Today started out at 56 degrees with no wind in Hot Springs. We loaded the luggage at 0545 and breakfast was at 0600 either at the motel for continental or at a local restaurant downtown off the menu. We chose to do the restaurant downtown which was right along the way out of town. They were a little slower than the hotel continental as we could see riders leaving by our restaurant while we were still eating. There were about 20 that ate with me and the other did the hotel breakfast. Right out of town the road started to climb and the scenery was magnificent. The rolling hills and green grass was a sight to behold. After 8.7 miles we entered the Wind Cave Natl Park. We crossed a cattle guard and began to see many Prairie Dog town in all directions, and they were chirping at us as we rode by. Yesterday they told us that there was wildlife all over so be on the watch especially for the Buffalo and to make sure we gave them a wide berth. I did see one Bull Buffalo along the side of the road and I had gotten there sooner he was laying right by the side of the road where out luggage truck was parked. As it was I took his picture and labeled it King of the Hill as he was just standing there looking over his domain and no one was around to challenge him. Then it was on up the road and after we were at the top of many hills we went down and there in one of the yards were 2 wild turkeys that John and I stopped and took a picture of them and on up the road once again. We continued to climb for 31 miles until we got to the town of Custer and had our first rest stop of the day at mile 32.
After the stop for food and drinks it was on up the road and it continued to go uphill and at mile 37 we went by the crazy horse monument that is a work in progress. We visited this in 1989 and it looks the same today as it did 21 years ago. The only funds for this work is through donations.
After this we went on up the road and then hit a down hill and turned on SH 244 east and this took us up to Mt. Rushmore. The climb was about 9 miles and it went from 6% to 10% and then dropped and climbed until we got to the top. We all stopped and took pictures with the other tourists that were there and I purchased a tee shirt for $5.00. I did not spend much time there as the rest stop was only 2miles down the hill and I needed a snack. The hill off of Mt. Rushmore was a 10% drop which was great, but then we still had to climb back out of town to get to Rapid City. After eating and filling the water bottles we had 20 miles to go and it was a long 4 mile climb out of the valley and then we had rolling hills, where we had a great down hill, followed by another climb. While were were getting within 6 miles of town there were some dark clouds and the thunder started. We had one last climb and when we got to the top it started to rain. I spotted a building that looked like a shopping center and we headed for it. While turning in to this area, which turned out to be a medical clinic, Margo who I was riding with turned into the parking lot ahead of me and her wheel slipped out on her and she went down on the ground. 2 cars that were leaving stopped and and asked if she was alright and offered assistance. After she got up she said that she hit her head pretty good on her helmet and had some bruises. I said that if you were going to have a crash this was the place as medial assistance was here.
We ended up staying here for 1 hour as the storm lasted for that long. We all put our arm warmers and jackets back on as it really cooled down. They offered us coffee while we were waiting and the hospitality was outstanding. When the rain let up we had 4 miles to go to the motel and off we went. In this storm many of the other riders that were behind us got caught in a hail storm and it really pelted them. 4 of the riders were huddled up to a building trying to stay dry and avoid the hail and a van full of 7 people, Mom, Dad and 5 children in a camper van with all their luggage and belongings who were on a 30 day vacation trip from Valentine, Texas and opened the door and insisted they step inside. They all said no that they were soaked and dripping wet, but the mom would not take no for an answer and they all dove in. They gave them towels jackets and offered them drinks. It was quite a coincident that their last name was Sheppard. It was really a great story and goes to show that there are great people in this world that will reach out to assist those in a time of need.
Everyone ended up being safe from the storm and we all cleaned our bikes after riding on the wet roads. Tomorrow is a short day of 57 miles to Wall, SD so we won't have to get up and load so early, and for those that can sleep in it will mean more rest. I will be up at my normal time, early so I can get an early breakfast and drink coffee until it is time to load the luggage.