The Mountain Man of the Black Hills

“How long you been comin’ down here?” said the scholarly looking older gentleman sitting next to me on the bench on Main Street.  “Well,” I said, “Ole has been coming here every year since 1986.  I’ve only been coming since 1994.”  “Me and the Old Lady, we been comin’ down here since 1972 – and haven’t missed a year!  Ride all the way, too.”  I found out that he and his wife are from Rochester, MN and make the trek every year on their Honda – crossing southern Minnesota and all of South Dakota on their bike, carrying everything they’ll need for a week or more.  From here they were going to pack up and head to Williston, ND and check out the oil fields.  They were hoping they could each get a job doing something there – she could work at Taco John’s and he could drive a truck he thought.  He was 76 and she was 72.  I would have never guessed their ages to be that.

Yesterday was spent taking the curves and turns on Vanocker Canyon Road and Nemo Road.  At one point we stopped for a Butt Break and ran into one of the Mountain Men of the Black Hills.  He was a friendly old soul that rode down to his mail box to retrieve his mail on his quad and stopped to visit with us.  He attire was quite the fashion statement.  His jeans were patches upon patches, the top of his straw cowboy hat was nearly missing and the toes of his steel-toed boots only showed the steel – there was no leather left covering the toes.  He owned 20 acres back in the Hills, had been born and grew up in the immediate area and was a Korean War vet.  We must have visited with him for a good 45 minutes covering everything from his philosphy on life to politics on all levels.  There’s a picture of him in the attached video.

Then it was on down the road, over the pass and on into Deadwood where we stopped at The Chubby Chipmunk, which is one of Friend Karen’s Must Stops. The Chubby Chipmunk is a local store that makes all homemade-hand dipped chocolate truffles of every flavor you could possibly imagine. This time she was thinking ahead and brought her cooler to to stow them in and prevent them from melting in the hot temperatures during the 16 mile trek down the mountain back to Sturgis.

Then, of course, it wouldn’t be a trip to the Black Hills and the Motorcycle Rally unless you got wet at least once. We managed to do it twice this trip.  That’s once thing about the Black Hills – if you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes.  Today the sky opened up without much warning and dumped buckets of water for about 10 minutes.  Fortunately, we had left downtown Sturgis as the sky was looking threatening and made it back to the campground just as the buckets started to pour.   The day before we weren’t quite so lucky – you can’t imagine how much rain drops hurt when they hit you in the forehead.  Ouch!!

Lovely Daughter and Lars have purchased all their token t-shirts – saving most of their shopping until today, the last day, hoping to get in on some good bargains.  I haven’t purchased ANYTHING as I couldn’t find anything that appealed to me.  Ole would sit on the back of the bike and people watch as I would go out on my shopping sojourns, and he would always greet me when I returned with, “What?  You have no packages?”  “Nope, not today.  Just same sh-t, different day.  Nothing out there I need.”  Unfortunately, there are only three shops on the Main Street that are locally owned.  All the others are owned by, to be politically correct here, “other ethnic groups,” – okay, I’ll just say it – rag heads!!  Ole and I had a bit of a run-in several years ago with one of the owners who tried to cheat us.  He threatened to call the cops, and I told him to go ahead.  He backed down then, but I fooled him and brought the cops back to his tent.  He was just a bit surprised and denied all.  So I’ve made it a policy not to buy anything from a store-front that isn’t locally owned.

People are packing up and pulling out as tomorrow is officially the last day of the rally.  We’ll be pulling out on Sunday heading over the Big Horn Mountains to a little town called Ten Sleep.  There’s a campground there that has a laundry – and Ole is about due to run out of clean shorts even though he’s turned them inside out so I guess I better wash some clothes. 

Click on the link to see the latest pictures and video.

Love, Lena