The REAL Adventures of Ole and Lena – it aint pretty

“You know, Lena, I feel like one of my butt cheeks is sitting lower than the other.  How do yours feel?” 

“Well, Ole,” I said, “Isn’t that a rather personal question?  I’m not sure I want to tell you, but now that you’ve brought it up, I guess my right one feels like it’s sitting lower than the left.”

“Yah, that’s what I thought too.  Maybe I should get out and check things over.  You never know what’s going to go wrong with these motorhomes.  You have to expect at least ONE thing with every trip you make, you know.”

Well, Ole got out and checked things over and sure enough – there was something wrong in the rear end of the RV – its right-hand butt cheek was sitting lower than the others, just like Ole’s and mine.  A quick phone call to the Freightliner dealer told us that they had the correct part, but couldn’t get our RV in for repairs until next week.  Now Bismarck, ND isn’t exactly the place we want to hang around for a week or so, especially when we’re headed for Sturgus, SD and the big bike rally.  Bismarck – boring.  Sturgis – excitement.  No brainer.  So Ole bought the part and dragged out all his trusty tools that he carries in the RV for just such occasions.  We motored on over to the Wal-mart parking lot and Ole crawled under, the RV and fixed the whole shenanigan.  You should have seen him when he crawled out – pretty black – you would have thought he was a “grease monkey” working for some big equipment company.  But it was fixed and we motored on down the road. 

We headed the direction of Hettinger, ND where we have long time high school friends who own and run the local Super Valu grocery store.  We thought it would be fun to stop in and just say “Hi, how are you.”  We were lucky enough to find Mike in the store, not home for supper as it was getting to be that hour.  Hadn’t seen him since high school graduation almost 50 years ago.  Ole walked up to him and said, “Hi, Mike.  High school class of l965, right?  Married to Kathy, right?”  Mike’s response, “Who the H*** are you, anyway.”  Ole kept spouting little bits of information that he knew about him and Mike became more and more puzzled.  He looked at me and said, “Lena, you look very familiar, but I just can’t put a name on you.”  And then he proceeded to call his wife to come down to the store.  She walked in and of course, immediately recognized us.  Had a good visit with them – fun to see them both.  So fun to surprise people like that.

Then it was on down the road heading toward Sturgis.  We really should have stopped for the night before we crossed the ND/SD line, but Ole is one of these people that just wants to keep going.  Once you cross the border into SD it’s a wasteland.  There is nowhere to pull off the road for the night, no gas stations, no wide spots in the road for the next umpty-two miles.  So you better have a full tank of gas when you venture into northwestern South Daktoa.  There ain’t nothing there but a few cows and a mail box or two.  No building sites, no lights off in the distance – nothing.  I think we met probably three cars in a 150 mile stretch. 

So we just kept heading south, and about the time we got within a half mile of the campground we had reserved, the headlights started flashing.  Not a good thing when it’s dark out.  Ole finally decided to turn on the big spot light that sits on the roof of the RV in order to see where we were driving.  Can you imagine being an oncoming car and seeing this THING coming down the road at you with this unbelievably bright light – but only one – thinking they must be seeing an alien space ship coming at them? Fortunately there were no cops so we made it to the campground without hitting the ditch.  And of course by this time the registration office was closed.  So here we are, driving around the campground with this bright spot light searching for our campsite.  But we made it.  We’re parked, set up and are enjoying life. 

Well, that’s all for tonight folks.  I’ve been having trouble with my computer so hopefully this will post and you can see it. 

Love from Ole and Lena land – more tomorrow when the adventure continues.

 

 

EEEKKK!

Well, that wasn’t EXACTLY what I yelled as I raised the middle finger on my left hand and shook it at the stupidity that had just crossed in front of us on the Harley.  We were riding down the turning lane to make a left turn (fortunately at a slow speed) when some idiot and his stupid girlfriend, riding in the left lane going through Sturgis on Lazelle, must have decided the traffic was too heavy and they wanted to turn around.  Well, folks, these two idiots made a U-turn right in front of us across the turning lane, and nonchalantly motored the other direction.  They hadn’t even looked to see that there was a bike coming at them in the turning lane.  Karen and Dave were following us and I heard Karen yell a few choice words at them also.  He just looked over and gave us a $h – - eating grin like he had gotten away with something.  Meanwhile, Ole had to slam on the brakes, my backside lifted up off the seat and I grabbed Ole by the “love handles” in order to stay on the bike.  I am so tired of the stupidity and the attitudes of some of the bikers down here that some days I don’t even want to come back.  And it seems to get worse every year.  Or maybe I just get older and more crotchety??  Nahhh – that couldn’t be. 

