USA South Dakota: Rest Day

Well rest morning 😊 I managed to get my laundry done and spent the morning catching up on my blog and sorting pictures. Then I headed over to Custer to meet Michelle a biker friend of Tiffany’s. The funny thing is, Michelle and I had been chatting a few months ago about licensing a bike in the US (small world right) What a cool lady. Michelle is a big adventure biker and done more extreme things than me and is not afraid to wild camp alone (something I just can’t bring myself to do) Michelle owns the most gorgeous motel in Custer called Chalet Motel. Michelle recommended that I take the Iron Mountain Rd home and what a great road with stunning views. I also saw a very large family of wild Turkeys with a ton a chicks, so cute.

Custer State Park

USA South Dakota: Badlands

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Although I knew today would be cooler than yesterday, I wanted to get up early and get to the Badlands before the heat of the day. I went to bed early and was up and about at 5:30, and was on the bike by 7:00 The entrance tote Badlands national park start directly south of Wall (another reason I stayed there.

To say that this would be the best riding / sightseeing day of my trip just does not express in the slightest way how much my mind was blown or how exhilarated I felt. These are the days I live for on bike trips. They are like a drug that get you thought those scorching hot or freezing cold or boring long days. I would find it hard to believe that these days could be experienced in any other way of traveling than on a bike. They are the days you hug your bike because you want to hug the world but that’s impossible. The journey from Wall to Keystone (even the scenic route) should have taken me 3.5hrs, it took 12hrs. I got to the hotel at 19:00 and I think that says it all. I stopped every 5miles to take a picture or just look at swallows.

The Badlands are stunning, breath-taking, interesting and very unusual. I kept stopping to take pictures (many of which I have delated but still think I have over 300 for the day) Right at the entrance to the park I got to see my first buffalo, beautiful big male munching away posing and welcoming us into the park, behind him some prong horn deer looked at us in curiosity.

Even though it is almost peak season, or close to peek season and is school holidays the park itself was not at all crowded, lathi for the rest (also surprising not crowded) but I’d still suggest coming out of season just in case.

As I ventured through the park, I also got to see mule deer, big horn sheep, prairie dogs, a rabbit munching his breakfast just at my feet. The big ram I saw just next to the road had me feeling a bit cautious since I was on the bike and he was standing right there on the side of the road. I turned off the engine, as I had heard about them, and bison, charging bikes due to the noise. Apparently, this has happened in Custer state park during the Sturgis bike week as they seem to just get fed up from the noise. I was in two minds as I could have kept the bike running for a fast getaway or just tried to be quiet. I chose the latter and he had a very good look at me but was more interested in his breakfast. The prairie dogs were the funniest. I stopped and watched them for ages running around sitting on their hind legs and generally being very chatty about me standing there.

As I left the park, I saw a huge male bison behind the park fence. It was a very Saturday looking fence and I felt okay to park my bike and get off and get a little closer, but still being aware of the fact that he is a very large very wild and possibly unpredictable animal. He had no interest in me, or the driver of the car that also pulled up and just carried on grazing and walking along the fence until he decided to wonder off. OR he has looking for the hole in the fence he had cut last week 😊

A bunch of bikers pulled up and we got chatting about travelling and the US and the bad rap American often get in Europe, which is often misinformed. I have met the best people on this trip. Yes, I may not agree with everything they say but generally 80% of the people are pretty damn moderate and just like you and me. I took some picture with Gu (if I remember the name correctly) and his friends, I so like meeting people when I travel. Enough of that, moving along the road I spotted a bunch of cowboys putting 3 horses in a horsebox. They had moved a herd of cows from one pasture into another and the boss was now picking them up. Damn how awesome would it have been to see them actually moving the cows. Nope this sure isn’t Switzerland (we move cows by Helicopter. If you need to hear, more ask me and I’ll send you the pictures)

USA South Dakota: Crazy Horse and Mount Rushmore Monuments

30th June cont.

Still traveling to Keystone, I decided not to go directly there as it was now only mid-day and I wanted to see Custer state Park, which I can say is beautiful. As the riding was great and I could not imagine stopping I decided to see the Crazy horse monument and mount Rushmore as well.

