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Old 09-14-2009, 08:33 PM   #1
tjhess74 OP
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Location: North Charleston, SC
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Round the U.S.-Yellowstone and back in three weeks

my friend steve and had kicked around the idea of doing a 'big' ride for a couple years. the thought of going to yellowstone and touring the surrounding states kept rearing its we finally started cementing plans, made reservations, and before you know it, we were pulling out of my driveway for an epic adventure!

we planned for several weeks and picked august 21st through september 11th as our time to ride. the thought was that the weather shouldnt be as hot as summer, and it wasnt quite fall yet. the only wild card was coming back via the southern route...hurricane season. we knew that weather would be our biggest variable, so we carefully packed cold and hot weather gear, and just about anything else we could think of...including a spare tent! ours jobs were none too happy that we were going to be gone that long...but who cares?! we made our packing list, checked it hundreds of times and somehow made everything fit in the bike. steve found a small stuffed monkey and attached it to the back of his bike to be our trip mascot. push his stomach and he makes a monkey battle cry! youll see pics of him later...

of course, our money wasnt picked from trees. we planned to visit some family and friends along the way to help offset the costs of lodging. steve travels alot for his job and stays in alot of hotels. the result of this is rewards points that paid for most of nights that camping and family couldnt take care of. this planned worked well and if i recall correctly, i think we only paid actual cash for two nights out of a total of twenty one!

so, on friday aug. 21st, at about 8:00 in the morning, steve met me at my place. his honda pacific coast was LOADED! he had ingeniously fashioned a milk crate to the back and it worked perfectly.

my kawasaki concours 14 was equally as loaded, i just hid it alittle better! :) my saddle bag lids had to be coerced alittle to get closed! we lined up on the starting line at the bottom of my driveway while the wife started took some pics

we were fresh and ready to go!

we let out the clutches and off we went for the adventure of a of now at least!

the first day consisted of making it from north charleston, sc to new richmond, oh-just outside of cincinnati, oh. it was going to be about 600 miles total. our plan was to make time and distance on the first few days by using the interstates. then, as we neared good roads, abandon the interstate for more a scenic america.

there arent really many pics from day 1, as the roads are old hat for us. we jumped on i-26 and headed west. i-26 and i-40 have some pretty good twists in them in the appalachians, which we knew was just a taste of things to come! we stopped for lunch just above knoxville, tn at a steak and shake (my favorite!). steve was in the mood for a shake, but i was wanting to hit the road to avoid some dark skies heading our way. his thirst and my eye to the sky turned out to be a very fortunate combination.

we were about 40 or so miles above knoxville on i-75 when we crested a hill and the few cars that were in front of us suddenly came to a stop. we knew it was a wreck, as we could see an suv in the median. initially we started to weave through the vehicles in front of us to simply bypass the whole thing and continue on our way. thats when i saw the guy laying on the left shoulder. now, as a former leo, normally i steer clear of things like this. usually there are people around and i would just contribute to the clutter and getting involved just puts you at risk. also, honestly, ive had my share of blood and guts and am just kinda over it. when i saw the guy laying there, i thought surely he was dead. there some people around him, but it was obvious they werent sure what to do. i looked around to start getting a better picture of what happened. the suv, a tahoe i believe, had obviously rolled several times from the southbound lanes. there was a camper trailer sitting perfectly in the number 2 southbound lane...without a vehicle attached to it. alittle simple math, and i came to the conclusion that the tahoe was towing the trailer, lost control, flipped, and ejected said passenger.

i yelled for steve to stop so we could get some more appropriate help for this guy. i was walking towards him, not in a hurry cause i thought he was dead, when i saw him body jerk in an attempt to breath in. upon seeing that i was stunned! i then ran over and started helping the others in assessing the guy. he was in very dire straits. broken limbs, obvious internal and head injuries, and a crapload of blood coming from his head. the blood was all over the pavement and had started to coagulate into a gooey mess that stuck to everything it touched. have i mentioned that i have an aversion to peoples blood? too many cooties for my comfort. i guess its all those years of chasing diseased crackheads.

i ran back to my bike and grabbed my meager first aid kit and donned my gloves. about that time, a nurse came on scene and together we reestablished his airway. shorty thereafter a tennessee state trooper arrived. we advised him that the victim was a category 3 and needed an airlift. his breathing was becoming more labored and less frequent and did not respond to any stimulus. he was also out cold, which for him, was probably a good thing. the ambulance got there quickly, but was staffed with some local volunteers, much to my dismay. that is not what this guy needed.

