Day 9: Sturgis, South Dakota, Indians!, Hunkering Down in the town of Lead, Wyoming, Devils Tower, Sundance and the Bear Lodge Motel.


I had to go to Sturgis. Every year, during the first week of August the small town of Sturgis South Dakota (population about 6600) hosts one of the largest motorcycle rallies in the world. In 2011 over 416,000 people descend upon the town. Being an introvert, (believe it or not!) there was no way I wanted any part of that gathering, but I had to see the place. So I rode the twenty miles up there. And, as always, the journey is as important as the destination. I drove again through the enchanting Black Hills, the road following a grassy meandering stream crisscrossed with dead trees, steep sharp hills to the left and right, filled with stones, fir and pine trees. It was beautiful. Big Red took the curves likes they were old childhood friends that missed each other.

The first things I saw when I came into Sturgis were Indians! No, not Native Americans or First People but Indians, motorcycles. The Indian is a much revered motorcycle that was in production from 1901 -1953 when the company went bankrupt. It was revived a number of times over the years and recently the company was bought by Polaris. They’ve been back making motorcycles since August 2013. They are magnificent, retro looking bikes. I tell you now that the salesman must have been really taken with me because he said I could ride out on one of those bikes today, if I wanted to. He’d just shift my gear onto the bike of my choice and I “wouldn’t look back!” He offered to let me test drive one but I knew if I did I’d want one, and I couldn’t/wouldn’t do that to Big Red. I went to the Harley dealer in Sturgis and bought a baby outfit for my buddy Jeff’s first grandchild. A pretty pink onesie that said: My Grandpa Rides a Harley. Then I rode out to see the Full Throttle Bar, purportedly the largest biker bar in the world. An amazing place. Finally, to the Knuckle Saloon for lunch.
This was the farthest north that I had planned to go on my trip. Now I was going to meander my way out toward LA. I took 85 south. The scenery once again was beautiful but I didn’t like the massive charcoal and purple thunderheads gathering in the sky the direction I was heading. I made it to the town of Lead when the sky opened up and soon rain and hail were falling. I tucked into Lewie’s Saloon and Eatery in Lead, SD. I hunkered down there with a few other motorcyclists, waiting out the storm. I chatted with the other bikers; we learned of each other’s destinations and gave advice. When the skies cleared enough and the hail stopped I said goodbye and headed out.
I soon entered Wyoming and then took the turnoff for the Devils Tower. The land changed dramatically. It now became a beautiful green and brown rolling prairie where you could see seemingly endlessly in all directions. The Devils Tower is a huge stone that rises eerily over 1200 feet out of the surrounding land. It’s considered sacred by many of the Native American Plains tribes. I sat down on a bench to try and get a feeling for it but had no luck, probably due to the buzz of two busloads of Chinese tourists and the concatenation of their language and accents. I only know a few words of Mandarin, two of which sound like Mayo, which means “no” and Bachwee ,which means “white devil” and no, I don’t want to explain the circumstances in which I learned those two words!
Then the sky to the north turned wicked again and I high tailed it down to Sundance and got a room at a nice motel called The Bear Lodge.
I checked my odometer. I’ve come 2177 miles. Both me and the bike are starting to look like it too.

If you want to see a map of my journey you can here: http://www.travellerspoint.com/member_map.cfm?user=kierk1

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