There are these things called Common Sense, Bike Safety and Bike Etiquette.  I may not ride my own bike, but I’ve put enough miles on behind Ole over the last 20 years to know what’s what.  As of yesterday there have been 9 fatalities related to the rally, most of them due to stupidity or the inability to handle the motorcycle due to inexperience.  This is NOT the place to come and “break in” your new motorcycle.  Thanks for listening to my rant – - – -

The Rally is coming to an end and the campground is starting to empty out.  Our friend, Jerry, left yesterday, Karen and Dave left this morning along with Don and Brandon.  So our little village has disbursed and we’re here alone.  We debated leaving this morning also, but Ole has a tendency to want to hang around until the “last dog is hung.”  So I guess we’ll motor around a bit today, although not too far as the sky is rather ominous again today.

We were up in Deadwood yesterday buying truffles at the Chubby Chipmunk when the storm clouds came over the moutain very rapidly and billowed to the point that they looked like they were exploding.  The process was beautiful and quite interesting, but it meant we were in for a storm and had 11 miles to go down the mountain and then heavy traffic to get through before we were back to safety in the campground.  We made it ahead of the storm, which proceeded to open up and dump copious amounts of rain and hail – AGAIN!  Fortunately, this time the hail was only the size of nickles instead of baseballs, like it was several years ago.  Ole parked the bike under our awning to protect it, but parked it toward the end of the covering.  Now the awning, which is 24 feet long, is always put up at an angle so that when it rains the water runs off instead of pooling on top of the awning and breaking things from the weight.  So it’s actually like an eave with no downspout.  The “lack of the downspout” caused all the water from the awning to fall like a waterfall right onto the back seat of the bike – it’s SOAKED – and guess where I get to sit today!!  I’ve done it before in situations where we’ve gotten caught in the rain unexpectedly – and believe me – it’s not comfortable walking around with a wet backside all day. 

We’ve got our reservations made for next year, 2014 and also for 2015 – two years ahead.  Hopefully us old duffers will still be getting around good enough to do this.  (No comments from the Peanut Gallery, Burl!)  We always make reservations a year in advance, but 2015 is the 75th anniversary of the rally, so there will be a large attendance.  And after all these years we definitely want to get back into the same campground.  Ross, the owner of Lamphere Campground, runs a pretty tight ship.  I have seen him escort campers out in the middle of the night if they don’t follow the rules.  It’s nothing like the infamous Buffalo Chip, where the only rules are no dogs and no glass containers. 

New video attached – just click on the link below.  I haven’t taken a lot of pictures this year I guess because I’ve been here so many times.  But I do love to “people watch.”  There are some interesting characters around. 

http://www.onetruemedia.com/shared?p=1265ca98df1ab49283db263&skin_id=701&utm_source=otm&utm_medium=text_url

Well, Ole’s getting anxious so I guess I better get my ducks in a row so we can go find another adventure!! 

Love, Lena

 

 

 

Meeteetse & the Cowboy Bar

“Ole, don’t be a blanket hog,” I yelled at 6 o’clock this morning.  “Just give me some d–n blankets please!”  Ole was wrapped up in the comforter and my backside was hanging out developing frostbite because Senior Citizen Simon and Lucy were snuggled up against him and all the blankets, and weren’t passing any of their BTUs to me.  It was a mere 48 degrees here at Meeteetse this morning.  A far cry from what we’ve been dealing with over the last 10 days at Sturgis or the last 3 months at home in Minnesota. 

Meeteetse is a wide spot in the road with a population of 297 and at an elevation of about 4200 feet.  This town may be small but it has more going for it than you can imagine.  If you ever get to the Cody, Wyoming area I highly recommend making a stop at Meeteetse.

We spent the evening last night at the Cowboy Bar visiting with Big Jim, the owner for the last 18 years.  He’s a walking history book – although he’s tied to a motorized wheel chair at this point in his life.  The research that he carries in his head is extraordinary, although he’s starting to write it all down and to this point has published 11 historical novellas and is currently working on 6 more!! 