the helicopter from the university of tennessee medical center arrived within about twenty minutes of the initial call. by this time the guy was being tended to in the ambulance.

the helo was on the ground for nearly forty minutes before he was loaded onto it...not necessarily a good sign.

the three other guys standing around turned out to be the remaining passengers in the tahoe. they were on thier way to bristol for the race and were completely in shock. one guy was very distraught over his friends condition. seatbelts do work, as those three found out.

the camper sitting quietly on the highway

turns out the guys were passing a semi truck and the trailer started to weave. despite trying to accelerate out of it (im sure they were already going pretty fast) the tahoe spun, smacked the left side of the trailer (you can see the marks on the bottom of the trailer), disconnected, and flipped.

another reason i hate stopping for accidents, is that i usually see something that really pisses me off. after the guy was loaded into the ambulance, the nurse and i start gathering all of the biohazard blood items that were scattered about. we had a large shopping bag full of stuff (you can see the white bag in one of the pics) that was contaminated...including the bag itself. the nurse and i informed the local volunteer types (not a big fan of rescue rickys) that the bag needed to be disposed of properly. they acknowledge they would take care of it. we all patiently waited for the highway to reopen and the wrecker driver started gathering items and throwing them into the back of the tahoe so he could clear the scene. thats when the driver picked up the biohazard waste bag and threw it into the tahoe along with all the other personal belongings! i ran over to him and informed him what was in the bag and that it needed to be removed by protected personnel before he left. he thanked me for letting him know and i returned to the fire fighters that were now standing around sharing good laughs. i told them what had happened and they said they would take care of it...then they just returned to thier conversation. i realize that in the backwoods of tennessee that bag might not have much importance, but in the real world that is a serious violation of biohazard handling protocol and puts many lives at risk for disease transmission. think of all the people that will come in contact with that people, family members, vehicle dismantlers, and so on. upon the lack of interest from those guys, i informed another fire fighter. he seemed much more interested, but again did nothing, so i let it go. screw em, i did my part.

remember that milkshake?? well, lets just say steve is a proficient eater, and didnt waste time bottoming that cup! thats about the amount of time between the accident and our arrival. not sure i would have wanted to see a tahoe (and a person) flipping oncoming at me...not my idea of fun.

well, they eventually loaded up the guy, his name was kieth and was from ohio btw, and it didnt look good. im fairly certain he didnt make it, although i couldnt find anything online about the accident. the trooper let steve and i take off before he reopened the interstate, very cool! traffic was backed up for nearly seven miles!!!

EDIT: i finally found the article regarding the accident. unfortunately, the passenger, keith smith, did die two days later on 8/23/09.
"An Indiana man was killed after an accident involving a camper Friday.
According to Tennessee Highway Patrol, Wade P. Shindlebower, Jr., 45, of Bellbrook, Ohio was pulling a camper behind his SUV. He was driving southbound on Interstate 75 near mile marker 145 in Campbell County.
When the vehicle reached a steep hill, the trailer began to sway out of control. It then separated from the SUV, causing the vehicle to flip. The SUV turned three times before stopping in the median.
Passenger Keith Smith, 51, of Indianapolis, Indiana was transported to UT Medical Center where he passed away on Sunday.
According to the report, he wasn't wearing a seatbelt. Troopers said they believe safety restraints would have made a difference.
Two other passengers, Robert M. Grounds, 46, of Springboro, Ohio and Roy D. Deal, 46, of Edinburgh, Indiana were both injured. They were both wearing seatbelts.
Authorities said drugs and alcohol weren't a factor."

my mind was still stuck on that wreck for the next several miles. but eventually as we passed into the beautiful kentucky landscape, the thoughts of the wreck faded and i just prayed for continued safety for us. then, like an oasis in the desert, i spied cincinnati!

we stayed with the parents of a friend of ours. man, they had a great time telling us childhood stories about him...poor guy, hes gonna hear about this!!! they cooked a good dinner and we got a good nights sleep. our next day would be our longest of the trip, just over 800 miles.

stay tuned for subsequent days of our adventure. as we progress into our trip, the pics become much more abundant! this ride report will be on a couple other sites, so if you start reading it and get that deja vu feeling, relax, the matrix doesnt have a glitch...its just me!
avatar pic: Tathum Gap, Trail of Tears, NC.

