Our plan for the tour as a whole is to put the longer runs up in the early part of the schedule, and to take it easier and rest up with the shorter runs toward the end of the tour. This should help to prepare us for the long return trip home which needs to be done in 4 days (Friday-Monday). So today's run is the Devil's Tower Loop.
5 bikes are on this run; Birdhunter's 1400, Howie's Roadking, Poneytail's Ultra, Bill's 800, and our Wing. In spite of what it may look like here, the start to the day was wet and cold. At one point heading north on Rt. 385 the temps dropped to 52 degrees. Mary was starting to catch a chill so she stopped on put on her gear. The only sensible one in the bunch. The rest of the crew followed suit.
Our first real stop came in Deadwood where we ducked into the Franklin Hotel for a cup of hot coffee. We were all a bit chilled. The lobby was incredible. In talking to the staff we learned that the windows are original as is the most of the wood work and the tin florets and panels on the ceiling. Like almost every other business in town, it is equipped with all of the gambling paraphernalia one could imagine there would be in Vegas. That's Deadwood's calling; gaming. It wasn't a great day for taking pictures of the town, or rambling down memory lane, so we mounted up and headed for Spearfish Canyon. In getting there, we had to travel about 8 miles down grooved highway that was being prepared for asphalt. It was wet, slow and nerve racking. Just when we thought it was going to get better as we entered the south end of the canyon, we come to a complete stop for some construction. It appeared as though part of the road was washed out. They were dumping heavy rock chunks, gravel kibble, and gravel dirt mix. This is the stuff we had to navigate over behind the pilot car. The problem I was concerned with (in addition to the 2 inches of mud stuck to my boots) was the speed with which the pilot car traveled; 2 miles an hours. Going that slow on the wing would spelled a most certain drop, so I stop before getting to the soft stuff, let the pilot car get pretty far ahead, then I powered through with some speed. Whew! The canyon was nice but hiding a lot of her beauty behind clouds and fog. We kept moving until we reached Spearfish where we had lunch at a sports bar. The best part of the deal was a soup and sandwich bar where Howie could load up as often as he liked. He was in heaven. We were grateful to eat something warm and to dry out a bit.
After getting onto I-90 and heading west about 10 miles, the rain began to let up and the sun started to peak through the clouds. Passing one valley we could see the rain teaming down. It was so dark in the valley that you could not see the all of the way into it. It was just too dark. This was the time I felt extremely happy not to be there. The Devil's Tower did not disappoint. Not only was it truly awe inspiring, but the sun can out and it warmed up. The tower is sacred to many Native Americans. The rags tied to the tree on the right are dedicated to the spirits of Native American loved ones who had passed into the next world. These prayer rags and shrines are found all around the base of the tower.
Upon exiting the park we stop one more time for a picture of the tower. Then mount up and take a splendid ride back west toward Rapid City. After stopping to read the sign marking the spot where Custer's wagon train south to find gold in the black hills, we stop for gas in Aladdin, WY where the population is 15 according to the sign. After talking to the clerk in the store we learn that one of their towns people just died which puts the population at 14. What a great little store and town this is. Its loaded with antiques, souvenirs, and history.
After we leave the store and continue east on route 34, the land becomes flatter and browner. 34 continues to Belle Fourche, SD and then angles over to Sturgis. This was as good a time to inspect Sturgis and perhaps get a bite to eat. The inspection was quick because the town was practically boarded up. Nothing was open. The only place we could find was a little cafe next to a grocery store that had a sign hanging outside; Lousy Food, Slow Service. They weren't wrong, but it was filling.
Val is beat tired and soar so she heads up to bead at the hotel. I down load some of the pictures and take them down to the lobby on the laptop. Shortly after getting things setup, the boys were chased out because they were too load. SO I take the laptop back to the room and visit a bit with Val before turning in. This concludes our first day. A great day! I can't wait for Day 2.