Friday, August 10, 2007

South Dakota 9 Aug 2007

In my last report we were in Cleveland, Ohio heading west on Route 80. From there we starting thinking how boring this was going to be, so after our next overnight on the outskirts of Chicago we decided to take Route 90 further north..
We contacted Greg Herrick (who now owns our 1927 Avro Avian) in Minneapolis, and after passing through Wisconsin and into Minnesota we drove north along the Mississippi. Here we visited Greg's fabulous collection of historic aircraft at the Anoka County airport. He had just returned from Oshkosh where he had six of his aircraft on show.
After a nice dinner we stayed the night at Greg's 100+ year old house, with the boys up until all hours of the morning reliving their many previous flights in vintage aircraft.
Along the way passing through into South Dakota we were seeing more and more cruising bikes. We learnt from the riders that this is the week that the Sturgis Rally was being held, so this gave us a purpose to continue on Route 90. While crossing South Dakota we stayed one night at Chamberlain on the banks of the Missouri River and then the following day we stopped at a Pioneer Auto Show in Murdo. This is a private collection of the Geisler family and is a pioneer village as well as a collection of over 300 cars. Dave Geisler the current owner manager was there to greet us and took a real interest in our Bambino.
On Wednesday night we managed to find some accommodation in Keystone and took the opportunity to go to Mount Rushmore to see the gigantic sculptures of the four presidents' heads. It is very well presented by the National Parks and not over done like a lot of other tourist attractions.
Keystone was an attraction all on it's own, with wall to wall bikes and the riders taking over the entire frontier type tourist town. We were impressed by the cleanliness and behaviour of such a large group of people.
On Thursday morning we drove into Sturgis and spent the morning enjoying the spectacle of hundreds of thousands of bikes of all shapes and sizes. The main road through the town is closed to all cars with only the bikes having access. Every store seems to be selling memorabilia or bike accessories. There are hundreds of stalls along the streets again selling bike-related gear. They get over half a million entrants to the rally which started in 1938 with only 200 riders. When I say we were being passed by thousands of bikes along the interstate it is no exaggeration.
For about a radius of 200 miles around Sturgis for this whole week, there is a huge concentration of people, bikes, trailers, caravans and mobile homes. The majority of bikes are cruising bikes and all fairly new. Most were Harley Davidson with a percentage of Honda Goldwings . We saw no antique bikes and very few sports or trail bikes. Many riders in the burning sun showing large amounts of bright red skin, both male and female, and few wearing helmets just amazed us.
The countryside has been ever changing from the heavily treed hills of Pennsylvania to the corn and potato crops right through to the Missouri River. From there the main crop becomes wheat. As we travelled more inland we passed into the grasslands. Here on the Prairie is where the Sioux lived, buffaloes roamed and "Dances With Wolves" was filmed. As you progress through South Dakota you go through the badlands with it's moon like appearance and this is bordered by the pretty Black Hills around Rapid City.
Even in this extreme heat – over 100 degrees - the car has been performing well and Lang and I, although uncomfortable in the heat, find it tolerable as long as we are constantly moving with the air conditioning on!!!