2008 - MI to SD Trip
Friday June 13th
It all started on Friday June 13th. Before work a few of us met at Bill's for breakfast (a monthly ritual). It rained during breakfast but dried up in time for the short ride into work. At 3:15pm Marc and I left work and headed for the St.Ignace, MI. Our plan was to camp just north of the bridge at a little place we have been to before.
We encountered a little rain on the way up (on 55 and 127) but it wasn't enough to warrant rain gear. Below are some pics we took at the bridge. After this we found the camp, set up and then headed into town for an ice cream (gotta eat right!).
Lights out at 10:45pm.
Saturday June 14th
We set our alarms for 6am and left the camp by 6:45 as we wanted to get some miles under our belts (butts).
Our route to Custer, SD is US2 all the way to 85 in North Dakota. We wanted to see the country and not have to fight interstate traffic. This ended up being a great plan as there was very light car traffic on our whole route.
We worked out way through the UP, stopping for breakfast and then gas as required. The weather was great during the day - sunny and warm.
On our way through Duluth we had to stop at Aerostich. Marc was looking for a RAM camera mount but they didn't have the style required. It was fun to see the place were I have spent more than a few dollars!!
On our way out we saw this train.
We entered Grand Rapids, MN and had to get a picture.
We stopped in Deer River, MN for dinner and tried to plan our evening riding. We asked the hostess how long it was to Grand Forks, ND. Her reply was "About 3 hours and 15 minutes, just like going to the cities". Thanks!
We thought we'd see if we could make Grand Forks before dusk.
As we approached Bemidji, MN the sky got dark, I mean DARK. We could see lighting up ahead but kept going. Just as we hit the outskirts of town the skies opened up. Heavy rain and winds. The winds were so bad I thought I was going to be blown off the road. We pulled into a gas station and hung out under the canopy. It rained for about 20 minutes and then the sky began to clear. We got a wonderful double rainbow out of the deal!
We left the gas station and headed for the KOA in Bemidji. We set up and got everything covered just before the rain started. According to my journal we enjoyed "pissing rain, high winds and BAD lightening" that night. We were in our tents by 10pm.
Sunday June 15th
The manager at the KOA told us to make the detour to the Mary Gibbs Mississippi Headwaters Center. We did and it was neat to check out (especially at 6am - 5am local time!). The only others there were some campers and a million mosquitos.
Welcome to North Dakota
It was cold through North Dakota. We stopped to put on rain gear to help keep the chill off. Good thing though as it started raining shortly later. All I remember of Sunday's (Father's Day) ride on US2 through North Dakota is cold, rain and wind. The lowest I saw was 9C and it was raining at the time. Not much fun, but still better than work!!
As we headed south on 85 the weather started to clear. We made a run into Montana for the required picture.
We headed south on 85 and it started to get late and we didn't have a planned stop.
As we cruised though the ND badlands Marc saw the sign for a state campground. There was a mile long gravel road to get in but I said sure (I'm scared of gravel at times...). Let me tell you that this camp site was well worth it!!
It is the Theodore Roosevelt Park (North Unit). Below are the pictures, unfortunately they don't do this place justice.
We were in our tents at 12:30am (11:30pm local) - it stayed light a lot longer in the north.
Monday June 16th
Today would be the final leg into Custer, SD (our home base for a few days). We woke up at 6am (5am local time) to 3C temps and a misty camp site. Once out on the main road it was sunny and it slowly warmed up.
Going through a small town we saw the following sign, we just had to stop!
At 10am we hit the South Dakota border.
We got to the KOA during the early afternoon. It was felt good to set up and unload the bikes for a few days of local riding.
That afternoon we went to check out Crazy Horse. It was really neat to see the size of this carving and all the detail that is going to go into it. Hopefully it will be finished in my lifetime.
We had planned to have a nice steak dinner on Sunday for Father Day's but couldn't find a place that fit the bill the night before. So after checking out Crazy Horse and walking around Custer we found a nice restaurant and had our steaks!
Tuesday June 17th
We slept in a bit today and then hit the road for Wyoming!
We ate in Newcastle, WY at a great little dinner right downtown. The food was great, the atmosphere was cheery and the people were so friendly! It was a great start to our day.
After our filling breakfast we continued on to Devil's Tower. The roads through Wyoming were great - smooth, fast and curvy!
Here we are coming up to Devil's Tower.
We got there!
This guy was so happy to see us he did a little dance.
We went into the park and walked around the tower. It's big!
We left the park and stopped down by the entrance for a break. While there a rider from Winnipeg stopped in and we chatted for a while. Before he left three fellow Canadians (from Mississauga - Port Credit no less!) showed up as well. We all had a great time talking bikes, rides, roads and all that good stuff. I think Marc enjoyed being immersed in all the EH's!
On our way back to SD we stopped at the Aladdin Tipple (coal mining operation from the late 1800's). It was neat to walk around and learn about how it worked.
