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Topic: Round the U.S.-Yellowstone and back in three weeks  (Read 26255 times)

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tjhess74
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« on: September 14, 2009, 11:33:32 PM »

my friend steve and had kicked around the idea of doing a 'big' ride for a couple years.  the thought of going to yellowstone and touring the surrounding states kept rearing its head...so we finally started cementing plans, made reservations, and before you know it, we were pulling out of my driveway for an epic adventure!

we planned for several weeks and picked august 21st through september 11th as our time to ride.  the thought was that the weather shouldnt be as hot as summer, and it wasnt quite fall yet.  the only wild card was coming back via the southern route...hurricane season.  we knew that weather would be our biggest variable, so we carefully packed cold and hot weather gear, and just about anything else we could think of...including a spare tent!  ours jobs were none too happy that we were going to be gone that long...but who cares?!  we made our packing list, checked it hundreds of times and somehow made everything fit in the bike. steve found a small stuffed monkey and attached it to the back of his bike to be our trip mascot.  push his stomach and he makes a monkey battle cry!  youll see pics of him later...

of course, our money wasnt picked from trees.  we planned to visit some family and friends along the way to help offset the costs of lodging.  steve travels alot for his job and stays in alot of hotels.  the result of this is rewards points that paid for most of nights that camping and family couldnt take care of.  this planned worked well and if i recall correctly, i think we only paid actual cash for two nights out of a total of twenty one!

so, on friday aug. 21st, at about 8:00 in the morning, steve met me at my place.  his honda pacific coast was LOADED!  he had ingeniously fashioned a milk crate to the back and it worked perfectly.
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/0821090713.jpg

my kawasaki concours 14 was equally as loaded, i just hid it alittle better! Smile  my saddle bag lids had to be coerced alittle to get closed! we lined up on the starting line at the bottom of my driveway while the wife started took some pics
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/0821090719.jpg

we were fresh and ready to go!
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/0821090720.jpg

we let out the clutches and off we went for the adventure of a lifetime...as of now at least!
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/0821090720a.jpg


the first day consisted of making it from north charleston, sc to new richmond, oh-just outside of cincinnati, oh.  it was going to be about 600 miles total.  our plan was to make time and distance on the first few days by using the interstates.  then, as we neared good roads, abandon the interstate for more a scenic america.  there arent really many pics from day 1, as the roads are old hat for us.  we jumped on i-26 and headed west.  i-26 and i-40 have some pretty good twists in them in the appalachians, which we knew was just a taste of things to come!  we stopped for lunch just above knoxville, tn at a steak and shake (my favorite!).  steve was in the mood for a shake, but i was wanting to hit the road to avoid some dark skies heading our way.  his thirst and my eye to the sky turned out to be a very fortunate combination.

we were about 40 or so miles above knoxville on i-75 when we crested a hill and the few cars that were in front of us suddenly came to a stop.  we knew it was a wreck, as we could see an suv in the median.  initially we started to weave through the vehicles in front of us to simply bypass the whole thing and continue on our way.  thats when i saw the guy laying on the left shoulder.  now, as a former leo, normally i steer clear of things like this.  usually there are people around and i would just contribute to the clutter and getting involved just puts you at risk.  also, honestly, ive had my share of blood and guts and am just kinda over it.  when i saw the guy laying there, i thought surely he was dead.  there some people around him, but it was obvious they werent sure what to do.  i looked around to start getting a better picture of what happened.  the suv, a tahoe i believe, had obviously rolled several times from the southbound lanes.  there was a camper trailer sitting perfectly in the number 2 southbound lane...without a vehicle attached to it.  alittle simple math, and i came to the conclusion that the tahoe was towing the trailer, lost control, flipped, and ejected said passenger.  i yelled for steve to stop so we could get some more appropriate help for this guy.  i was walking towards him, not in a hurry cause i thought he was dead, when i saw him body jerk in an attempt to breath in. upon seeing that i was stunned!  i then ran over and started helping the others in assessing the guy.  he was in very dire straits.  broken limbs, obvious internal and head injuries, and a crapload of blood coming from his head.  the blood was all over the pavement and had started to coagulate into a gooey mess that stuck to everything it touched.  have i mentioned that i have an aversion to peoples blood?  too many cooties for my comfort.  i guess its all those years of chasing diseased crackheads.

i ran back to my bike and grabbed my meager first aid kit and donned my gloves.  about that time, a nurse came on scene and together we reestablished his airway.  shorty thereafter a tennessee state trooper arrived.  we advised him that the victim was a category 3 and needed an airlift.  his breathing was becoming more labored and less frequent and did not respond to any stimulus.  he was also out cold, which for him, was probably a good thing.  the ambulance got there quickly, but was staffed with some local volunteers, much to my dismay.  that is not what this guy needed.

