Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Thanks to Sturgis, Paul Dahl Will be Proud

Thursday July 31, 2014
Allen Ranch
Hot Springs, South Dakota


If you haven’t read about our last day at Theodore Roosevelt National Park I hope you will.  It was a real stunner. The link is above.   Today is more one of those moving day sagas.  Interesting but not spectacular like yesterday.  Or like our first day at the South Unit which was an great birding day 

But we must move on.  We leave the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park at 8:15 am this morning thinking we are going  to be driving 150 miles to stay in Bowman North Dakota on the first of about 5 days of driving toward visiting my father and brother in Denver.


Not far down the road we drive back into Mountain Time and gain an hour. 

Now it’s barely 7:45.  This time zone thing is a riot in ND, SD, NE and several other states where the lines for the time zones look like snakes.   I really don’t get who set this up and what they were taking when they did.   What is the reasoning for not setting the zones north to South along the state lines?   Poor TRNP, their south unit is in Mountain time and their North unit is in Central.



But I digress.  

We thought it would be just before noon when we arrived in Bowman.  That’s a rather short day for most people and we would definitely have gone 175 or 180 except that when I checked about campgrounds in that distance it turns out that would put us in Sturgis SD.   Anyone know what that means in late July and through mid August?  I didn’t but I soon found out.  After calling places in Sturgis, Spearfish and Rapid City I was finally told I wouldn’t find a campground within 100 miles of Sturgis during “Bike Week”.   SIGH………….

So now we are approaching Bowman at 10:30 in the morning.  It’s either stop ridiculously early at a campground whose last RVPark Review was 2012 or push on. There isn’t much in terms of campgrounds in North Dakota we are learning.  So we push on and I start looking.   We have to get at least 50 miles south of Rapid City in order to find anything at all.  

That’s a short version of how it came to be that we are at the Allen Ranch in Hot Springs South Dakota at 4:30 Mountain Time after having driven an all time Boyd record of 344 miles.    I think that unfortunately qualifies for bronze in the PDD medal awards.  Paul will be proud I know.

Allen Ranch is not my sort of place.  The entrance road is dirt, quite eroded, very bumpy and difficult.  The pull through sites are up on a hill overlooking the busy highway.  No one at the “office” when we came in so we just pulled into a site and I guess we’ll pay when someone shows up to ask for it. Or perhaps not since even plugged into the 50 amp circuit we are getting low voltage messages any time we run one of our two air conditioners and not another thing. What is it with campgrounds and low voltage?   But given the circumstances I should feel  pretty lucky not to have had to drive all the way to Denver in one day to get a site for the night.


And speaking of the drive…


We take Route 85 south from the North Unit and are just shocked at the line of 18 wheelers barreling up the road toward us.  This sleepy little area has been completely overwhelmed by the oil fracking.  The town north of the park to which these rigs were clearly going is Watford, ND.  A ranger told David that the population was 1500 and now with the fracking frenzy it has climbed in the last 3 years to somewhere between 11,000 and 13,000 people.  Can you even imagine what that has done to their sweet little town and what will happen when everything is sucked out and the mass moves on?   Not to mention the potential permanent damage to their water supply.  Do bring bottled water to TRNP.
I recommend a PUR water filter and gallons of bottled water rather than those horrid little individual plastic things.




Digressing again….

We take 85 which is a very nice two lane road except for all the new traffic.   We cross under I 90 and travel on south to Sturgis which unfortunately we have to drive through to get to I90.  The only part of the drive that is not actually easy is going through Sturgis the week before Bike Week. These people must take a month off to have shown up in droves this early.


I can’t even imagine what the town will look like during the actual bike week. They’ll have to close all the streets. There are already bikers and bikes everywhere.

It seems like the young women are all in fairly skimpy attire and the men are all checking that out.  One outdoor area has 5 rows of T shirt tables each about 15’ long.  There are banners over the streets advertising motorcycle insurance and America’s motorcycle lawyers-huh?  A motorcycle lawyer. Even Good Sam is advertising.  Hmmm I’ll have to think about that.


You can rent a Harley if you don’t have one and really want to attend. 

We pass people checking them out.  I wonder if you are allowed to attend Sturgis if you do not ride a Harley? 

As we drive slowly through the town following the lines of traffic and bikes and dodging the jay walking people, I’m also wondering if the people who live in Sturgis actually love this because it brings in the highly worshipped dollars?  Or do they leave town and go on vacation?  This is going to be one noisy town for the next month.  

It’s not that I’m a grumpy old bag, I would have thought the same things 40 years ago.  Sturgis is “celebrating” its 74th annual rally.  It’s older than I am.



So I have to look up the history of this event and it’s pretty remarkable.




