The final pack. We feel like we are on some type of auto pilot. Our eyes meet, we start to yell. Ahhh! I never even tried to pack the laptop until today, it seems to fit. I hope it will hold up to all the shock. Heidi seems to have her packing down. I have the right pannier, Heidi the left, we share the backpack. It looks like it will all fit.
A little get together the day before we leave with some good friends. We thank them for all the support they have given us.
Now we’re yelling a lot, “This is it, ahhhh!” Moments before finally locking the door for the last time I go to put on my boots, wrong feet! Duh! Guess I’m a little more frazzled than I thought.
We are finally off.
This is Unreal… 2 years, it doesn’t seem possible.
We’re on the road before noon. The weather is perfect for riding. The bike feels super heavy. I’ve never ridden anything that feels this big. The county road we exit on is super bumpy and dippy and a good example of what we should be able to handle. The bike is bottoming out and I had to take it real slow. I just say to myself “Slow is good. This is OK” (Holy crap!).
We first thought we would ride through Minneapolis and do the Joint bar scene where the slogan is “Where the ride begins and ends” It would have been cool but we’ve been there, done that, Heidi wanted to do something new (liken that) We shoot for North Dakota, neither of us have ever been there before. Our goal is to do VFW (Very Few Freeways) but that calls for a lot of map reading and looking at the sky. The kind of travel I like and am use to but it kind of freaks Heidi out, ya know, getting lost.
Heidi and I try to get into the motorcycle travel philosophy right away. We don’t want to push too hard the first day and not like it, so I constantly look for places to chill in a nice country scene. I prefer this to a gas station or restaurant.
I stiffen the rear shocks all the way at a gas stop. I thought I had them about midway but it was only slight stiffer then the lightest setting. I didn’t mention it to Heidi but she noticed the riding difference right away. (I like that A Lot…..) The bike feels a lot better now. We still dip down low but we don’t bottom out. This is good to say the least.
The first stop:
A nice golden farm field with plenty of crickets.
The second stop:
I do a good job finding this place. Heidi is into it, she knows just what to do.
We throw out our leathers on the grass in the shade, a bottle of water. This Is Good.
We did not make it to Fargo the first day but did find a great state park (Carlos State Park) on a small lake just north of Alexandria, MN. The place has a great swimming beach right in front of our tent.
This is a popular camp spot with campers all around. As always Heidi and I engage in some intense and slightly heated discussions. I say “Stop yelling at me” and bring up that other campers are probably hearing us and thinking we’re fighting. Heidi says “I’ll stop yelling at you when you stop doing stupid stuff!” We laugh. We are really hammering out our system (I hope).
It got a lot colder the first night then we anticipated. The new light weight sleeping bags were supposed to zip together but they don’t zip the way they should, or the way we think they should. It was a challenge staying warm, we weren’t ready for that being it’s the middle of August. Immediately our plans shift from riding through North Dakota to riding straight to the South Dakota Badlands where the temps should be at least 10 degrees warmer. Heidi and I like to make ‘On the fly’ changes, I hope this works with biking.
We got started late again today waiting for it to warm up, plus we didn’t have our camping act down ‘at all’ yet. We don’t mind a late start, that’s the mode we like. The ride started out cold. It wasn’t too long we started getting hot, than we were hotter then H. We are seeing temperatures in the high nineties. We drove long and hard, not wanting to stop because of the heat and no shaded spots to pull over to. We were toast. I was looking hard for any place to pull over and chill, then I get a firm single jab. We were at a ‘No horse’ town exit. Heidi says she doesn’t care if we have to lay under a cow for shade, we’re stopping here. We pull off at a nice unmarked wayside rest that didn’t even have a parking area. The park wasn’t maintained much but it had nice grass and shade to lay out our leathers and rest. Heidi got a lot of attention from locals while she was up at the bike alone. We love spots like this.
We rode late into the day trying to get to a camp spot in north central South Dakota that looked nice. The place was a little challenging to get to but was worth it. It had a lake with a nice beach and we were the only tent there. The thought of a long swim kept us going. Again a lot of map reading and turning around, Heidi is getting a little more freaked, she’s used to me having it all together. I assure her that this is all normal for back road traveling. ??
