Archive for August 28th, 2007

group rest stopOn Sunday (August 12th) our last day of the “Sturgis Ride”, we were up very early and on the freeway at 6:30am. We had some major miles to make on this day. Plugged-in and doing the speed limit in Montana just seemed damn fast that early in the morning! We didn’t see any cars for miles.

Butte is on the Northwest of Yellowstone on I-90. Nicknamed “the richest hill on earth,” Butte has more than 2,000 miles of underground mines. Originally started as a gold mining town in 1864. The discovery of silver and copper kept people around there. Butte is known for its rich history in Copper Mining. The Berkley Pit was the world’s largest open pit mine, spanning from 5,600 feet wide and 1 mile deep. People from all over the world, Finland, China, and Ireland were attracted to the riches that Butte’s hills held. The mines they created are still there, and some of them are deeper than 3,500 feet.
welcome to or
But enough history…we had some major miles to cover!

We stopped in Spokane for lunch, but it was a quick gas-n-go with gourmet burgers at Wendy’s. At the H-395 South exchange outside Spokane we veered off toward the tri-cites. It was a gas-n-go day.

After 650+ miles and 13 hours in the Harley seat it was good to see the Welcome To Oregon sign.

And so every August for what seems like a hundred years,
Amid a great thunder, topless girls and crunching of gears,
We all rode ours to the South Dakota Black Hills!

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YellowstoneWe left Saturday (August 11th) early thinking it would be slow going thru Yellowstone and hoping to put some significant miles on the bikes before lunch. A couple of us were “plugged-in” due to the cold temperature. We took the Buffalo Bill Scenic Byway. A 52-mile drive from Cody up the rugged canyon carved by the North Fork of the Shoshone River to Yellowstone National Park. The route climbs from the historic town of Cody past Buffalo Bill Reservoir and up the rugged volcanic canyon carved by the North Fork of the Shoshone River to the east entrance of Yellowstone National Park.
ridn in yellowstone
East Yellowstone is a very scenic approach to Yellowstone National Park. Unfortunately, we had to deal with forest fires and you couldn’t see much. The fire was near the West entrance of the park, but the smoke was making visibility poor. The fire activity on the Columbine Fire. We learned that the West Entrance was closed due to fire so, we decided to take the Gardiner/North Exit.

We made several stops along the way for photos and gas as we headed toward the North Entrance. We got to see geothermal wonders, historic sites and the great scenery of Paradise Valley. We had a bio break at Mammoth Hot Springs just before existing the part at Gardiner where The Roosevelt Arch is located.
mammoth hot springs
This was the first major entrance for Yellowstone at the north boundary. Before 1903, trains would bring visitors to Cinnabar, Montana, which was a few miles northwest of Gardiner, Montana, and people would climb onto horse-drawn coaches there to enter the park. In 1903, the railway finally came to Gardiner, and people entered through an enormous stone archway. Robert Reamer, a famous architect in Yellowstone, designed the immense stone arch for coaches to travel through on their way into the park. At the time of the arch’s construction, President Theodore Roosevelt was visiting the park. He consequently placed the cornerstone for the arch, which then took his name. The top of the Roosevelt Arch is inscribed with “For the benefit and enjoyment of the people,” which is from the Organic Act of 1872, the enabling legislation for Yellowstone National Park.
North Entrance
After a rather long day (not in number of miles) of riding we finally pulled off in Butte, MT for gas. The posse was beat and elected to call it a day. Stayed at the Motel 8 and had dinner at a Perkins. We ended up showing the bartender how to make Spanish Coffee’s and drank our fair share while musing about the long day we needed to the next day.

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Bighorn MTYeah, it was another year where we hated all those chicks with their pectorals bare, and their t-back bikini’s with tattoos like Cher!

After all the bikes and 80s hair bands on Friday (August 10th) we started the return trip to Portland. We headed out via I-90, US14, & US14A. Since part of the Posse was meeting up from Rapid City we didn’t get started until about 9am. The wind was blowing us around quite a bit on I-90. On US14A, went over the Bighorn Mountains. Most of the Indian combatants and their families went into the Bighorns after the Custer fight in 1876. It’s a beautiful place – the highway snakes between mountains over 10,000 feet high. Our motel stay in Cody was with out any disasters. We had heard of several motels occupied by degenerate members of a road crew – there was proliferate drinking, swearing and fighting until the local police arrived sometime in the late hours — Wait that was our Posse!
MC and MA
Cody is named for Buffalo Bill Cody. There is a Buffalo Bill Museum, but we didn’t visit it… Cody is just an hour from the East entrance of Yellowstone.

Cody is the transition point between the forested mountains of northwest Wyoming and the plains of the Bighorn Basin. Spectacular scenery in all direction of Cody, the Beartooth Mountains to the north, the Absaroka Range to the west and Wapiti Valley to the south.
The previous night we had locals invite us to Wyoming’s Rib and Chop House. This great little restaurant packs in the crowds. Famous for their award-winning baby back ribs and incredible steaks along with the 26 oz. margaritas! If you have not been to Cody its just another reason for making the trip to Yellowstone.

