Thursday, August 18, 2011

Kadoka, the Paranormal Experience

For those of you who followed my blog, here is the paranormal experience that Andy and I had in Kadoka.

To refresh your memory, Kadoka is a dinky little town in South Dakota with a population just over 700 people. The place seems stuck in time by the things we see around us: circa early ‘60’s. We decide to stop here for the night so that our arrival in Sturgis will be timed just right for exploring Sturgis and then head for check-in at the University in Spearfish.

We investigate a couple of motels, before deciding on a campground that also had motel rooms. The place looks clean, has a pool and is away enough from the main traffic to offer a quiet night’s sleep. We check in, and the room is indeed small with few amenities. The only clock in the place is on the wall. I take out the smartphone and the wall clock is an hour behind.

“Did we cross a time zone?” I ask, “because my phone does not match the wall clock.”

Since the phone has been so good at changing with the time zones, I check the GPS too. It still shows central time as well. Andy resets the clock to central time. We then decided to take a ride through town to check things out. I point to the sign for the business district, and off we go. Well, the ride turns out to be 5 minutes if that. It was nothing more than a postage stamp of a few streets, complete with church and school and local bar. We are back in no time to our starting point.

There is one more street we haven’t checked and Andy take off down the small lane. It ends abruptly at a small patch of cemetery. Just as I am wondering how I will turn around in such a tight space, Andy proceeds into the cemetery to loop around and come out the other end. I am appalled at first as it seems so disrespectful. There are not more that 20 plots. The small drive leads in, left, another left and back out. After a moment, I gently take the bike through this path making sure the engine is as quiet as possible out of respect for the dead. I breath a sigh of relief when back out. I did not like the feel of the place at all.

Back at the motel with daylight still to be had, we thought a dip in the pool would be the thing to do. We get back into the room and the wall clock is back to being an hour behind. I examine the clock and although it doesn’t say it’s an atomic clock, I figure it must be; that we are in mountain time after all and it has reset itself. We enjoy our dip in the pool then head to the local diner only two streets away. As I’m finishing my meal, I look at the clock on the wall, and it matches what my phone is telling me. I ask the waitress what the time is, and she gives me Central Time. Now I’m really confused. Are we just on the line or something?

That night Andy and I have trouble falling asleep. There seems to be a strong smell of disinfectant we hadn’t experienced upon check-in. It’s keeping us awake so we turn the TV back on and let that numb our brains until we think it’s foolish to keep it on any longer and both go to sleep.

I wake up with a start from a nightmare I’m having, the sweat dripping down my forehead, and as I try to calm myself from the vivid images still dancing in my mind, Andy gets up and uses the bathroom. I pick up my phone to see what time it is; ten minutes to three.

“I know why I’m awake” I say to the dark, “but why are you?”
“I just had a bad dream” he tells me.

Now this is just so odd that we are both awakened by bad dreams, that I do something I’ve never done in our more than 30 year marriage; I ask him to tell me his dream and I’ll tell him mine. With that he begins to recount the nightmare he has just had. The goose bumps begin in earnest then, as the dream he is telling me is mine! Oh, the characters in his are different, but the theme is the same. In each of our dreams we have let ourselves into a place we don’t belong; a vacant building. Yet in my dream a spirit appears in a nonthreatening way letting me know that this is not where I should be and pointing the way out. In Andy’s dream he knows he has to get out, yet the only exit is out an upstairs window onto a slippery roof, where he clings for his life. We are both quite for a moment. I notice that the disinfectant smell is gone, and we both go back to sleep. In the morning, we awaken to find the wall clock has stopped at ten minutes to three!

As I ponder the dreams we each have had, it’s as if Andy were chastised for trespassing on sacred ground. Although I knew better, and did not want to, I also took the bike through the cemetery. The spirits wanted me to know this was not correct, and pointed me the way out. Andy however, was less thoughtful, the exit he was provided a bit more frightening; I suppose to hammer the lesson home. With Kadoka giving us both bad vibes, we were more than happy to kick the stand up and depart. One thing is for certain; I know what Blaze and I will think twice about next time!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Fond Farewell to South Dakota

Saturday we toss the tour packs on the bikes, and with the Black Hills State University to our backs point our fenders eastward. Our destination this day is the Badlands National Park. It will be our last day as the fearsome foursome. Before we enter the park, we stop at Wall Drug to see what all the fuss is about. It turns out to be the perfect place to get a few more antics under our belts. Enjoy a few of the photos below, and don’t forget to ask Lee to post a particular video from this location.

