Goodbye to Sturgis, South Dakota
We begin to pack the bike only to be interrupted by friendly conversations with our neighbours. We drive through the gates of Lamphern Ranch for the last time, turn left and head in the direction of downtown Sturgis. On the other side of town was highway 14A through Boulder Canyon. Doesn´t seem to matter which way you turn in this corner of South Dakota. The nature is just so beautiful to look at. Fifteen miles later (25kms) along Route 14A we run into the town of Deadwood.
The weather was just gorgeous today as we drove into town. Deadwood was simply amazing.This has got to be, the best cowboy town we´ve seen over here. We find out later that they have used millions of dollars renovating the town back to its original stand.I was sure it wouldn´t be long before we met Wyatt Earp and Jessie James in one of the old saloons here in town. There were motorcycles everywhere, lined up with their rear tires to the curb from one end of town to the other. It seemed to be impossible to get away from all these bikes. Not that we were trying. The buildings were incredible here in Deadwood. The Hotel, looked as though it was standing still in time. They also had two of Deadwoods oldest saloons from the mid 1800`s. On the top floors of a few buildings they had manikin`s representing the ladies of the night. We spent most of the afternoon here looking around, buying gifts and in some cases, sending them home from the post office. We did this with a couple of Handmade Indian Dream Catchers. Not those Made in China, and believe me, there were plenty of those to be found. We didn´t come all this way to buy Chinese dream catchers. We bought the ones with the Authentic Certificates.There was a constant thunder in the streets, also in this little town.We met an older couple who asked us why our bike didn't make any noise.I explained to them that we were from Denmark. We sneak in… and then we sneak out. No one knows the difference. When I think back to that little town of Helper in Utah which was recognized as being the most well kept cowboy town, I can´t stop thinking as to why they never came here. Perhaps they meant the best kept Cowboy town in Utah. That would explain a great deal because in our books, this would definitely be the winner from what we have seen so far.We spent 3 to 4 hours just walking around taking pictures, buying small gifts, and having a beer at one of the old saloons here in town.We bought two Dream Catchers which we decided to send from the Post Office to Sister Suzanne so they didn´t get damaged on the way home.It was now time to sit up on the bike and head in the direction of Sylvan Lake where we hope to find a campground where it is quiet at night. We were both looking forward to that.We head out of Deadwood and drive south along Highway US 385.It's about 60kms to our destination.We arrive in the town of Hill City, SD and find a little store where we do a bit of shopping for dinner.With dinner and beer bought, we enter downtown Hill City and run into the same type of thing like we did in Deadwood with motorcycles lined up on both sides of the streets and in the middle.Cars and trucks are directed around the town because of all the motorcycles.Hill City is located in the area where the famous film "Dancing with Wolves" with Kevin Costner was filmed.We drive slowly through town checking out the bikes, stores and restaurants. On the outskirts of town we see a sign for Horse Thief Campground & Resort.It´s suppose to be a quiet place in the woods, so we decided to give it a try.Five kilometers on the other side of Hill City, we turn left on Highway 87 otherwise known as the Needles Highway.This was really a beautiful part of South Dakota and a lovely stretch of highway. Curving between towering granite cliffs and lush forests, the Needles Highway was created by a man called Peter Norbeck. He searched the Harney Range for routes that would provide " the grandest views" and as he himself put it…" a road to engage the senses, in a masterpiece of engineering".In 1919, the route Norbeck mapped out was, to conventional engineering standards, impossible to build.When Norbeck asked his engineer, Scovell Johnson, if he could build it, he replied, "If you can supply me with enough dynamite.Two years and 150,000 pounds of dynamite later, the result was a winding road, around and through the pillars and dagger like statues of stone rising up from the earth which became , The Needles Highway.