the helicopter from the university of tennessee medical center arrived within about twenty minutes of the initial call. by this time the guy was being tended to in the ambulance.
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/274.jpg

the helo was on the ground for nearly forty minutes before he was loaded onto it...not necessarily a good sign.
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/276.jpg

the three other guys standing around turned out to be the remaining passengers in the tahoe. they were on thier way to bristol for the race and were completely in shock.  one guy was very distraught over his friends condition.  seatbelts do work, as those three found out.
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/277.jpg

http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/278.jpg

the camper sitting quietly on the highway
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/275.jpg

turns out the guys were passing a semi truck and the trailer started to weave.  despite trying to accelerate out of it (im sure they were already going pretty fast) the tahoe spun, smacked the left side of the trailer (you can see the marks on the bottom of the trailer), disconnected, and flipped.

another reason i hate stopping for accidents, is that i usually see something that really pisses me off.  after the guy was loaded into the ambulance, the nurse and i start gathering all of the biohazard blood items that were scattered about.  we had a large shopping bag full of stuff (you can see the white bag in one of the pics) that was contaminated...including the bag itself.  the nurse and i informed the local volunteer types (not a big fan of rescue rickys) that the bag needed to be disposed of properly.  they acknowledge they would take care of it.  we all patiently waited for the highway to reopen and the wrecker driver started gathering items and throwing them into the back of the tahoe so he could clear the scene.  thats when the driver picked up the biohazard waste bag and threw it into the tahoe along with all the other personal belongings!  i ran over to him and informed him what was in the bag and that it needed to be removed by protected personnel before he left.  he thanked me for letting him know and i returned to the fire fighters that were now standing around sharing good laughs. i told them what had happened and they said they would take care of it...then they just returned to thier conversation.  i realize that in the backwoods of tennessee that bag might not have much importance, but in the real world that is a serious violation of biohazard handling protocol and puts many lives at risk for disease transmission.  think of all the people that will come in contact with that bag...insurance people, family members, vehicle dismantlers, and so on.  upon the lack of interest from those guys, i informed another fire fighter.  he seemed much more interested, but again did nothing, so i let it go.  screw em, i did my part.

remember that milkshake??  well, lets just say steve is a proficient eater, and didnt waste time bottoming that cup!  thats about the amount of time between the accident and our arrival.  not sure i would have wanted to see a tahoe (and a person) flipping oncoming at me...not my idea of fun.

well, they eventually loaded up the guy, his name was kieth and was from ohio btw, and it didnt look good.  im fairly certain he didnt make it, although i couldnt find anything online about the accident.  the trooper let steve and i take off before he reopened the interstate, very cool!  traffic was backed up for nearly seven miles!!!

EDIT: i finally found the article regarding the accident.  unfortunately, the passenger, keith smith, did die two days later on 8/23/09.
http://www.wbir.com/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=96801&provider=gnews#
"An Indiana man was killed after an accident involving a camper Friday.

According to Tennessee Highway Patrol, Wade P. Shindlebower, Jr., 45, of Bellbrook, Ohio was pulling a camper behind his SUV. He was driving southbound on Interstate 75 near mile marker 145 in Campbell County.

When the vehicle reached a steep hill, the trailer began to sway out of control. It then separated from the SUV, causing the vehicle to flip. The SUV turned three times before stopping in the median.

Passenger Keith Smith, 51, of Indianapolis, Indiana was transported to UT Medical Center where he passed away on Sunday.

According to the report, he wasn't wearing a seatbelt. Troopers said they believe safety restraints would have made a difference.

Two other passengers, Robert M. Grounds, 46, of Springboro, Ohio and Roy D. Deal, 46, of Edinburgh, Indiana were both injured. They were both wearing seatbelts.

Authorities said drugs and alcohol weren't a factor."


my mind was still stuck on that wreck for the next several miles.  but eventually as we passed into the beautiful kentucky landscape, the thoughts of the wreck faded and i just prayed for continued safety for us.  then, like an oasis in the desert, i spied cincinnati! i started singing the 'wkrp in cincinnati' theme song!
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/279.jpg

we stayed with the parents of a friend of ours.  man, they had a great time telling us childhood stories about him...poor guy, hes gonna hear about this!!!  they cooked a good dinner and we got a good nights sleep.  our next day would be our longest of the trip, just over 800 miles.

stay tuned for subsequent days of our adventure.  as we progress into our trip, the pics become much more abundant!  this ride report will be on a couple other sites, so if you start reading it and get that deja vu feeling, relax, the matrix doesnt have a glitch...its just me!
« Last Edit: December 10, 2009, 09:06:13 PM by tjhess74 » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: September 15, 2009, 06:23:59 AM »

Charleston to  Yellowstone...  sounds like a good trip. I'm in. Looking forward to more posts...
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« Reply #2 on: September 15, 2009, 07:15:50 AM »

sure to be a real trip, but what a start!

good writing / pic for day 1  Smile
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« Reply #3 on: September 15, 2009, 07:29:43 AM »


Charleston to  Yellowstone...  sounds like a good trip. I'm in. Looking forward to more posts...

