…not in Kansas anymore

The first 20 seconds contain the essence.

We awoke at the edge of the Badlands and rode into the park for breakfast at the park cafe. We were on the road by 7, but earlier would have been even better. I’d love to ride through here at dawn and dusk to watch the light change. A day off so we could just spend the day here and do some hiking would be great.

Once the sun is high in the sky, the Badlands tend to look stark and desolate. In the right light, it is a magic land.BB07480F-88D1-4DCF-818B-1A35389F60777EB9E035-7D9F-4FEB-8C86-B38E1DC7DBE3597B7AB4-882F-4BDE-8BB9-69C0BDDA8A85A30E7BCE-D138-4230-850D-07E3D7C9566Dl

I’m having connection issues, so apologize if things look weird. Pictures that appeared a few minutes ago and were saved are now invisible to me. I hope that doesn’t mean you get two copies

The light changed quickly. Lunch was in Wall, home of the (in)famous Wall Drug. The lesson is driven home daily that “prevailing winds” are not the same as “today’s winds”. I thought we were crossing the country the “easy way”, coming gradually downhill across the plains to the Mississippi, propelled by the westerly winds.

Instead, mornings are quiet and afternoons are into 15-20 mph easterly/southeasterly gusty winds. Below is the original jail in the town of Cottonwood (pop 9).AB7EBB6A-5089-4CA9-A14E-958FBBC7061D

That photo took minutes to upload, so I think I’ll quit while I’m ahead. Tonight we’re in Philip, SD. To Pierre tomorrow and then a day of rest.

Jekyll and Hyde

It was another Jekyll and Hyde day. Fast and easy in the morning, a slog in the afternoon.

We spent the night at the Rapid City Fairgrounds (camped outside the Fine Arts Building). They turn their dead trees into sculptures. Here are two of them and a candidate for future work.

There was a Rotary Club picnic nestled between the two halves of our campsite. I chatted with some Rotarians – the first group were fascinated and amazed by us – then I found the storytellers.

I talked with two divers – one headed for Palau, and another who may not still be diving but was full of stories. He has lived all over the country and in Australia (Navy) and told of his near-death experience diving at the wrong time of year in Haunama Bay on Oahu.

This gives me a handy excuse to link to Jake Shimabukuro:

Since the ukulele is currently popular, you owe it to yourself to hear someone really play it. Jake will be on the West Coast this month, then the East Coast. On September 24 he’ll be at the Overture Center in Madison, WI (per the Overture Center) or at the Capitol Theatre in Davenport, Iowa (per his website).

We left Rapid City on an expressway with fast commuter (?) traffic. I wasted no time getting out of town, riding at a steady 24 mph until I was past the airport, then backed off a bit.

We rode through the Buffalo Gap National Grassland (the name appears ironic, as it was mostly barren) and skirted the Badlands. We’ll see more of the Badlands tomorrow.

The first photo is sort of a “mini-badland”. That flat-topped area in the foreground is less than 10 feet tall. The second photo is up close and personal with a wall next to the highway.

It was a fast morning, cool and cloudy, with favorable winds. After our picnic (they don’t like to call it lunch – today it was at 9:30 AM) stop in Scenic, SD, everything changed.

We faced a 20 mph headwind and blazing sun for the next 30 miles into Interior, SD. We’re now ensconced in a campground at the edge of town – with a population of 67, pretty much everything is the “edge of town”.

The campground has a store, so I had a bottled (Dunkin’ Donuts) latte on arrival and a “Knuckle Head Red” (from the Knuckle Brewing Company in Sturgis) after setting up camp and taking a shower. (Truth be told, I’m drinking it now.)

It rained overnight in Rapid City, so I had to dry stuff out before setting up camp – being windy has its benefits.46A99579-FF42-43AB-AC0C-6D28D6877EDC

This last photo will probably be appreciated only by plumbers. It is the urinal in the campground. In the space of a few inches it includes iron pipe, copper tubing, and a brass fitting. The flush valve is a valve from a bubbler (drinking fountain to you foreigners). It is not particularly straight. I chose not to replumb it;)81CD5A62-BDC8-4A73-A26B-BC209FFEE4A0

The sky is slowly filling with clouds. More rain may be on the way.

I take it back – rain isn’t “on the way”. While proofreading this, rain appeared suddenly. I ran to put the rainfly on the tent and stash everything that was out to dry inside before it got wetter. I took my laundry down and then realized that the tin-roofed shelter I’m under is full of holes.

Just as suddenly, the rain has stopped. I’ll rehang the laundry, but I think everything else will stay in the tent.

Aaahhh! (Aaarrgh!)

This post was 429 words, 2 video links, and 6 pictures a few minutes ago. Now when I look, it is only a title. None of my saved versions survived. I guess this is all you get today.

(Four hours later)…I just found a Wi-Fi network that might work so maybe I will try to repost.

At sunset Saturday the van rolled in to our campground carrying all the riders who are staying at a hotel 9 miles down the road in town.We are camped right at the foot of Devil’s Tower.

As they disembarked the party began. The staff had spent the afternoon preparing margaritas and bean dip, and they strung glow sticks around the bar, which was the open back of one of the cargo trailers. Greg’s Cantina was open for business. Live entertainment followed shortly.

(Fast forward to 26:15 for “Reba’s Cantina”)

Robin, one of the British riders, was in an uncommonly good mood, as he had ridden out early Saturday morning to watch England defeat Sweden in their World Cup match in a pub 40 miles down the road.

He sat down and immediately asked all at the table to name our favorite movie. A lively discussion ensued. He was impressed that some of us Yanks knew the film “The Loneliness  of the Long Distance  Runner”, and were aware of the actor Tom Courtenay.

As the party wound down, I made my way to the outdoor seating area behind the camp store to watch the climactic scenes of “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”.

When the film ended I found myself in more complete darkness than I have seen in quite some time. I was guided back to my tent by the North Star. Scorpio was visible on the western horizon.

Being up so late, I planned on sleeping in. I was awakened by a barking dog at 6 AM. I guess that counts as sleeping in these days.

I did laundry before breakfast, took advantage of the hot sun to recharge my back up battery with the solar charger, and took advantage of the shade and breeze to recharge myself.

Next week we head across South Dakota, including  the Black Hills and the Badlands. Had we been traveling as the crow flies, we would be in the middle of Wisconsin by now. We are following the route of the drunken crow.3CEED3E9-726D-419F-A486-3CD09643C6C9