Category Archives: south dakota

Thursday 1st August 2019 – HERE I AM …

… holed up in a dusty motel at a dusty crossroads in a dusty town in Montana called Broadus. Yes, I’m in another State that I had yet to visit although I did cross over a corner of Wyoming (which I visited in 2002, whenever that was.

All this dust explains very well why this area is called the “Powder River” country. Because of all the dust in it, the river is said to be “too thick to drink, but too thin to plough”.

Last night was a beautiful night’s sleep. I went to bed, thoroughly exhausted, before even 20:00 and despite awakening on several occasions during the night, I didn’t finally show a leg until the alarms went off.

There was plenty of time to do everything, including a shower and general spruce-up. Make myself look nice. I even managed breakfast too.

So then packed and off into the sunset looking for the Walmart that I glimpsed yesterday evening. And that took some finding too.

‘Twas a good idea for a good clean-up because the lady at the check-out told me “ohhh do talk some more. I just LOVE your accent”. She didn’t knock anything off the bill though.

At a suitable petrol station in the vicinity I fuelled up the Kia. And it’s not as economical as you might think – 11 US gallons (about 40 litres) to travel about 610 kms.

It had been cloudy and overcast earlier but as I headed into the Black Hills it started to rain. Not enough to dampen my spirits (I was in surprisingly good form today and I’ve no idea why) but rain nevertheless. It didn’t detract from the journey and the beauty and I even wired up the dashcam so that you can see it later.

Round about midday I arrived at Deadwood and headed for Mount Moriah cemetery up in the hills. There I found, lying side by side, the graves of Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane. And listened excruciatingly as a Septic tourist guide explained to his tourists slowly, in words of one syllable (and they were Septics too) that he is NOT the same person as Buffalo Bill.

I despair.

After a while looking around the cemetery and the scenic viewpoint there I headed into town where I was waylaid. This time by a motorcycle restorer who allowed me to catalogue his exhibits.

Pride of place without any doubt at all must go to the Indian 4-cylinder in-line from 1939. Rare as hen’s teeth, which is hardly a surprise as the torque on that motor rotating in the same direction and the heat at the rear cylinder would have made for a very brief riding experience.

Nevertheless I would have taken it home in a heartbeat.

Main Street was nothing to write home about. The parking fee was horrendous so I didn’t stop. I filmed it instead for posterity. Nothing of the original seems to remain. The place has been swept by fire on several occasions since the Gold Rush.

For the first time since Toronto (whenever that was) I had lunch. A butty with hummus and bread followed by a banana. And then I pushed on for almost 140 miles in the now-glorious sunshine across the corner of Wyoming and into Montana.

Reaching Broadus I found a motel. And I’m glad that I did because it’s here that I need to be. It’s in the Powder River Valley and all long here for 50 miles north and south are the sites of skirmishes and fully-fledged battles between the Native Americans and the US Military farces.

Everything about this motel is very 50s, except the landlady who looks old enough and stern enough to have fought the Indians out of this plot of land single-handedly back in the 1880s and, of course, the prices, which are very 21st-Century.

But there’s no other motel for at least 60 miles and it’s right slap-bang where I want to be so it’s not all bad news.

My neighbour is friendly too. Another motorcyclist on his way to the Sturgis motorcycle rally. We had a good long chat about bikes and all sorts of things.

The filter on the air conditioner hasn’t been cleaned in donkey’s yonks though, and having let it run for a couple of hours, my room now smells just like my socks did before I washed them earlier. Yes, I’ve done the laundry, and washed myself at the same time.

Two showers in a day! Whatever next?

The landlady lent me a soup bowl so I’ve had tomato soup (with some pasta) and bread for tea. Three meals today. I hope that it’ll stay in today. And plenty of vitamin drink to keep up the health even though I’m not eating much.

Tomorrow I’m off on the war path so now I’m off to bed. Another night like last night will do me the world of good.

Wednesday 31st July 2019 – I’VE JUST BEEN …

… to one of the saddest places in North America. One of those that has been on my list for ;ore than 50 years.

It’s a place where a group of Native Americans, having surrendered peacefully to the American Army, were remorselessly butchered in cold blood by a crazed and demented American military bent on revenge. So out of their minds with savagery were the Americans that their artillery was firing point-blank into groups of people, totally mindless of whether there were their own troops intermingled in the crowd.

For this gallant act of bravery, in which between 150 and 300 Native Americans were butchered, the USA Government saw fit to award 20 Medals of Honour. These heroic tasks for which medals were awarded included citations for “conspicuous bravery in rounding up and bringing to the skirmish line a stampeded pack mule.”

The incident incited all kinds of comment, including this one from L Frank Baum, author of “The Wizard of Oz” – “… our only safety depends upon the total extermination of the Indians. Having wronged them for centuries, we had better, in order to protect our civilization, follow it up by one more wrong and wipe these untamed and untamable (sic) creatures from the face of the earth”.