It wasn´t long before we found the campsite on the right hand side.We turn in, and from what we can see, it looks pretty nice and like most of the campgrounds we´ve visited, it had internet, so we entered the office and payed for one night just to start.They give us the choice of two places to camp and we chose the one up in the forest, which was closest to the camp office, washrooms and showers.I drive up on the motorcycle on the narrow path and Km does it on foot.The weather was a little uncertain once again so we design another way to set up out tarpaulin to keep us dry outside of the tent, if it does rain. We tied a rope between two trees, threw the tarp over top of the rope and stretched it out with bungee cords and attached them to the pegs. Worked out quite well, if I do say so myself. This time we can stand up under it, which was a real bonus.At one point there came a guy on a Harley Davidson and parked it at the tent across from ours.I just hope he doesn´t wake up in the middle of the night, start his Harley and give it full throttle for two minutes and wait for Km and I to raise our clenched fists in the air like they did in Sturgis screaming "ALRIGHT MAN", cause… that's not going to happen!He stopped his bike and I introduced myself to him. I´m not sure where Km disappeared too. His name was David and was from Wako Texas.He was here visiting his son who moved here from Texas, to Hill City many years ago with his ex-wife.He was a little concerned about him growing up in Hill City, especially about finding a job in this very dead town. His son seemed to be happy as a stock boy in a grocery store at 25 years of age. He can´t see much of a future for him here but at the same time, tries not to say too much to him, being afraid his son will get upset and not speak with him during his short stay. He doesn´t see enough of him as it is, to be spending too much time arguing with him about his future.It can´t be easy living so far away from your kids as he does. I guess that explains why I´m still here in Denmark.Karen Margrethe returned to the campsite and said hello to David and we went back to work setting up camp.With that task finished, Km went to work on this evening's gourmet dinner.Tonight´s menu is Kraft dinner with Tuna. For our Danish friends, Kraft dinner is macaroni with an orange coloured cheddar cheese type thing. That, with a piece of bread and a hungry stomach, there´s only one thing to say after eating a meal like that.
Karen Margrethe, You´re a gooooood cook.After dinner, David came by with a couple of beers and we had a very nice evening talking with our new neighbour.He would be returning to Texas the following day.
We awoke the next morning, which is of course, a very good way to start any kind of day. The sun was shining upon us and Km decided to relax by the pool after breakfast. I went down to the office to get on the internet. Yes, this was the only place to get it.Tried to call Aunt Bessie on Skype but the connection was so bad that we were forced to give up. Instead I checked my e-mails and then wrote some more of our blog.Karen Margrethe became fascinated with the wood burning stove they had down by the pool. It was huge and it was used to heat both the pool and the hot water for the rest of the campground. Every so often a man would come around and throw some wood on the fire. It did become a part of our collection of pictures.
It was now around noon hour so we prepared to leave camp and venture out to Custer State Park.This was to be a beautiful ride. We took the Needles Highway to US 16A which made a circle around Custer State Park. The weather was great but at the same time we found that it changed quite rapidly in this area.No problem at the moment.We entered the Park after paying the 12 dollar
admition fee and it wasn´t long before we found a restaurant by a little lake, which served a mean Buffalo burger with all the fixings, so we pulled in.I was so hungry by this time that I could have eaten the a****** out of a skunk but at the same time, was relieved they had buffalo burgers.We order two burgers and then found a table where we could sit down and eat.Dark clouds began to move in and it started to drizzle.The umbrella at the table was large enough so we didn´t get wet.They had a souvenir shop here as well so after lunch we checked it out. The building was a little special in the fact that it was constructed like a wooden ship, only with the bottom being the ceiling.The man at the cash register explained why it was like that, but for the life of me, I simply can´t remember.My short term memory isn´t what it used to be!Ask me again in 20 years. I guess this is one of the good solid reasons for writing a Blog or Diary.