Me too....  And last year I was on a divided highway and witnessed an accident with Medivac response.  I was behind a delivery truck when a woman driving a Ford Escort stopped but didn't look and just darted across our two lanes to get to the other side of the highway to continue her way West.  Well, that delivery truck didn't have more than 1/2 a second to jam on his brakes before spinning that Escort like a top into the guardrail.  I stayed as a witness...  They blocked both sides of the highway for Medivac.  It was eery driving the next 5 miles being the only car on my side of the highway (traffic was bumper to bumper on the other side).
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« Reply #4 on: September 15, 2009, 09:07:30 AM »



  It was eery driving the next 5 miles being the only car on my side of the highway (traffic was bumper to bumper on the other side).


SO TRUE!  it was like the apocolypse or something!  cars stacked up everywhere on the opposite side and people everywhere...and not a soul on our side except for steve and me...very strange feeling.  the people on the other side stared at us in fascination as to how we got there cause no one was behind us.

day 2 will follow this evening...
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« Reply #5 on: September 15, 2009, 02:32:35 PM »

Looking forward to the rest, Tom! Great job so far.
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« Reply #6 on: September 15, 2009, 09:46:58 PM »

DAY 2: 8/22/09

so, here we were spending the night in cincinnati...a city i had not been to yet.  you have to understand something about me...im addicted to the news.  whenever i go to a new city/area, i feel compelled to watch that city's local news to see whats going on there (besides murder and mayhem, of course).  well, i learned that cincinnati spends apparently loves high school football!  nearly half of its news cast was dedicated to the area schools.  the demand for sportscasters is so high, they had TWO sportscasters!  one of whom had a segment where he goes to a school and 'eats for free'.  what a job.  i forget his name, but the guy was a goofball.

anyway, after a long night of the wkrp theme song echoing in my head, we got up early for our long day.  today was planned for just over 800 miles, to sioux city, ia.  we opened the garage door and the blast of COLD air hit us!!!  it was in the 50's! hmmm, ok, i was pretty sure the midwest and such had warm weather this time of year.

we take off for another day of vacation...a cold day.  oh, another thing you need to know about me...i hate change.  when im familiar with something i hate replacing it and relearning something else.  i recently, and begrudgingly, changed over from my preferred gps to a garmin, for its weather resistance and ability to import routes.  many of you have heard me complain about it. well, the route line is bigger than the route road.  the result of this is if there are many turn offs right around the one youre supposed to be on, you can end up on the wrong exit (and yes, i was zoomed in...im talking an exit within an exit here!).  thats what happened to me on the interstate in downtown cincy.  so we ended up in kentucky for the third time in two days...big deal!  steve got me back on track and we were on our way to indiana.

now, remember, i said earlier that i didnt have too many pics from the first couple days. well, i wasnt kidding!  we made our way across indiana and i made a very astute observation...the roads suck!  interstate 74 contained pothole after pothole.  sections of broken pavement after the next.  very annoying.  i also happened to notice the state was one of the flatter ones ive been too.  i do like indiana though.  the fields and farmland are very scenic, especially in the morning light.

it finally started to warm up mid way throught the state, and we continued on through indianapolis.  now, lets cover this right now.  we can sum up a big portion of this trip in one word...CONSTRUCTION!  the west side of indianapolis was the beginning of that part of the adventure.  trust me, youll see and hear of more construction as this story unfolds.  

OH, i almost forgot...so were cruising through the winding and bumpy construction zone on the west side.  well, steve had this box of gobstoppers that he had placed in the milkcrate.  i was behind him and i kept seeing little, what seemed to be, colorful objects coming from the back of steves bike.  then it donned on me, they were gobstoppers!  every time we hit a big bump, two or three would come bouncing out and tumble down the highway!  i was laughing out loud and hoped the bumps would stop cause i wanted some gobstoppers later on!

so indiana came and went.  we passed into illinois. the weather was still cool, but comfortable. maybe low 70's.  we stopped to have lunch on the outskirts of peoria.  it was midday and the doldrums of the interstate and the knowledge that we were not quite halfway were kicking in.  but, as with any long ride, you just get back on and take it a few miles at a time.  time, miles, and the continuing farmland go by.  before you know it we were about to enter iowa...but not before some more construction on the section of i-80 going around rock island!  ah yes, love single lane interstates!

we make it into iowa and i was pleased to see the terrain actually begin to turn into gentle rolling hills.  steve and i are cruising along and the interstate is singing.  suddenly, thats when i saw it...a billboard for the world's largest truck stop!  hey, i know this place...ive seen it before on tv!  steve, we gotta stop!!!  i point to the billboard and anxiously await the exit.  we pull into the parking lot and are greeted by this sign
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/280.jpg
the famous iowa 80!
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/20090822150500.jpg


i saw this place on the history channel's 'modern marvels'.  a virtual trucker city!  we go inside and find plenty of places to eat, a dentist, sleeping quarters, tons (literally) of tractor-trailer accessories and merchandise.  then, thats when we saw them...actual semi trucks inside!  there were two trucks, and one full truck and trailer combo!  all we needed were trucker hats!
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/20090822151013.jpg

http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/20090822151032.jpg

http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/20090822151129.jpg

we gas up and push on.  we pass through des moines.  the capitol city looked nice from our vantage point.  yet we push on some more.  we stopped for gas again west of des moines at a convenient store chain named 'kum and go'.  well, i found humor in it!