On to the Badlands we go. This area does not disappoint, and in fact reminds me a lot of Canyonlands National Park in Utah. The view goes on to the horizon, and appears so inhospitable that only a geologist could love the place. Yet we discover later in the day at the visitor center, that wildlife does exist in this harsh area. If one could sit and watch as the sun rises and falls, we would witness even more wonders than a day’s ride can offer. In this place I feel my smallness in the world. At the same time meditative qualities begin to affect the mind. We need to sit a moment and let the place wash over us. If feels holy somehow, and reverence is due to the spiritual aura that has enveloped each of us.

We enjoy one last meal together, and in honor of South Dakota, make it a meal of Buffalo Burgers. We wave goodbye and set our sights eastward, each at our own pace. Andy and I take refuge for the night in Mitchell. I feel a pull at my heart here and am reluctant to put South Dakota behind me. Yet I know that this segment is only the second or our three part vacation journey. Ahead now is our leisurely ride home. Our plan is to drop a bit south, avoid as much interstate highway as possible and really take time to feel this great country of ours. One cannot do that dodging trucks on the interstate system.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Mount Rushmore

Friday we point the fenders toward Rapid City where we drop off the interstate and head south toward Mount Rushmore. We twist our way toward Keystone, sometimes at breakneck speeds around the blind sweeps that weave the way toward our destination. Deb and I take up the rear, and it would sound like Lee is in the lead, but its Andy who is setting this pace. Deb and I do our best to keep up. I wonder what the hurry is all about. I’m beginning to think, and possibly Deb would agree, that the testosterone levels are getting a bit too saturated for comfort. We arrive all in one piece thankfully.

We took the kids here in 1991, but the place does not look at all like we left it. There are several levels of tiered parking, and the entrance now has a portico of sorts. Just below Rushmore is stadium style theater seating, and it is my understanding that a light show is displayed in the evenings. The pomp to me is diminishing the grandeur of what I remember Rushmore to be. For those who are here for the first time, it is still an amazing site. Deb and I enjoy the information inside the visitor center, especially the quoted words of one worker about the fear twisting his stomach when hauled up in the basket which gave him nightmares that had him clinging to the bed at night.

Then we are off again to find Crazy Horse. This is not a monument I have seen. Crazy Horse Monument is a work in progress, and as such is not much to see at the moment. We decided to just loop around take a peek and be off. With Lee in the lead, Deb second, me next and Andy taking up the rear we were pointed by the ticket booth attendant where to take our U turn. Lee, zipped around without effort, but as Deb began her U turn Thor had a different idea I guess, and before I knew it Deb was tossed from the saddle. Thor’s rear wheel began a donut spin that nearly caught Blaze’s front wheel. Andy was quick off the bike, and before I could even get the kickstand down, he had Deb and Thor back upright. Deb was fine and unhurt and took being pitched from the saddle in stride.

While Deb was cool and calm about the whole thing, and didn’t want anyone to make a fuss, it threw me off my game. So while I had intended to request a ride through the Needles, I instead let Andy lead us to Hot Springs. We bypassed Custer State Park, saw one Buffalo along the way and discovered Hot Springs not such an exciting place. Quaint; but no one wanted to pay ten bucks to dip our butts. Instead we took ourselves to Rapid City to check out the excitement there. I stopped at the Mustang booth and tried to find John, who helped me in Carlisle, but he was on break. The next booth was Kuryakyn, and there I found Willie, who installed the items I won in the Garage Girls contest. We also discovered that today was the first day Rapid City was without rain. So far, we have planned all our days perfectly and been blessed with the sun’s rays. I checked out a few pinstripe vendors here, but so far nothing seems good enough for Blaze. It’s back in the saddle and west on I-90 and back to the dorms to end another full day in South Dakota.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Devils Tower

Our days in South Dakota pick up speed and for the last few days my eyelids slam shut before I can post a blog about the day’s events. Thursday finds us slipping into Wyoming for a visit to Devils Tower. The weather once again treats us well and we enjoy the roads to our destination. We drop into towns that have populations of 15! In a town this size what type of town government runs the place?

