Thursday: The excitement builds, we are coming close to the mountains. We left West Bend at the Missouri river and drove through some mixed weather through the plains towards the Badlands.
The Badlands National Park is a place of extreme when it comes to climate – it is hot in summer and cold in winter with strong winds. When we arrived we had decent weather and we enjoyed some of the peaks and valleys of delicately banded colours – colours that shift in the sunshine. 75 million years ago the Badlands were covered by a shallow sea. The bottom of the sea made of grayish-black sediment started to erode over time after the sea dried out.
We set up camp with our tent and were planning on making dinner, but the wind was so strong it would have taken forever, so instead we enjoyed some pub fare at a local bar.
Friday: The morning started with a big Thunderstorm and high winds. We stayed in the tent till mid-morning and had breakfast at the local lodge. Packed up all our wet stuff and left towards the Black Hills. We rode all day through fog, rain and cold weather but we were still comfortable – had all our rain gear on. It is amazing how your mood swings with the weather especially on a bike. You go from excitement to depression in no time. We arrived mid-afternoon at Custer State Park in the Black Hills. To our joy they still had heated cabins available so we booked one for three nights. It was a challenge because you can only book those cabins over the reservation phone or website 48 hours in advance but park rangers can override the system so we were able to get one. So far we received nothing but kindness from Americans, they are going out of their way to help you and are interested in what we are doing.
Saturday: What a change and relieve – the sun is shining and the weather is perfect. The park offers some of best riding in the Black Hills. We rode the 30 km Wildlife Loop through open grasslands and Ponderosa Pine speckled hills. We saw lots of bisons and pronghorns as well as Burros (wild donkeys). Those Burros are descendants from a herd that once hauled visitors to the top of Harney Peak. The rides were discontinued and the donkeys were released into the park.
In the afternoon we rode the Needles Highway, a spectacular drive through pine and spruce forests with lots of twisty curves – paradise for motorcyclists. The road’s name comes from the needle-like granite formations which seem to pierce the horizon along the highway.
If you have a chance visit Custer State Park – it is an amazing place.
Well, we are on the road for more than a week now and I have to say it is still exciting. Yes the weather can put a damper on your mood especially when it’s cold and wet but so far we had nice and sunny days in between. We haven’t done much tenting due to the weather but I kind of expected that. It remains to be seen whether we be able to get into Yellowstone park. No signs of quarreling or fights amongst the two of us (yet!, ha ha) yes we still love each other!! Heinz even agreed to buying and drinking Budweiser which is quite a sacrifice for him, but there was no other choice!
The bikes are running well, we get a lot of looks and comments and questions from people. My precious seat has opened up at the seam on the side so tomorrow we will have to find a bike shop either in Rapid City or good old Sturgis that can fix it. For now duct tape will have to do.
So long, Feli