http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/20090822182808.jpg

while there we stopped and talked to some guys on there way to a truimph rally somewhere west of here. we were gonna stop by, but we never did find it.  by this time the day was beginning to fade into night...a beautiful iowa sunset!
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/281.jpg

i was actually very impressed with iowa.  nice rolling hills, lush green landscapes, and good road conditions...nice!  we made our way north on interstate 29 and into sioux city.  we ate at a mexican restaurant and called it a night at the hotel afterwards.

surprisingly enough, i was kinda dreading today.  the long distance on interstate through stereotypically flat and boring states was what we wanted to put behind us.  but they were actually quite pleasant and i found my energy level at the end was quite high.  i could have easily done another 200 miles for an iron butt 1000+mile day.

yes, i watched the news.  steve had used one of those luggage carts to put all of our crap on.  the thing was full and instead of unloading it in the room and returning it, we just kept it.  why not, right?!

tomorrow youll see the luggage cart and more pics, PROMISE!  lets see, that would be nebraska, and onto rapid city in south dakota.  oh yea, we also dumped the interstate for awhile!
« Last Edit: September 22, 2009, 05:44:00 PM by tjhess74 » Logged

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« Reply #7 on: September 16, 2009, 06:38:26 PM »

ok, day 2 pics are up! sorry for the delay!  day 3 starts later tonight!
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« Reply #8 on: September 16, 2009, 06:43:06 PM »

Great report so far! And thanks for stopping to help the accident victim.  We need more good samaritans out there. Clap
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« Reply #9 on: September 16, 2009, 09:10:57 PM »

here we go, DAY 3...this is were it gets good and the real adventure starts!  sunday, 8/23/09

so, we wake up in our free hotel (steves reward points, remember?!)  steve and i enjoy a decent continental breakfast.  you know, the kind where you cook your own waffle, and get some cereal.  steve loved the breakfast burritos!  we had commondeered the bell hop luggage cart the night before.  only having to make one trip from the room to the parking lot...priceless!
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/283.jpg

our plan, since we made really good time yesterday, was to abandon the interstate for awhile and enjoy some scenery.  we only had 450ish miles to cover today, but we were not sure how nebraska would be in the scenery department, but anything had to be better than i-x!

we cross the river into nebraska and need some fuel.  why get it in town where its plentiful when you can wander the countryside in search of a station?!  we find one not too far down the road and gas up.
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/284.jpg

now, if you stare at that picture (and if youre not from that area) you may notice something odd.  mid grade is cheaper than low grade!  it took us awhile to figure this one out.  but alas, we got it!  its cheaper because it has 10% ethanol, whereas the other grades do not. huh, who knew?!

so, off we go!  i was amazed!  it was a beautiful, brisk morning and the scenery was gorgeous!  highway 20 was laid amongst some beautiful green and gold hills capped by an amazing blue sky.  it even had some nice twists and turns.
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/288.jpg

rolling along and we see this interesting piece...a windmill museum!  again, who knew?!
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/287.jpg

as we rode by, you could easily several different styles of windmills and signs explaining them.  in this modern age, i have never given much thought to a windmill before and that there could be so many different kinds.  while riding, i thought about it and it made sense. back then a windmill would have many uses.  but you need wind to have a windmill. its nice and calm...uh oh, i just spoke too soon!  we wind through a few small...no seriously, really small towns.  the kind where the population is measured in low four digits...sometimes three.  it was a real glimpse into old time america.  as we progressed, the wind started to kick up.  it turned into a 40 mph left cross wind with higher gusts. it takes alot of energy to battle a wind like that for long, but i managed to get some pics still.
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/289.jpg

the miles go by and the scenery becomes the stereotypical nebraska...flat!  at least there are still some trees.  oh, that damned wind!  before to long, we encounter...you guessed it...construction!  the detour is something like 20 miles long!  up 7, over a few, and down 7.  sheesh!

we pull into valentine, ne and the scenery became stark with some mesas and bluffs, but we are starving!  a billboard some miles back for pizza hut planted a seed that just wouldnt die!  so, you guessed it, we ate at pizza hut.  uh, actually, we over ate.  let me say this, steve LOVES parmesan cheese.  so much so that the holes in the container top just dont cut it...off comes the lid!

we saw a road to a historic sight on the way into town.  after lunch we decide to go back...and were glad we did!  the historic sight was the 1932 bryan bridge.  it has long since been taken out of mainstream use, but you can still drive across it, and you are afforded some great views in the small niobrara river valley.
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/292.jpg

http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/296.jpg

heres the story behind the bridge
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/297.jpg

the obligatory 'we parked on it and got the picture' picture (overlooking the new hwy 20 bridge)
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/299.jpg

have i talked about the grasshoppers yet??  no? well let me tell you about the grasshoppers!  starting many miles back, steve and i kept feeling 'whacks' and 'thumps' on our feet and legs.  we were baffled for awhile until we had lunch and we saw the culprits
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/304.jpg

they were everywhere!  anything on the lower half of a vehicle was covered with grasshopper guts! our legs, shoes, bikes, etc...  so we started to look at the road carefully, and sure enough...grasshoppers!  they dotted the road for miles.  as soon as you get to them, they get spooked and jump...right to their deaths!