The crazy horse monument is not finished but is already impressive. Just a side note; Carving started on the monument in 1948, and to date there is no deadline for its completion. The slow progress is primarily down to funding as it is solely privately funded with any federal funding being rejected. If you want to read more about his – https://www.distractify.com/p/when-will-the-crazy-horse-monument-be-finished

I really hope it gets more investors and is completed or at least half completed, however it is already impressive and the museum at the foot of the mounting is a must see. The museum not only tells the story of crazy horse and the sculpture Korczak Ziolkowski but shows many artefacts and pictures of many of the north American first nation tribes. It is fascinating and very well done, a definite must see. The statue outside of the Lakota Indian Death song and his fallen pony really hit me in my hear and that was just the beginning. The history of the first nation people is rich, beautiful and also extremely tragic. I had a great conversation with one of the guides about communication and how so much of the tragedies could have been avoided if people had taken the time to just understand each other as the lost in translation and impatience literally lead to thousands of lives. Isn’t it sad that this lesson has still not be learned today (never mind was but just look no further than social media) Making notes of yet more history books to download on my kindle, this trip is such an education?

I also met Pam, her husband and her friends at the museum. Somewhere outside the Badlands, I think before I spotted the buffalo, I had stopped to take a picture and Pam and her friends rode past me on their trikes. She stopped and asked if I was okay (so nice) At the museum I recognised the and we had a quick chat. She is part of the moto maids’ group who are having a rally in rapid city, they do this every year and are expecting about 400 members this year. How cool is that 😊 I then met a couple more moto maids at the hotel this morning and they made me realise that if I get too old to ride on two wheels, I’m getting a trike.

Arriving at Mount Rushmore I met my 3rd set of nice people, Brian and Creighton from Washington DC, what a great couple. They travel all over America and Europe, and I hope to meet them again one day. Creighton rides pillion because he said he doesn’t trust himself riding, and I told him that I ride my own bike because I don’t trust my husband (okay okay not true I do trust my hubby, but still prefer to ride on my own)

Mount Rushmore is a lot smaller than I expected, the photos I have seen made me think it was gigantic, however it is every bit as impressive as you imagine. It only took 14 years to carve and I did need to as Brain who was who as I only recognised Lincoln and Washington; So, it’s George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.

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Finally on the cabins and a hot shower.

USA South Dakota: Wall and more

I left Sioux falls for Wall early as I had been warned about the 1 day temperature spike. OMG what that not an exaggeration. The day started nice enough and got slowly warmer at it went along. When the temp had reached something like 37C (100f) I thought ok damn this is hot, then I went down a sort of drip and it felt like someone had picked me up and put me in an over. It stopped at a gas station for a water break and checked the temp and it was  40C (107f) insane dry heat. Even riding with the wind blowing, which although better, was still so hot as the wind itself was scorching.

No south Dakota is not boring, it’s stunning
I love meeting curious cows on the road
decided to get off the interstate for a short bit, but decided it was not the right weather for a dirt road so turned back

However, this did not detract from the interesting day I had. I did, even in the head, go off the interstate a little to see the countryside and small towns. I also stopped to see the sights along the way. I went into Chamberlain as I wated to stop for a drink but I like to try and get off the interstate stops (even though I am addicted to stopping in Starbucks) I rode through the town and then as I turned around the ride back, I noticed all these little aluminium butterflies and things on the side of a building and a sign saying Coffee, tea etc. So, I stopped there as the small mom and pop places are usual the best. The owner Patty was great and one of those inspiring people you meet in life. She worked in a gas station and always had a dream of opening her own little store (she told me about her life, kids, abusive ex etc I won’t say more as it is not my story to tell) but she saved and saved (into her early 50s) one day realised that she had enough to open a small place but not enough to do it full time. So, she kept her job at the gas station working from early morning to 11 and then working in her store in the afternoon. She did this for 2 years until her place could sustain her. Her store is the cutest place and I really enjoyed chatting to her, what a warm sweet person.

Resuming my journey to wall I kept seeing signs for 1880 town. I was not going to stop because 1. Heat 2. Tourist trap 3. I wanted to have time to explore Wall and was only there for 1 night 4. I honestly thought it would just be facades with no buildings to explore. BUT my curiosity got the better of me and I went in.

I was great, yes, it’s a bit worn and in need of a lick of paint, and very dusty. However, I could look past that and see the amazing old things they had especially the props from dances with wolves. You can go into the buildings and really imagine life in those times and a town like this. The saloon was great and sitting in there set me back 140years. I really hope some millionaire invests in sprucing this little historic museum up. I’m sure there are bigger better historical towns like this, but I just haven’t seen them and think 1880 town is worth a visit.