  According to Wikipedia, the first rally, held on August 14, 1938, by the "Jackpine Gypsies" motorcycle club, who still own and operate the tracks, hillclimb, and field areas where the rally is centered.  , was originally held for stunts and races..  The first event was called the "Black Hills Classic" and consisted of a single race with nine participants and a small audience. The founder, Clarence “Pappy” Hoel purchased an Indian Motorcycle franchise in Sturgis in 1936 and formed the "Jackpine Gypsies" that same year. The Jackpine Gypsies were inducted to the Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1997. Hoel was inducted in 1998.  Who even know there was a Motorcycle Hall of Fame.  But I guess there is a Hall of Fame for everything these days.

The rally does in fact bring significant income to the citizens of Sturgis, a town of only 6,627 people. It is one of the largest motorcycle rallies in the world.  The city has calculated that the Rally brings over $800 million to South Dakota annually.There were 405 individuals jailed at the 2004 rally.  Approximately $250,000 worth of motorcycles are stolen annually.   How about those statistics.


Another of the ‘world’s’ biggest comes into view.

Just before entering the town, we drove right by what I now understand is the famous The Full Throttle Saloon.   I am told it is the world’s largest biker bar.  The world’s largest, really?  this is beginning to sound like North Dakota.   Darn I missed the picture of the giant metal motorcyle sculpture of what is described as a Hillbilly Hell Rider.  Couldn’t get my camera out fast enough. 









Whew, we actually make it into and out of Sturgis.


We stop along I90 for gas at $3.539 where there are motorcycles everywhere as well.  We then get off at Rapid City where we again drive through town to pick up US 79 which takes us all the way to Hot Springs.   76 is also very nice 2 lane highway.  Other than I 90 for about 40 miles, it has been an excellent two lane highway day.  IF you consider driving 344 miles in one day nice.

Now that we are  82 miles south of Sturgis, we actually can find a campsite.



It is raining as we pull into the campground. 

No one is in the office.  The door is locked.  No indication of what to do or where to go so we follow the sign that points up hill for the pull through sites. 



It’s a grass knoll overlooking the highway with 5 sets of electric boxes and a water spigot at each.  We have our pick and pull into site 11. 

We connect the electric, then the water.  When we connect the water, the pressure promptly blows off one of the water heater connections and the water heater compartment fills with water.



Once the rain stops we level up, put out the slides and get some dinner.   Then David empties the compartment, vacuums out the water with our fabulous little rug cleaner and sets our little fan to the task of drying it out.

He then proceeds to change Winnona’s oil which saves us more than the cost of two nights at this hilltop resort.  He uses his new Quick Valve which he declares to be a great tool.  Thanks Annie!!

After the oil change he goes to the grocery store to refill the larder.  I wisely decline considering how long this could take.  Can you tell yesterday was a dex day? 


He’s the energizer bunny.  

I’m exhausted and all I did was navigate and make phone calls.   Oh and create this post.



We have a jello plan to stay two nights and tomorrow perhaps go to either Wind Cave or the Mammoth Site both of which are within 10 miles.  That is if either of us can sleep given all the traffic noise and David doesn’t collapse when he comes down from this over doers day he’s created.

344 miles is about twice what we do on a high normal day and I hope this is our first and last experience with PDD>


  1. Dex Day ! Up, up and away; then CRASH!

    Virtual hugs,


  2. Sherry you are too funny! You never heard of Sturgis Bike Week? :-). It's a lot quieter the end of September when we were there. Both Wind Cave and Mammoth Springs are interesting. We enjoyed our stay in the Black Hills.

  3. Do they steal motorhomes?

  4. Hard to believe you'd not heard of Sturgis. Well, now you know. That's about twice as many miles as I like in a day.

  5. Wow, quite a long day. We learned the Sturgis lesson a few years ago. Never again.
    Jim has used those quick type valves on both the car and motorhome for years. He swears by them.

  6. Your experience with Sturgis reminds me of the time we went to Fallingwater on a whim ... only to find that all accommodations were booked up for a golf tournament. Eventually we found a room ... but for a while there we thought we'd be sleeping in the car ;-)

  7. Yep, being from the Myrtle Beach area, we are familiar with Bike Week. Just run Forest run;o)) We always try to get out of town if possible!!! Good thing David was on a dex day and not an after dex day;o) Just can't imagine you two driving that far!!!

  8. A far cry from yesterday's wonderful post. Must be like culture shock to go from that to this and overlooking a highway@#@!