You see, the Cowboy bar opened its doors in 1893 back in the days of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and various other outlaws from back in those days, that all frequented the Cowboy Bar.  At one point one of the well-known outlaws was involved in a standoff on main street, got shot in the head and his body was brought into the Cowboy Bar, layed out on the bar, his pockets emptied and his money spent on drinks for the house for the evening.  A local resident, who was a doctor, went up to the bar, poked his finger in the hole in the guy’s forehead and the back of the outlaw’s skull popped off and his brains went flowing out onto the bar.  There are still bullet holes in the walls and ceiling from various gun fights that took place in the bar “back in the days.”  The bar is full of historical pictures and documents and even has the original player piano that still works sitting up against the wall waiting for someone to play a tune. 

Big Jim is quite an interesting character and it’s so easy to spend hours talking to him and listening to his historical tales.  We spent two hours with him last night and another couple of hours this afternoon that went by so fast it was like snapping your fingers. 

So today when we dropped our boots over the saddle of the “Iron Horse” (Harley) we stopped for lunch at Lucille’s Cafe – another business that’s been operational since the turn of the century.  I had the best egg salad sandwich I’ve had in a long time – served by wonderfully hospitable people.  As we were eating Lucille (the cooke) came out and visited with us.  What a refreshing atmosphere from all the franchise restaurants.  This was real hometown cooking and hospitality.  It was so fun to watch all the local cowboys come in and eat their lunch and listen to their conversations about sheep and cattle and lack of rain. 

After visiting the two museums in town and getting an understanding of the local history, we once again dropped our boots over the saddle of the “iron horse” and took off on the first hard-surfaced road we found.  We rode to the end of it (yes, there is an end to the pavement out here) where we were forced to turn around.  At the end of the road was something called the Pappy Po Butte, where a very important battle took place between two Indian tribes.  Yes, they fought each other back then, not just the White Man.  It was a pretty impressive butte, and looked like a sleeping buffalo.

Then we decided to take the first hard-surfaced turnoff road that we came across and ended up going down the Wood River Road.  The Wood River Valley was filled with wild life and oil wells, all living together in comfort.  We saw more antelope and mule deer this afternoon than we’ve seen on the entire trip along with a timber wolf that was hunting the antelope.  I have a long lense on my camera so I was able to get a decent shot of him. 

Then it was back to the Main Street of Meeteetse for ice cream at the Chocolatier.  The young man who owns this business wanted a new saddle so he could participate in a local rodeo.  His parents wouldn’t buy it for him and his mother told him that because he could make good candy to go to work and make his own money.  So he started the Meeteetse Chocolatier and now has a nation-wide business.  I didn’t sample his chocolates but they looked delicious – I opted for ice cream instead.  Just in case you didn’t know, I’m an ice creamaholic.  Don’t keep it in my house because I can’t leave it alone. 

While at the Chocolatier we met the nicest two couples from Texas that are staying up in Cody.  One of the gentlemen in the group told me I was a “girl after his own heart.”  At my age that really sent a thrill through me.  He told me it was because I was eating ice cream – he would have chosen ice cream over the chocolates also.  It’s pretty pathetic when that type of comment makes an impression – does it mean my age is showing?  (No comments from the peanut gallery, Burl.)

For those of you who read me and don’t know who Burl is, some day I’ll have to tell you about Burl – ole’ buddy, ole’ pal.  (Love you, Burl.)

From the Chocolatier it was back to the Cowboy Bar and more visits with Big Jim for another couple of hours.  You just never get bored talking to Big Jim.  We purchased two of his most recently published books – I can’t wait to read them.  He’s a gem.  I just wish his health was better – I will be surprised if he’s still walking this earth if we come back here in a year or two. 

More pictures – click on the link.

http://www.onetruemedia.com/shared?p=1158faee8e0d69692ee2648&skin_id=601&utm_source=otm&utm_medium=text_url

Love, Lena

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.

http://www.onetruemedia.com/shared?p=1153854ff5d7ee1afcea291&skin_id=601&utm_source=otm&utm_medium=text_url

Love, Lena

 

 

 

 

HEAD ‘EM UP AND MOVE ‘EM OUT

Yup – it’s that time of year again – time to pack ‘em up and head ‘em out.  We’re loaded and ready to move on down the road effective Wednesday morning.  Not necessarily bright and early as you know retired people don’t always move that fast.  There are necessities that need to take place first – drinking a pot or two of coffee, a bit of breakfast, and attendance in the “reading room” – that’s where all the magazines get read, you know.  I keep telling Ole that’s his library – he just scoffs at me.  Oh, well, some people are all about routine, you know.