my goal is to see how many gallons of dead dinosaurs i can send through my bike.
2008 Kawasaki Concours 14
2007 Honda VFR800 RWB

tjhess74 screwed with this post 12-10-2009 at 06:06 PM
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Old 09-15-2009, 06:43 PM   #2
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DAY 2: saturday 8/22/09

so, here we were spending the night in cincinnati...a city i had not been to yet. you have to understand something about addicted to the news. whenever i go to a new city/area, i feel compelled to watch that city's local news to see whats going on there (besides murder and mayhem, of course). well, i learned that cincinnati spends apparently loves high school football! nearly half of its news cast was dedicated to the area schools. the demand for sportscasters is so high, they had TWO sportscasters! one of whom had a segment where he goes to a school and 'eats for free'. what a job. i forget his name, but the guy was a goofball.

anyway, after a long night of the wkrp theme song echoing in my head, we got up early for our long day. today was planned for just over 800 miles, to sioux city, ia. we opened the garage door and the blast of COLD air hit us!!! it was in the 50's! hmmm, ok, i was pretty sure the midwest and such had warm weather this time of year.

we take off for another day of vacation...a cold day. oh, another thing you need to know about me...i hate change. when im familiar with something i hate replacing it and relearning something else. i recently, and begrudgingly, changed over from my preferred gps to a garmin, for its weather resistance and ability to import routes. many of you have heard me complain about it. well, the route line is bigger than the route road. the result of this is if there are many turn offs right around the one youre supposed to be on, you can end up on the wrong exit (and yes, i was zoomed talking an exit within an exit here!). thats what happened to me on the interstate in downtown cincy. so we ended up in kentucky for the third time in two days...big deal! steve got me back on track and we were on our way to indiana.

now, remember, i said earlier that i didnt have too many pics from the first couple days. well, i wasnt kidding! we made our way across indiana and i made a very astute observation...the roads suck! interstate 74 contained pothole after pothole. sections of broken pavement after the next. very annoying. i also happened to notice the state was one of the flatter ones ive been too. i do like indiana though. the fields and farmland are very scenic, especially in the morning light.

it finally started to warm up mid way throught the state, and we continued on through indianapolis. now, lets cover this right now. we can sum up a big portion of this trip in one word...CONSTRUCTION! the west side of indianapolis was the beginning of that part of the adventure. trust me, youll see and hear of more construction as this story unfolds.

OH, i almost were cruising through the winding and bumpy construction zone on the west side. well, steve had this box of gobstoppers that he had placed in the milkcrate. i was behind him and i kept seeing little, what seemed to be, colorful objects coming from the back of steves bike. then it donned on me, they were gobstoppers! every time we hit a big bump, two or three would come bouncing out and tumble down the highway! i was laughing out loud and hoped the bumps would stop cause i wanted some gobstoppers later on!

so indiana came and went. we passed into illinois. the weather was still cool, but comfortable. maybe low 70's. we stopped to have lunch on the outskirts of peoria. it was midday and the doldrums of the interstate and the knowledge that we were not quite halfway were kicking in. but, as with any long ride, you just get back on and take it a few miles at a time. time, miles, and the continuing farmland go by. before you know it we were about to enter iowa...but not before some more construction on the section of i-80 going around rock island! ah yes, love single lane interstates!

we make it into iowa and i was pleased to see the terrain actually begin to turn into gentle rolling hills. steve and i are cruising along and the interstate is singing. suddenly, thats when i saw it...a billboard for the world's largest truck stop! hey, i know this place...ive seen it before on tv! steve, we gotta stop!!! i point to the billboard and anxiously await the exit. we pull into the parking lot and are greeted by this sign

the famous iowa 80!

i saw this place on the history channel's 'modern marvels'. a virtual trucker city! we go inside and find plenty of places to eat, a dentist, sleeping quarters, tons (literally) of tractor-trailer accessories and merchandise. then, thats when we saw them...actual semi trucks inside! there were two trucks, and one full truck and trailer combo! all we needed were trucker hats!

we gas up and push on. we pass through des moines. the capitol city looked nice from our vantage point. yet we push on some more. we stopped for gas again west of des moines at a convenient store chain named 'kum and go'. well, i found humor in it!