Having had a really good sleep last night, I was awake with the alarms and then cracked on with a pile of work, including uploading some of the outstanding photos onto the new laptop. Rosemary was on line too so we had a chat.

And in a new experiment I tried a small amount of coffee and surprisingly, that stayed in. But that was when I found the microwave – in a little communal kitchen that I had missed. Too late now to do much about that.

It was another glorious morning with hardly a cloud in the sky as I left Philip and climbed up into the hills at the back.

The drive was pretty uneventful from an excitement point of view but I passed through some glorious scenery very reminiscent of USA 2002 and I took dozens of photos of the landscape, attracting on a couple of occasions the attention of the farces of law and order.

My luck was in in Midland, South Dakota. There I found a convenience store that had something that passed by way of dry biscuits but also some vegan soups. I need to start eating again if I’m to keep going, although much to my surprise I’m feeling much more like it today and I don’t know why.

At Batesland I encountered a very pleasant young woman and her family in a petrol station who put me on the correct road for Wounded Knee and even invited me for lunch (which I suspect might have been a “paid-for occasion” but as it was a meat broth I declined.

One thing though about the USA is that I have found that most Americans on their own are very friendly and helpful and that’s certainly being pointed out to me again.

Eventually I arrived at Wounded Knee and spent an hour or so wandering around, chatting to a few people and taking some photos for others, and telling a guy on a Harley that he had just missed a Urals sidecar combo outfit roaring through the site. How many years is it since I’ve seen one of those?

But Wounded Knee is a very poignant place, although somewhat despoiled by Souvenir – or maybe I should say Sioux-venir stalls on the massacre site.

Heading north again, back through the beautiful Badlands there were more interesting places to see, like the town of Scenic, stuck in a time-warp since 1906 by the look of things although it’s owned – for reasons unknown – by a Filipino religious organisation.

Finding Rapid City was one thing. Finding a motel was quite another. The place is full of bikers, with some sort of biking rally taking place nearby. I drove for miles and miles and visited several motels before a tip from a very friendly motel manager sent me to the Gold Star Motel on the edge of the town where I grabbed one of the last available rooms.

It’s not cheap, but it’s here, and the light bulb blew as soon as I switched on the light.

But what do I care? I’m going to bed.

Tuesday 30th July 2019 – THIS PLACE …

… would be a really nice place to stay if I could afford it. But it’s the first motel that I’ve seen in 120 miles and it only had one room left so I didn’t want to take any chances.

Last night was a bad night and this morning I felt like death. I really could have stayed there a second night too but at that rate I’m never going to accomplish anything.

With last night’s protein broth not doing me any good at all (the remainder of the packet went down the sink this morning), I tried the porridge but half of that went into the bin. And as for my grape juice, well, I shan’t bore you with the gory details about that. But that was disappointing.

Eventually I managed to drag myself outside and into the car and staggered off to finish the rest of the James River trail. It didn’t take long and then I was back on my route again.

The first half was boringly flat as you might expect but things gradually started to warm up. I can particularly remember my elation when I saw a proper hill.

The lady Who Lives In The Satnav took me down some interesting roads and through some interesting towns, including one called Ventura which, had it not been for the cars in the backyards, would have been placed quite properly back in the 1880s

As the day drew on I started to hit the hills and that was comforting. A stop for fuel and a chat with the lady who ran the place, and then off again.

At about 16:00 I hit the big city of Pierre where I crossed the Missouri (the photo that I took was rubbish because there was nowhere to get for a good view) and entered Mountain Time, losing an hour.

But while I was stopped trying to find a good photo spec, I was passed by almost every police car in South Dakota (I seem to have crossed into South Dakota somehow without noticing it) with blue and red lights flashing, just like in some of these “bad river” films. They shot off up one road, came back down and shot off up another one. It made me realise that I’m not all that far from Keystone.

Now I’m really in the mountains. The foothills of the Black Hills of Dakota, following the trail (quite literally) of the old Deadwood Stage. It’s well-signposted with quite a few things to see from the 180s and 1890s.

Eventually I arrived at the township of Philip. A place which has two claims to fame, according to the motel owner. One is that the coldest temperature in South Dakota in modern times has been recorded here, and the second is that the warmest ditto.

It’s a one-horse town of course but with a huge cattle market, and smells like it too. I’m glad that it isn’t me, but I took a shower just the same to be sure.

The motel owner is very friendly and spent quite a while chatting to me which was nice, and later I went for a walk around the town – but that didn’t take long.

But now I’m exhausted. I had a huge wave of fatigue during the afternoon that I managed to fight off (just about) until I found my second wind. So even though it’s only 20:00 I’m off to bed on my rather springy mattress.

See you in the morning.