2012 South Dakota motorcycle trip

Day 16

June 29

Warming up the bikes.

Today is the longest travel day of the three so we're leaving at 6am. There was a lot of hustle and bustle as we loaded the trailers and emptied the cabin. We have nice jacket weather this morning.

Mike and John strapped down their cargo. If it falls off Mike will be the first to know. Ha!

Hill City is quiet and peaceful at 7am. The temperature is dropping but we know to enjoy it while we can. At least I enjoy it. Donna is freezing.

Crazy Horse on the right.

US385 goes through the Wind Cave National Park. We saw some bison herds and a few deer.

Hot Springs, SD. 7:51, mileage 60,401 - US385 was relatively peaceful this morning. We had to pass one slowpoke. The girls are cold but it feels about right to me. Donna and I have been drinking Gold Peak sweet tea since we've been on this trip. We bought some more here.

We decided to eat breakfast across the street so we moved the bikes to another parking lot. It appears to be a municipal lot. There are police and fire related vehicles parked here.

The restaurant was warm and the food was good. I had ham & eggs with hash browns. Good food to start the day.

A few miles east of Hot Springs US385 merges with Hwy 79 and becomes 4-lane. We can make some good time. It's nice there is some green in the scenery as opposed to the plainness of the land in Wyoming or central South Dakota.

At least we made good time for awhile. About ten miles after crossing into Nebraska we hit stop and go traffic due to road construction. The temps are getting into the low 80s and you can feel the heat from new, black asphalt. John misses his aquashields. The road construction had traffic messed up pretty much all the way to Chadron.

On a sad note...when we were in Georgia last year I found a green golf tee in the driveway of our cabin. I stuck it on my bike as a memento. It has ridden with me since that trip. It made it through the trip and crash in Pigeon Forge last year, and over 3000 miles on this trip. I happened to look down and notice it was gone. Sigh...

Chadron, NE. 10:03, mileage 60,458 - Because it will be hot today our hops aren't that long. Usually 60-70 miles. It gets noticeably hotter with each passing hour. We parked beside some guys who were traveling from eastern Nebraska to Oregon. We talk and wish each other a safe trip. It would be nice to turn around and follow them.

Due to the road construction the traffic was steady and we waited at the intersection forever. There was no stoplight but they needed one. We ended up going west, turning around in a parking lot, then coming back east to avoid the intersection.

I'd love to have one of these.

Alliance, NE. 11:20, mileage 60,512 - From here we part ways with US385 and take Nevada Hwy 2. Charles Kuralt called this highway one of the ten prettiest in America. Have I mentioned it is getting hotter?

As we rode out of Alliance a tumbleweed blew across the road. It seemed fitting for the weather. Almost immediately I started seeing something that put a big smile on my face. Trains! Just east of Alliance is a large BNSF maintenance facility with lots of locomotives and cars and track.

The railroad follows Hwy 2 all the way to Grand Island and it is a busy line. Coal train after coal train. Loads going east and empties coming west. Trains waiting on a siding for others to pass. Two lead locomotives and one pushing with probably a hundred cars in between. Rarely ten minutes pass between trains. I'm loving it! It helps me mentally offset the heat. The first several trains honk at us.

For much of the day we would play leap frog with an eastbound coal train led by engine 9230. It was easily recognizable by the oddly-painted pusher locomotive.

Several places there were the remains of the old potash factories. This is why Hwy 2 is also called the Potash Highway.

The common theme for today. Hot temperatures and trains in the mirror. There's not much humidity here like there is back home. The heat here is hot...like you're in a broiler. It's hot standing still and it's hot riding. The only relief is air conditioning.

Hyannis, NE. 12:44, mileage 60,573 - For the months leading up to this trip one concern I had was getting gas on this highway. I had visions of closed gas stations, running out of gas, etc. That's why I carried the spare gas can...just in case. So far there are no reasons for my fears. The mapping software has been accurate about towns having gas stations. Thank goodness.

We spent a little extra time milling around here. It's hot. The railroad runs right next to the highway through this town. In addition to a couple coal trains we saw our only freight train. I've started the ritual of washing up with cold water and drenching my hair at each stop. An old guy from Arizona talked bikes with us for awhile.

Coal cars as far as the eye could see.

We've passed coal train 9230 again.

Thedford, NE. 14:19, mileage 60,640 - We gassed in Thedford and decided to forgo our normal lounging at the gas station in order to look for somewhere to eat. The others didn't even dismount their bikes. Donna had went inside so I went inside to get her. It's a good thing I did. The pump didn't take my credit card so I needed to pay them for my gas. It would have sucked to get arrested for gas theft in the middle of Nebraska.

We found Brahmer's Steakhouse just down the road. Time for lunch. A steakhouse always sounds good. The parking lot was sandy and my kickstand started sinking to China. I put down my parking puck. Advantage trike again. Another coal train went by as we were parking.

The restaurant was a nice break. You could tell everyone was getting a little rundown because of the heat. The place wasn't busy, the waitress was friendly, and the air conditioning felt good. We were over halfway done for the day so that was some consolation to the heat. I had a fish sandwich that hit the spot. Through the window two trains passed one another. One was eastbound 9230.

Broken Bow, NE. 16:47, mileage 60,708 - We're starting to see light at the end of the tunnel. The temperature is in the low 90's and it has dropped from 'blast furnace' to 'hot'. The scenery is now greener...trees, green crops, grass...the arrid plains look is gone. Still plenty of trains to watch.

Grand Island, NE. 18:52, mileage 60,797 - The GPS said there was a Bosselman truckstop near I-80 and I was glad to see it appear. I never quite trust the GPS. The place has a bunch of displays out front that gives it a circus-y atmosphere. The place was pretty busy and there was a tour bus out front.

We gassed up, parked our bikes, and found a shaded picnic table to sit at. One more hop to go to the hotel. The longest travel day back is almost over. We will be leaving the coal trains and heading east on I-80.

Charles Kuralt said Nebraska Hwy 2 is one of the ten nicest roads in America. I would have to agree...if it was 75 degrees. It would be nice to take your time, pull off the road to watch the trains, and enjoy the scenery. The oppressive heat ruined the enjoyment. We were just riding to the next oasis of air conditioning.

The ride down I-80 was pretty bland. When it got dark I ditched my sunglasses. This caused an unpleasant situation for me. The clear glasses I bought were in the trunk, so I rode to Lincoln with the paranoia of taking a bug in the eye. I kept my helmet visor low and my eyes just above the windshield to minimize the risk but this is an uncomfortable position.

The GPS led us to the Holiday Inn Express without a hitch. Only one problem. We are staying at the Staybridge Suites. What the hell? I know I programmed the Staybridge Suites into the GPS. John punched in Staybridge Suites and led the way. We got there at 21:20 which was a decent hour for once. Ha! We checked in, cleaned up, then pow wow'd outside near the pool to unwind.

The GPS problem was still aggravating me so I looked at the Mapsource programming on my laptop. The route that I had loaded into the computer just yesterday had the end point as the Staybridge Suites. The GPS had HIE as the end. I uploaded the route to the GPS. It still had HIE as the end point. What?? I deleted the route in the GPS and uploaded it again. This time Staybridge Suites was the endpoint. Apparently Mapsource won't overwrite a route that is already in the GPS. When I had entered the routes into the GPS before the trip I generically used Holiday Inn Expresses as the ending points for the day. When John actually booked the rooms I updated the routes. Given what I had just found out I made sure the next two days' routes were correctly updated. I could sleep a little easier with that mystery solved.

Tomorrow will be a capitol visit before we continue our trek east.

571 miles.

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