2012 South Dakota motorcycle trip

Day 1

Last summer on our Georgia trip we sat on our second story porch and pondered the trip for this year. We loosely decided to take a two week trip to the Northeast. Over the next couple months we started looking at routes and accomodations and attractions. Then in late August Hurricane Irene struck the Northeast causing widespread damage. We decided to forgo that trip until the area had time to recover.

Our sights then turned to the Southeast. South Carolina in general. The Beaufort/Charleston/Savannah areas in particular. Once again we found attractions and accomodations and planned routes and strategies. We had even reserved a rental house.

2012 brought a new year and new news. Airman Ashton was with child, and her due date was mid-June. We decided to turn the Phelons juggernaut 180 degrees and make a return visit to South Dakota. This will be the first time there for Jerri and Donna. Initially we planned to take two days to get there as we had in 2009. As the plan developed we added stops at the American Pickers warehouse near Davenport, Iowa, and the state capital in Des Moines. We decided to leave Thursday afternoon instead of early Friday morning. We'll spend the first night in Peoria so we can visit the Pickers warehouse when they open.

In addition to new faces there are also new bikes heading to South Dakota. John & Debby on their 2010 Goldwing trike and Mike & Jerri on their 2006 Yamaha Venture. Mike had some last minute charging issues but a new regulator fixed that problem.

As has become tradition John started sending out inspirational messages about a week before our trip. This year he used Facebook as the medium. Here they are:

June 7
June 8
June 9
June 10
June 11
June 12
June 13
June 14

A couple days before our trip I found out that my brother Monty and his girlfriend Stephanie were leaving next Monday (June 18) on their motorcycle trip...to South Dakota?? They had previously talked about going to the Gulf Shores, AL, area so this was a surprise to me. This was an interesting turn of events. We would be in the same place on vacation. They were leaving a few days later and coming home a few days earlier. They were also going to shoot down into Colorado so they wouldn't have many days in the Black Hills with us. Hopefully we can get together for a ride.

The night before our trip was to start I hooked the trailer to the bike and put some stuff in the trailer...rain gear, etc. The stuff you hope you don't need. I guesstimated I had about 4-5000 miles left on the front tire, so just to be safe I put the new front tire I had in the bottom of the trailer. Last year I had a flat tire on the rear and had to have a regular motorcycle tire installed. I hated every mile. I have had the repaired car tire on my spare rim since then. I thought about putting it into the trailer also but it took up too much room. Then I started pondering...

I ended up doing a last minute project and mounting the spare rear tire to the trailer box and turning my basket 90*. This gave the whole setup a better center of mass and I had my rear tire...just in case.

June 14

Vacation day was here and I couldn't be more ready. I'd worked a ton of comptime to save up leave. I'm also taking off the two days before July 4th since it is a Wednesday holiday. This will give me a few days after vacation to take care of things and wind down from vacation.

When I got home I pulled the Goldwing around front so it could be loaded. Donna arrived shortly afterwards and we started packing. Miss Efficient had most things already packed and ready to go. We were on the road at 16:32. I needed to get gas then we would meet at the Potter's at 17:00.

Look at that happy smile. I think Donna is even more excited than me. This is her first big bike trip. She was with me last August in Pigeon Forge when a drunk driver rear ended us and shortened our long weekend trip. Donna and the bike are both fixed and ready to go. Donna has her own helmet and we have new Edsets headsets we can talk to each other on. All the bikes are fitted with VHF radios as part of our communications project. Donna even has her own push-to-talk (PTT) button and a volume control. She has my spare camera so we can get more pictures.

We arrived at John & Debby's at 16:53. John had parked his trike in the side yard. We loaded baby gifts and some groceries Debby had bought into my trailer. Kyle watched the preparations. He'll be leaving for military school next week. Temps are in the mid-80's and the skies are clear. There might be some rain the next few days but we'll deal with that if it happens.

Bedford, IN. Initial mileage is 57,221 - We did radio checks. Everyone sounded good. At 17:10 the kickstands were up and we were headed west. The first minutes of a 17-day trip were full of excitement as you roll through the gears and the wind hits your face. I could hear the smiles in Donna's voice on the intercom. As we rode through Bedford an ambulance was pulling out of the hospital. It was Monty and he waved to us. Hope to see you in a week or so, bubby!

The route west was pretty straightforward. SR37 to Bloomington. SR46 to Terre Haute. SR63 to I-74 then onto Peoria for the evening. This year I planned more of our gas stops around the larger Pilot, Travel America, and Flying J truck stops. They have more pumps, nicer/larger restrooms, and nicer facilites in general.

West of Spencer a state trooper was slowing down traffic. A half mile or so later we saw why. There was a wreck. There were people turning their cars around which usually means the road will be blocked for awhile. We stopped, discussed backtracking, but decided to wait and see. After a few minutes a truck turned into a driveway behind us...at least we thought it was a driveway. As we watched the truck it suddenly became obvious the gravel road came out about a quarter mile down the road. Passed the accident! Down the gravel road we went and were soon back on our way.

When I went to Rose-Hulman in Terre Haute 30 years ago this was an active railroad crossing. Now it is just an orphaned spur, it's lights turned sadly away. One Sunday evening I was returning to school when a bee bounced off my Trans Am's mirror and stung me in the arm. Maaaaannnn it hurt. I pulled over just passed this crossing and pulled the stinger out. When I left I did a Magnum PI peel out (if you know what that is you are old...ha!). Almost all the railroad lines between Bedford and Terre Haute are long gone and I miss them. I'm looking forward to seeing trains on this trip.