With the rain at a standstill temporarily, we head on out again. There is definitely some kind of storm brewing up in the area. I think we´re in for an unexpected adventure.The clouds are getting darker and darker.It is a shame though. This is one extremely beautiful park with trees and canyons and some fantastic rock formations.Things always look different when the sun is shining but we can´t do much to change the situation.It wasn´t long before we were in the middle of a hail storm.It was so intense at one point that we were forced to stop at the side of the road and take cover. My poor bike was left all alone on the road to fend for itself while we ran for cover under some trees. There were those on motorcycles, who passed by us on the road. As I mentioned before, there are not too many Americans who use helmets here, so we found it quite amusing to see the ladies on the back using one hand to cover their own head from the falling hail and the other to protect the driver. Perhaps this hail might bang some sense into these people to get them to start wearing them. We spent about a half hour waiting for the hail to stop. The road was white as snow at one point and it looked as though it was the middle of winter.Then a car came by, leaving its tracks behind as it drove away. Fascinating, and at the same time, we could chock up another experience from South Dakota. With the hail stopped, we found the bike again and continued on our way through what they called the "Wildlife Loop". There was suppose to be after what we could read on the sign, buffalo in the area and we were not supposed to stop. We didn´t see any buffalo but we did run into wild donkeys.We stopped at the side of the road to take a better look.Snapped a few pictures before we were on our way again. Our next stop will be Mount Rushmore, about 30kms north of here.The ride will take us along the Iron Mountain Road.The Iron Mountain Road is supposed to be the best route to take, on your way to Mount Rushmore.You just have to make sure that you travel it counter-clockwise to get the effect which was intended when they built the road. This highway also required dynamite for the blasting of three tunnels. The tunnels were designed to frame the four faces of the emerging Mount Rushmore in the distance.This is what you experience on your way through the final tunnel. It was quite a sight. Unfortunately, our camera didn´t capture this as we had hoped.The blasting of the three tunnels was the easy part of designing of the road.
Peter Norbeck asked the Superintendent of Custer State Park, C.C. Gidion, to design the road to connect the tunnels. Gideon devised corkscrew spirals, which today are known as the Pigtail Bridges.The road was completed in 1933 with the help of just 16 men.Together, these roads linking Custer State Park, the Black Hills National Forest, and Mount Rushmore National Memorial are now known as the Peter Norbeck National Scenic Byway.It was truly one of the most memorable scenic routes we´ve traveled. It also helped as the weather seemed to be changing in our favour. As we reach Mount Rushmore National Park, we are directed into the parking lot after showing them our National Park yearly pass.Once again, No Charge thanks to my son Marc and his girlfriend Katrine who purchased the one year pass a half year earlier during their travels.
Mount Rushmore, located near the city of Keystone, is a monumental granite, sculpture, created by a second generation Danish immigrant by the name of Gutzon Borglum (1867-1941).Mount Rushmore represents the first 150 years of the history of the United States of America with 18m sculptures of the heads of former United States presidents from left toright, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. The carving of the granite rock started in 1927 and was completed in 1941. There were over 400 men and woman involved in this project. On the controversial side of Gutzon Borglum, he was an active member of the Ku Klux Klan. Well, on the other hand, he produced some fine sculptures and, to the best of my knowledge, is not living anymore so hedid get what was coming to him.As we walked through the parade of flags from the 50 states, our eyes fall upon the Mount Rushmore Sculptures.We´ve seen those sculptures so many times before on Tv and in pictures, but nothing compares with seeing them in person. It is for me, inconceivable as to how they accomplished this fascinating piece of work. With the touristy pictures taken… we head back to the bike to ride into the town of Keystone.We were given the address of a leather shop located in town.We were in a sister shop in Deadwood who had a real money belt, just not in my size.They assured me that they most likely had it in Keystone.It wasn´t long before we found Roughriders Leather & Gifts.We went in quickly to ask what time they closed and realized that we had time to check out the rest of the outdoor mall first.We were both thirsty so we entered the Pizzeria to find some refreshments. There was a family of four sitting in the shop that I happened to fall in conversation with for some strange reason.They said if we liked pizza, this was the place to be.We ended up sitting down at a table waiting for our pizza to be finished.It was definitely worth the wait.With our bellies full once again, we went down to the Leather shop to find that money belt. To my luck, they did have it in my size.They also had a lot of other great things in the store to buy, and we did. We bought bracelets and pins, a Real Stetson cowboy hat and by the time we were finished buying, I had no need for the money belt which was the main reason we stopped here in the first place. Now I had no money to put in the belt.
