2009 South Dakota motorcycle trip

Last summer John & Debby took a family trip to Rapid City, South Dakota, to visit their daughter Ashton who is stationed at Ellsworth AFB. They visited a lot of the sites there and were impressed with the area. When it came to time to discuss plans for our 2009 motorcycle trip it was easily decided that a trip to South Dakota was in order. Because it would take at least two days travel time each way we decided to make it a two week vacation. The departure date was set for June 6th. D-day!

In keeping with the D-day theme, each day of the week leading up to our departure date John would email something D-day related about that day in 1944. Here they are:

June 1
June 2
June 3
June 4
June 5

June 6

4:59 am. There was a hint of pink in the eastern sky as I fired up the Goldwing. The exhaust trails indicated the chilliness in the air. I checked the lights. I checked my list, loaded everything in the trailer, and geared up. Satisfied everything was as it should be I pulled the bike out, shut the garage door, and headed east. I was in "little kid at Christmas" mode, and looking forward to a two week motorcycle trip.

The plan is to take two days to get to our cabin near Rapid City. The first day will take us to Omaha...682 estimated miles away. This will be our longest one day ride yet. Our previous was 625 on our Colorado trip back in 2004, but that was on my old Shadow. The Goldwing will be much nicer. There is a chance of rain along the way, but right now the skies are clear and sparkly. Since last year I've upgraded my GPS to a Garmin 376c that has XM radio and weather capabilities. I can keep an eye on the weather.


I stopped at the 16th & H Bigfoot for gas, pop, and ice. Six minutes and four miles later I was pulling into John's. The Kurdzioleks were already there and Mike & John were fiddling with Mike's trailer taillight. The left turn/brake part wasn't working correctly. We couldn't figure out the problem there in the driveway so we decided Mike would ride in the middle. Incidentally, if the bike Mike is riding looks familiar, it's my Nomad. He wanted to ride a bigger bike for this long trip.

Bedford, IN. 5:39, initial mileage is 28,258 - We rolled out of John's driveway and for the first time since 2004 we headed west. Three bikes with three trailers. The skies were clear and there was a nip in the air but no one really noticed. We rode through Bedford and north on SR37. At Martinsville we moved over to SR67, then took SR39 northward through Monrovia. We passed Ted Everett Farm Equipment where I bought my tractor. We took SR39 through Clayton, Danville...all the way to I-74. Traffic was light and we made good time. This was a nice ride through the country and it cut Indianapolis out of the loop.


Smartsburg, IN. 7:35, mileage 28,368 - I had intended to stop in Lizton when we reached I-74 but there were no gas stations there so we rode another 19 miles further to the Smartsburg exit. We had breakfast using the Dumpster as a makeshift picnic table. I had brought chicken salad in the cooler since it would spoil before I returned home, so I had a chicken salad sandwich for breakfast. Everyone else had normal breakfast food. Since no one had minded the extra 20 miles we had travelled I decided to stretch our distances a little.


Bloomington, IL. 10:00, mileage 28,495 - Our second planned stop was supposed to be Champaign but because of our extended legs we stopped in Bloomington. This leg was typical of what we'd be doing. Interstate riding with the cruise control set around 73 mph. It was nice to be in a different state. You feel like you're accomplishing something. It was a typical stop...get gas, pull the bikes to the side, use the restroom, get a pop, we stretch, talk, and the smokers smoke.

At one point on the way here John's bike lost power and I got a radio call that his bike had died. A few seconds later he announced in a happier voice that it had run out of gas and he switched to reserve. He'd never had to put his new bike on reserve before. Problem easily solved. Pulling a trailer at interstate speeds his bike was good for about 125 miles before he needed to switch to reserve...so we'd try to keep our legs under this.

30 minutes later we were back on the highway. At the I-74/I-55 interchange I missed the sign for I-74 and took the I-55 east route. No biggie...off at the next interchange and turn around. This is one small complaint I have about the 376c GPS I have. It gives you about 5 seconds warning for a turn. My 2610 does a much better job.