I stopped at the Minuteman missile museum (as it’s indoors and air conditions) and it is really interesting. It explains the role of the missile silos in the cold war and what people saw as a real nuclear threat. It was real education for me who knows very little about the cold war. After seeing this museum, I wanted to stop at the Delta-09 Minuteman Missile Silo but it was just way to hot and I know that I simply can’t see everything.

Pushing on in the heat I finally got to Wall, checked into my little cabin, had a shower and went to explore the town. Oh, golly this needs to be seen, sooooo kitsch, I loved every minute of it.

You do need to remember one thing about me. I love travelling and seeing weird and wonderful things and have a super positive attitude to travel and take everything as it comes with no expectation. So, I am rarely disappointed and always see the good things, so I’m someone that will trawl through very touristy gift shops marvel at the crap, not buy anything and just be glad I saw it. Wall is that place 😊 and I have Colleen to tank for this tip (as with the ones for the Gettysburg and the Badlands which I’d never heard of before she told me I had to go there)

USA South Dakota: Sioux Falls

I picked Sioux falls to stay in as it was a mid-point to Wall, and what a stroke of luck that I did. I was hosted by Jane and Troy from bunk-a-biker and their awesome friendly log Maya. What a great couple. They showed me around Sioux falls, very nice pretty and clean town. Troy is an engineer specializing in bridge construction and we got to see one of the bridges he built. How awesome is that! I was impressed.

I must say something more Maya, besides the fact that she is so cute, fluffy and friendly, she is also very well trained. Besides the usual obedience and tricks she rings a bell when she needs to go outside to pee, it’s so cute. In the morning when I woke up I heard this little scratch on the door, opened it and Maya come running in jumped on the bed said good morning and was off again. apparently when there are people in the house and she wakes up she does the rounds to ensure everyone is awake and okay 🙂

Sioux falls has one street where they allow artists from all over to display their sculptures for a year. The public get to vote on the best one and that is then permanently displayed in the city. We walked the road and checked out all the pieces. Some confusing but interesting and some just stunning pieces. I voted for the otter.

I must say a couple of people told me that the ride through the mid-west South Dakota would be boring as it’s just flat. I could not disagree more, it is stunning.

USA Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota: Back in the USA

26 June – Border crossing

Time to say goodbye to Canada for now and cross the border. I don’t know why but I’m always a little apprehensive at border crossings. I guess it’s because I have no idea what to expect with regards the customs people and I’ve encountered some jerks on my trips. I was also just a little concerned about the fact that I was not ‘’checked out’’ of the USA when I went to Canada and did not expect this as a foreigner (apparently that is normal practice)

So, when I arrived at the border crossing and the guard said there asked when and where I entered the USA and then said ‘’there is no proof of this as there is no entry stamp in your passport’’ WHAAAAAT?

So I got pulled into the office and the 5 border guards (it was a very quiet day in the office so I got the full attention…must have been an exciting day on the border has has) They were fantastic, so nice, friendly, funny (cracking jokes about me travelling while my husband was at home working) I will have to add DAMN good looking fellas (are all the good looking ones stashed away on the Canada/USA Sault Ste Marie border post) Since I had an ESTA they found me in the system and said the guys in Orlando must have just been busy and forgot to stamp my passport. Suggested that if ever I enter a country, I check that there is a stamp, as this is important but exit stamps are not necessary. They chatted about my trip and then wished me a good ride. My faith in customs officials restored 😊

I spent the day riding SW along the coast of Lake Michigan. DAMN that is one big lake, looks like the ocean. Great riding day with a night in Escanaba

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One of those long roads I love. I never feel so happy and free as when I’m riding down a long open road with so much space and sky that you feel like you could see forever.

27 June

Wanting to just get from A to B relatively quickly, as the US is a huge country, I basically crossed Michigan, Wisconsin and into Minnesota in 2 days. Although I spent most of the time on the interstates I still got off the main roads and still had time to explore the more interesting smaller roads and towns. Again like the rest of the USA some small towns are really pretty and some are beat town holes.

I don’t have earphones in my helmet so music to listen too as I just like the solitude and feeling closer to the riding, but that is just me. It does lead to some strange head conversations though.