We headed north on US41 in Terre Haute looking for a supper location. I expected to see a plethera of restaurants in this college town but didn't. They must be farther south. As we got close to the end of town the El Camino mexican restaurant appeared and we decided to eat there. We'd been on the road for two hours and it felt good to stretch.

The food was good. Normally when I eat mexican I order chicken chimichangas. So much so that Donna likes to tease me about it. When the waiter took our order Donna had went to the restroom so I ordered for her and then ordered burritos for me. When they were handing out the food the look on Donna's face was precious because she thought they'd given me the wrong thing. We had a good laugh.

IN63 & I-74 intersection. 20:48, mileage 57,364 - The ride up IN63 was peaceful. It's a nice four lane road that never seems to have any traffic. At one point I thought I saw something blowing on the roadway, but it turned out to be two baby skunks meandering across the road. We all missed them. I hit some skunk roadkill about a month ago and my bike stank for days.

The sun was going down and it had cooled into the 70's. So nice. We fueled the bikes, pulled them to the side, used the restroom, got something to drink, and the smokers smoke. Our usual stop procedure. In addition, I also record our arrival time, bike mileage, gallons used, fuel cost, take pictures, and send positional texts back home.

Things were pleasant as we headed west on I-74. The setting sun was picturesque. Cool temps. The bikes humming with the cruise set at 73. A sweetheart sitting behind me. We were looking forward to the Peoria Candlewood Suites and a good night's sleep, then the American Pickers shop in the morning...after a nice breakfast, of course.

As we neared the town of Mansfield a silver car passed us, then pulled over about 50 feet in front of me and stayed there. Thanks buddy. I hate it when people do this. Now my safety zone is diminished to almost nothing. If a big truck tire suddenly appears I'll have no reaction time. I started to drift back when, almost prophetically, out from under the car came a big piece of deer carcass. My bike missed it but I felt a trailer wheel jump. I didn't see any wild headlight movement in my mirror so it appeared everyone was okay.

Then across the radio John said "I'm going down". I thought it sounded strange since he was on a trike so we pulled over.

Damn! Mike had hit the carcass but plowed through it and stayed upright. The trike following wasn't so lucky. The low hanging aquashields had hit squarely. The right side was broken and dragging. It's driving light was gone. The left driving light was broken. The light wiring harness was also dragging along the road. It appeared when Mike hit the carcass he sent some spray back and it added to the deer splatter on the trike.

Debby called the Illinois State Police and they dispatched a trooper. We used zip ties to get the aquashield off the ground so the trike was driveable. The trooper was there in about fifteen minutes. A report was made. The insurance company was notified. It was an aggravating situation but we all agreed it could have been much worse. At least the trike was driveable and all damage was cosmetic. We laughed about the deer goo. The trooper was a good guy, and wished us well.

It was 21:40 (now Illinois time) by the time we got back on the road. The trike seemed to be driving all right. Mike's bike seemed no worse for wear. As we got up to speed I noticed my cruise control wouldn't engage. It was as if the button didn't work. Hmmmmmmm. That sucks. We still have 85 miles to go...and I like my cruise control.

We had planned to look for a car wash in Bloomington but as we got close John radioed and said to press on to Peoria. The city was quiet when we turned onto highway 6 then US150. My GPS location for the Candlewood was about a quarter mile different than reality so we spent a few minutes hunting for it. We arrived at 23:04, checked in, and unpacked. The desk clerk said there was a car wash down the road.

We left the girls to get ready for bed which, for Debby, included a good shower to remove all the potential deer jerky. When we backed out of the parking lot I noticed my reverse wouldn't engage. Damn. Two problems. Both buttons are on the same pod. Did something break?

We found the car wash hiding behind a drugstore and some other buildings. While John gave the trike and trailer a good washdown I used my phone to search the GL1800riders.com forum about my new problems. One solution was a bad clutch lever switch. I checked my clutch lever and...bingo! It looks like the last time I re-zip tied my wiring bundle I pulled the clutch lever wire tight and now it wasn't making good connection. I pulled some slack in the wires and made sure the connections were tight. When we fired up the bikes I put it in reverse and it worked! I was relieved it was a simple solution.

Peoria, IL. 23:56, mileage 57,512 - Since we were out we headed to a nearby Hucks to fuel up. As I stood at the fuel pump dreaming of bed I heard the sound of a waterfall. What? Son of a b----. The auto shutoff didn't work and probably a half gallon of gas was running over my engine onto the ground. I guess misery loves company cause John's did the same thing. I pushed Orange out of the gas puddle and to the side so it could air dry for a while.

We looked at the trike under the bright service station lights but didn't see any more problems. I got a bungie strap and we gave the broken aquashield a good lashing. I didn't trust the zip ties to hold forever. We kept finding more deer goo here and there and laughed about it. Reeking of spilled gas and deer splatterings we went back to the motel. I even engaged my cruise control for a second to make sure it worked. Yes!

It felt good to hit the bed. Donna had everything unpacked and laid out. She tickles me that way. I just grab stuff out of a bag. The difference between men and women. She's precious. John is going to look for MotorTrike dealers in the morning. Hopefully one is nearby. The trip has barely started and already we've had some unexpected excitement. Enough of that.

290 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 Day 15 Day 16 Day 17 Day 18

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