2012 South Dakota motorcycle trip

Day 3

June 16

Today is our long travel day. Again the alarm clock rang at 8:10 and again I would have loved to slept a little longer. It is especially cloudy this morning and some of the clouds are dark. The radar shows a storm to our northwest, and it might be moving across our path somewhere around Souix City. It looks like it is trying to diminish but only time will tell. When I got outside Mike had already cleaned our windshields.

Council Bluffs, IA. 9:31, mileage 57,955 - There was a Kicks gas station down the road from the hotel so we gassed up there. It was decided since the town was so crowded due to the college world series we would head out of town before getting breakfast. On the way out of town we passed a beautiful 4-8-4 steam locomotive on display with a long line of Union Pacific passenger cars. There were also lines of people headed for the ball park.

Not too far north of Council Bluffs I saw my first train of the trip. It was a busy track and I saw a couple more.

As the miles passed two things became obvious: (1) we probably will be eating at Souix City and (2) there's a good chance we'll get rained on. The dark clouds are ahead of us and getting closer. We were hoping they would have moved across the highway but the cooler, damp air is telling us otherwise. This time in 2009 we were already being rained on. We passed the rest area where we stopped last time. The miles kept ticking down to Souix City and it started to look promising for a dry run.

About 15 miles south of Souix City those hopes were dashed. Sprinkles at first, then heavier drops, then rain. After a couple minutes you know it's time to put on the rain gear. There was an overpass ahead but as we got close I could see other motorcycles were already taking shelter there so I kept going. About a quarter mile later Donna said the others had pulled over so I stopped and we put our raingear on in the open rain. We waited for the others to come ahead after they got their gear on but it didn't look like they were budging. I made a U-turn and rode back down the shoulder to the group. As I approached the overpass the other bikes left. One got a little squirrelly on the wet pavement and we thought he might go down but he recovered. John said there was a bike show in Souix City and that's where those guys were headed. That explains the large number of motorcycles we've been seeing. We headed off into the rain towards Souix City.

By the time we got to exit 143 on the outskirts of Souix City the rain had drizzled down. We took the exit to a restaurant that ended up being closed. The southbound overpass was closed for construction and the traffic was being routed down the off ramp and via the service road from farther up the interstate. Traffic was a mess and jammed up as people made their way to the US75 detour. We were pretty much stuck in the parking lot until kind motorists took pity on wet motorcyclists and let us out.

We headed for the KFC next, but what looked like an entrance turned out to be an illusion caused by the way the roadway fell away. We did a U-turn, then back to the stoplight to wait on more traffic. We finally made it to KFC.

We all had the buffet, which was a little sparse. They also didn't have any livers or gizzards. By the time we were finished eating there were pools of water from our raingear.

Souix City, IA. 12:27, mileage 58,053 - After lunch we went across the road for fuel. I got to see another train pass through. So far the rain has stopped.

A few miles up the road we passed a couple bikes setting alongside the road. There was a guy standing there and a girl walking up the road. The guy started waving his arms wildly like something was wrong. I pulled over just ahead of the girl. She said her boyfriend had ran out of gas. I pointed her in the direction of the nearest station. That was the best I could do. I had a gas can on my trailer, but I hadn't put gas in it yet.

North of Souix City Mike and John once again passed me. We also got into a few minutes of rain. Despite the rain this was the perfect weather to me. Cloudy and mid 70s. Donna likes it a little warmer. She has learned to appreciate the clouds, though. We are already seeing signs for Wall Drug.

Souix Falls, SD. 14:03, mileage 58,147 - The closer we got to Souix Falls the bluer the skies became. We took a little extra time at the Flying J truck stop to stretch and remove the raingear. Fingers crossed, we won't need it again. I also filled up the spare gas can...just in case.

So far I would give our communications project an 'okay' rating. Prior to our trip the crew came to my house for pre-trip maintenance. When they left I talked to them on my base radio all the way to town. John was loud and clear. Mike was loud and clear but had a little noise in the background. It sounds like the turbine noise on fighter pilot audio. He also had by far the best range of us. Mike's radio setup would be consistent the whole trip.

By all accounts so far I had about an eighth mile range before I started getting hard to understand. John was about the same as me. Sometimes he was garbled at close range but we attributed this to some fraying in his helmet cable. In addition to the Kenwood TK-250s we all had I had also brought my Relm RPV-599. It uses the same side connector as the Kenwoods so it was easy to swap them.

While we were stretching I zip-tied the Relm to my outside antenna. I wanted to see how it would sound mounted externally with it's standard antenna instead of the external antenna I had previously been using with the Kenwood. I also knew from previous experience the Relm had better modulation than the Kenwood I was using.

We now had 387 miles of I-90 ahead of us. It didn't take long for Mike to pass me. We'd have the occasional conversation but otherwise it was just the hum of the bikes and watching the pavement disappear. The externally mounted radio sounded better according to the guys.

Kimball, SD. 16:22, mileage 58,264 - They've added a pergola since we were here last time and we hung out there for awhile. The temperature has consistently stayed in the high 70s since getting on I-90.

At Chamberlain the road crosses the Missouri River. There is a cool looking railroad bridge to the left. Sadly it appears all the track has been taken up east of Chamberlain. The trackage west held hundreds of hopper cars that I guess will be used during the harvest season to service the grain bins.

During this leg Mike started having some issues with his cruise control not wanting to engage and he started to lag back as he fiddled with it. Eventually the problem seemed to work itself out and wasn't an issue the rest of the trip.

A few miles East of Okaton Donna asked how far to the next stop then issued an urgent request. She had to use the restroom...now. We pulled off at Okaton only to find the gas station "closed for the season". An abandoned building and a bush fulfilled her needs. Bless her heart.

Belvidere, SD. 18:55, mileage 58,388 - When we stopped here in 2009 we had ridden 72 miles in rain and temperatures in the 30s and 40s. Today the weather was great. This place was still desolate though. The shadows are getting long. John checked in with Ashton. She and her boyfriend Kyle are going to the cabin and cooking supper. That's nice to look forward to.

By now it feels like the end is in sight and we spend some time taking it in. One more hop to Rapid City, then a shorter hop to the cabin.

Rapid City, SD. 21:00, mileage 58,499 - About 20 miles from Rapid City you can see the Black Hills in the distance. Not only is it pretty, but you get the feeling of accomplishment (relief?) that the haul is about over.

Ashton reported dinner was cooking so we headed out for the last 45 miles of our 1300 mile journey. At the Sturgis exit we took US14 through Deadwood and Lead. The temperature had maintained itself in the high 70s all day, but as the sun went down so did it. Riding through the valleys my display got as low as 57 degrees. It felt good to me but not Donna. I could feel her shiver.

We made it to the cabin with a minimum of difficulty. We all met Kyle for the first time. The spaghetti was excellent. The cabin was nice. Front porch. Rear covered deck. Downstairs and upstairs living rooms. Mike & Jerri and Donna & I took the downstairs bedrooms...John & Debby the main floor.

We spent the rest of the night unpacking, cleaning up, and hanging out. The cabin is at an altitude of ~5700 ft so there was a nice coolness in the air. Ahhhhhhh...vacation.

577 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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