2009 South Dakota motorcycle trip
Day 9

June 14

Today we're going to ride in eastern Wyoming. A brochure we have mentions a scenic motor loop that sounds like it might be fun. The weather is nice...sunny with big, puffy clouds. A little nippy. We left the house at 8:37 and rode the 1/2 mile into Hill City and got gas and a beverage. I got a lemonade. I try to get something noncarbonated when I carry it on the bike.

We rode through Hill City and headed south on US16. At Custer we turned west, staying on US16, and started covering new roads. The US highways are in nice shape. There are lots of places where the forest service has removed fallen trees and stacked the remains in piles they will safely burn in the winter.

About 11 miles out of Custer we reached the Jewel Cave National Monument and something cool happened. The road narrowed and became twisty as hell. Yeah baby! This lasted for 4-5 miles until we exited the other end of the park. It was a nice surprise.

20 miles later we were in Newcastle, WY, the base for the scenic tour. We got gas and I had a carrot cake from the store. The actual route for the scenic tour was available at the visitor's center so we rode around a little bit until we found it.

One problem. This is Sunday and the place is locked up. No one is home.

We looked around but all we found was a caboose. We looked at the description of the tour and a map we had and could pretty much figure out where we were supposed to go. We headed off to sightsee.

The first turn was at Osage. As we neared the town I was blessed with a beautiful sight. A train! I love trains. I would be in love a lot today. When we got to the turnoff there was a problem. The road looked like what we in Indiana would call a fire road...gravel.

There was a road that went through Osage so we figured we'd take it to where we needed to go. We turned around, went back to Osage and took the road through town. We crested a hill and stopped. This road, too, turned to gravel. Apparently there are two types of roads in Wyoming. Paved roads that are federally maintained, and gravel roads. It's kind of that way in South Dakota but not as bad.

We rode back to Osage and pulled into the parking lot of a restaurant to plot our next course. We decided to continue west on US16 and see what we found.

I snapped a picture of the train sitting on the siding waiting its turn. As we sat here a northbound train passed through town. We could see it off to our right as we rode down the highway. It looked like a big silver snake off in the distance. At one point the tracks cross under the highway and the engines were just passing beneath as we crossed. The chase is on!

The next town we came to was Upton. By now we were on the lookout for a place to eat. There was nothing here so we decided to continue our trek. In the background is the train we seem to be chasing.

We went northwest through the towns of Bentley and Thornton where we found nothing...just the rumblings of our coal train teasing us to chase it some more. The land out here is a little hilly. Pretty, yet desolate. Not a good place for a breakdown.

When we reached Moorcroft the situation improved. It's on I-90 so there were some restaurants to choose from. We decided to eat at Donna's Diner. Donna is Debby's mom's name. There was a sign down the street for Devil's Tower. As we headed into the restaurant the coal train passed through town headed somewhere north for more coal. The local fire department was getting a new station.

Moorcroft, WY. 12:50, mileage 30,282 - After some good home-style food we gassed up the bikes and headed up US14 to Devil's Tower. Along the way I tried to take some pictures of the guys behind me. About all I accomplished was getting pictures of Ashton's helmet or my CB antenna. I'll need to practice on my technique. The land up here is a little greener and the roads a little curvier.

We veered off on WY24 and soon we were in sight of the Tower. We stopped at a pulloff to take in the view and get some pictures. My favorite type of Harley Davidson pulled in across the road...a Heritage Softail Classic. We decided to go into the park and see Devil's Tower close up.

It didn't cost much to get in and the road up was nice and winding.

We went to the visitor center where we scored more pins and stickers. For the first time on our trip it was actually getting HOT and the air conditioning felt good.

We walked the trail to the base of the Tower. A couple were climbing the face and there was a park ranger there explaining their climbing techniques and talking about the tower itself. You can see the climbers here.

We rode out of the park to the trading post. We got something to drink and sat at the outside tables.

John was rewarded with seeing another Venture. Ventures aren't that common so it's nice to see others. John and the other Venture owner talked for awhile about their bikes.

We could hear a beeping sound coming from the area of our bikes. As we got closer I discovered it was the weather radar issuing a tornado warning. What?? You could see dark skies to the south and apparently the weather was nasty there. Hmmmmmm...that's the way we'll be going when we leave.

It was a little before 3:30 when we headed back on the road. There were scattered black clouds. We had just gotten back on US14 when we got rained on for about 15 seconds. Shortly after we rode away from the dark clouds. We picked up I-90 at Sundance and highballed it to Spearfish.

Spearfish, SD. 16:31, mileage 30,385 - At Spearfish we planned to take the road through the canyon again so we pulled off at the same gas station for gas and pop. Then we rode the Spearfish Canyon highway for the third time. I was just as fun the third time. At Cheyenne Crossing we took US85 east and rode to Deadwood, then took our familiar route back down US385 to Hill City.

A storm was rolling in as we arrived at the cabin. We watched it storm and lazied around the cabin for the rest of the night.

Pictures from the day.

283 miles

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