We park the bike at the camp spot. It was hot with a capital H. Heidi wanders off in a daze looking for shade while she takes off her gear. We get the tent set up and we immediately head for the beach. We have the whole beach to ourselves and we are in the middle of nowhere. I asked a ranger if a store is around here. I get a definite “No” but he did say there is a restaurant up the road. That’s all we need. The place has tables with a view of the lake and a nice little bar. We watched a boat pull 4 water skiers at the same time. Kids sure know how to have fun here. Cocktails and a fabulous meal. Heidi and I are talking about the temperature fluctuations we have experienced and how we should deal with it. We talk about camping protocol, techniques, what we should have ‘At the ready’ and what we should stow deep. I never dreamed I would ever meet such a compatible travel partner let alone be married to her. I am so lucky….
We are packed to the gills and it’s getting to both of us. I shift things around a little. Heidi hands me something else that’s needs to be packed. I say “There’s no room”. Heidi says “It was in there before!” The discussions are heated. We both keep assuring each other that we have so much stuff that we will use up or throw away. It’s tough, I constantly think I’m going to break a zipper, Heidi keeps thinking she’s getting short changed on space. Heidi suggests we need to have the straps loosened on the backpack while filling it, she was right.
We can’t believe it, its cold again this morning. After the 100 degree stuff yesterday we didn’t think being cold today was possible. We slowly get going. I’m having trouble getting our new international camp stove to do anything but scare Heidi. I miss my propane stove. We talk more about communication while on the road. 3 little pokes, Heidi sees something in the road like a hazard or something. A 2-handed chop, lets stop for a photo or a rest. One swift jab, we need to stop and pull off the road for equipment change or whatever as soon as it is safely possible.
Around 1:00 PM the heat started to rise again and the wind started picking up. The wind was strong but on our rear quarter. It was fatiguing fighting the wind. We pushed hard again today wanting to make it down to the badlands. I know a camp spot there that has a pool, cold beer and a tree. We are driven.
Cruising the back roads of South Dakota. ‘Double chops’ from Heidi. Good call!
The back roads of SD are beautiful. Heidi tells me that these round bales of hay are now illegal in Wisconsin. (Do you know why?) I love a girl with a sense of humor ?
Fabulous, the tent is up, a 6 pack of ice cold Coronas pool side. We are liken life.
The sun came up red today. I thought that was weird. Later I hear on the radio that it’s because of the forest fires in Wyoming. One fire is in the Big Horn Mountains, just where we are planning on riding through. Interesting…..
We paid for 2 nights at the Badlands camping spot, Circle Ten. Today is devoted to exploring the badlands, a little hiking and just R&R, a perfect day in our world. Heidi is actually admitting she likes this type of camping. Am I imagining things?
Heidi and I theorize how this weird landscape got formed. We’re experiencing feeling of mystery and magic. The colors, shapes and vastness of the land are moving.
The colors of the landscape are like out of some sort of weird dream.
A little bar in the heart of the Bad Lands.
Heidi thought it was about the drug store. Ha!
Today we’re shooting for the western Black Hills. We’re going right past Sturgis so we decided to stop and have breakfast there. Also Heidi heeded a black tank top to replace the white shirt she has been wearing. We figure we could find a tank-top in Sturgis (Do ya think?).
We couldn’t believe how dead Sturgis was. It felt like a ghost town. It’s hard to believe that there was thousands of bikes right here less then a week ago.
We couldn’t even find a place to eat on main street. Heidi found a tank-top and I scored a big tool bag for thirty bucks.
We head up into the hills down Spearfish canyon and stop for lunch at Cheyenne Crossing. We like this area. Heidi lived in Colorado once and says this area has the same feel.
We score a great camp spot in the Black Hills. White Tail Court, camping, RV, motel, $12. The new owners are super friendly and the facilities are unbelievably clean. We ride across a foot bridge over a babbling brook to get to our campsite.
We have the place all to ourselves. We pitch our tent right on the babbling brook. This is super. There’s a hiking trail from here up into the hills and forest. We devote two nights here for some serious hiking and chill’n.