WTHECK

Looking at my GPS for a second to see how far it is to the next petrol station I looked up and saw this truck coming straight for me. In a nanosecond my brain calculated that it was in fact going backwards. It was begin towed. This made me think about how totally amazing our brains are that it can calculate this so quickly. I also thought how awful it would to have a head on collision with one of these 18 wheelers on a bike, and what your last thoughts would be (if any). This led me to wonder what insects think before hitting my helmet. I mean how intelligent are insects do they know they are going to hit you and ide, or is it just doodloodledah splat. So then I thought about all those bikers that don’t ride with full face helmets and have insects just splatting all over their faces. Eeewwww …. Lets look at the scenery instead Lorraine.

I do however have some awesome helmet conversations about being the ruler of the universe and how I’d single handed fix the world….just to warn you a lot of people would die.

Canada Ontario: Toronto

22 June

Road to Toronto

I reluctantly left Quebec City, picking the bike up from its service, but looking forward to seeing Lee and Cathy in Toronto. I knew I couldn’t make Toronto in a day so hit the motorway on the 1st day as it was pretty chilly and a little rainy. I got half way and spent the night in Cornwall. The 2nd day I only did 100kms on the motorway and then peeled off to explore the side roads. The weather was great, the roads were great and, is usually the case, very interesting.

23 June

Lee and Cathy (who I met in 2015 while riding the amazon, and who I stayed with in Arizona in 2016)

I spent 2 awesome nights with Lee and Cathy, and actually rested on my rest day.

It’s not my place to tell people other people’s stories, but I will say this: Lee and Cathy could honestly write the book on life and ow to live it. The quintessential hard-working rags to riches story by two of the most down to earth down right nicest people alive. Lee, turning 80 in August and Cathy 79 are both still riding, but not just riding, riding all over the world. And the stories just get better and better. They invited Rob and Alison over for dinner who I also met on the amazon trip, what a nice surprise. Well, these 4 had me entertained the whole night. On Saturday night Lee and Cathy’s son Paul came over and what can I say; it would be hard to find a nicer more interesting person, a real tribute to his parents. Paul owns a jujitsu dojo and trains MMA fighters. However, has now expended his jujitsu to become the only person in Canada qualified to use it as a form of therapy for people with PTSD. He works with doctors and a psychologist and they are having a lot of success helping people. Primarily those in the armed forces but also women and children who have suffered serious trauma. WOW what a calling, a fascinating and interesting person to speak to. I honestly could have spent a week with Lee and Cathy but the USA and specifically mount Rushmore are calling.

Lee, Cathy, Alison and rob

Lee has a stunning collections of bikes in his mancave which would have Joern drooling. I personally loved Lees very peaceful garden and got to spend some time in it watching the squirrels on my rest day. I didn’t even know you got black squirrels. Lee with his other love, what a stunner.

25 June

Leaving Toronto

Reluctantly leaving I got to do a short ride with Lee around the very attractive area in which they live just north of Toronto. What a treat, Lee is one of the best riders I have ever met and it’s always an honor for me to ride with him.

I then peeled off and headed to Sudbury and Spragge where I spent the night in a campsite. The ride was easy and through really lovely countryside and waterways. But things just got better. At the serpent campsite I was invited to dinner by David, a biker who has a weekend RV based there, and his mom. What lovely people, so friendly and interesting. David and his brother, who lives in Australia, and hoping to meetup in Europe soon and do a bike trip together. I hope they do and are obviously welcome to stay with us. But things didn’t stop there. As David was heading out, he gave me his sheepskin seat cover, which I had commented on as I’d love to get one for my bike. Under protest he insisted I take the gift as he said he had two. WOW Canadians really are special people. THANKS Dave.

One of the many many pretty views on the ride

I honestly missed so many opportunities to take pictures of the views. I just sometimes get stuck in the saddle and see so many things that I simply forget to stop until it’s too late.

I couldn’t get a better picture of this moth that visited me at the campsite, but it was very interesting.

The sky and view from my little cabin, such a peaceful place.

Canada Quebec: Quebec City

The ride from St Andrew to Quebec City, although having a chilly start, was great. What a stunning route. As I was on the motorway (being too cold in the morning to take the time to ride the smalls roads) I couldn’t stop to take photos and am now kicking myself.

I did have a great encounter with three bikers along the way. Super nice people, as I have discovered Canadians are, we had a great chat about riding, routes, Canada and the weather. Once of the nice things about riding alone is that people are more willing to approach you and you get to have random cool meetings with total strangers.

Quebec City what can I say …One of these days I’m going to rest on my rest day but so much to see and so little time. Quebec City is now one of my favourite cities (and I’m not a city person) it’s got such a nice laid back feel, it’s clean and so pretty and the people are so nice. Full of super nice little restaurants and cute streets to wonder down. It was even super easy to ride into yesterday, not much traffic and no crazy speeding lunatics.

