5 Days West from MN
As an avid lurker in Ride Reports over the last 5 years, I've read many a trip to far off places like Alaska, ... I've taken a few short trips in MN, many up the North Shore area of Lake Superior. And then there's the fly n ride to Albuquerque to take a Triumph Bonneville home over the Great Plains, and the bus/train trip to upstate NY last fall to take the F650GS home. This bike rides beautifully and after a long 750 mile day in mid november, I knew this was the bike I'd be comfortable riding longer on.
So, with no plans for the 4th I packed up early am and headed West. No specific plans, but I copied off maps of North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana to take with. My goal was to ride the backroads, live off the bike for 5 days, and see where I ended up. First day's destination was the SD Badlands.
Packed up and ready to go (sorry Big Dog but you can't come with..) http://i1292.photobucket.com/albums/...psa6f5f5a8.jpg
Left early on a beautiful morning, headed west on MN7 and made my way to Montevideo. My Dad and his 3 brothers grew up in Monte, and all moved out of town. My Grandma was the only one left and last year was her last birthday at 101 great years... Didn't know when I would ever be back then, so I had to drive thru and stop for breakfast (only 1 of 4 meals off the bike on this trip).
Headed west into South Dakota on 212 http://i1292.photobucket.com/albums/...psc0914747.jpg
Saw this Cadillac Ranch...http://i1292.photobucket.com/albums/...psb57a2992.jpg
Continued til I hit SD 14 and headed south then west thru rolling hills. Crossed the mighty Missouri at Pierre. Saw Mr. Trooper about 6 times then with different cars pulled over as I passed him, stopped to take a pic, he passed me,... The highway follows the Old Deadwood Trail which ran from Pierre to Deadwood http://i1292.photobucket.com/albums/...ps1262d48f.jpg
Skys became very dark and windy, so I stopped to put on more gear and Mr. Trooper was soon there-just checking on me so I thanked him. Drove thru some heavy stuff and made it to Wall Drug (sorry no pics of the Tourist Trap)had some ice water, got gas and two large beers to go, and headed into the Badlands. http://i1292.photobucket.com/albums/...psef7288d8.jpg
It was already about 7 pm, so I went in the back way and on to the rustic campsite that "never fills up"... It was full on the 4th. So I looked at the map to check my options which weren't many-maybe keep going to some Grassland area and camp on our public lands-but it looked far and I was not sure what access there would be. So, here was campsite for night 1-very peaceful with Mourning Doves singing away...http://i1292.photobucket.com/albums/...ps2feec3e5.jpg
Really enjoyed Day 1 and looking forward to the next four.
After a nice peaceful night tenting in the alfalfa, I rose just before sunrise to pack up and head out. Headed south and then east to the start of the Badlands Loop. Very nice at about 5 am with no one around yet http://i1292.photobucket.com/albums/...psb5a6267f.jpg
Except for these guys running around
Saw this old relic on the way
Made it into the Badlands probably before 7 am, so again no one really around yet which was nice. All the tourist campers were crowded into their little spots all right next to each other and I can say I did not miss that. Driving the Loop was great without the crowds-I was able to stop anywhere to take pics with no problems
Some different colors depending upon the age of the old lake bottom/forest deposits
So I gradually made my way thru the many miles of this and exited back out the north end just as others were starting to arrive. Next on my list was Sturgis as it's the place to be in about a month, but better now than never.
Stopped at the Harley Dealer with my Beemer to check out souvenirs for my brother-in-law, then had a nice ham & cheese tortilla (already a day old in the side cases...) picnic with a luke cold Rolling Rock at the Lions Park in town. Had to see Full Throttle-a big place and you can tell it's just like on TV when it fills up
Headed back into the Black Hills for a nice scenic ride to Deadwood, then the Spearfish Canyon and then north and west to Wyoming and the back way to Devils Tower. Quite the site, even with the crowds of people there, and hail...