Oh, I guess I forgot to tell you just exactly where we’re going – duh!  It’s the annual trip to Sturgis and the Blackhills Motorcycle Rally.  Ole has missed only one year of attending since 1986.  He USED TO BE really hard core and would ride the bike down and back.  In his later years (snicker) he became more sane and decided to trailer the Harley.  I didn’t start riding with Ole until our Lovely Daughter graduated from high school (1994) and haven’t missed a year since. 

We meet up with long-time friends every year as we all reserve the same spots so we have our own little Sturgis Village.  It’s like “Old Home” week, and always a lot of fun.

Now I really need to tell you about how I got involved in all of this.  Ole had asked me for numerous years to go to Sturgis with him and I always refused.  After all, all I had to judge the whole shebang by was the pictures of all the weirdoes that he brought home.   I didn’t think there was any reason for me to go that far to see all these strange folks that liked to exploit themselves. all the troublemakers and gangs, etc.  Just didn’t want any part of it.  Finally, just to appease him, I agreed to go, but put a number of stipulations on the trip.

First of all, I would not ride on the back of the bike all the way to Sturgis – that’s only 650 miles, but farther than I wanted to go and get wind/sun burned.  Second – under no circumstances would I sleep in a tent.  The weather down there is just to “iffy” and I definitely wanted a roof over my head should a storm blow up, which it does frequently.  Thought I had him there – as hotel rooms are usually rented a year in advance.  Third – there was no way I was going to wear all that BLACK leather that you saw all the bikers wearing.  I wanted something different - like maybe RED!  No problem, he said.  There’s all kinds of leather for sale down there and we’ll buy it when we get there (smirk).

He got me on all three counts.  First of all he made arrangements to go with a friend who had a pickup.  So we loaded both bikes in the back of his truck.  Okay – No. 1 down.  Thought I had him on No. 2 as he wouldn’t be able to get a hotel room at this late date.  WRONG!  Friend had a hotel room and offered to share it with us.  Got me there.  Darn.

So we arrive in Lead, SD after a 10-hour trip, check into the hotel room and go downtown to the leather vendors in search of something other than black leathers.  Now keep in mind that this was back in 1994 – 18 years ago.  Things were just a bit different back then than they are now.  Besides the fact that red leather only came in a size 4 or smaller, the only people who wore red leather were the HOOKERS!  And it was quite evident at that.  Needless to say I quickly changed my mind and ended up with black leathers with brown suede trim.

Since then I’ve found out there are a lot of reasons for BLACK leather – No. 1 is that it doesn’t show the bug splats quite as much as colored leather.  And it’s usually made of a heavier grade of leather which can withstand a lot more abuse should you lay the bike down and succumb to a bit of road rash if not worse.

So the “saga” (that’s Norwegian for story) shall continue.  If you’re interested, stay tuned, otherwise just delete the entry when it shows up on your email.

Love to you all,

Lena

 

 

The Marlboro Man is Alive and Well in Medora, ND

When Ole and I spend a weekend in Medora we usually spend at least Friday night or Saturday night down at what used to be the Iron Horse Saloon.  It used to be locally owned and locally patronized.  So it was the FUN place in town to be.  They used t have live music and dancing on the deck on Friday nights and karaoke on Saturday nights.  It was a good way to meet the locals and get acquainted.

A couple of years ago the guy who had owned the Iron Horse decided to sell out and made the mistake of selling to someone NOT from the Medora area.  Needless to say, everything changed – decor, prices and ultimately the patrons found somewhere else to go. 

We didn’t know all this so decided to drop by last night and see what was going on.  Five of us walked in, sat down at a table and waited 20 minutes or so and still had not been acknowledged by any of the servers.  We did notice that there were no local people there, just very evidently tourists. 