There was, luckily enough, an ATM just down the street where we could buy some more money with this plastic card we had with us. We were just about ready to leave Keystone when the rain began once again, but thank goodness it didn´t last long.We captured beautiful picture of a Keystone Rainbow.With our raincoats in place again, we head out of town and just to try something different, we ventured off on a side road back to base camp. We found a road called "Old Hill City Road".This has got to be the road to Hill City.Perhaps it was just an old one.We had our doubts many times if this was a good idea. It seemed to take forever to get there.This might have been the Long and Winding Road that the Beatles sang about.I remember we were quite amused as to the fact that we crossed the same Railroad about 15 times. I guess you can imagine how many times the road slithered from the one side to the other. It was really a fantastic route once it was over. We had really no idea as to whether this was the right road or whether it did run into Hill City or not, which worried us a little because it was near dusk. There´s just too many animals wandering the streets after dark which makes me feel a little uneasy on a motorcycle. We did pass through an area where there was a big sign which read " The Holy Cow Project". This was a project where the cows were not fenced in, in this area.They were literally aloud to wander where they pleased.They were all over the place. The deer were as well, everywhere.Traveling at dusk does have its advantages as far as seeing wildlife. You just have to pay more attention to the road.Not really sure what the idea was behind the Holy Cow Project, but Holy cow!! There were a lot of cows!!We finally did reach Hill City which was definitely a relief.Now I knew the way home from here and it wasn´t long before the bike was parked beside our little home in the forest at Horse Thief Campground and Resort.It was really a wonderful day we experienced today both in the weather department and sightseeing.As we sat back in our chairs, sipping a cup of Km fresh brewed coffee, thinking once again… "I wonder what the poor people are doing". With our tired bodies so close to our sleeping bags, we brush our teeth and entered our little tent, closed our eyes and went to dreamland, wondering what the next day will bring. We will be saying goodbye to South Dakota tomorrow and heading east along I-90, destination unknown.Can´t get any better than this, or can it.
We awake the next morning at 7am to the pitter patter of the rain. That's not the nicest sound to wake up to especially when you know that you have to pack up everything and at the same time keep things as dry as possible for the next unpacking.It looks like we will be spending tonight at a motel.Now that we have been on the road for more than two months, we have become a little Hard Core when it comes to the rain.We know what we have to do and we just do it! We have come to terms with, if things are wet when we pack and wet when we unpack, so be it!!! We have learned to live with it and things work out anyway. It does take a little longer to pack in the rain because things like sleeping bags, air mattresses and the like must remain dry. Today we decided to take everything down to the washrooms where things had a bigger chance of keeping dry. By 9:30 we were packed and ready to move on.Our route today will be to back track towards Hill City and take route 244 towards Keystone and then North along US 16 to Rapid City. It is here we will hook up with Interstate 90 which will take us out of South Dakota and basically straight across the U. S. of A.It´s kind of a strange feeling, because we know that the farther we head east, the closer we come to our trips end.