  9. Well, I'd never heard of Sturgis - I cannot imagine being anywhere near there during that time - motorcycles are too loud for me - and dangerous for that matter - I imagine they would need lawyers - no offense to the Harley lovers out there. Perhaps it was actually fortuitous that all this happened on a dex day - so much driving, Winnona work and having to go out again!! I would have been totally done after that kind of a drive; he probably was the following day! Hopefully, it can be back to more days like that last one in TRNP! :)

  10. I've always managed to drive way around Sturgis and don't think I'd enjoy being there with all the bikers. I remember living in Northern VA and going down into D.C. on Memorial Day to watch all the bikers driving in to pay their respects at the Wall (Vietnam Memorial). I would pass their staging areas in several places near the Pentagon, and to watch them drive into the city was a beautiful sight. I've never seen or experienced a more polite, subdued and respectful group than those biker vets. I guess Sturgis is where they let off some steam, but then why not.

  11. Quite the handy guy, David is. Love those saloons out west.

  12. We've been wanting to workamp in the Rapid City area, but I'm not so sure that Sturgis would be a fun time to be there to work :) We really enjoyed the Mammoth dig exhibit, very interesting! Enjoy your stay in the area.

  13. I would have thought that there would have been a ton of free camping and boondocking opportunities in that area. Why are you paying for substandard camping when you've got that new solar setup?


    1. We've just done two weeks of great almost free camping in TRNP that perhaps you missed. There is nothing nada anywhere within 100 miles of Sturgis. We are in the only place we could find.

  14. On big years, Sturgis can have as many as 7-800,000 people, it basically doubles the population of South Dakota. Traffic is a nightmare, both in town and everywhere else in the Black Hills. They do block off several streets for bike traffic only. Hotels/motels triple their standard rates for the rally, I would imagine campgrounds do as well, and many if not most are booked a year or two in advance. The crowds are usually pretty well behaved, most are getting older and not quite so wild anymore. I think the full time residents have mixed feelings. It brings in a ton of money but property taxes have skyrocketed and many low-income people had to sell out because they could no longer afford the taxes. Twice myself and a bunch of friends from across the globe (17 of us in 2010 and 14 of us in 2013) have rented a house near Deadwood and attended the rally, the house rents for $8,000 a week and the owner says it mostly goes to pay his property tax bill.

  15. Note to self....stay far, far away during Harley fest! Glad you survived!

  16. I'm thinking you must have lived in a cave to not know about Sturgis. ;) I'm a grabby old bag when it comes to those ridiculously noisy motorcycles too!

  17. Sorry to tell you, but PDD can recur at any time. And you'll never know when...

    I'm so impressed, I wouldn't have wanted to drive a motorcycle through Sturgis and ya'll drove a motorhome! Thankfully, your picture of the scantily clad women was of some of the few at least wearing a little bit of clothing, from what I hear there are others that wear less, a lot less :cO

  18. The low voltage is also caused by all the fracking. They tap in to local electric to run the drilling rigs. If they are anything like the drillers in West Texas they connect more equipment than they are permitted. The Electric companies can not keep up. That is why we got low voltage in West Texas.

  19. Not sure how, but I've known about Sturgis for some time and knew it was an area I wanted to avoid at all costs. Daytona has a similar event in March and when we spoke with the folks who own the place I used to rent during the month of January in Flagler Beach, they advised AGAINST renting for the season (Jan-Mar) because of Bike Week. We appreciated the tip and decided a)it must be pretty bad and b) they must like us to be willing to give up a month's rent. Someone mentioned it being an older crowd (I'm back to Sturgis now) and probably pretty tame, but 405 arrests doesn't sound tame to me. I just don't get it!

  20. We love festivals of all kinds -- but noooo way would we be in Sturgis (or Daytona Beach) during Bike Week. I can't believe you drove 344 miles. But I know sometimes that's just how things roll. You make up for it with lots of short driving days. :-)

  21. back in the day, when we were "workamping" in the summer months, we had a campground owner call us for a position in Sturgis. . .NO THANK YOU! Uh Uh. . .not my thing at all. . .

    344 miles in one day is not my thing either. . .ugh!

    Now, I need to go find out when bike week is. . .'cause I don't wanna be anywhere near there during. . .just sayin'! :)

    speaking of biker babes who are barely dressed. . .the tour driver in Chicago said they have the annual "Naked" Bicycle Marathon coming up. . .ugh again. . .ha ha!

  22. I'm glad it was a dex day or I can't imagine doing all that in one day. I did have a sudden lack of energy the next afternoon for sure, but it was good to get that oil changed on time and the leak fixed and cleaned up.

  23. Thanks for the heads up on Sturgis, we don't want to experience what you just did. I only hear about Bike Week from TV and history channel. Glad you made it out safely and entertained at the same time.
    We love our handy man husbands, like Steve when a task is to be done, it has to be done and nothing will stop them. Good job David.

  24. When Rich and I were in Sturgis, it was so hot that we couldn't wait to get out of there. I've seen some documentaries about bike week. Draws from all over the country. David is amazing.


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