while there we stopped and talked to some guys on there way to a truimph rally somewhere west of here. we were gonna stop by, but we never did find it. by this time the day was beginning to fade into night

i was actually very impressed with iowa. nice rolling hills, lush green landscapes, and good road conditions...nice! we made our way north on interstate 29 and into sioux city. we ate at a mexican restaurant and called it a night at the hotel afterwards.

surprisingly enough, i was kinda dreading today. the long distance on interstate through stereotypically flat and boring states was what we wanted to put behind us. but they were actually quite pleasant and i found my energy level at the end was quite high. i could have easily done another 200 miles for an iron butt 1000+mile day.

yes, i watched the news. steve had used one of those luggage carts to put all of our crap on. the thing was full and instead of unloading it in the room and returning it, we just kept it. why not, right?!

tomorrow youll see the luggage cart and more pics, [glow=red,2,300]PROMISE[/glow]! lets see, that would be nebraska, and onto rapid city in south dakota. oh yea, we also dumped the interstate for awhile!
avatar pic: Tathum Gap, Trail of Tears, NC.

my goal is to see how many gallons of dead dinosaurs i can send through my bike.
2008 Kawasaki Concours 14
2007 Honda VFR800 RWB

tjhess74 screwed with this post 09-22-2009 at 02:56 PM
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Old 09-15-2009, 07:45 PM   #3
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Nice report. You better not get in an accident out side of any large Midwestern cities given your disdain for volunteer rescue squads. That is all there are! The British bike show was probably at Marne. You missed a great show. It is a small town that puts on a classic British bike show. Free food in the park along with free camping. Great time had by all! Good luck and God bless on your journey.
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Old 09-16-2009, 07:41 AM   #4
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MARNE...that was it! we got that confused with minden. the guys we talked to told us the exit they thought it was, but there was nothing there. yea, i was bummed i missed it. ive started to really get an appreciation for truimphs past couple years and would loved to have seen the gathering.

i dont have a disdain for all volunteers, as ive run across plenty (a vast majority) that are very dedicated and professional. its the ones that would rather have a conversation about the deer they just shot than to actually do thier job to help somebody. when the guy who gets out of the ambulance has dip in his mouth, i start to get that unprofessional vibe. both of those were present in this case.
avatar pic: Tathum Gap, Trail of Tears, NC.

my goal is to see how many gallons of dead dinosaurs i can send through my bike.
2008 Kawasaki Concours 14
2007 Honda VFR800 RWB
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Old 09-16-2009, 12:15 PM   #5
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Looking forward to the report. It sounds like you guys had a good time.
"A slip of the foot you may soon recover, but a slip of the tongue you may never get over. " - Benjamin Franklin
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Old 09-16-2009, 12:32 PM   #6
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Headed West....

Liking it.

I was a volunteer FF for several years in a small community; we were more dedicated and trained than that.

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Old 09-16-2009, 03:30 PM   #7
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ok, day 2 pics are up, sorry for the delay! day 3 will start later tonight!
avatar pic: Tathum Gap, Trail of Tears, NC.

my goal is to see how many gallons of dead dinosaurs i can send through my bike.
2008 Kawasaki Concours 14
2007 Honda VFR800 RWB
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Old 09-16-2009, 06:03 PM   #8
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here we go, DAY 3...this is were it gets good and the real adventure starts! sunday 8/23/09
so, we wake up in our free hotel (steves reward points, remember?!) steve and i enjoy a decent continental breakfast. you know, the kind where you cook your own waffle, and get some cereal. steve loved the breakfast burritos! we had commondeered the bell hop luggage cart the night before. only having to make one trip from the room to the parking lot...priceless!

our plan, since we made really good time yesterday, was to abandon the interstate for awhile and enjoy some scenery. we only had 450ish miles to cover today, but we were not sure how nebraska would be in the scenery department, but anything had to be better than i-x!

we cross the river into nebraska and need some fuel. why get it in town where its plentiful when you can wander the countryside in search of a station?! we find one not too far down the road and gas up.

now, if you stare at that picture (and if youre not from that area) you may notice something odd. mid grade is cheaper than low grade! it took us awhile to figure this one out. but alas, we got it! its cheaper because it has 10% ethanol, whereas the other grades do not. huh, who knew?!

so, off we go! i was amazed! it was a beautiful, brisk morning and the scenery was gorgeous! highway 20 was laid amongst some beautiful green and gold hills capped by an amazing blue sky. it even had some nice twists and turns.

rolling along and we see this interesting piece...a windmill museum! again, who knew?!