It´s still raining as we pull out of Horse Thief Campground. The rain seems to get worse the closer we get to Rapid City. The clouds are extremely black. There is quite a storm brewing up out there. After a quick stop for gas in Rapid City, we head out onto Interstate 90 east.A half hour after we left Rapid City, the landscape turns as flat as a pancake. The clouds are blacker than black and as we look into the horizon; we can see the lightning bolts shoot from the clouds right down to the earth.It was a little scary to watch and I couldn´t help thinking, about that film with Clint Eastwood where he says to someone… "Feeling Lucky Punk".This was actually the question I was asking myself.These lightning bolts could just as easily strike us on the bike as it did in the far distance.On this ever so flat terrain, we were the highest object on the road.I remember having the same thoughts when we left Tara and Jørgen in Calgary as we ventured out to the prairie province of Saskatchewan.I must have mentioned or asked what was the best thing to do in such a situation, where Tara said that the best thing to do was to stop the bike at the side of the road and get down as low as you can. I was without a doubt, quite nervous but I never mentioned anything to Km.She was probably thinking the same thing and if she wasn´t, that was great.I did figure out a plan, just in case my luck was a little on the rusty side.I started to drive close to Transport trucks and Large Campers or buses thinking that if lightning was in the area, there was a greater chance that it would strike the higher objects before us.That way we would only be killed by the flying debris instead of the lightning. Geez, I just thought of that now. Guess that plan wasn´t as smart as I thought it was at the time. One thing for sure, I had no desire to get down at the side of the road on this highway and lay in the rain waiting for the lightning to strike us there. Apparently, this Punk and his Punk girlfriend were very lucky today.
After driving about 300 kms, the weather changed for the better.We were driving in sunshine but at the same time being followed by this huge black funnel cloud on the north side of us. It had been following us for some time now and at one point with the way the wind was blowing, it would cross I-90 and continue on down the south side. With a little luck it would cross the interstate somewhere behind us. We were in need of gas again and we pulled off to the nearest gas station.Karen Margrethe seemed to be making her herself a little too comfortable when she asked me if I also wanted a cup of coffee.I really wasn´t interested in disappointing her but I told her that this was not a coffee stop.She seemed a little confused as to why I said this. We were on holidays she must have thought. I asked her to take a look on the north side of the highway at the funnel cloud which seemed to be approaching us quite quickly.If we stopped here for coffee, we will no doubt have to travel through that cloud instead of driving in the Dry Sunshine we are in the middle of right now. It didn´t take much more than a quick look at the cloud before she too seemed to think that moving on right away was a tremendous idea.With the tank filled, we scurried off down the highway and about 100kms down the road, I could see the enemy cross the road in my rearview mirrors.By mid day, we had finished lunch, crossed the Missouri River and by 4pm, we were once again ready to find a place to rest our weary bones. We set the gps to search for a motel, and it wasn´t long before it steered us off Interstate 90 onto Interstate 81 northbound.There should be a motel about 7kms from here in a little town of Salem which is not to be confused with Salem, Massachusetts where they burned witches. I knew this and but still had one heck of a time convincing Karen Margrethe that she had nothing to fear.As is turned out, the motel did not seem very attractive to us so we chose the next one on the list. It would take us southbound on the same road to the town of Canistota on 261stSt. We had 5 motels to choose from so it shouldn´t be that difficult to find a room. We headed for the first motel called the Cameron Inn. As we reached the motel, we had a feeling that this was not the right place but it did have the right name.Outside in front of the motel, there were so many people standing around and others sitting on the bench.They were not ordinary people but rather Amish Folk.They seemed to be everywhere and for some strange reason, Km and I felt a little out of place with our motorcycle and our leather clothes.This was obviously not where we would be staying tonight so we tried to find the next motel. One down, four to go.The next motel was closed, the third was for sale and the fourth was not to be found. That left the Cameron Inn, the only available motel in these parts.We decided not to let these Amish Folk scare us and at the same time, tried not to scare them.I made Km promise to be on her best behavior and not to chase the guests.We parked the bike out front and said hello to the people as we walked in the front door.We were greeted by the lady owner and we asked her if there was a room available.She did have one room which we were more than welcome to have for 65 dollars.We asked if we might see the room and when we did, there was no doubt in our