Biker Stories from the Road September 26, 2011
From Thermopolis WY to Buffalo WY is only about 130 miles except if you are the Wintles and you are on the hunt for a pair of cowboy boots! Cody WY has a huge western store with shelves and shelves of cowboy boots and Garth knew exactly where it was so .... we took the lonnnngggg way to Buffalo!
We left Thermopolis just before 10 am and we arrived in Buffalo at 5 pm but what a fantastic day! In the hot springs pool at the place we stayed in Thermopolis we met a really nice young couple and she gave me great advice regarding what kind of cowboy boots to look at. When we got to the store a great gal, Tracey, helped me to figure out what I was looking for and I bought 2 pairs of boots. GW was shaking his head and being very quiet because he knew that come hell-or-high water I was packing these boots and like every determined woman on a mission I got them to fit!
So with boots on board we turned our bikes south-east again and made our way towards the Big Horn mountains and Buffalo. Oh yes I have to tell you about the elderly couple we met when I was packing the boots onto my bike. They had parked right beside us. He used to love to hunt up in Saskatchewan and their daughter married a Canadian from Alberta. He told us that his son-in-law has a big 1200 BMW and then we got onto the topic of government spending and oil. He said to us "I know, I know you guys do it right and we just screw things up over and over" ... "except healthcare" chimed in his wife and he responded with "come on Margaret we don't want to start a fight with these people". It was quite funny. They wished us a good trip and went on their way.
As we approached Greybull Garth saw some older aircraft so we stopped for a closer look. Although fenced in remarkably they were old ÔÇ£Royal Canadian Air ForceÔÇØ planes. This was kind of unique as just a few weeks earlier the Canadian government had introduced the fact that there were going to rename the Canadian Armed Forces back into their original names and the Air force would get the Royal Canadian Air Force moniker back
We stopped in Greybull for lunch at Lisa's Crazy Woman cafe and we had the best burgers and I bought a t-shirt because Garth is always calling me a crazy woman.
From Greybull we turned south and connected with highway 16 and the Scenic Cloud Peak Bypass which took us across the south end of the Big Horn mountains. The beginning of the mountain pass was phenomenal ... lots of red rock buttes with green fields or beautiful homes at their bases. Such a contrast in colour.
And then we started to climb with switch backs and amazing scenery.
We went up and up and up until we reached the top of the Powder River Pass at 9666 ft (to put this into perspective Dryden's elevation is approx 1100 ft) so we were just about 1 1/2 miles above you.
The whole mountain pass is about 60 miles long. Just when I thought ok we are starting to go down the highway would turn and up we would go again ... this happened about 5 or 6 times ... so many peaks and valleys ... and the colours, because the leaves have all changed colour up there, was beautiful.
Every imagined fear that I had about height, steepness, tight corners, quick stops ... well they were all conquered today! In all of that we only saw 1 deer, haha, crap I can see that in my back yard on a daily basis.
We also saw another forest fire today. We spotted a smoke plume when we were about 15 miles out of Greybull and it didn't look that big (GW figures .3 acres) but when we left Greybull after lunch it was about 10 acres and the smoke plume was huge. On our way to Cody this morning we could still see the smoke plumes and smell the smoke from the Yellowstone fires we saw yesterday ... crazy!
So now we are in Buffalo and found a room at an old motel called the Mansion House Motel and the main house was built in 1900.
Tomorrows journey will take us to Devil's Tower and then down into the Black Hills.
Biker Stories from the road September 26, 2011
"Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind" featured the Devil's Tower and it is really cool up close!
Of course it was famous before that movie because it was America's first national monument and declared so back in 1906. Up close it looks like someone filled a huge sand pail with mud, turned it upside down on the top of a hill and took a rake and ran it down the sides. The Devil's Tower is 32 miles north of Moorcroft WY and well worth the stop.
