I’m back from our motorcycle trip to South Dakota. We went to Rapid City for the annual “Curve Cowboy Reunion” BMW rally. It was my first time in South Dakota, and I can definitely see why it’s such a draw for motorcyclists. Iron Mountain road and Needles Highway are a biker’s orgas dream.
We didn’t have the chance to make it up to Sturgis, though. We took two days to get there, staying overnight in Casper. That made for two fairly short riding days. I’d hoped that on the way back, we’d head north around the Black Hills to hit Sturgis and Deadwood, then into Wyoming to see Devil’s Tower. But instead, we ended up coming back in one long day (11 1/2 hours!). We only did that because we were traveling with a couple of friends from California who had a truck (they trailered their bikes). One of our friends could have driven the bike for part of the trip, or they could have changed bikes on the trailer so that DH could have a rest – but he ended up doing the entire trip on the bike. I was pretty tired after 6 hours of riding, so I climbed in the truck for the rest of the drive. (Lucky me – we hit some cold, nasty rain between Rock Springs and Evanston – I’m really glad I wasn’t on the bike!)
Normally we don’t really get to do any riding at the rallies, since the Pontiff is working all day, and some times he isn’t able to even take his bike. But this year there was an evening and night ride to Bear Country USA and Crazy Horse memorial, and since he and his friend (his distributor) weren’t all that busy, they took Friday off and we did a ride down to Custer State Park and Mt. Rushmore. I actually did that ride twice, because a friend from Florida took me out on the same ride on Wednesday, since his wife didn’t want to do the twisty-turny roads. Iron Mountain road is the twistiest road I’ve ever been on. There were even a couple of spiral bridges – like spiral staircases.
Needles Highway wasn’t quite as twisty, but it was so impressive with the huge rock formations, and the Needles Eye (below). On the first trip, we went down Iron Mountain Road and up Needles Highway. The second time we went down Needles Highway and up Iron Mountain Road – I liked the second trip better, since on some of the tunnels, you can see Mt. Rushmore as you exit the tunnel.
We didn’t make it to the Badlands either (woe), but that wasn’t too bad because the main road through the Badlands is under construction and is evidently just road base right now – not too bad for cars, but definitely not great for bikes. I guess I have lots of reasons to go back to South Dakota again some day.
Even though we didn’t get to see as much as we’d have liked, it was still a really fun trip. We had dinner and entertainment at Bear Country USA, which is sort of a wild animal park. I thought it might be kind of cheesy, but it was great! They have bears, elk, arctic wolves, reindeer, mountain lions, buffalo, and other assorted North American wildlife on a 250-acre parcel of land. Normally I guess you can drive through the park in your own car, but for us (the park was closed to the public for our event), they took us through on buses. Each type of animal has its own area, divided by electric fences. Where the road goes from one section to another, there are cattle guards that also have electrified wires which keep the animals from moving from one section to another. It was kind of funny to see the arctic wolves and elk separated by only a cattle guard on the road. I wonder if the animals ever tease each other through the fence.
The best part was the baby bears! They have an active bear-breeding program, which has had a 100% survival rate. They take the baby bears from the mothers and hand-feed them, since leaving them with the adult bears would be dangerous – in the wild, they’re often killed by male bears or other female bears. We got to go into the baby bear enclosure while they were being fed – only a very low wire fence separated us from the babies (normally it’s electrified, so the learn not to touch it, but it was turned off while we were there). The babies were so adorable! And there we were, just inches from them.
We had great entertainment by T.R.A.S.H., singing songs about various medical issues and bodily functions – like vasectomy, or “Boobs, Pubes, Pits and Pads”, a song about female puberty.
Next year, the rally will be in Killington Vermont. It sounds great, but is problematic for us. It would be more than a 2-week trip if we went by bike. Which means that once again, we’ll probably fly and be there sans motorcycle. But on the other hand, that means we’ll have a rental car, so I won’t be stuck without transportation.
If you want to see more photos from the trip, you can see them here.
Wanna know what it’s like to do a night ride on a motorcycle?