minds that this was where we would spend the night.Not only was there a King size bed. There were two, plus a King size Jacuzzi. The furniture in the room was also quite unique compared to anything we´ve seen before. It looked like something from "The Flintstones". All the furniture was made by Amish Folk. No screws or nails. Just hand carved until it fit.I asked her if there was a safe place to park our bike near the room. She told me to drive around back and then over the grass to the back door which was then meters from our room. With the bike parked, we began to take the essentials to our room. I was definitely ready for the Jacuzzi but we had to find some dinner first.There was only one place in town to get this and it was located on the other side of the street.While walking down the hallway of the Cameron Inn, we passed many of the Amish people.We were approached by a woman who asked us if we were hungry.There was plenty of soup and chicken from the birthday party going on and we were very welcome to join them.She was very sweet and we thanked her very much but we wanted to visit the grocery store across the road.We really didn´t want to impose on them so we bought a couple of sandwiches and hid some beer in our backpack and came back to the Inn. We met some more people who wanted to talk and we found out that the party was for two 90 year old twins.Once again we were invited in and we thanked them very much.If you can´t beat em… join them.We were escorted up to the stove where we were given a bowl of soup and a slice of bread. We sat down at the table and people came over to say hello to us. They were quite interested to hear about the trip we were on.These people were so nice and hospitable.At one point, Karen Margrethe heard about the twin's brother, who took part in the Landing at Normandy during World War 2.She couldn´t resist the opportunity to go over and meet the man. They talked for a while and Km thanked the man for coming to Europe to save us and the whole European continent from having to speak German.I guess it made quite an impression on him because the next morning while out in the hallway, Km heard him say to someone…"Did you hear that lady thank me for coming to Normandy… no one ever thanked for that before".I guess she made his day which was great.We spent an hour or so talking with different people and of course wished the twins a very Happy Birthday. We would have wished them a long life but it was a little late for that. It was now time to return to our room.I had a date with that Jacuzzi.It wasn´t long before I was relaxing in the Jacuzzi thinking that this is probably Theeebest motel we´ve stayed in during our trip. There is nothing better than a good night sleep after a bath. Well… maybe there was one more thing but the bath is great !
The next morning, before we left the Cameron Inn, we went to the community living room to try and give Km`s mother call. This was the only place we could hook up to the Internet.We sat over on the sofa near two Amish Ladies to see if we could get them to talk.It was not an easy task. They were speaking their Amish Language.If nothing else, they told us what they were speaking.They called it Pennsylvania Dutch. Sounds very much like a mixture of German and Dutch. There was also a young Amish man in his early 30´s present, who was very interested in hearing about Denmark and Europe as a whole.He told us his roots go way back to Switzerland.He wanted to go there one day but was pretty sure it wouldn´t happen.He gave me his Business Card and I passed it on to Km.She noticed that there was only a business address on the card so she asked this Young Amish Man if he had an e-mail address.She realized very quickly how silly the question was so she gave him our e-mail address instead. Okay, she didn´t really give him our e-mail address but it sure would have made things a lot easier if we wanted to get in touch. We also found out why there were so many Amish people staying at the Cameron Inn.It was because there was a very famous Ortman Chiropractor Clinic close by. It was kind of an alternative chiropractor clinic which didn´t actually crack you back into place. They more or less massaged things back into place or something like that. They couldn´t really explain it to us. I guess you had to experience it for yourself.
By 9:30 am, I had driven the bike out front of the Cameron Inn where I picked up Karen Margrethe.Some of our new Amish friends were there to say goodbye to us.Km hopped onboard and I gave the throttle a little gas as we waved goodbye to Canistota, South Dakota, with our new destination being the state of Minnesota. It wasn´t long before we were traveling eastbound on Interstate 90.The weather was fine today. Sunny and warm.Good time to be on a motorcycle.Our first stop would be Sioux Falls, S.D. for some gas.As we came close to town, Km sniffed out a Wall Mart SuperCenter and guided me in this direction.We were still on the lookout for this I-phone which Km´s son Martin wanted so badly. Like many States over here, the I-phone hasn´t reached here due to the fact that the telephone companies are a little behind getting the telephone masts set up. I did however, find myself another pair of sunglasses, which everyone knows that you can´t have too many pairs of them.With new gas in the tank, we were off to Minnesota.