We had a continental breakfast in the main house of the Mansion House Inn. The main house is beautiful and was built by a doctor between the years of 1901 and 1903. He then passed away in 1913 and so his wife rented out rooms in order to earn a living. Full of antiques and beautiful rugs and linens it is really a wonderful place to have breakfast.
[I]Note from Garth. Not sure but we never took many pictures after Devils Tower. The scenery through the Black Hills is fabulous. I think I was contemplating coming back very soon.[/I]
After Devil's Tower we headed down highway 14 to Sundance WY and I think that I am going to Google where Robert Redford has his big ranch and the Sundance Film Festival (this is what I thought of as we toured through that part of Wyoming ... lots of time to think while riding a motorcycle, haha). From Sundance we took scenic highway 585 to Newcastle and then caught scenic highway 16 which took us into the south end of the Black Hills. These mountains aren't as high as the others we drove through but the landscape was beautiful all the same. We turned at Custer and went north through the middle of the Black Hills up to Deadwood South Dakota where we ended our day (it was 25 degrees). I asked Garth what is so special about Deadwood and he looked at me like I had 2 heads ... "are you kidding it was the home of Wild Bill Hicock and his grave is here ... also Calamity Jane is buried here and it is the original Deadwood from the old western movies" ... well excuse me!
Pictures Wild Bill courtesy Wikipedia
Calamity Jane courtesy Wikipedia
We took a walk downtown to have a look around and to find a place for dinner. Deadwood is full of casinos and they are all dead! These casinos are big (in comparison to the town) and they are empty. People are walking on the sidewalk and checking out the menus posted on the restaurant windows but no one is spending any money. One can see where this was at one time a really busy and happening place ...not today.
Stayed here in Deadwood. This was the most expensive motel we stayed at for the entire trip and even it was actually reasonable.
Tomorrow morning we will make our way to Sturgis which is only about 1/2 hour away. We will then turn our bikes toward home and crank on the throttle to try and beat the cold front!
Guess that's all for this update ... not a very eventful day.
Map of the days travel
Biker Stories from the Road - September 27, 2011
Sturgis, South Dakota is only as big as Dryden in population but once a summer for a week the population expands as upwards of 500,000 bikers drive in for "Biker Week". The first rally took place in 1938 and has been going strong ever since.
With some colder weather in the next day we decided to see if we could find a heated jacket for me so pulled into the BMW dealer,
just to have a look. They did not have anything so we asked if they could recommend a place to eat. They recommended the "Easy Rider Saloon and Steakhouse" for breakfast. It was so impressive! The food was great but the 3 storey building and the saloon/restaurant were really amazing.
The focal point of the saloon is the huge black leather bar with the silver stud design that runs the length of it. All the furnishings and decor are beautiful and it was so clean. This place has really benefited from "Biker Week" (although GW has his own theory on where the money comes from for the upkeep of the Easy Rider Saloon)!
We picked up gas across the road from a station that was closed but did have operating pumps.
As we were leaving Sturgis we passed an area that, at first glance, looked like rows and rows of storage units ... until I spied the decks and white lawn chairs that are on each small deck ... these are little cabins! They are all painted brown and if there is 2 ft between them I would be surprised. These would be rented by all the Biker Week participants ... can you imagine! There are hundreds of them! I would not want to be stuck in the middle. What a party that must be!
[I][SIZE="2"]Sturgis Cabins photo stolen from Jing J[/SIZE][/I]
The rest of the day was spent making our way across South Dakota ... in the wind! On this trip I have had a few mantras ... they are usually mild, soft and uplifting ... today they were "**** off wind" and "where the hell is Aberdeen" (the place where we stopped for the night). We stopped at Roscoe, SD and gased up. We were approx 40 miles from Aberdeen. The gas attendant warned us about some road construction but he said that there would be a pilot car etc. So when we reached the single lane gravelly mess we were somewhat prepared ... except we were not prepared for the fact that this section of highway 12 was still flooded along with a huge area around it and it was eery to see a barn and outbuildings still half under water. The end of September and still affected by that spring/summer flood.