as we rode by, you could easily several different styles of windmills and signs explaining them. in this modern age, i have never given much thought to a windmill before and that there could be so many different kinds. while riding, i thought about it and it made sense. back then a windmill would have many uses. but you need wind to have a windmill. its nice and calm...uh oh, i just spoke too soon! we wind through a few seriously, really small towns. the kind where the population is measured in low four digits...sometimes three. it was a real glimpse into old time america. as we progressed, the wind started to kick up. it turned into a 40 mph left cross wind with higher gusts. it takes alot of energy to battle a wind like that for long, but i managed to get some pics still.

the miles go by and the scenery becomes the stereotypical nebraska...flat! at least there are still some trees. oh, that damned wind! before to long, we guessed! the detour is something like 20 miles long! up 7, over a few, and down 7. sheesh!

we pull into valentine, ne and the scenery became stark with some mesas and bluffs, but we are starving! a billboard some miles back for pizza hut planted a seed that just wouldnt die! so, you guessed it, we ate at pizza hut. uh, actually, we over ate. let me say this, steve LOVES parmesan cheese. so much so that the holes in the container top just dont cut comes the lid!

we saw a road to a historic sight on the way into town. after lunch we decide to go back...and were glad we did! the historic sight was the 1932 bryan bridge. it has long since been taken out of mainstream use, but you can still drive across it, and you are afforded some great views in the small niobrara river valley.

heres the story behind the bridge

the obligatory 'we parked on it and got the picture' picture (overlooking the new hwy 20 bridge)

have i talked about the grasshoppers yet?? no? well let me tell you about the grasshoppers! starting many miles back, steve and i kept feeling 'whacks' and 'thumps' on our feet and legs. we were baffled for awhile until we had lunch and we saw the culprits

they were everywhere! anything on the lower half of a vehicle was covered with grasshopper guts! our legs, shoes, bikes, etc... so we started to look at the road carefully, and sure enough...grasshoppers! they dotted the road for miles. as soon as you get to them, they get spooked and jump...right to their deaths!

fortunately, out of valentine (which has a scenic river entry and exit, btw) the hwy 83 turned northward towards south dakota. you know what that means...TAILWIND! hell yea. sometimes it was even better than this!

our ultimate destination today is rapid city and its now later in the afternoon. we get to interstate 90 at murdo, sd to get some fuel. there is a car museum next door that has a very interesting vehicle at its entrance

this thing was huge! purposefully oversized for effect, of course! it was built on a bus chassis and the body was made of wood and the fenders were made of fiberglass. it had an engine, drivetrain, and full instruments. i believe it is, or was at one time, driveable.

we jump on i-90 to get to our next stop; wall drug. we head west again...ugh, crosswind.

earlier, steve and i saw some fairly good size fields full of sunflowers. actually, they are everywhere, roadside and all, but these fields were cool. both of our wives love sunflowers, so as good husbands do, we love sunflowers too. awwww!!

we then saw this mega field! steve motioned for me to stop so we could snag some pictures. it was as far deep as you could see and easily over a mile wide!

it looked like yellow/green carpet, very cool!

we stopped at a scenic overlook near the badlands on the interstate. we run across this guy...touring the states on his ural. at first i thought it was gary stitcher, but it wasnt!

steve and i didnt originally plan on going throught the badlands. but while at the overlook, we had plenty of daylight and energy and said 'why not, were here!' so off we go, into the badlands national park!

its a beautiful kind of ugly. very stark and barren, yet full of color and depth. there were plenty of goats along the way as well. the road through the badlands, hwy (if you want to call it that) 240 ends in wall, sd home of the world famous wall drug.

we make it to wall drug. what a tourist trap, but cool nonetheless!

the original store was purchased by the husteads in 1931, looking for a new direction in life. to help drum up some business, they put up some signs along the road offering free ice water (a valuable commodity back then). the place took off and today it encompasses all the neighboring buildings. you can walk through all of them from the inside. it is filled with trinket shops, an outdoors/camping shop, clothing stores, and a restaurant that still has $.05 coffee on the honor system...oh, and yes, free ice water!

in the back, are lots of stuffed animals and displays. there are also walls filled to the ceiling with pictures from a long long time ago in the area. here is steve, apparently not happy with the buffalo

here is me, very happy with mr. buffalo!

we cruise around the store for awhile, then hit some of the nearby stores on the main drag. neat, but the typical tourist stuff.