fortunately, out of valentine (which has a scenic river entry and exit, btw) the hwy 83 turned northward towards south dakota.  you know what that means...TAILWIND!  hell yea. sometimes it was even better than this!
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/300.jpg

our ultimate destination today is rapid city and its now later in the afternoon.  we get to interstate 90 at murdo, sd to get some fuel.  there is a car museum next door that has a very interesting vehicle at its entrance
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/302.jpg

this thing was huge!  purposefully oversized for effect, of course!  it was built on a bus chassis and the body was made of wood and the fenders were made of fiberglass.  it had an engine, drivetrain, and full instruments.  i believe it is, or was at one time, driveable.

we jump on i-90 to get to our next stop; wall drug.  we head west again...ugh, crosswind.

earlier, steve and i saw some fairly good size fields full of sunflowers.  actually, they are everywhere, roadside and all, but these fields were cool.  both of our wives love sunflowers, so as good husbands do, we love sunflowers too.  awwww!!

we then saw this mega field!  steve motioned for me to stop so we could snag some pictures.  it was as far deep as you could see and easily over a mile wide!
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/305.jpg

it looked like yellow/green carpet, very cool!

we stopped at a scenic overlook near the badlands on the interstate.  we run across this guy...touring the states on his ural.  at first i thought it was gary stitcher, but it wasnt!
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/307.jpg

steve and i didnt originally plan on going throught the badlands. but while at the overlook, we had plenty of daylight and energy and said 'why not, were here!'  so off we go, into the badlands national park!
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/317.jpg

http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/328.jpg

its a beautiful kind of ugly.  very stark and barren, yet full of color and depth.  there were plenty of goats along the way as well. the road through the badlands, hwy (if you want to call it that) 240 ends in wall, sd home of the world famous wall drug.

we make it to wall drug.  what a tourist trap, but cool nonetheless!
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/334.jpg

the original store was purchased by the husteads in 1931, looking for a new direction in life.  to help drum up some business, they put up some signs along the road offering free ice water (a valuable commodity back then).  the place took off and today it encompasses all the neighboring buildings.  you can walk through all of them from the inside.  it is filled with trinket shops, an outdoors/camping shop, clothing stores, and a restaurant that still has $.05 coffee on the honor system...oh, and yes, free ice water!
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/335.jpg

in the back, are lots of stuffed animals and displays.  there are also walls filled to the ceiling with pictures from a long long time ago in the area.  here is steve, apparently not happy with the buffalo
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/340.jpg

here is me, very happy with mr. buffalo!
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/341.jpg

we cruise around the store for awhile, then hit some of the nearby stores on the main drag.  neat, but the typical tourist stuff.

we hit the road again and encounter another beautiful sunset
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/343.jpg

my view for the past 1894 miles
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/345.jpg

we make it into rapid city and of course i take another wrong turn.  im just not jiving with this gps.  steve is determined to get me up to speed with it!  for quite awhile, we saw billboards with actual firetrucks, for a restaurant and bar called firehouse brewery in downtown rapid city.  yep, thats whats for dinner.  the beer was delicious and the food was good too.  the scenery was good to look at too!  

tonight is another comfy bed after a good days ride!


« Last Edit: September 22, 2009, 05:45:45 PM by tjhess74 » Logged

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« Reply #10 on: September 17, 2009, 01:41:51 AM »

THIS IS EXTREMELY UNLIKELY AND OFFENSIVE TO COMMON SENSE.
I'M NOT GOING TO LOOK AT THIS THREAD EVER AGAIN. Twofinger


... hell yea. sometimes it was even better than this!
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« Reply #11 on: September 17, 2009, 10:00:50 PM »

DAY 4 monday 8/24/09

alrighty, we got a good nights sleep at the super 8 in rapid city (had to pay for this one).  we awoke refreshed and ready for another days ride.  we really started looking forward to each day now that we have put the interstates behind us and were are beginning to run into the sights that brought us here.  it was another brisk morning; clear with a stiff breeze and the smell of pine trees in the air.  i absolutely love that smell; it never gets old.
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/346.jpg

we eat our continental breakfast, pack up the bikes, and hit the road.  our first stop is mt. rushmore on hwy 16.  our plan was to just stop by, snag a few pictures and move on our way.  of course, there was construction...new guard rails, i believe.  because of this, there wasnt a good place to pull off for some shots.  instead, i opt to pull into the entrance to the mt. rushmore monument.  upon doing so, i realize its a one way entrance with no way of retreat. steve and i pull off to the side and formulate a plan.  about this time, one of the attendants starts to walk our way. i asked her if we could grab a couple of pictures since we were just passing through.  her irritated response was 'youre not supposed to'.  hmmm, ok.  'hey, steve, hurry and grab a shot!'
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/20090824091000.jpg