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Devils TowerThe next morning, Thursday (August 9th) took us to the “tower”.  On the way there we went through Hewlett, WY which is a very busy place during the Sturgis Rally.  Especially on no panties Wednesday!   We decided to stop in for cool refreshment only to learn we missed the festivities from the day before!  It’s all about timing!!  It was again hot walking around… 

We pulled out of Hewlet, with all our underwear for Devils Tower. The ride has lots of long sweeping curves and beautiful scenery, amazing country and riding!
It was a mob scene at Devils Tower entrance just before entering the park.  We all enjoyed the view while taking some photo’s of the tower. We stopped at the prairie dog field and lined up the bikes for group photos.  Stopped at the grocery store to hydrate at the exit of the park. After awhile it was time to head back to Spearfish. 

Several of our posse headed back into Sturgis for more of the One Eye “popping” Jacks gals in chaps & leather tour.

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crazy horseOn Wednesday (August 8th) we rode through Deadwood/Lead and headed up to Crazy Horse which was about 45 miles away. The weather was terrific.  Blue sky and mid-80’s.  
tunnel on 16AWe met others in the Posse in Mill City and then entered the Crazy Horse Memorial.   From there we headed to Mt Rushmore on 16A.  This road is slow going with a lot of turns, but has spectacular views of mountain side, Buffalo and then picture postcards of Mt Rushmore in tunnels. 
group mt rushmore
After Mt Rushmore we headed for Rapid City for an Air Conditioner break at the hotel.  We had a brief stop over at Rapid City Harley to exchange a part purchased the day before then back to Sturgis for a drive by. 
full throttle
We headed out to the Full Throttle Saloon and took in the happenings at the pit.  After a while we headed back to Spearfish.

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Group in Sturgis

The next day (Tuesday, August 7th) we headed to Rapid City Harley-Davidson and then cruised into Sturgis.  Sturgis is Sturgis.

If you ride Harley, it’s a must do. If you only know of it because it is the biggest motorcycle event in the world, then you know it is big. And if you have ever been fortunate to attend the event, you know it is an experience. Downtown Main Street in Sturgis is about 6 blocks long and during the Rally, it is 6 blocks of shops selling t-shirts, spare parts, jewelry, memorabilia, beer mugs and just about anything that has to do with motorcycle souvenirs. It also includes Tattoo Parlors, bars and restaurants.

One block away parallel to Main Street is hundreds of dealers selling full-up custom Harley’s, spare parts, leathers, and anything you could possible need for your bike. But, the most impressive part of Sturgis is the people. Thousands of people (500K est.) converge on that little piece of real estate to see and be seen. Doctors, Lawyers, Carpenters, Geeks and Plumbers who just bought their bikes and this is their first big ride away from “burbs” can be seen standing next to the hard core guys who has flame tat’s on both arms and ride their bikes to work every day.  erica and dennisGuys in full leather and guys in shorts and tank tops. Woman who would scare you in a dark alley and woman who could have won beauty contests.  All the cross sections of America are represented and the one common thread that weaves through this crowd of people is the love of Harley’s. We even ran into some friends from Portland (Erica and Dennis)  

Many of the riders park their bikes along Main Street and in the first few hours of the day, the street becomes clogged with bikes and the street is loud with motorcycles riding up and down the street looking for a place to park, or maybe just looking to be seen.
one-eye-jackThe sidewalks are crowded with people walking along, checking out the bikes, the people, the shops, and anything that might be interesting.   And it was HOT!  In the high 90’s so, lots of people looking for a cool spot for a refreshments.  I bought some t-shirts, and walked the streets for awhile. We all met back at the bikes after a long rest at One Eyed Jacks and left downtown Sturgis for the evening.

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MontanaOn Monday (August 6th) we completed the approx 325-mile trek from Billings to Spearfish, SD and the final leg to Sturgis.    The Best Western Clock Tower Inn didn’t have breakfast included with the room so we did a quick coffee/muffin breakfast right next door and head out on the road by 9am.  The scenery is beautiful and the weather was hot.  At the first gas stop the heat was quickly rising so a few of us stripped off jackets we had because it was already 90 degrees and we still had 200 miles to go.  The cruising was along high plains and long stretches of flat straight road, Indian reservations and free range cattle ranches.  In addition to the cattle and antelope visible from the road, the sky was a bright blue with some light clouds thrown in for color.  
Montana Lunch Stop
All in all, a great ride to Spearfish. The reason we rode to Spearfish and not Sturgis directly was logistics as several of us were staying at Black Hills State University.  Sturgis is population 6,000 during 50 weeks of the year and during the motorcycle rally the population grows to a few hundred thousand depending on who you ask and how you add the numbers. All that said, obviously getting a place to stay in Sturgis is near impossible so the outlying cities are the best lodging bet.  

We reached Spearfish about 3pm in the afternoon and were greeted by college dorm attendants who lived in the dorm.  Of course, they were getting what was probably equivalent to a few months mortgage payment in exchange for a few nights at the dorm, but it was nice enough and there were a lot of riders doing the same thing as us.  Some of the crew went on to Rapid City, SD…to a real hotel!!  The remaining members of the posse had dinner at one of Spearfish’s local grub spots.

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