Devils Tower is as I remembered, but getting there is certainly a whole lot different on two wheels than towing a camper. For one, roads, sky and endless views are not encumbered by the confines of a vehicle. The grasses and natural earth scents are not filtered by an air conditioner. However, there is only so much you can do once you look at a rock, and we need to decide where to head next. Back to Spearfish? Or back to Sturgis?

We slip back into Sturgis, this time to park along busy Main Street for some people watching. This is where the antics are performed. We aren’t disappointed as we watch what walks by us. People watching isn’t the only thing we are doing. Lee is feeling companionate and is donating money to the poor folks standing in all those hot booths. They offer him small tokens of thanks which he carries off in tiny plastic bags. It turns out that Sturgis over Spearfish was the correct choice, as the announcements are telling us that Spearfish is being pounded my rain. We have been very fortunate this trip as we have always managed to be where the rain is not.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Sturgis, Buffalo Chip and Beyond

How much can a person fit into one day? We wanted to answer that very question as we set our intentions for the day’s activities. Pointing the fenders east from Spearfish we drop off I-90 at exit 32 into Sturgis. A few blocks down we park the bikes and start our investigation of Pinstripe and Airbrush vendors. Lee of course has a new bike with too much blank space just screaming for attention. Blaze of course has not had any body art done at all and Sturgis seems the perfect place to get a stripe or two. Lee works his haggling magic and we leave the Voyager in the hands of the air brush artist and with he and Debbie two up on her bike, we head off to the Buffalo Chip in search of Sara Liberte. We aren’t disappointed and Sara takes a break from her busy day to chat with us a bit. She and Lee strike a bargain (he can’t help haggling) and she poses for a photo and he gives her one of his signature hand stands.

Off we go again, and drop off the road just piece to the Full Throttle Saloon. We make our rounds and we get an eye full at times, but all is pretty tame this time of day. Music and liquid refreshments are being enjoyed. We stay away from the hard stuff and visit a vendor or two. We have a few laughs and one proprietor is quick with the whit and keeps us in stitches. As we pass through the FTS on our way to the bikes, I enjoy, (really they were nicely done) a pair of body painted breasts at the bar. Back on the bikes we are return to the airbrush guy in no time. He hasn’t yet sealed the paint as he was awaiting final approval, so we head for lunch at Chives while the work is completed.

Back to I-90 we head and drop off at the next exit for 14A to Deadwood. The plan is to stop there and just walk up and down inspecting the place, but it’s so packed when we arrive that we wiggle our way through and continue on to Spearfish Canyon. It’s a good choice as this canyon is one place of beauty. We stop at Spearfish Falls. To truly enjoy the falls there is a ¾ mile hike down, but it is well worth the effort, as the coolness and mist from the falls is refreshing indeed. At the end of the canyon ride we pop off 14A only minutes from the BHSU and we point the fenders back from a perfectly packed day of adventure. Later we mount the bikes one last time this day to enjoy a quick meal, and discuss the strategy for tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Road to Sturgis
Arrival Day

With a big breakfast in our bellies we bid adieu to Kadoka and take to interstate 90 once again. It’s the Badlands that has our attention today and we are seriously tempted to divert. Andy comes over the radio and reminds us that this is something we plan to do with Lee and Deb. We fight the desire to follow the signs at the next exit and content ourselves with the view from the saddle. In a few more miles we do pull off the road in Wall and stop at the Buffalo Gap National Grassland Visitor Center. I am a fan of the National Visitor Centers around the country. This one in particular has exceptional displays. I get my stamp too in the Passport Book.

At a rise on the next bluff is a spectacular view of where we are heading; the Black Hills. I dismount and take in the 360 degree view. There are many scenic views in New England, yet they are but pie slices compared with the panoramic vistas on this wide open range. Your mind can’t help but think of the hardy souls that first settled this land. Indeed the farmer’s prayer I read in the visitor’s center comes to mind, of the sod that yields not to plow, and the winds that beat down the tender shoots.

