this can only end well…
Strong motel coffee and the daily packing ritual were all that was needed to be on the road out of Broadus early the next morning. The sun was just over horizon and already hot, fitting weather for our planned haul through Sturgis with intentions of camping in Badlands National park. The first 120 miles were flat, straight and dusty, perfect for maxing out Adam’s 30 years old drive train at a shaky 87 mph. A stop at the only gas station allowed us to meet one of the great characters of the trip, a weathered, leather covered gentleman on a 1948 Panhead.
Rolling into town midmorning on a Sunday, we were mentally if not physically prepared to troll the vintage Honda machines past gangs of unruly Harley riding Sturgis natives. Unfortunately for our street cred, Sturgis is pretty touristy in June, and the biggest challenge was avoiding poorly driven RV’s hauling trailers filled (I assume) with shiny, low mileage Harley’s.
After a quick Sunday morning brunch with other churchgoers at a downtown diner, we headed out looking for the trouble we were sure to find in Deadwood, SD. After practically stealing a days pay at the same blackjack tables Wild Bill Hickock would have played were he still alive, and promptly blowing the winnings on tobacco at the biggest cigar shop in the state, it was off to see the spectacle the is Mount Rushmore.
The ride through the Black Hills was often referenced as a must do, and not without reason. The hills were scenic and the highways were perfectly banked with long sweeping curves. The riding was fun and at elevation the weather was pleasantly cool. By early afternoon the scenery was looking more rugged and suddenly four stoic faces appeared behind a mountain. After paying to park in the three story parking garage, admiring the artistic feat of blasting faces out of solid rock, and snapping obligatory photos, we quickly had enough of Mount Rushmore and sped off looking for peace among the expanse of Badlands National Park.
Through the rest of the afternoon the sweeping curves gradually straightened, and the land slowly flattened. By evening we reached the crossroads which would take us 15 miles from pavement and deep into arid Bison and Prairie Dog territory. After another hour of fishtailing on soft gravel, we reached one of the more spectacular camp sites of the trip. Set in a small river valley, the stream formed the only barrier between camp and the heard of bison. After pitching tents we inventoried our rations for dinner: an apple, Easy-Mac, and Whiskey. Having run out of water, dinner consisted of 1/2 of an apple and 1/4 of a bottle of whiskey. Fortunately we had nowhere to go and so spent the last of daylight surveying the valley watching the Bison graze and meander.