the lady let us pass through the gate to turn around, but gave us implicit instructions to go straight to the exit. we obliged and left.  what a racket that place was.  the road approaching and leaving the area is littered (yes, thats the word i want to describe it with) with 'no parking' signs.  basically, you pay the $10 or you get nothing, not even a picture! well, of course we stopped again!
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/349.jpg

we continued down the road and found a scenic turn off that gave a spectacular view of washington's profile. did you know his nose is 21 feet tall?!
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/20090824091733.jpg

we continued on to see crazy horse.  on the way there, i wondered if we would have the same amount of difficulty in obtaining pictures.  as we arrived at the main entrance, we pulled off and began taking pictures.  steve and i discussed as to whether or not we should try to get closer, so we did.  i explained to the lady at the gate that we were just passing through and wanted a couple pictures.  she gladly directed us to continue into the park and have at it!  nice!
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/358.jpg

i was here about 15 or so years ago, and im pretty sure it hasnt changed much!

we jump back onto hwy16, heading towards wyoming, specifically devils tower.  hwy 16, close to the state line, is very twisty.  there had been a forest fire that went through there at some point.  the bare and burnt trees went on for miles.
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/360.jpg

the road meanders into wyoming and begins to stop meandering...it becomes straight, very straight.
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/365.jpg

as we approached devils tower on hwy 14, we could start to see it peek out occaisionally on the horizon.  i was getting excited!  ive always wanted to see this place ever since i was a kid and saw close encounters of the third kind!  after a few pleasant miles on hwy24, we make it to the entrance...oh look, even the foot trails have construction on them. SHEESH!
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/367.jpg

there is a path that goes around the tower was being repaved and half of it was closed. fortunately, we didnt want to walk that far anyway.  we went to the opposite side and turned around.  this thing is crazy!  its so unique in its structure. its also somewhat, ahem, phalic in appearance.  ok, so were childish, big deal!
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/20090824125932.jpg

if you look closely, you can see some small specks on the left half of the tower...those are climbers.  no way you would get me to do that! if you squint, you can see at least three climbers.
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/374.jpg

at the visitors center, you can find all sorts of native american legends regarding the tower.  in fact, it is sacred land for them and they come here to pray.  they leave ribbons and other various objects tied on tree branches as an offering.

in the 1800's, the first two guys to climb the town did so by connecting a series of wooden ladders together and wedging them into the vertical cracks.  not just no, but hell no would i ever do that.  modern equipment would be bad enough for me.

steves getting hungry.  matter of fact, so am i.  we asked one of the park rangers were we could grab some grub.  another ranger chimed in and both said the 'ponderosa cafe in hulett'.  okie dokie, were in!  a short and scenic ride up hwy 24 to hulett, wy and we were there.  the town is small, the cafe was easily spotted.  what wasnt easily spotted by me was the sign i parked in front of.  steve got a kick out of it and raised it to my attention.
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/376.jpg

http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/377.jpg

we sat down and a cute, shy young girl greeted us and got us started (i forget her name).  turns out it was her first day of serving...ever.  she was having a hell of a time, but i thought she did just fine.  this place was good!  if youre passing through that area, its on the list of 'must eat at'.  they had a potato side (i forget what they called them) that turned out to be mini potatos...like an inch or two in diameter.  they were awesome!

with full stomachs, we venture into montana and onto hwy 212.  they call this big sky country, it was a couple hundred miles of this
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/378.jpg

this is also were we encountered our first rain drops.  there was alot of virga in the skies and they were dark, but fortunately just a very light rain is all we experienced.  i must admit, i was somewhat disappointed with montana.  not that it had anything to do with the state or its scenery,  but it was some of the people.  many of the small towns were very depressing.  they had a heavy native american population and people just seemed to kind of wander around aimlessly.  lots of gallopies and yards full of trash.  certainly not the way i would take care of my property, regarless of my income level.

another destination for us is the little bighorn national battlefield.  im a history buff, so this would keep me entertained for awhile.
the park contains a national cemetary (for anyone who qualifies for that honor)
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/380.jpg

there is a road that wanders through the battlefied for miles.  all along its trail are markers on the site that that person was killed.  it is a very somber and amazing glimpse into a dark day in our history-regarless of whos side you were on.
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/383.jpg

there is a main area, in which custer himself was killed, along with many men on both sides of the battle
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/387.jpg

a monument has been erected just above that site
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/386.jpg

its plaque speaks for itself
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/385.jpg

hwy 212 merges with i-90 from the battlefield and onto billings, which is were we are spending the night.  now, one thing i will say about montana...they like high speed limits!  i guess the days of unlimited speed up here are over (or maybe it was urban legend), but 75 is still ok in my book!  billings is like a modern day oasis in the wild west.  tall glass buildings with pedestrians clad in stetsons and tony llamas-classic!  we get to our campsite at the yellowstone river campground on the outskirts of town.  this was a very nice campground.  mostly rv's, but it was quiety and clean with nice views on the river. i definately recommend it.
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/391.jpg
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/394.jpg

we were directed to eat downtown at jakes on 1st street.  its a mix of a casino, fine dining, and a sports pub.  unique to say the least, but very nice.  our server, jessica...wow.  she gives us our locally brewed frothy beverages and steve and i decide to share the sampler platter. jessica said it is big, so we took her word for it.  well, upon arrival, her estimate of platter size was spot on.  at the end, steve and i were stuffed.  we wandered back--through some road construction downtown---back to camp.  another good nights sleep awaits us in the cool montana air.  