As we near Sturgis, the excitement builds. Finally this day we are seeing many motorcycles. We take exit 32 and are dropped right into the heart of activity. The Bikini Bike Wash girls are there to greet us. Yet it’s the Mustang Saddle folk staged right behind them that have my real attention. The saddle has been acting like a sponge, much to my dismay and I want to speak with them about it. Not only do they take the time to listen to me, they are quick to action, and provide me with instructions, a can of spray sealant and a cover to keep it dry in the meantime.

We are only about looping through to check out the area, as we want to do our serious Sturgis activity with Lee and Debbie. Andy pulls over to find restrooms, and we decide to break here for a bit, watch some activity and have ice cream. Suddenly there is a roar like none other, and above us zips the B-1 bomber, drowning out even the hundreds of rumbling bikes before us; a seriously fantastic salute to our military personnel. All eyes are on the sky, until the B-1 is but a pinprick in the distance.

Towards late afternoon, we are reunited with our friends, and enjoy swapping tales of the road. We enjoy an evening meal seated outdoors at a biker friendly location, and try to converse as best we can with the roar of bikes as our background music. We swap stories with other riders too, before we finalize our plans for tomorrow. Now for some much needed rest, unlike last night’s sleep disrupted by bad dreams, which both Andy and I experienced. This is something I will write about later, which will have some of you paranormal fans rubbing the goose bumps from your arms.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Road to Sturgis: Day Four

This was our leisurely day on the road to Sturgis. Our check in time in Spearfish is not until Tuesday. We took our time packing and leaving Sioux Falls, which suited me just fine. The South Dakota landscape is not as I remembered from our drive though here in the ‘90’s. It’s a lot greener it seems to me, and there is standing water in places one wouldn’t expect. More flooding? May be as we find ourselves crossing the Missouri once again. The weather is beautiful! We decide to stop in Mitchell to visit the Corn Palace. Now we know we should do this with Lee and Deb on the way back, and we don’t mind a second visit at all, but not being able to predict home bound weather or any other incident, like exploding bikes, we decide to take advantage of the moment.

Had lunch here. Andy checks out the "lady" upstairs.

I enjoy a chat with a local.

As we travel there are several things that are top most in our minds. One is that we both have memories of passing this way with the kids. We had stopped at many of these sites when they were young. The second is that we have not seen the number of bikers one would expect. Sure there a “pods” of two or three, but most of the motorcycles are heading east. This has us scratching our heads in bewilderment. Then we pay closer attention and see that many of the bikes heading west are in trailers and truck beds. Still not enough to account for what we have read about the numbers that converge each year in Sturgis.

Earlier in the day we put our finger on the map at a spot that seemed reasonable distance to Sturgis. Something that puts us in easy riding distance yet allows us to enjoy a bit of the area before our check in time at BHSU. That spot is Kadoka. We didn’t know much about Kadoka before we stopped here. The town has 736 residents according to the signs. After we check in we decide to follow more signs to the “business district.” A nice ride through town we thought. Around the block we went and were done with the evening ride in five minutes. So much for that idea. We put on our suits and took a dip in the pool instead. We had it all to ourselves too. The town is so small that Pat, yes that would be me, did not wear her riding jacket, helmet or gloves. What for? There are no cars, pedestrians or even animals to obstruct our way. Take a look at the photo of me with the buffalo if you need photographic proof.

Still not very hungry after our lunch in Mitchell, we once again opt for beer and appetizer. Beer is another item Pat does not typically indulge in more than a few times a year. Can’t say why it’s so appealing, but it hits the spot each evening. Oh, and yes, another first. Pat did not walk to her beer, but rode there and back; helmetless, jacketless and gloveless. Andy is beginning to wonder if Pat will be shopping for pasties when we hit Sturgis. Time will tell.

Road to Sturgis
Day Three

We left Ottawa IL at 8:05 and set out sites West. With advice from a fellow New England Rider we have diverted to 80 from route 90 to avoid the Chicago area, which tends to be very congested. The roadside continues to grace us with farmland, although the corn sometimes changes to another crop, which I am not familiar with. The vegetation is low and a very deep green. As the miles slip beneath us, another “crop” pops into view; miles and miles of wind turbines. While people are divided on both sides of the wind power issue, I do not find the turbines a blight to the landscape at all. In fact, to me they are like a well choreographed dance, each turning in smooth rotation, synchronized in a delicate tribute while offering up to the energy hungry people of the US a food they consume like candy; electrical power.