After waiting 20 minutes or so we decided to leave and went across the street to a place called the Little Missouri Saloon.  Now all of Medora that’s on the north side of the highway is owned by the Medora Foundation.  All of the businesses on the south side of the highway are privately owned – i.e. the Iron Horse Saloon, which has been renamed The Boot Bar and Grille.  Somehow that new name made it lose some of its charm.

Well, we certainly found the right place to go in our quest for looking for a little local color and action.  The Little Missouri was hopping – live music, a bit of karaoke and I’ve never seen so many REAL cowboys in one place for a long, long time.  The only other non-local folks that were in there, other than our group, was another small group of bikers sitting by the bar. 

The uniform of the day was Wrangler jeans, cowboy boots, some with a bit of road apple on them, wide leather belts with vey large brass buckles, western cut plaid shirts, bolo ties and 10-gallon hats.  90% of the women in the place were in Wrangler jeans and boots also.  One old geezer that was sitting by the door when we walked in look a lot like a heavier version of Gabby Hayes – suspenders and mssing teeth included. 

The dance floor was full with every song and the beer flowed rapidly.  But everyone was well behaved – there were no gun fights (chuckle).  That may have been due to the picture of a large gun hanging on the wall behind the bar that said, “We Don’t Dial 911!” 

I visited with an older couple that was sitting at the table next to us.  They were ranchers south of town that told me they had 37 miles to go home on scoria roads.  That’s a long ways to come for a little partying time on Saturday night.  But then I’m sure you don’t have to worry about getting a DUI on those back roads on your way home. 

We had as much fun people watching last night as we did in the evenings in Sturgis.  But these weren’t weirdoes, just honest, good, home-town folks that were out having a good time.

We left Medora this morning and are headed for New Rockford, ND where my Dad owned a farm at one time.  We still have a number of relatives there so will spend a couple of days visiting cousins before heading home.  I guess every vacation has to come to an end and it’s time for us to get back to reality.

Love, Lena

Hey, Lena – I think I froze my eyeballs!

 Scrunch, gasp, scrunch, gasp, scrunch, gasp – this is the sound of Ole walking across the pull-off area at the top of the Beartooth Pass (11,000 feet). 

“Hey, Lena,” he said, “I think oxygen is in short supply up here, what do you think?”  “Yeah,” I said, “but I’m more worried about getting frost bite than not being able to breathe.  Your thermometer says it’s 60 degrees, but with the wind chill I think it must be at least 32 below up here.” 

“Yes,” Ole said.  “I think I may have got frostbite on my eyeballs.”

You can imagine how a couple of flatlanders feel trying to just walk at this altitude when we’re used to breathing that “thick” air that we have down at 900 feet.  We have to breathe three times as fast to get the same amount of oxygen.

We started out this morning to ride the Beartooth Pass, Ole and me on the Harley and Daisy and Big Brother in his truck.  Daisy got to ride shotgun and was very happy about it as she didn’t have to stay home while we were out having all the fun.

 

We have ridden the Beartooth Pass a number of times on the Harley and I’ve always said it’s a road that I’m comfortable riding on the back of the Harley, but I don’t know if I would be comfortable in a vehicle.  Big Brother and a buddy drove it back in the early 60s in his 1949 Nash.  That must have been quite an adventure.  I asked him if he had any brakes left by the time he got to the other side.  His response was that he couldn’t remember that far back  (dementia, snicker). 

There were a ton of bikes on the road this morning and afternoon, and numerous cars.  But I can’t figure out who, in their right mind, would take this road in a motorhome.  We saw several, some on the rather large side.  At one point we watched a Class C working its way up the road very slowly.  Then we watched it get to the top of a grade that had a turn-off and watched it turn around and start working its way back down.  When we met this vehicle on the road he was going downhill VERY slowly along the inner edge of the road.   I could almost see the indentations in the dash where his wife was hanging on for dear life.  I guess he finally realized that he was in over his head trying to make this pass in an RV. 

 

The road was full of switchbacks and hairpin turns many of them without any kind of a guardrail.  If you ever went over the edge they’d never find you.

We made it safely to Cooke City and made a stop for lunch.

And then it was back over the top and down to warmer temperatures. 

