July 7, 2005 – Thursday – Day 12

48 States or Bust – The USA on Two Wheels
Miles Today: 341- Total Miles: 3116 – Daily Average: 259.7
2:30PM-9PM (CST) – 6.5 hours
Fargo, ND to Pierre, SD
(-stayed at a Days Inn -) (ND,SD – 16/48)

This morning’s walk/jog was to a wonderful sport store – we could have browsed in there all morning. But actually, only took the time to get me the new shorts I wanted for under my riding suit. Found some I thought would be perfect.

It was warm this morning. Already heading to the 90s by the time we left. We went through the ritual unzipping of the pitzips and the back vent (the openings which give our jackets ventilation).

At the gas station, a wonderfully friendly guy gave us directions to Route 29, and then he followed us to the post office. He just wanted to make sure that he had made those directions clear enough. It was a wonderfully friendly thing to do. He was a retired postal worker, he said, and he just retired three years ago.

We sent back another huge collection of things. More stuff that wasn’t needed as it turned out, the shorts I had replaced, a few other things that we were done with.
We’ve continued feeling really good physically. Little aches and pains occasionally, but through it all doing really well. I had a scare the other morning when I felt a couple back twinges. Not at all from all the riding, but must have slept funny or lifted something wrong. I was worried about it, but by mid-morning the problem had gone away totally.

This morning we had a wonderful ride down mostly lonely highways south from Fargo on Route 29. The big sky with huge white clouds stretched form one edge of the universe to the other. There was wind trying to push us back this morning, and it took all I could to hang on. No resting back with my left hand off the handlebar this morning, that was for sure. And my grips were tight, tight on the bars. As we trekked down the highway, we’d go through large pools of shadow cast from those big clouds. As we went through those areas it felt about ten degrees cooler – and felt good to bathe in those shadow breezes.

When I asked about some directions one man said it was long stretches of purely boring, boring road. But we didn’t find it that way at ALL. Maybe that’s part of the difference of those who ride in their cages to those who ride on bicycles or motorcycles. We are not boxed away from the environment, but actually become part of it – feeling the winds, smelling the smells, experiencing each road bump, and getting to see things that car people just miss entirely.

One really knows one’s out in the middle of nowhere when there’s a gas station sign at the exit, and then when you get to the exit, the station is still three miles away. Another good sign that everything is so remote is when the highway sign reads, “NEXT REST AREA 94 MILES” 94 miles!

When I’d be bike riding long distances, and sweating, and drinking, I’d be in a regular habit of uh, just taking some time to look off the side of the road. And then this would be every hour or so like clockwork. No problem out in the wilderness or in the rural areas. When going through city areas, or when back for awhile from the bike trips it would be uh, uncomfortable for awhile until my body system got back into the scheme of things. Well, it’s happening on the motorcycle now, too, except that it’s a LOT harder getting the gear out of the way. One time, after about 15 really uncomfortable minutes on the bike, we got to a rest stop, the mens room was locked and I barged into the womans room just as the cleaning lady was leaving. I said with a smile, “Sorry, I just HAVE to get in there!” When I came out we exchanged friendly and knowing smiles, and I remarked to her that she “came out of there JUST in time!”

Another 25 miles, and I had to jump off the bike even before Karen was off. A very old guy was in there, and had to turn his hearing aid up to hear what I wanted. When I got to chat with him a few minutes later, I told him about our big trip around the country, and he said, “Yeah the problem with a trip like that is that there are too many things to see!”

Something for the motorcycle readers out there to wrap their thoughts and dreams around: today was 300 miles or so with nary a traffic light or stop sign, hardly a cage in sight, superb gorgeous weather, just enough wind to make it a challenge, and ever-changing scenery of bright greens and blues. Just fabulous.

At a gas stop in Watertown, we met a motorcyclist, Marty Harmil, in a bright red shirt who owned a big mc and he came over to chat and find out about our trip. He and his wife own bikes but he’s going to sell them both he said, and buy a big Goldwing. His wife likes to look around too much when she rides anyway, he said. Marty said that he was to retire in four days, and I suggested that if we had come by a bit later, he could have just come with us. He laughed, and through his laughter he said that he “would have gone all the way” with us!

It was wondrous riding today. Just wondrous. The highways were long toward infinity into the horizon. And the surface of that distant road was often obscured by shimmering water mirages just laying on the surface of the highway. Shimmering. Shimmering.

It was mostly two-laner roads for the second part of the day, and with the sightlines out to as far as one could see on the straight roads, and with hardly any traffic – it was fun (and safe) to hit 95mph, and to pass the slower moving vehicles with impunity.

As approaching big trucks would come toward us, I would hunch down behind the windshield. Karen would put her arms around me, put her head down against my side, and hold tight. That way there would be less wind resistance from the forceful ocean of air-wake of the passing the truck.

By afternoon, there was less wind buffeting than earlier in the day. And at times the wind would come from behind, thought mostly it came from the left.

At a gas stop exactly fifty miles from of Pierre, in Highmore, we met some interesting folks. One was a Mr. Hoffman who was a pipe layer of new water lines for the Hoffman Trencher Company. He came over to us after he was in the little food store, and he asked how it was going. I took enjoyment from his radiating broad smile and said with a smile back, “ZOOOOOOOOOM!” And with a flash in my eye, I moved my hand quickly from one side of me to the other. We both laughed in understanding.

We also met Kelly, David, and their cute freckly faced little daughter Taylor. The Farrells were from Phoenix and I chatted with David about the roads and how fast one could travel on them. David owns an 1800cc mc, but finds it uncomfortable to ride for long distances. They were headed for Aberdeen this evening, and he was anxious to get on the road. We got a cute picture of Taylor on the Shadow.

We got to Pierre. (Btw, it’s pronounced “peer” here! Seems odd to me, but that’s the way it is. A local told Karen that it originally was “p-air”, but that it was americanized.) There was roadwork through one of the main sections of town road. We crossed over to the Days Inn for no particular reason. I got to chatting with a nice woman in the lobby, and it turned out to be the owner. Dode is a woman who has bicycled long distances. Slim, friendly, and with a winning smile, it would be no surprise that she is successful as a motel owner. She even helped us in with our bags. She gave us lots of helpful information about the area.

We were very concerned about getting a room for tomorrow night. It being a Friday night in a heavily touristy area. So we tried to figure where would be best for us, considering distances and what we wanted to see, and also considering that I want to get an oil change for the Shadow which passed the 6,000-mile mark today!

We trotted over to the Subway next door to the motel at around 9pm, and noted that the laundromat in the adjourning building had a cute tagalong name – Sudsway! When back to the room, after chatting a bit more with Dode, I made reservations for tomorrow night in Rapid City.

It was a fulfilling day, and… more than 3,000 miles into our little jaunt, we’re now on the cusp of riding through the Badlands, getting to Mount Rushmore, and coming up face to face with Devil’s Tower.

(This picture, taken from the back seat while zipping down the highway doin’ 90mph shows a lot… Karen in the rearview as photographer on the move, the landscape as it’s broadened out, the road out to infinity, the loneliness of the highway, and the clear sky. The writing on the windshield is where i put the day’s beginning mileage and the day. The former so I can keep track through out the day, and the latter so I can keep the days from jumbling together.)

Author: Joel Perlish

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