Knoxville, IL. 12:00, mileage 28,587 - As we passed Peoria my GPS showed patches of possible rain to the west and the sky agreed. As always, you hope it doesn't rain. Especially when you're on a motorcycle. Luck held out until we were in the Knoxville, IL, area. A little sprinkle at first, then it got steadily worse. Time to pull off and don the rain gear. We found a station in Knoxville to gas up at. As we stood under the awning contemplating putting on the rain gear the rain started to let up. It was near lunch time and the station attendent said there was a restaurant a few blocks away. Sounded like a plan.


We walked a few blocks to George's Restaurant. It's always nice to try something besides a chain restaurant. The waitress was friendly. The food was good. A nice small town place to eat. Walking back to the bikes we passed a nice looking old home with this plaque on it. Cool. A little bit of history.


Iowa City, IA. 14:50, mileage 28,699 - The skies have remained partly cloudy and the temperature is just right. John and I are able to talk to each other on CBs this year which adds another dimension of enjoyment. We're now on I-80.

One of the coolest things I saw today were the large windmills. Sometimes just a few, sometimes hundreds. They're huge! The semis hauling windmill blades are interesting, too. The trailers must be 120 feet long.

At one point I looked over and headed east was a convoy of stormchasers. They even had a tandem axled, armored car looking thing like on the Discovery Channel show "Storm Chasers". I'm glad they were going the other way. Apparently there is some nasty weather brewing about half a state south of here. Thankfully, we never saw it.

Update December 2009 - After watching this season's 'Stormchasers' I think that was the TIV and its support vehicles we saw. Cool!


Des Moines, IA. 17:05, mileage 28,820 - John said his low fuel light was on so we stopped here. We're getting very close to our destination. We actually gained an hour in Illinois but I'm showing Indiana time on all the stops today.

For months I've been staring at maps, both paper and electronic, preparing for this trip. It's nice as the lines on the maps are replaced in our minds by real places and memories.


Neola, IA. 19:07, mileage 28,926 - After gassing up at the Kum & Go...snicker...we decided it was time for supper. The attendant gave directions to a bar/restaurant in nearby Neola. They were the kind of directions I don't like. Stop here. Left here, right there...too many turns and road names and stuff to remember. The restaurant or the given roads didn't show on the GPS so my confidence of success was low. We rode through Neola following the directions as best we could. A mile or so west of Neola I pulled over at an intersection. No one had seen anything. Towards the interstate was a cluster of buildings that looked like it could be it so we went to investigate.


The suspected restaurant turned out to be a bar. They said the restaurant we were looking for was back in town and north of where we had been. Across the road there was a Subway attached to the gas station so we decided to go there. The air conditioning felt nice. The food was well received. It wasn't much farther to our destination for the night so we saddled up and headed towards Omaha.


Omaha, NE. 20:43, mileage 28,960 - Twenty two miles and 28 minutes later we were at our destination for the night...the Holiday Inn Express. 702 total miles for the day.


After unpacking and a little lounging we rode down to the Bob Kerry Pedestrian Bridge. We parked nearby and started walking in the general direction of the bridge. There was some sort of festival going on on the riverfront. As we were walking a bus stopped and the driver offered to take us down the riverfront to the bridge. After disembarking the bus we walked to the entrance of the bridge. The closer we got to the bridge we realized the bus driver had actually increased our walking distance quite a bit. Oh well. The bridge was cool, with nice views. The cool breeze off the water felt nice. Lisa doesn't like heights but she walked across the bridge and back.

Leaving the bridge we went to a convenience store across from the hotel. We got snacks and ice cream. After a full day of riding we turned in. I fell asleep almost immediately. Tomorrow's ride will be ~150 miles less.


Pictures from the day.



702 miles.

Click here for our next day's adventure.




Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7
Day 8 Day 9 Day 10 Day 11 Day 12 Day 13 Day 14
Epilogue





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