Love, Lena

Beware – This Harley Stops at All Quilt Shops

Ole says we need a sign for the back of the motorcycle “This Harley stops at all quilt shops.”  Usually I do my research before we enter a new area, but sometimes there are shops that don’t show up on the internet and when we stumble across them they require a fast stop and a quick turn.  But I knew about this one in advance, so there was no disaster.

We started off this morning to investigate Route 308 which goes through Washoe and Bearcreek, two old abandoned coal mining towns.  There’s not much left of either town, so to see this quilt shop out in the middle of nowhere is quite astonishing.  I had a great time inside browsing through all the fabrics and picked up several patterns that will go on my pile of “Projects to Do.”

Believe me, Washoe is in the Middle of Nowhere.  Here’s a picture of Nowhere.

We could see the top of Beartooth Pass from that point and it’s still got snow on top of it.  We could also see some weather moving in.

But we chugged on through Bearcreek and on over to Belfry where we stopped in the Silver Tip Saloon for lunch.  We bellied up to the bar and ordered burgers and beer.  I couldn’t believe the burgers – they hung over the edge of the buns a half inch on all sides. 

Now, there was an individual sitting at the bar when we walked in that I would have LOVED to have taken a picture of, but I didn’t think it would be polite to flash my camera in his face.  This was a REAL cowboy, right off the range.  He even smelled like a horse.  His black 10-gallon hat was shaped to his head, had a wide band of sweat going around it and was quite beat up and dusty.  I think it had been waved in the air to move cattle more than a few times.  There was even dust on the shoulders of his shirt.  He ate his lunch in complete quiet, never saying a word to anyone at the bar.  When he was finished he pulled out his can of Copenhagen and proceeded to take a big chew.  After paying his bill he got up and sauntered out on a pair of the most bowlegged legs I have ever seen.  After seeing him I couldn’t believe there wasn’t a horse tied up out front at the hitchin’ post. 

Then Ole decided he needed gas in the iron horse before we headed back to Red Lodge.  As we drove through what was left of this little wide spot in the road we noticed a homemade sign that said, “Gas, one block” with an arrow pointing off to the side street.  We finally located what we thought was the gas station.

Now this was not a pump-it-yourself station like we’re used to, and if you look closely you can see the head of one of the owners just on top of the gas pump as she was coming out to pump gas for Ole.  She was a little old lady that was minding the store.  She watched Ole pump the gas and we visited a bit.  I asked several questions about all the old buildings in the neighborhood, most of them boarded up, and she invited me into the station to show me a picture of the town (Belfry) when it was thriving. 

The owners were George and Edwina Black who had owned and operated the gas station since the 50s, such a charming little old couple.  Not only did they run the gas station, but Edwina was also the “local librarian.”  There were bookshelves full of paperback books on all the walls, there were bookshelves full of paperback books in the ladies’ bathroom and the men’s.  The old roll top desk was so loaded with paperbacks that the roll top couldn’t be shut.  I asked her if she kept track of the books going in and out and her answer was, “No, of course not.  People here are very honest and will bring back all they borrow and more.”  When I asked her if she had read all the books her response was, “Heavens yes.  I have a lot of time to read during the day as there just aren’t that many cars and motorcycles coming through anymore.” 

 On our return run back to Red Lodge we stopped at the overlook by the Smith Mine, a coal mine.  In 1943 seventy-four coal miners were killed when there was an explosion down one of the shafts.   This is what’s left of it today. 

Then it was back to the campground where we awaited the arrival of my Big Brother.  He pulled in about 3:30 and he and his two kittens were glad to finally land.  He travels with two kittens that are about 4 months old named O.C. (short for orange kitty), and Pillar (short for caterpiller). 

He had had an exciting run the evening before between Casper and Shoshone where he hit two antelope dead center with his pickup and then heard them roll all the way under his truck and trailer.  Been there, done that – it’s a horrible sound.

Speaking of hoofed creatures – there are numerous deer that come up from the creek right into the campground every evening.  Last evening there were two, and this evening I watched six walk down one of the driveways and disappear into the trees by the creek.  So far Daisy hasn’t seen them, and hopefully she won’t.

Tomorrow is Beartooth Pass day – that should be exciting.

Love, Lena

 

 

 

We’re Moving On – to Red Lodge

Well, today we wrapped another one up and put it under our belts.  The Blackhills Motorcycle Rally of 2011 is officially over.  So we pulled up stakes and headed northwest through Wyoming and on into Red Lodge, Montana.  As we went west from the Hills the Big Horn Mountains came into view.  This is August and they still have snow on them.