Today was the first day of chain woes. Now you have to understand that I was not supposed to take the SV on this trip. One week before departure I took the Sporty out for a nice long, fast shakedown run to Billetproof 2008. She didn't make it home under her own power that day. I blew the head gasket on the rear cylinder just west of Lansing on I96. Luckily Jodi was able to come and rescue me with the trailer.
So... The week before I left on this trip was spent preparing the SV for a long ride (new tires, windshield, throttle lock, bar risers, bags, etc). The bike had 15,000 miles on it when we left so I figured the chain and sprockets were marginal at best. Well the chain did good until Tuesday afternoon. I had lubed it once so far but it dried fairly quickly. I spent a lot of time trying to adjust out a sticky link (I didn't figure out the link was sticking until later that night)
Poor Marc had to deal with me stopping and adjusting and stopping again and making 10 more adjustments, etc. Good times!
After some adjustments we worked our way down 14A and stopped in Savoy for dinner (it had just started to rain so we figured it would be a good time to eat!). After dinner we continued down the road only to find out it was closed. We did the 20 mile backtrack to Spearfish (and 85) and pointed the bikes towards Deadwood. We cruised the strip in both Deadwood and Sturgis. Deadwood was very nice (touristy) and Sturgis was a dump.
Our ride home from Sturgis was our first night run in the SD area. Let me tell you this, it sucked! Both Marc and I still had our tinted visors on (of course the clear ones were at camp). It got dark very fast and the road was wet. We did our best watching for deer and other creatures but felt much better when we finally got another vehicle in front of us. We let them run 'blocker' to move the animals out of our way! As we approached Custer it began to get foggy. Marc was nice enough to continue to lead as I just followed his tail light (my visor and glasses were fogged up). Good thing he kept on the road or I would have followed him right into the ditch!
We made it back to camp, hung out a bit listening to Marc's XM and then settle in for the night.
Wednesday June 18th
The plan for today was Mt.Rushmore and then find some fun roads. We had breakfast in Custer and then made the short trip to Mt. Rushmore. It was quite the site to see! Out of all the different attractions we went to this one was the busiest.
We then went into Keystone and tried to find the famous Pigtail Bridge. Our first few attempts were unsuccessful to we headed out of town on some secondary roads and worked our way back to Keystone on a different route. Success! We found the road and road it all the way into Keystone. We met two donkeys in one of the curves and a car in another. No worries, we were going slow at the time.
We hung out in Keystone for a while, checking out the shops and grabbing a drink. This unsavoury character was hanging out on the main strip.
After Keystone we started towards Hot Springs to grab dinner. On the way down we went through Custer State Park and saw some buffalo!
Our run south for dinner saved us from getting wet (Custer got a nice storm while we were gone). That evening we got back to camp early and did some laundry. A big storm came through just after midnight. There was over an hour worth of thunder and lightening but only 20 minutes of rain.
Thursday June 19th
We packed up camp this morning and headed for the Badlands. We were surprised to see snow at the side of the road on our way past Rushmore. I guess it got colder up there the night before!
The Badlands were great. This is one area that I would love to go back and visit again. I think I could spend a few days checking everything out. The pictures cannot capture the size, views or feelings this area offers.
Off to Wall, SD - Home of Wall Drug. We had to hit this tourist spot. We got our required stickers, some pictures and I picked up a nice gnome.
After the fun of Wall Drug we burned across 14 and ended up in DeSmet, SD. This town is all about Laura Ingalls Wilder. We didn't pay much attention but when we were checking into the po-dunk campground we were asked if we came for the Laura Ingalls events. Um no, sorry lady, we're just here to sleep!
Friday June 20th
Woke up early and hit the road as we wanted to make Wisconsin for the night. No pictures for the day, too busy riding! It was hot and sunny all day. We got into Door county and camped at Devils River Campground. It was a happening place but we just set up camp, hung out a bit and hit the hay.
Saturday June 21st
Heading for home! We grabbed breakfast at the Breakwater in Algoma. Got there at 7:30am and interupted a few locals enjoy their morning beers. We did get breakfast and coffee, no beer for us this morning!
Up the penninsula we went, got to Gills Rock and got some pics
Onto the UP! It was hit and miss with rain through the Upper Penninsula. We got to the bridge around 6pm and decided to grab dinner in Indian River. Eat well and back on the bikes heading south. We hit our last gas stop in Lake City and then it was 131 southbound. It got dark and the deer were out there. We found a nice fisherman heading home with this truck and boat and snuggled in behind the trailer. He tapped the brakes whenever he saw deer and got us down to Cedar Springs safely.
I got home at 11pm and grabbed a beer!
After the beer I unpacked the bike and drained the oil. Here's how she sits now, waiting for new parts!
4201 miles total (3890 on my odometer due to the 120/70/17 front tire I run)
$358.39 spent on gas
86.307 gallons purchased
48.675 mpg average
53.95 mpg best mileage (per my odometer)
38.34 mpg worst mileage (per my odometer) - DAMN THAT ETHANOL!