we hit the road again and encounter another beautiful sunset

my view for the past 1894 miles

we make it into rapid city and of course i take another wrong turn. im just not jiving with this gps. steve is determined to get me up to speed with it!

for quite awhile, we saw billboards with actual firetrucks, for a restaurant and bar called firehouse brewery in downtown rapid city. yep, thats whats for dinner. the beer was delicious and the food was good too. the scenery was good to look at too!

tonight is another comfy bed after a good days ride!
avatar pic: Tathum Gap, Trail of Tears, NC.

my goal is to see how many gallons of dead dinosaurs i can send through my bike.
2008 Kawasaki Concours 14
2007 Honda VFR800 RWB

tjhess74 screwed with this post 09-22-2009 at 02:57 PM
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Old 09-16-2009, 06:37 PM   #9
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Well, this ride didn't start well, but it looks better and better..

Is that an audiovox cruise control on your C14?

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Old 09-16-2009, 06:53 PM   #10
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why, yes it is! ive had it on my last three bikes and i love it. it really makes the difference on a long days ride.
avatar pic: Tathum Gap, Trail of Tears, NC.

my goal is to see how many gallons of dead dinosaurs i can send through my bike.
2008 Kawasaki Concours 14
2007 Honda VFR800 RWB
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Old 09-16-2009, 06:59 PM   #11
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Tuned in, looks like a great ride.
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Old 09-16-2009, 08:06 PM   #12
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"...our money wasn't picked from trees..."

One fantastic quote!

great report.


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Old 09-17-2009, 07:13 PM   #13
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Day 4 monday 8/24/09
alrighty, we got a good nights sleep at the super 8 in rapid city (had to pay for this one). we awoke refreshed and ready for another days ride. we really started looking forward to each day now that we have put the interstates behind us and were are beginning to run into the sights that brought us here. it was another brisk morning; clear with a stiff breeze and the smell of pine trees in the air. i absolutely love that smell; it never gets old.

we eat our continental breakfast, pack up the bikes, and hit the road. our first stop is mt. rushmore on hwy 16. our plan was to just stop by, snag a few pictures and move on our way. of course, there was guard rails, i believe. because of this, there wasnt a good place to pull off for some shots. instead, i opt to pull into the entrance to the mt. rushmore monument. upon doing so, i realize its a one way entrance with no way of retreat. steve and i pull off to the side and formulate a plan. about this time, one of the attendants starts to walk our way. i asked her if we could grab a couple of pictures since we were just passing through. her irritated response was 'youre not supposed to'. hmmm, ok. 'hey, steve, hurry and grab a shot!'

the lady let us pass through the gate to turn around, but gave us implicit instructions to go straight to the exit. we obliged and left. what a racket that place was. the road approaching and leaving the area is littered (yes, thats the word i want to describe it with) with 'no parking' signs. basically, you pay the $10 or you get nothing, not even a picture! well, of course we stopped again!

we continued down the road and found a scenic turn off that gave a spectacular view of washington's profile. did you know his nose is 21 feet tall?!

we continued on to see crazy horse. on the way there, i wondered if we would have the same amount of difficulty in obtaining pictures. as we arrived at the main entrance, we pulled off and began taking pictures. steve and i discussed as to whether or not we should try to get closer, so we did. i explained to the lady at the gate that we were just passing through and wanted a couple pictures. she gladly directed us to continue into the park and have at it! nice!

i was here about 15 or so years ago, and im pretty sure it hasnt changed much!

we jump back onto hwy16, heading towards wyoming, specifically devils tower. hwy 16, close to the state line, is very twisty. there had been a forest fire that went through there at some point. the bare and burnt trees went on for miles.

the road meanders into wyoming and begins to stop becomes straight, very straight.

as we approached devils tower on hwy 14, we could start to see it peek out occaisionally on the horizon. i was getting excited! ive always wanted to see this place ever since i was a kid and saw close encounters of the third kind! after a few pleasant miles on hwy24, we make it to the entrance...oh look, even the foot trails have construction on them. SHEESH!

there is a path that goes around the tower was being repaved and half of it was closed. fortunately, we didnt want to walk that far anyway. we went to the opposite side and turned around. this thing is crazy! its so unique in its structure. its also somewhat, ahem, phalic in appearance. ok, so were childish, big deal!

if you look closely, you can see some small specks on the left half of the tower...those are climbers. no way you would get me to do that! if you squint, you can see at least three climbers.