Andy needs fuel so we pull off the highway and make a three mile trip into the nearest town, Anita. Well, here is my sister again, yesterday with the old Buick and today, her name plastered all over town, with banners waiving from power polls, and one big welcome sign saying “Anita, A Whale of a Town.” Well, it was a little whale; the main street was empty except for a few cars, and the place is very quite. On the way back to the highway, the slower pace along country road lets me watch the wind turbines in their graceful dance and feel awed by their majesty so up close and personal.

So far we have only met a few motorcyclist, which I find odd. At a rest stop we discover the possible reason why. We are along 680 heading toward 29 North to route 90. A few folks at the rest area tell us of all the flooding. Flooding? Then I remember all the news stories of the rapid snow melt to the north that has flooded great sections of the states south. We are fortunate as 29 North is open, but for those heading south it is still closed for many miles. We see the great destruction along this route with giant swaths carved right through the corn fields. The Missouri has spread wide beyond her banks, and local roads are still under water. Our route is often squeezed down to 2 lanes, one north bound and one southbound. Many of the bridges are newly reconstructed. We watch miles and miles of water covered landscape slip by us. It won’t be until October, from what we are made to understand, that this water will recede.

We pull off for the night in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, at the Red Roof Inn. The rates are great, the room comfortable, and the place is biker friendly. I forgot to reset the trip meter on the GPS, but you can subtract yesterday’s and see that we rode 555 miles. We enjoy beer and nachos for dinner. Not exactly what you would think would hit the spot, but yesterday we ate a regular sit down and it seemed too much. Also, I think the salty chips may be something our bodies need as despite drinking lots of water, we still tend to feel parched.

(Can't figure out how to rotate this?)

Monday we will leave later, ride leisurely and pull off within striking distance of Sturgis. Our reservations are not until Tuesday at the Black Hills State University. We hope to arrive and spend some of the day in Sturgis on Tuesday before heading to Spearfish and checking in for 3:00 pm and meeting up with Lee and Deb.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Road to Sturgis
Day One and Day Two

Day 1
Platea; our stop for today in our journey to Sturgis, is a quaint town near Great Lake Erie in Pennsylvania. It was an uneventful day, which is really what you want when traveling 523 miles on a first leg. Our room here at the Green Roof Inn is quite the surprise with a hot tub in the room, which Andy is enjoying at the moment. Our light meal at the local pub rounded out the day and I will test that tub out for myself in a moment to get a kink or two out of my shoulders.

The traffic today was fairly pleasant. Although it does seem that our country is in dire need of milk and cookies, judging by the trucks on the road. Enjoy the few photos below, of our mileage for the day, our lodging, bonus hot tub and the restful view out the pub window.


Today, we get off the road in Ottowa Illinois, at a time we think is early enough for me to do a decent blog post. The surprise is on us, when we discover we’ve traveled through a time change, and while it’s still a decent hour here, my brain knows how long I’ve been riding. Today’s miles are 492.7, some of it is detours. Route 80 which we were advised to take to Des Moines, is actually under construction. The exit we needed to take was actually closed. The signs pointed us a few more exits down, but we took a wrong turn and had to back track a bit. While the construction didn’t slow us down too much, the east bound lane was at a standstill.

As for the weather, we encountered rain just west of Toledo, but it only lasted a half hour and actually felt good. It yesterday I thought the US needed milk and cookies today all we see is corn; corn for us, corn for our cars and probably corn for the hogs too. In fact, our lodgings tonight are smack dab in the middle of corn.

Just before we stopped for the night, we met some nice folks towing a 1972 Buick, which looked so much like my sister Anita’s first car; I had to strike up a conversation about it. Turns out, one man’s wife has had a Skylark since it was new, and is in need of restoration now. The other guy with him will do the restoration, but the Skylark needed a new frame. In this photo is the car that will donate the frame. These guys went to Michigan to get it and were shocked at all the original parts under the hood. I wish them well. They seemed excited to get their project under way.

It’s been many years since Andy and I traveled 90 west and we are shocked by the tolls we are paying. So far, we have spent more than 50 dollars for the two of us, and we are only ½ way. There goes my mad money for the vendors in Sturgis.