Got back on the road late afternoon and needed to find some Public Land to spend the night on. There is some National Forest right by Devils Tower, but it seemed too close so I headed west across the State, past the big Coal mines, and over to Buffalo and gassed up and headed into the Bighorn Mountains just before sunset. Took the first forest road dual track which headed steeply up the mountain, curved a little, and came upon a pickup truck just off the tracks with two guys standing beside it-one with a handgun and one with a rifle. Well, I was already committed, so I just kept on by and nodded to them as I passed-no response from the Friday night target shooters... Headed up over a pass which opened up into a beautiful valley with absolutely no one around, so I rode to the next ridge and found a site that overlooked a side valley and the town of Buffalo.
It started to rain again, so my trusty REI campchair fit nicely under my moto cover as I had a no-longer luke cold Rolling Rock and appreciated the view. It soon let up so it was pretty much time to eat, but not 2 day old ham on tortillas-Beef Jerky and Almonds did just fine:1drink
That pretty much summed up Day 2 from the Badlands to Black Hills to Devils Tower to the Bighorns. It was dropping into the 40's, so into the cozy tent it was.
:lurk Enjoying your ride report
I knew immediately I would like your post when you showed an old railroad depot. On many of my travels, I run across old depots and just fall in love with them, as you can see below.
Red Cady and Devil's Tower are pretty cool picture's. Ride on!
First Stop . . . Caldwell, ID RR Depot
Admiral: Is that at TW in your depot pic??:D Picked up one of those late last fall and already had a couple nice runs on it-goes many places the F650GS Twin doesn't want to... Sorry but Monte is the only depot pic on this ride-the signs posted on the tracks were for far off cities hundreds of miles away...
Yep, it's a TW. I added an old mid 80's XT600 gas tank for extra range. Like you mention, a little short on legs for the open road, but does well on paved back roads and forest service roads.
You've got a nice ride report going here.
I enjoy high planes ride reports. I use to live up that way, I am still connected to the area.
I have to say that from a distance your Cadillacs look a lot like Mercurys.
Hair-The Plains are a beatiful area, but Big! I think you're right about the Cadillacs-maybe it was the heat that had me confused...
Day 3: Up again with the sun on my mountaintop valley, beautiful sunrise starting to happen over the town of Buffalo. Packed up and had my quick breakfast out of the saddlebags of Starbucks Double Espresso (twice the strength in half the can), protein drink and a Clif Bar. This proved to be a quick and efficient version of breakfast to get started without the time and hassle of boiling water for coffeee, ... No time to dry things out on this trip, so the bike cover and tent were stuffed away wet-after all they would be out again in about 12 hours. Then I was on my way down to the pavement and west over the Bighorn pass.
Once again, it was early-probably before 6 am (I didn't need to look at the clock on this trip-just the Sun:D). I drove west and up over the pass-Powder Pass I believe. I tried to stop at all of the historical markers I came upon, and the first one down the pass was a memorial for firefighters lost fighting a large forest fire back in the 30's. This was one of two such markers I would see today. The CCC built stuff here back in the 30's also.
Kept going west downhill and the road started to switchback next to the Tensleep river. Stopped at a couple pulloffs to read markers, and at one I heard noise on the far side of the river-turned out to be a cattle drive uphill. Must've been driving their herd to pasture up high somewhere...
Next was dowhill further into Wyoming and when I got to the bottom and drove thru the town of Tensleep (named I think after John Coulter's trip which was ten sleeps from where he started on the Missouri River) and then it became barren dry moonscape with little oil and gas rigs scattered around. Kept on and then north a little to a small town and stopped to gas up, and hydrate. For some reason, the big 24 oz Green flavored tea looked really good, and it was. Turned out to be a ritual on this trip if it was hot and sunny at a gas stop. The big map outside the station said "Yellowstone 115 Miles", so I thought when will I have another chance to go there? So there I headed:ricky. Thru the town of Cody which was full of tourists at the Buffalo Bill museum. Out of town the Shoshone River paralleled the road, so I stopped at a wayside rest to clean up a little, after all it was Day 3. Shave a little by the side mirror, down to the river, washed out all clothes, washed up-water was milky and COLD! Felt good though. As I was sitting in by Under Armour and Keens, a couple cars pulled in, so no more drying of clothes. Turns out that air drying on the bike in 90's works pretty good... Had another ham and cheese tortilla out of the side bags (ham was starting to look/feel/taste a little strange). Then into Yellowstone...