 

The farther we got into Wyoming and then up into Montana, the warmer it got.  At one point this afternoon the temperature was 102 with a humidity of 14%.  Now that’s certainly something we don’t see at home. 

Southeastern Montana is pretty desolate – most of it being Cheyenne Indian Reservation.  We drove by the Little Big Horn Battlefield. 

 We stopped there several years ago and took the tour.   Both Ole and I were interested in the historical aspects of it, but unfortunately ended up with an Indian guide that gave us HIS political viewpoint of the entire thing.  Didn’t enjoy that too much.

So not much exciting happened today – just a day of travel. 

They do grow some pretty nice fields of sunflowers around here though -

Hopefully something more interesting tomorrow – but then again – maybe not.

Love, Lena

 

 

Troubles and Problems

Now, mind you, it isn’t Ole and me that are having troubles and problems.  Are you kidding?  We’re back in the campground by late afternoon and in bed by 10 o’clock.  Believe me, you don’t find trouble like that.  We keep our nose clean and stay away from situations that get out of control.

Every year there are “issues” that take place and of course, this year has had its share.  First off, I have to tell you that the attendance, according to the news media, is down about 14-20% this year.  It’s quite evident by the traffic on the streets, the number of empty vendor spaces and the number of hotels/motels/campgrounds that have had vacancy signs and space available signs hung out.  I think this downturn is due to a number of reasons — first the economy, and secondly, Sturgis is choking the goose that laid the golden egg.  Greediness.  This sums it up in one word.  It’s also called price gouging.

Last week Ole and I went into a place called the Night Owl.  We ordered one beer and one margarita, which came to $8.  The following Tuesday, during the OFFICIAL rally, we went back to the Night Owl and ordered one margarita and one beer.  This time it came to $12.  You do the math.  What percentage of increase is that?  Same thing with hotel rooms.  A room that normally charges $68/night is now going for anywhere from $130 to $150 a night.  Burgers without fries are running $10 to $12.  A beer in Sturgis is going for anywhere from $7 to $10 apiece.  I don’t have a problem with people making a profit, but I really feel this is price gouging and it’s showing in the attendance.  People are getting tired of this and are spreading out into other areas of the Hills and doing business.  As I said before, there are a lot of empty vendor spaces in Sturgis itself, but you’re seeing more and more vendors spreading out through the Hills where the licensing is much cheaper.  They’re going to places like Hill City, Custer, Keystone, Aladin and even out into Wyoming.  Enough on that – I’m sure you get my point.

And of course there are always the tragedies that take place during every rally.  Two days ago there was a terrible situation that took place on Hwy. 79 north of Sturgis.  There is a biker driving south on 79 just north of Sturgis when a red Honda pickup came up behind him and hit him 4 times from the back, ran him into the ditch and then left the accident scene.  There were multiple witnesses to this accident.  The biker was airlifted to Rapid City but died the next day.  Today, due to the info from the witnesses, the driver of the pickup was taken into custody and is charged with homicide.  Upon interviewing the driver of the pickup, the police determined that it was due to road rage.  

Then there has been the gang issues.  A couple of nights ago the Mongols and the Hell’s Angels got into it over some issue and the police had to intervene.  No one was killed but there were several people that were taken to the ER due to knife slashes.  This took place during the wee hours, or course. 

Then there was the issue of the Gypsy Jokers, who are apparently a group of bad guys out of Australia.  30 of them decided to raise trouble down at Mount Rushmore.  Just what exactly they had in mind I don’t know as it hasn’t been published in the paper yet, but 9 park rangers surrounded them and escorted them off the property, guns drawn. 

Now, there are advantages to being old and gray and being in bed by 10 o’clock at night.  The advantage is that you miss all of this excitement, but then you don’t have the blood pressure raises that this sort of stress causes either. 

So today is the last OFFICIAL day of the motorcycle rally, although I’m sure there will be many folks hanging around for a few days yet.  We’re pulling out tomorrow, heading for Red Lodge, Montana and planning on doing the Beartooth Pass.  It’s quite a fun trek on a motorcycle – 11,000 feet with lots of “twisties”

I’ll touch base with you when we land over there.

Love, Lena