Today is a loosely planned day. We're gonna ride to Keystone and check out the stores. Other than that what happens happens.
As we've ridden US385 we've driven by this little town-like cluster of buildings with a big Ferris wheel. Today was all about exploring so we pulled in here to check it out. The place is called Boondocks. They have a gas station, gift shop, a hamburger stand, a photo studio, and various car and memorabilia displays. It is loosely based on a 50's theme.
When we left here we got behind the two-lane scourge. Slow pokes. Road hogs. In this instance it a guy pulling a travel trailer with a truck about half the size of what he needed. Traffic was backed up and no good passing lanes presented themselves. We followed him at blazing speeds until he turned towards Hill City.
Next stop Keystone. We checked out the shops on the south side of the main drag. Donna found some Minnetonka moccasins she liked. There was another Minnetonka store across the street we would compare prices with. There is a chocolate store and everyone stops and window shops since everyone likes chocolate...except me.
After we finished the south side we decided it was time for lunch. We noticed the Red Garter advertising Indian Tacos. We hadn't been able to get those at the Badlands restaurant so today we will! They reminded me of a big, flat chalupa from Taco Bell except about ten times better.
We had no plans after Keystone, so John mentioned riding the Norbeck highways again. Last night John and I had been looking at a map of recommended rides to see which ones we hadn't did yet. One of them was the Norbeck Nature Trail, so I suggested riding it too since we'd never did it before. Agreed. The plan was set. After lunch we went through the northside shops. Donna got the moccasins from the first store we had visited and also some chocolate covered pretzels from the chocolate shop.
The ride on Iron Mountain Road was as enjoyable as the other day. The only difference was today it was hotter. The temperature was in the mid-80s. We initially got behind an RV towing a Beetle but they pulled over soon. More courteous drivers!
We had to wait in line at the entrance gate for what seemed like forever for them to verify our tags were still good. Sitting in the hot sun put us in the mood for something to drink. We rode to the Norbeck visitor center. They had some displays and nice air conditioning but no drinks. We found a nice shade tree and vegetated for awhile. Another group of motorcycles pulled in which included a Venture similar to Mike's. Ventures aren't that common (compared to Harleys or Goldwings) so it's always interesting to see one.
In need of liquids we rode a short distance to the Custer Game Lodge. They had cold drinks and a nice gift shop. We also met another Goldwing rider from Indiana. He was from Huntingburg or Huntington...I don't remember which. It was nice to see a fellow Hoosier so far from home.
From here we backtracked a mile or so to the Custer Nature Trail. It is a long loop through the southern part of the park. It's open range with the occasional cattle crossing and a nice, wide, meandering road. We came upon a group of burros and pulled over. They are usually on Iron Mountain Road but now they are farther south.
The burros are cute and friendly and they had several young burros. Off to the side we saw some commotion. A bunch of people and kids were almost mobbing a burro and it's young one. The burro got agitated and spun around knocking a lady to the ground. She hit her head solidly on the concrete.
John walked over to check her out, then waved us over. Debby walked over and I followed with my first aid kit and Debby's baby wipes. The lady had a hematoma with a small cut, but like most head lacerations, it initially bled a lot. I gave Debby some dressings that she used to stop the bleeding. Debby recommended to the lady and her husband to have her checked out when they got back to a city. Hopefully they did.
It was a good reminder that wild animals are wild no matter how cute and tame they seem to be.
The remainder of the nature trail was peaceful and we stopped a few more times for animal pictures. The nature trail terminates at Hwy 87. We headed north towards the Needles Highway.
We stopped for a stretch break near the Three Sisters. This is a pretty area. It's where the tour bus stops. We also stopped to check on the weather. It had started to get cloudy and the wind was picking up. We still have about a third of the Needles Highway to go before getting back to the highway. John and I checked the radar on our phones and there was a big storm heading our way. We didn't want to be on the 15mph curvy roads in the rain so we got underway again.
The bad weather nipping at us added some excitement to the roads. When we were back in the bottomlands we were following a van when it stopped. Donna said "Oh crap" and then I saw it too. A big pine tree on a hillside next to the road fell taking another tree with it in the process. The whole mess fell onto the oncoming lane. The van sat there and I didn't think it was going anywhere so I drove around it and drove through the debris. It was just a few smaller limbs in our lane. There was no way I was waiting for someone to officially clean it up. We'd be rain soaked by then. Mike and John followed. John's trike got stuck for a second, but he powered through the mess.
When we got to US16 the wind had picked up even more. As we neared Hill City debris was blowing around and across the road. It felt like we were gaining some ground on the weather. Well...for awhile.
As soon as we turned onto US385 we got behind another slowpoke. This time an RV. He was going even slower than the guy this morning and we were already several cars back. Now it felt like the weather may catch us. We followed this jackwagon (to quote R. Lee Ermey) nearly all the way to Lead until the road 4-lanes. When we passed him we were shamed. He was from Indiana.
Lead, SD. 19:11, mileage 59,778 - We fueled up and went next door to the Dakotamart. To save time we rode down the sidewalk. Ha! We picked up some pop and groceries. Debby has had a roast cooking in the crockpot all day and we have that to look forward to. According to the radar the weather has passed below us, so we can breathe easier. We spent another peaceful evening at the cabin with fine food and company.
I asked John if he had heard anything about his aquashields. If they are going to be installed we need to come up with a different route back home that would put us near Preemption. John said the parts wouldn't be ready so we'll stick to our planned course.
The reason Monty & Stephanie went to Colorado was because Monty wanted to go Gunsmoke Guns, the gun shop on Discovery Channel's "American Guns". He was going to look at buying a pistol and having some custom engraving done. Sadly, they found the shop but it isn't open today so those plans are shot. I suggested going to Pike's Peak but there are wildfires in the area. They decided to cut their losses and head back to Indiana. They got as far as Colby, KS, before finding a hotel to beat the heat.
Tomorrow we get to feel the heat.
Click here for our next day's adventure.