There was a recent forest fire some ways in on the East entrance
And then came Yellowstone Lake-much larger than I thought it would be, notice the thermal shaft making it's way to the surface...
Stopped at the Fishing Bridge visitors center, and it started to rain so I thought I would wait it out. Looked like it was letting up, so I headed to the bike and it started to Hail! Took shelter under a tree and watched this lemon-drop size stuff pound all the cars (and my bike) for about 10 minutes. No real damage done, at least not to my bike.
Made my way thru the Park, but not much time this trip to stop and walk around. Besides, there were people Everywhere, especially by Old Faithful...
Parked in a moto-only median area and had a nice chat with a guy from California. He was headed back out west and over to Oregon. Saw more sights on my way out, had a couple of traffic jams which I was hoping wouldn't happen, and then it start to rain and hail again. Kept driving and all of a sudden heard and felt the biggest BOOM! right over me. I never saw lightening, but that was Loud and made me jump while driving... Saw some Elk and Bison and some other sights on my way north
All campsites full, so it was out the North End and into Montana
Saw National Forest land on the map, but had a little challenge finally finding a road that headed into it. Finally found one as the rain stopped and the sun came out nicely just in time to set. Off on the first side forest road and found a nice little site right by a clear mountain stream, even had a nice campfire (ended up being the only one this trip).
Had a nice ambient temperature last of the Rolling Rock, and couldn't bring myself to eat any more of the ham I brought from home (and resided 3 days in the sidecase in the 90's). The ham went downstream for bears somewhere else and I cooked up a box of Deluxe mac and cheese-said it was 4 servings and I ate the whole thing-tasted quited good at that point! So ended Day 3 at the furthest west point of my journey-after all I would have to drive home just as far.
Nice....I love the Black Hills area along with Wyoming/Montana.
Spent two weeks out there last summer...unfortunately did not have the bike along. :cry
Day 4 started with sunrise in the Montana mountains just north of Yellowstone. Packed up camp, had the typical breakfast of canned double espresso, protein shake and Clif Bar, and headed north to Livingston. Took the road less traveled parallel to the freeway and saw the local ranches including an area that had recently burned out buildings and all by a forest fire-didn't want to take pics as people were working on the buildings.
Gassed up in Livingston, stopped at McD's for real coffee, biscuit and morning newspaper. Felt good to sit down, relax, wash up a little. Then easterly towards Custer's Last Stand which had always been on my list. It was quite warm and sunny in the 90's, so I checked out the visitors center which had a few exhibits (and AC), then out to the battle site. The battle started in the low grounds by the indian camp along the river, and then the soldiers were driven back by the 10:1 larger indian warrior party. Soldiers hit the higher ground and the split party was pursued gradually over about 3 miles to the last stand hill. Headstones mark the spots where the soldiers fell. Quite a bit of history here, and the end of the plains indian culture...
Headed east accross Montana side roads, went by this big coal-fired power plant out by itself...
Gassed up and picked up a nice cold iced tea for a little break in a small town, found a shady place to relax for a few minutes...
Then further east and on to the North Dakota Grasslands/Badlands
Saw old and new style oil wells
Entered the ND Grasslands early evening and thought I could find an easy spot to camp. Turned out there was a lot of free range cattle grazing and many more roads on the ground than the few on my map. Ending up driving about 60 miles to and fro before I finally figured out where I was and could find a place that was not posted.
So ended Day 4 in the ND Grasslands on my own grassy knoll overlooking the ND Badlands at sunset...
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