September 1, 2006
I hit the road at around 9:30 this morning, heading for Portales, NM by way of Wichita Falls and Amarillo.
The ride was relatively uneventful except that my Space Bags packing experiment was a failure. The bags didn't fit the full width of the T-bag and made a big lump in my back that got pretty uncomfortable after 470 miles.
The weather got better the further west I went and the rain held off until I was safely in my hotel room.
I did get over to El Rancho to enjoy some green chiles, which are better in New Mexico than anywhere else.
Other than that I just rode arond and took pictures of ENMU and the F-111 that's now on display.
September 2, 2006
I slept through the overnight rain but woke up to a damp and chilly morning. I stayed under threatening skies most of the day, and was glad I packed the heavy jacket. I took US-70 from Portales to Clovis, where I picked up US-60. I got on US-84 in Ft. Sumner and my rain luck ran out just outside Santa Rosa. I got out of the rain about when I got on I-25 andfinally saw the sun just south of the Colorado line.
Crossing Raton pass in to Colorado was a lot of fun. The bike ran really well at almost 8000 feet and the views were spectacular. I stopped at a scenic overlook just over the pass and got a good picture of some cool looking mountains.
After that I booked up to meet my friends in Walsenburg, CO. They've got some land up in the mountains and I took them up on the offer of tent space. I really should have left the bike at the bottom instead of riding up the dirt roads. The hills were OK to go up, but they're going to be scary going down in the morning.
Vic cooked up some excellent fajitas for dinner, and after some catching up we settled in for what looked like a chilly night at 7000 feet.
September 3, 2006
I didn't sleep well last night because I couldn't get comfortable, so morning came too soon. I did chicken out on riding back down the mountain so we borrowed a neighbor's trailer and hauled me down that way. Because of that I got started a little later than I wanted.
I made my way to Colorado Springs and stopped at The Garden of the Gods for lunch and pictures. Riding through the park was a lot of fun, but I think I will come back on a non holiday weekend because it was a little too congested to really take my time.
It was probably good that I couldn't take my time because between the late start and the sightseeing, I was seriously behind schedule. The 75 m.p.h. speed limit on I-25 did help me make up some time though. I got in to Douglas, WY at about 7:30 in the evening.
September 4, 2006
I decided to have an argument with the GPS this morning which ended up costing me 45 minutes to backtrack and get on the right road. Once I got back on Wyoming 59 I made good time up to Gillette. That road went through some of the most desolate country I've seen on this trip. But what sticks in my mind is the literally hundreds of roadkill rabbits on it. They must really have a rabbit problem there!
After a quick lunch in Gillette I made my way to Devil's Tower. I really can't put into words just how amazing a sight it is. I wish I had had the time to hike the trail around it. But I did get some really good pictures of it and some of the prairie dogs that live in the park.
After that I hit the road for South Dakota, with stops in Sturgis and Deadwood before arriving in Custer for the night. I took 85, 385, and 16 to get to Custer and got to ride through the Black Hills National Forest. There are some really nice twisty roads there, not as good as Deal's Gap, but still a lot of fun.
An excellent prime rib dinner capped off a great day. Tomorrow I'll be going to Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse.
September 5, 2006
I budgeted today to do some sightseeing at the Crazy Horse monument and Mount Rushmore. Staying in Custer was a good idea since it's less than 20 miles from Mount Rushmore and only about 4 miles from Crazy Horse.
Crazy Horse was the first stop of the day and I'm really glad it was. It is an amazing place and well worth the trip. They have an extensive museum and educational center where visitors can learn about Crazy Horse's life and Native American culture. I made a donation in order to take a van ride up to the arm and got a pleasant surprise when I found out that Gavin McLeod was also going up. The trip to the top was great and we were fortunate to also be joined by Joel, one of sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski's sons. Between Pete and Joel we learned a lot about what goes on behind the scenes at the monument. The view from the top was amazing and is a memory I will always treasure.
After that I headed up to Hill City for lunch and a stop at the local dealer to pick up some shirts. Unfortunately, the dealer was closed so I settled for a buffalo burger at The Bouncing Buffalo.
Finished with lunch I set out for Mount Rushmore. The roads out to it were a lot of fun to ride, with lots of twisties to keep you paying attention. Thanks to a tip from a fellow rider I got rock star parking in lot 6 and headed in. After seeing Crazy Horse I was a little underwhelmed, but it was still a very impressive site and I'm glad I went. There is a really nice trail which takes you around to different views. A word of advice, if you don't want a workout, start the trailto the left. If you start it on the right you will climb a lot of stairs.
And finally I headed back to the hotelfor an early night since I want to get an early start tomorrow. The Badlands await...
September 6, 2006
I got an early start this morning, heading from Custer to Rapid City to pick up I-90 and get to The Badlands. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the dealership in Hill City was open, so I stopped in and picked up some shirts. After that I cruised out to the park.
The Badlands is amazing. I stopped every chance I could to take pictures. The formations have an otherwordly beauty which just drew me in. After the first few miles it was hard to think that I was still in the plains of South Dakota. I ended up filling up the first 2 gig card and started in on the second one.
After leaving the park I headed on down the highway to tonight's stopping point in Siuox Falls, crossing back in to the Central time zone. I made one final stop in Mitchell to get a picture of the Corn Palace. After that I got in to Sioux Falls and got a room for the night.
I've got about 340 miles to do tomorrow to get to the rally site outside of Kansas City.
September 7, 2006
I got back on the road for the last leg in to Kansas City for the rally at about 9:30 in the morning and, other than lunch and a stop to pick up some shirts, it was a straight shot in.
There were about 30 people who came in tonight, including Sam, Lee, Opa, Bruce, and Phil. The cabin is great, with a bathroom, shower, and even air conditioning.
Sam cooked up some brats for dinner and we polished off the first keg of beer while getting caught back up with old friends and making new ones. It looks like I'm in the lead for the Amsden award with about 2500 miles in the clock to get here.
September 8, 2006
Not much to report today, just taking it easy and watching the rest of the attendees arrive. I decided not to head in to the factory today, opting for a day of rest and more beer instead.
September 9, 2006
The rain arrived overnight, and I'm really glad that I went in on a cabin because I'm about done with tent camping in the rain. We had a few more stragglers arrive today, but for the most part everyone's here. Because of the rain I again passed up the trip to the factory. I've already been on the tour once and really don't like crowds all that much anyways.
The rain cleared out in the afternoon, just in time for Sam's excellent brisket and the raffle and auction. I won a Nallin polo and a baseball cap in the raffle and a braided steel rear brake line. Unfortunately I can't use the brake line because it's for a 2000 model only, so if anyone with a 2000 Sportster wants one, pick up one for a 1997 and I'll pay shipping both ways.
I've decided to do the last leg, the trip home, in one day instead of two, so I'm calling it a night early so that I'll be rested tomorrow.
September 10, 2006
I set out at around 8:45 in the morning, heading south for home. The threatening skies finally let loose in Kansas City and I got rained on all the way to Topeka. The rain gear held up well and I was completely dry by the time I got out from under the clouds.
Today's ride was really just a straight shot home, with no real sightseeing or stops, other than lunch and gas.
I pulled in to the garage at around 6:30 in the evening, having ridden around 560 miles today, with Motley Crue's Home Sweet Home playing on the XM. A fitting end to a great trip.
All in all I rode about 3100 miles in 10 days and passed through New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma on the way.