Alaska Trip – Day 2

DAY TWO:  SATURDAY, JUNE 13

The night before, I only got to chat with Grace at the BNB we were staying at for a minute as she had pulled into the driveway as I had walked back to the room I had rented.  This morning found Grace awake at 5AM like we were and she offered homemade bread and fresh hot tea to Jeffrey and I to give us some energy in the morning.  There’s a few people in life that you meet that you wish that you could spend more time with getting to know.  Grace and Harry are two people like that.

Spending an hour chatting with our host was once again very enjoyable.  If anybody find their self in this area and needs a cheap but comfortable place to stay, let me know and I’ll pass along their contact information.

Less than a mile from the BNB found a duck in a nearby marsh that had decided to become the first incident of the adventure.  The dew and foggy morning was quiet as we rode on the lightly graveled roads and the unexpected drone of our arriving motorcycles must have scared the mallard.  Rising out of the grasslands, the quacker flew perpendicular to my Vstrom and then immediately turned head-on into my bike and struck the clutch side handlebars.  Feathers were everywhere as I brought the bike to a stop.  My riding partner advised me that he saw the duck continue flying away after the strike.  I kept three feathers jammed into the hand guards…but nature decided it wanted them back and they disappeared pretty soon afterwards.

Although I had Tusk hand guards installed, it still managed to slam into my hand and grip.  The impact tore the Grab On foam grip covers nearly all the way off.  Nothing some Gorilla tape couldn’t fix at a rest stop later in the day.

People collect different things while traveling.  As a motorcycle rider, I like to capture pictures of a sign for each new state or area that I pass through.  Here’s the first of many more to come later in this trip report:

At the same rest stop, I also thought this was a really neat sculpture that stood a couple stories tall:

The Vstrom I ride is not the best bike to ride in the Plains states at all.  The design of the fairing and the panniers cause it to act like a big sail; the winds in Iowa and South Dakota can be vicious and requires riding along with the bike angled at 20 degrees and more just to keep it going straight.  Heck, what fun would an adventure be if the bike just rode along all nice and straight anyways?  It did a good job of making sure I had fun with the sailing effect and the continued dancing all over the road.

As I mentioned in the introduction posting a few days ago, Jeffrey is a Facebook fanatic which for a while became a running joke on the trip.  Jeffrey used nearly every stop to try to find a way to get online to either post to his FB wall or to read the responses that others were placing onto his postings.  To each their own; I posted the pics of the states/provinces/territories as we encountered them for updates to my blog readers.  A very common scene on this trip:

Our plan for the day was to meet Rob, the third of the traveling trio, in Montana.  This required a second day for putting on the miles as fast as possible.  Our route took us to I-90 in the morning for hundreds of miles of 80 MPH riding angled bliss thanks to the higher speed limits, and led us to US-212 where we would jump off the Interstate for a while before picking it back up outside of the Little Bighorn Battlefield memorial.  On retrospect, this memorial is the one place I wish I would have stopped at on this journey that I didn’t make arrangement previously to see.  As a kid, I read everything I could on Custer and the various Indian Wars.  Guess I’ll be making yet another trip across the Plains states on the Vstrom in the next few years.

Wyoming sign!

I think we were in the state for all of about fourteen miles before:

The miles went on as the hours passed and soon we found the exit to Columbus, Montana; just west of Billings.  In this town is a municipal campground on the north side of the Yellowstone River.  All sites are free, first come, first served.  As what may be expected to be found at free campgrounds was a large variety of “unique” people.  From those bringing in large fifth wheels to the transients on bicycles throwing up patched tents, the campground was full by 7PM that evening.  Being a Saturday, the local town boys and girls also found their way around and several parties could be heard over the property.  It was my desire to find different types of places to sleep at during this journey; this property offered some interesting conversations with the users.  We even had a visit from the local aliens searcher who was convinced that a unseen UFO was following him around.

We met Rob for the first time, who had reserved a corner area that allowed all three of us to have areas to place our tents.  Jeffrey brought along a hammock as well, which he tested on this evening as Rob and I used the conventional dome tents for our abodes:

The entire campground was infested with ant colonies.  One couldn’t walk more than a foot or so without stepping on two or three raised mounds.  Finding a location for the tent was a little difficult until it was decided there was no way around not wiping out a dozen mounds.  Luckily the ants did not enact revenge and attack us in our sleep.

Tomorrow, we would make our way into Canada, have the start of our gear breaking down, and would introduce us to the fact that apparently not many waitresses get tips in our neighbor country to the north.  We would also run into another ADV member…and a very oddball set of circumstances behind that meeting.

Mileage:  740 miles…or something like that
Areas traversed:  Rapid City, Sturgis, Billings
Gas:  $70.41

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