This morning we had about 110 miles of Rt 44 to cover to reach the Badlands National Park. The scenery changed significantly west of Winner … in that it was pretty enough to call ‘scenic’. Under a brilliant blue sky we passed by fields of corn and sunflowers, and every now and again we would be given a preview of the Badlands’ terrain. John quickly became exasperated with Brigid’s frequent stops for ‘Kodak moments’.
Although we had gassed up in Winner, we began to become concerned at the lack of facilities along this stretch of road. We had assumed that there would be some small settlements along the way, but the few we passed showed no signs of having any facilities for travellers. (We remarked that this was probably why such a good road was not designated ‘scenic’ in Harley Davidson’s handbook. Between Winner and Badlands NP, we could only have passed 4 or 5 other vehicles, and one recumbent Indian. One wouldn’t want to get caught out with a peanut-sized tank, dodgy fuel pump, oil leak, or flat battery … Sorry guys!)
At the Park entrance we stopped for gas and lunch at the Indian run Woodenknife Café. We can thoroughly recommend the tortillas, which are served in Indian bread.
The drive through the Badlands was spectacular, though John was slightly horrified to find that there were a couple of 2-mile stretches of road that were undergoing resurfacing work.
Remembering his experience in Texas, he rode extremely cautiously over the gravely surface, not wanting to chip the Trophy’s paintwork.
Again, we were anxious not to get too involved in picture-taking as we needed to get a move on if we were to see Mt. Rushmore and Deadwood today.
A tip: When visiting Mt. Rushmore, there really is no need to pay out $8 per vehicle for parking in the smart new multi-storey car park. There is a free parking area a short distance down the hill, and the walk to the monument (except perhaps for the elderly or infirm) is not far. We were livid when, for the first time in our trip, the two bikes were not counted as one vehicle (we only take up one space, for heaven’s sake), and our National Parks pass was not valid.
Deadwood was also a bit of a shock. Perhaps our moods had been coloured by the experience at Mt. Rushmore, but we had not expected the level of commercialism that we found in this small town. Every business sought to exploit the legend of Wild Bill Hickok. The whole main street was lined with noisy casinos and tacky souvenir shops … not quite as bad as Keystone, but close!
A cooling shower released the scent of the pines as we rode north through the forest to Sturgis. We arrived around 7pm. The rally had ended some two weeks earlier, and I don’t know whether we were relieved or disappointed to find the town so quiet. The Super 8 motel sold some postcards showing the main street full of bikes, and a sign hung above the reception desk “We have no rooms available for the Rally … ever!”.
John finally managed to contact the elusive Henry Corbin Jr. to ascertain whether a) he had received the Title deed for the Trophy from his uncle, Robert, and b) whether he still wanted to buy the bike. The answer to both these questions was no. No, he had not received any Title. No, he would have loved to buy the bike, but his wife had just asked him for a divorce and he could no longer afford it …
We had a solitary dinner in ‘One Eyed Jack’s’.