October 17th; Miles 6010-6460
Now that I had gotten farther south, and even more importantly, out of the mountains, it was much warmer, so definitely easier to get started this morning. In fact, once the sun was up long enough, I was able to de-layer for the first time in two days, especially during breaks when there wasn’t wind anymore.
I decided a couple days ago that I might as well hit a couple of major sites while I was in this end of the country. The first is a pretty exclusively motorcycle pilgrimage site, Sturgis, SD, a small town in South Dakota that’s the location for one of the biggest gatherings of motorcycles in the world. Unfortunately, I wasn’t there for the big rally, but it was still good to see and say I’d been.
Sturgis also just happened to be right out of the Black Hills National Forest, where you can find Mount Rushmore. So when I got to Sturgis at around 5pm, after a beer at the Knuckle Saloon, I made the decision to push onward even though I’d be riding in the dark. I did ask a local in the store how cold it got up in the mountains, as I was considering camping for the first time since my 12 degree night. She told me it was starting to get to the mid-to-low 30’s, so just about freezing. Well, after my gear was able to handle 12 degrees in Montana, I figured that’d be ok. Not to mention, it would be pretty cool to camp in front of Mount Rushmore.
The drive through the Black Hills was quite nice, twisty roads in the mountains but at night, I was pretty nervous about deer and I did in fact see several, so most of the time I tailed another car that was moving at a good pace.
The area turned out to be really well developed though unfortunately. Even though it was all woods, there were motels often enough, and only 2 miles right before getting to the monument was a little town (tourist oriented of course). Then when I finally got there, it was very built up with parking, gift shop, amphitheater, and plenty of lights. So, it didn’t seem like a good idea to set up camp on the pavement in the viewing area of the monument, but on the bright side, there was no entrance fee since I came at night, and it was a pretty cool thing to see Mount Rushmore lit up at night.
After snapping some photos, I headed back to the town and decided to spring for a motel in town. Grabbed my room and headed straight to a local bar/restaurant for some food and beer as I watched some football, Redskins playing the Eagles too, so, good game!