tomorrow we awake to hit the road for the beartooth hwy and yellowstone...the reason for our trip.  we are very excited for what tomorrow brings!
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« Reply #12 on: September 17, 2009, 10:14:20 PM »

Great ride report.  Hail
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« Reply #13 on: September 17, 2009, 10:18:20 PM »

Looks like quite the epic adventure so far... http://s23.photobucket.com/albums/b399/Marcster2005/Smileypad/Yes/16.gif I've always wanted to visit Mt. Rushmore, is there a lot to do in the area?

Carry on! http://s23.photobucket.com/albums/b399/Marcster2005/Smileypad/Food/thlurk.gif
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« Reply #14 on: September 17, 2009, 11:03:17 PM »

marcster, it depends on what youre into, but i would say yes.  mt. rushmore, crazy horse, the badlands, and some fantastic roads like the needles highway.  lots of tourist type attractions in and around rapid city.  i would recommend it...especially on two wheels!
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« Reply #15 on: September 18, 2009, 05:48:58 AM »

Great report so far. Just out of curiousity, what speeds  are you running when you have a long straight road and there is no traffic?
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« Reply #16 on: September 18, 2009, 09:23:13 AM »

were generally sticking with the speed limits.  neither of us care for any speeding awards and were not in a hurry.  that and the pacific coast loses its efficiency past 70-75mph anyway.  with our loaded bikes and all 70 was just fine.  many of these two laners in the north west were posted at 70 and 75 mph, so it worked out perfect.
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« Reply #17 on: September 18, 2009, 11:39:41 PM »

Sounds like a GREAT trip so far.  Very nice!!
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« Reply #18 on: September 20, 2009, 05:21:44 PM »

Day 5 of 22.  tuesday 8/25/09

today is the day that the dreams of this trip are realized...our entry into yellowstone national park!  for the next few days, we will camp here and ride/see as much of the park as we can.  first though, we need to get there.  

we wake up from our campsite in billings, mt.  the morning sun shining off the yellowstone river bluffs was amazing.  again, the temps were brisk, but nothing a thick jacket wouldnt solve. we purposefully picked hwy 212, which turns into the north east entrance to the park, for one reason...the beartooth hwy!  ive seen pics on other ride reports and heard that it is phenomenal!  we jump onto i-90 for a brief spell until hwy 212 branches off again.  it didnt take long and we began to see them...the mountains.  i became visibly excited and couldnt wait to get to higher altitudes!
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/397.jpg

we passed through the town of red lodge, mt.  its one of the many towns that you could, after having built a nice cabin nearby, move to.
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/398.jpg

the terrain became very aggressive.  the mountains stood like a brick wall in front of you.   it didnt take long and we were gaining some serious altitude.  steve and i picked up the pace as our hearts started to race at the sight of some serious mountain road curves!  the road conditions were good, but not great.  lots of rocks in the roadway from erosion, and lots of pavement patches.  but what became amazingly noticable after throwing down a few miles were the views...spectacular! the valley below, is where the road came up.  it then quickly climbed the face of the mountain.
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/400.jpg

you can see the road below us. look at those curves!
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/402.jpg

we stopped at a pull off near the top of the mountain.  there were these little chipmunks everywhere. one of them just about climbed up steves pants leg!
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/399.jpg

we neared the wyoming border...then it all came to a stop.  remember our buzzword for this trip...construction!
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/403.jpg

this wasnt just 'road work'.  there wasnt really a road left; they tore it all up!  every few miles you would have to stop at a flagman and wait for the pace car to come back and guide you through the carnage they called a road.  the 'motorcycles use extreme caution' signs were spot on.  some spots of the road were a hard packed fine gravel, which wasnt too bad.  i should let you know now, my concours14 does not, under any circumstances, like unpaved roads.  some of the roads were down right atrocious!  they were freshly ground up, loose gravel, ruts, and some of it was a sloppy wet mess.  the entire wyoming side of hwy 212 was like this.  we did meet some fellow motorcyclists while at the pace car stops.