at the visitors center, you can find all sorts of native american legends regarding the tower. in fact, it is sacred land for them and they come here to pray. they leave ribbons and other various objects tied on tree branches as an offering.

in the 1800's, the first two guys to climb the town did so by connecting a series of wooden ladders together and wedging them into the vertical cracks. not just no, but hell no would i ever do that. modern equipment would be bad enough for me.

steves getting hungry. matter of fact, so am i. we asked one of the park rangers were we could grab some grub. another ranger chimed in and both said the 'ponderosa cafe in hulett'. okie dokie, were in! a short and scenic ride up hwy 24 to hulett, wy and we were there. the town is small, the cafe was easily spotted. what wasnt easily spotted by me was the sign i parked in front of. steve got a kick out of it and raised it to my attention.

we sat down and a cute, shy young girl greeted us and got us started (i forget her name). turns out it was her first day of serving...ever. she was having a hell of a time, but i thought she did just fine. this place was good! if youre passing through that area, its on the list of 'must eat at'. they had a potato side (i forget what they called them) that turned out to be mini an inch or two in diameter. they were awesome!
with full stomachs, we venture into montana and onto hwy 212. they call this big sky country, it was a couple hundred miles of this

this is also were we encountered our first rain drops. there was alot of virga in the skies and they were dark, but fortunately just a very light rain is all we experienced. i must admit, i was somewhat disappointed with montana. not that it had anything to do with the state or its scenery, but it was some of the people. many of the small towns were very depressing. they had a heavy native american population and people just seemed to kind of wander around aimlessly. lots of gallopies and yards full of trash. certainly not the way i would take care of my property, regarless of my income level.

another destination for us is the little bighorn national battlefield. im a history buff, so this would keep me entertained for awhile.
the park contains a national cemetary (for anyone who qualifies for that honor)

there is a road that wanders through the battlefied for miles. all along its trail are markers on the site that that person was killed. it is a very somber and amazing glimpse into a dark day in our history-regarless of whos side you were on.

there is a main area, in which custer himself was killed, along with many men on both sides of the battle

a monument has been erected just above that site

its plaque speaks for itself

hwy 212 merges with i-90 from the battlefield and onto billings, which is were we are spending the night. now, one thing i will say about montana...they like high speed limits! i guess the days of unlimited speed up here are over (or maybe it was urban legend), but 75 is still ok in my book! billings is like a modern day oasis in the wild west. tall glass buildings with pedestrians clad in stetsons and tony llamas-classic! we get to our campsite at the yellowstone river campground on the outskirts of town. this was a very nice campground. mostly rv's, but it was quiety and clean with nice views on the river. i definately recommend it.

we were directed to eat downtown at jakes on 1st street. its a mix of a casino, fine dining, and a sports pub. unique to say the least, but very nice. our server, she gives us our locally brewed frothy beverages and steve and i decide to share the sampler platter. jessica said it is big, so we took her word for it. well, upon arrival, her estimate of platter size was spot on. at the end, steve and i were stuffed. we wandered back--through some road construction downtown---back to camp. another good nights sleep awaits us in the cool montana air.

tomorrow we awake to hit the road for the beartooth hwy and yellowstone...the reason for our trip. we are very excited for what tomorrow brings!
avatar pic: Tathum Gap, Trail of Tears, NC.

my goal is to see how many gallons of dead dinosaurs i can send through my bike.
2008 Kawasaki Concours 14
2007 Honda VFR800 RWB

tjhess74 screwed with this post 09-22-2009 at 02:59 PM
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Old 09-17-2009, 09:04 PM   #14
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Joined: Dec 2005
Location: Butler, PA
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Great report, keep it coming. I'm planing the same ride but from PA in Aug 2010. The local hot spots for camping, food and motels are great.
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Old 09-17-2009, 10:00 PM   #15
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Joined: Sep 2008
Oddometer: 9
Great Report

Hey guys im from the UK and find myself doing something similar right now .
I am at present in Sheridan Wyoming having started in Seattle last week, Ive just come down through The Dalles in Oregon and from there to the Boise area. Today i came through Yellowstone and went on to Cody on the most fantastic stretch of road ive ever been on. I recomemnd this if you have the time. Im heading up Sturgis way myself on my rental burgundy Goldwing so if you see me give me a wave.
In any event you stay safe and have a great trip.

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