Tomorrow it is supposed to be windy again, groan, but GW figures that we can make it to the Detroit Lakes area and there are trees there to block the G D wind!
So we are getting closer ... see you soon!
Map of todays ride
Biker Stories from the Road - September 29, 2011
Ole Mother Nature was an angry lady today! The wind beat the snot out of us!
[I]Garth The wind was as strong as I have ever ridden in. From the north at 60-70 km gusting to 90 at times and direct in our face or to the side of us. No pictures taken today as we just tried to stay alive.[/I]
But we were still able to get 400k closer to home. We are staying the night in Detroit Lakes, MN. Unfortunately it means 550k tomorrow to make it home so I am praying that the winds are gentler.
We left the shelter of our motel in Aberdeen ND
and followed the secondary highways going east then north then east then north. Garth had to be creative to find us an alternate route in Fargo that did not include the interstate.
In that wind I could not go any faster then 80K and that is not interstate speed.
In Fargo we hunted down a Yamaha/Honda dealer who sells the riding clothing that is wired and it plugs into the motorcycle battery system There are vests, jackets and pants. This dealer had the last of their stock for 50% off and they had a jacket that fit me so now all that is left is for me to be toasty warm on the ride home tomorrow (or electrify myself ... I am still not sure about having all of these live wires all over my upper body).
We weaved our way through the city of Fargo, first to find the store and second to find our highway out, and it was quite enjoyable because the city broke the wind and we had to go slower. All in all a pretty non-eventful day and hence a boring update ... sorry about that!
GW decided to treat us to a suite at the AmericInn and it has a corner jacuzzi that I plan on soaking in asap.
Biker Stories from the Road Wrap up- September 30, 2011
Today we woke up to fog so we didn't leave until after 10 and it was sunny and near freezing cool.
We left Detroit Lakes and headed up scenic highway 34 to Walker MN. We then took highway 200 to Remer and highway 6 to Grand Rapids.
The fall colours are beautiful right now. From Grand Rapids we took another scenic highway 38 to Effie and this route took us through the Chippewa National Forest right during the "Fall Colours Tour" time and it was amazing. They have alot of maple trees in that area and there were so many reds and oranges among the yellows ... it was really pretty. The highways 34 and 38 are both windy with some hills so cruising on a motorcycle was lots of fun.
We highly recommend exploring that area.
The "electrics" (that is biker lingo, haha) really paid off today.
Warming up in the sun
The temp got as high as 12.5 but on the way home it got down to 4.0 in the low areas on the Fort Frances highway and that was cold. Our feet were cold by the time we got home.
Map of todays ride
5,777 kilometers in total! We pulled into our driveway at 7pm on Friday Sept 30th and that is what the GPS odometer read ... amazing!
Here are the other GPS stats: (Garth turned off the GPS everynight when we were done riding for the day and turned it on every morning when we were ready to get going.)
68 hours 41 minutes moving
41 hours 39 minutes stopped (for lunch and breaks etc.)
overall average speed was 52.4 kilometers per hour
moving average speed was 84.1 kilometers per hour
maximum speed reached was 119 kilometers per hour
13 day trip
2 provinces and 5 states
It was such an awesome trip! You know 5 years ago if someone would have told me that the year I turned 50 I would own a motorcycle and take it on a cross country trip I would have told them that they were nuts!
Biker Stories from the Road - Conclusion
So that ends our first big motorcycle trip together. I must say it was a great experience and we both looked forward to doing it again.
In 2012 we set off for another trip that would take us through Glacier parks Going to the Sun road, The mountains of British Columbia, Vancouver island and whale watching and the infamous Duffy lake road along with several of the best motorcycle roads in western Canada.
That report will be coming next as Denise carries on with her Biker Stories from the Road.