the beartooth hwy meanders between montana and wyoming a few times.  back on the montana side again, we finally make it into cooke city.  again, another nice town nestled next to the mountains.  the same construction we had encountered was running right through the middle of town.  steve and i were famished at this point (i believe breakfast consisted of some strawberry pop tarts).  we got gas and headed over to a bbq joint directly across the street.  check out those gas prices!  thats alot where i come from!
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/405.jpg

bikes were parked in front of this joint, so it has to be good, right?!  well it was! i dont know if it was the food, our hunger level, or both. needless to say, the food didnt last long in front of us.  them were some mighty fine tastin' baked beans!
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/406.jpg

after devouring lunch, we saddle up and finish out the last little stretch before entering yellowstone.  just past the first curve outside of town, we hit this...  
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/20090825140122.jpg

the flagman (woman) was yelling at steve to get out of the road while taking that shot.  steve has cat-like reflexes, he could easily jump out of the way of any heavily-laden 18 wheeler full of dirt and asphalt coming his way!

thankfully, only after about 20 or so minutes, the pace truck came and guided us through the mayhem and onto the gates of the park itself.  
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/407.jpg

our original plan was to stop at the parks entry sign, but it was stuffed back behind some bulldozers.  ill guess well have to remember to get a picture of it when we leave in a few days.  i did get this one though.  molest the animals?  nah, havent been away from the wife that long yet!
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/408.jpg

we arrived in the early afternoon.  we were anxious to get a good campsite.  our original plan was to stay at the norris campground on the west side of the park, but due to some road construction near gibbon falls (of course!), that made for some awkwardness in our ride plans which consisted two main loops; the north and south loops.  the roads in the park essentially laid out in a big figure 8 design, with roads leaving the park branching off every so often.  instead we chose to stay at the canyon campground.  this turned out to be better, as amenities were very near by (showers, shoppping, food).  we set up camp and lucked out with a very large campsite.  this afforded us to have some distance between the picnic table and fire ring, surrounded by tall pines.  the only downside was that we were right next to the bathroom building, but the noise and traffic werent as bad as we had feared.
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/507.jpg
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/508.jpg

great! camp is set up and we still have a couple or three hours of daylight left!  today has only been about 200 miles so far, so we decided to go ahead and do our north loop.  we headed west to the norris geyser basin.  from the road you could see the steam from some of the geysers.  this was unlike anything i had seen before!!
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/419.jpg

the area included the artist's paint pots.  basically its a bunch of bubbling, gurgling mud.  if it werent so hot, i would jump in!
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/421.jpg

what we found truly amazing were some of the colors found in the parks nature.  some of the geysers were breathtaking in color and depth
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/426.jpg

we learned that the hotter the geyser (closer to 200 degrees or more!) the more blue (clear) the water. as it cools into the upper 160 degree range, you start to get bacterial growth.  this growth has a beauty all its own.
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/429.jpg

the yellow, orange, and reddish hues are bacteria that can grow in high temps; from 167 degrees on down.  as you get into cooler temps (still in above one hundred) you start getting golds and greens.
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/430.jpg

we continued up the west side towards mammoth area and upper terrace drive.  the geysers and silica content of the ground (all the white stuff) was spectacular.  as the thousands of earthquakes in the park each year occur, this changes the locations of some of the geysers.  sometimes this results in fields of trees being taken over.  apparently they dont grow to well in that stuff...perhaps its the rotten egg smell!
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/437.jpg

mammoth is like a ritzy resort town. nice restaurants, shops, perfectly manicured lawns...and elk, lots of elk.  i guess they dont like to be pet.
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/441.jpg
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/442.jpg

we left mammoth and stopped at the petrified tree.  there used to be three of them, but tourists from back in the day took too many pieces as souveniers, so now there is one...hence the fence.
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/444.jpg

the sun was starting to set.  we had accomplished alot in this day, so we decided to save the remainder of the north loop for later and better light.  basically, all that was left was tower falls.  we found ourselves in very light traffic and had a spirited ride back to camp.

we brought some mre's with us for a reliable food source, not knowing for sure that our campsite would be near any restaurants.  so we decided to break them out and have us some dinner and beer.  mre's are much better tasting than i remember!  the desserts were very good and i loved the lemon-lime sport drink.  time to break out my tin cup!
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/506.jpg
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg47/rehess79/509.jpg

as we ate, the sun disappeared. i look up and the view was breathtaking.  it was so dark, not only could you see millions of stars, but also the milky way.  i havent been this happy in a long time.  tomorrow begins another day of discovery in the nations first national park.



« Last Edit: September 22, 2009, 05:48:55 PM by tjhess74 » Logged

i ride.  to work, to home, to the store, to kill time.  doesn't matter when, what the weather, or with who.  i ride.

Iron Butt Association #30337
MK96xj
What if the "Hokey Pokey" is What its all about?
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Years Contributed: '08
GPS: Asheville NC
Miles Typed: 2860

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Ducati MTS 620




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« Reply #19 on: September 21, 2009, 09:18:11 AM »

Report reads good however the pics are not showing. Photobucket says bandwidth exceeded upgrade to pro Headscratch

Maybe my connection at work. Will need to check back when i get home Shrug
« Last Edit: September 22, 2009, 08:29:06 AM by MK96xj » Logged

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