The jewel of the city is Château Frontenac a hotel built in 1893 and looks as stunning inside as it is out. I managed to walk through the foyer to take a look and also checked out some pictures on the internet of the inside (as staying there is way out my price range)

Quebec City is chock of gorgeous buildings large and impressive as well as small and cute

Bit of girl power outside the parliament building.

Damn you sons of Quebec fighting our Boers is South Africa … but then any life lost in any war is a wasted life that should be remembered.

The new Banksy perhaps?

Canada New Brunswick: St Andrews

After my nice experience with the Canadian border guards, I arrived in St Andrews and things just got better. What a gorgeous little town, small, quiet, picturesque and full of friendly people (and deer) just my kind of place. I stayed in the cutest cottage and had booked for 2 nights as the weatherman forecast some awful weather. For this reason, I decided not to go to Nova scotia also because I want to come back and travel around this area with Joern. He has a dream to go to Newfoundland so we can certainly do an easy 3-week trip around the area.

As if often the case the weatherman was not completely correct and I had nice, slightly overcast but still nice weather…that is until I left. But before that I got to thoroughly enjoy this little piece of heaven.

My cute little cottage and the lovely chilled boardwalk at the hotel.

There are deer all over the town and I love the fact that the locals protect their vegetable gardens and prize flowers from them as opposed to just getting rid of the deer. It really is a special place.

I spent the afternoon wondering around the little botanical garden. It’s a beautiful garden full of sculptures and stunning plants along with a few goats, alpacas and ducks. I had lunch on a bench in the garden watching the ducks before tacking the little maze. It could not have been a more relaxing afternoon.

The town itself is small and so quaint with some great restaurants and a fantastic coffee shop. You can also take a whale watching cruise, but as it wasn’t the best time of year to spot whales and I’ve done a couple of these cruises before i decided to to the botanical gardens instead.

The antique lighthouse has been restored and was in use for 100 years from 1833 to 1933.

Leaving St Andrews and riding towards Quebec City was no fun. Absolutely freezing at 7oC and pouring rain. I just froze, but sometimes one just needs to tolerate bad weather when travelling by bike, it’s one of the penalties we pay for riding. I very briefly stopped at Grand Falls for just 5 minutes before checking into a hotel and having the hottest bath I could manage. The weather really put me in a downer as well as draining my energy, but fortunately although the following day started chilly it was dry and by the time, I rode into Quebec City it was a warm 22oC. I dropped my bike off for its service and began looking forward to my 2 days in rest in Quebec City.

USA Maine: Kennebunkport and the road to Canada

Some people just park boars at the jetty

Leaving Vermont, I started to head to Canada and spent the night in boring Freeport, but not after visiting Kennebunkport. Another little gem in the stunning state of Maine.

17 June

Heading for Canada today. Although the heavens threatened rain all day and it was overcast and very chilly the clouds held out and I arrived bone dry, but frozen. Although I hardly felt it as I was enjoying riding through Maine and some lovely countryside.

I had two heart stopping moment…well of that is a bit of an exaggeration so let’s say two mildly scary moments at the border. Firstly, I followed the road and soon realised that I had passed (with no option to stop) the USA boarder / customs post and arrived in Canada. With no option to turn around other than enter and then exit Canada I continued on. I was quite nervous as having crossed many many borders on motorbikes I know that things can quickly get tricky. I was really worried that I didn’t go through customs or get my passport stamped as I exited the USA. Since I’m returning to the USA in about 12 days, I’m worried that there may be some issues. As soon as I arrived at the hotel I phones the US customs and border security offices and was told (you dumb tourist) that this was normal and there are no exit checks when going to Canada. Phew that’s a lod off my mind.

The second moment was when I handed to Canadian border guard my arriveCan receipt to be told it was expired and that in fact you have to apply a max of 72hrs in advance not a minimum. DAMN I really thought I’d have to go back to the US and lose a day or more. BUT no, Canadian border guards are the nicest in the world (that I have come across so far. I really have a pet hate of border / customs people as they are usually on some kind of power trip, especially the Russians just awful customs people) They let me stay in the waiting room and download the arriveCan app and fill the form in right there and then while they checked my bike. They didn’t even ask me to unpack my luggage. Easy peezy 15 minutes and I was done and on my way to St Andrews.