For the average kid from small town Michigan, a visit to Indiana or Ohio is a big deal. It is like a new world down there. Now just close you eyes and imagine what a chance to take a trip to Oregon might feel like for that kid. For me, it was like traveling to another universe. I can still remember the first time I crossed the Mississippi River for the first time. And rolling down 400 miles of perfectly straight road that finally plunged into the valley east of Laramie as the sun was setting in the distance casting hard edge shadows behind the boulders and rock spires jutting from the brown grass tinged earth. That was 30 years ago. It was the time when I helped my boss (I built houses back then) move his business from SW Michigan to Medford, Oregon. In so doing, I found my self starting my own framing company, building houses until too many set unsold, and then going to college because I had nothing better to do with all of the over building shutting things down for a while. That trip changed my life forever. Likewise, the trip you are about to read about here, is also a life changing event for Val and I. Val had never ridden on the back of a motorcycle for 200 miles in a day let alone putting a string of 500 milers together to get there and back post haste. It was also our first vacation in 17 years without kids.
We don't go wild, into the tattooed 1% biker's realm, but we have seen the wild side. We are not ready for the Iron Butt Society, but toward the end of the trip our butts did feel like they had been walloped with iron.
I must say that the best part of this trip was not the Black Hills, but the rides with Fuzzy, Linda, Joe, Mary, Howie, Bill, George, Raymond, Emu, Stick Diane, Shadow Rider, Peg, Kathy, Travis, Katie, Chuck, Marci, Gregg, and JoJo. I would have liked to have ridden with every participant on the tour. But that wasn't in the cards this time. Don't get me wrong, the Black Hills are beautiful. However, they were just a point in the distance to strive for and remember while the journey was under way. But once it is over, the relationships started (or strengthened) through the journey will live on to the next Braveheart tour. As they say, its not the destination that matters, it is the journey. What a good one this was.
The video clip below is from a short run from just past the south east gate and the Badlands Visitor's Center. I have a longer clip, about 10 minutes or so of the Badlands on the north bound loop road from the visitor center to the north gate. It is on the Trip Out page. The video below is also Val's first attempt at filming from the back of the bike while riding. I don't know why, but we had not thought of taking video with the Canon SD30 before then.