had brought. I had brought an extra set of lens...but...of course...they were tinted as well.

    I told Thomas that I could no longer lead, as I couldn't see very far ahead. He took the lead, and that proved to be much better. We rode thru the night and eventually reached my place in Marquette around midnight.

    Day 9 Stats: Watertown SD to Marquette MI. 590 miles! (my a$$ hurts!!!!)

    I was home, but Thomas still had another 220 miles to ride the next morning to get to his place. When the sun came up, he was off, and our adventure was officially over.

    My front tire was still holding on....but barely. About 5K miles on it at this point.

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    The rear was still going strong! I now have over 6K miles on it, and it easily has probably another 2K in it.

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    Thanks for riding along....

    Total miles for myself where just over 2,500, while Thomas had 3,000.
    #11
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  12. Bultaco206

    Bultaco206 Back-to-back motos suck Super Moderator Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2007
    Oddometer:
    67,233
    Location:
    Mineral Point, WI
    You're killing me with all of those great gravel and 2-track roads that seem to go on forever. I've got to get out there someday.

    Well done, and thank you.
    #12
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  13. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2005
    Oddometer:
    39,297
    Location:
    SE Wisconsin
    Lookin' good Bob! Nice trip! :thumb
    #13
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  14. RJ44

    RJ44 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2015
    Oddometer:
    377
    Location:
    Thunder Bay, Ontario
    Nice Quick Trip. Great Photos.

    Rob
    #14
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  15. luftkoph

    luftkoph Long timer Super Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,170
    Location:
    U.P. mich
    Thanks for the report, I haven't been back in that part of the country since I was a wee lad, great pictures.
    #15
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  16. motomrider

    motomrider Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2016
    Oddometer:
    43
    Location:
    Norway
    Sounds like a great trip with a great friend!

    I think the question everyone wants to ask is, will Thomas be up for more or less dirt roads next trip...? :D
    #16
  17. MotoChron

    MotoChron Got Dirt?! Supporter

    Joined:
    May 22, 2005
    Oddometer:
    1,546
    Location:
    Tip of the Mitt
    Looked like a great trip! Love the pic of the AT with Devils Tower in the background. Thanks for sharing.
    #17
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  18. tennistime99

    tennistime99 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2018
    Oddometer:
    264
    Location:
    US
    Great trip report. Thanks for posting. 590 miles... Ouch.

    Sent from my XT1575 using Tapatalk
    #18
    Yooper_Bob likes this.
  19. Yooper_Bob

    Yooper_Bob Insert witty saying here....

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2005
    Oddometer:
    5,184
    Location:
    Da UP, eh! (Marquette, MI)
    I told him that if he wanted more pavement the next time, then he could lay out the loop. I got tired of waiting on him and started laying out a loop myself...guess what type of tracks we'll be following in Colorado! :lol3
    #19
    Heatery likes this.
  20. horseiron1

    horseiron1 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2011
    Oddometer:
    200
    Location:
    Shreveport, LA
    Very cool. Thanks for sharing!!!:clap
    #20
    Yooper_Bob likes this.