Sturgis August 2004
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We began our 1,018 mile adventure to Sturgis, South Dakota’s Bike Week on Friday morning August 6th, 2004 at 9:40am from Oklahoma City. We pulled out of our driveway hauling our Honda VTX 1300 motorcycle on a motorcycle trailer behind our 2004 Nissan Murano. Heading north on I-35 to Topeka, KS through Nebraska and Iowa. We spent the night in Cascade City ??? Iowa at a Days Inn arriving around 5:30pm. Our evening was spent at Harrah’s Casino, a large paddle boat sitting on the Missouri river, and dining at the great buffet.
Just as we arrived in Sturgis under the overhead banner that said “Welcome to Sturgis Bike Week” on Saturday around 5:30pm we were showered with rain and hail and under a tornado alert! What a way to enter a biker rally, with a bang, literally thunder was a booming and lightning, and of coarse bike engines roaring. The storm stopped as we rolled in the Buffalo Chip Campground and checked in for our tickets, VIP passes and most important wristbands that must remain on your wrist the entire time you stay at the camp. We entered the camp gates and with amazement saw hundreds of tents and bikes. We found a spot on a little hill overlooking the camp with the mountains and sunset behind us. Our tent has two rooms and a nice porch area all enclosed. We had the luxury of a queen size air mattress and a private little potty. We brought two folding chairs and tables so we had a nice little home for 7 days. Once settled into the camp we ventured by foot over to the entertainment area of the campground. We weaved through the roads surrounded by bikers, bikes, tents, and RVs and you name it we saw it. People get very creative when they camp. From the very luxurious to the one person tent and every square foot of space was taken by campers. One group from Canada had a huge semi truck RV with a setup for burnouts on the front! In the center of the camp was an old barn that they left in centuries old condition and served a fondue meal there. The camp has showers and potties in various locations. One set of showers provided hot water for a charge of 5 bucks, it was worth the money!! The campers get very creative with their signs as well, some too raunchy to mention, especially about the female chest. Rewards were beads in every color and size, usually hanging around the male biker’s necks ready to give as rewards to any passing female that showed her chest. They would arrange their chairs, even couches facing the roads as one passed by and shout at you to show your tits!! One group of girls requested male parts be displayed!!! The entertainment area of the campground was surrounded by a fence of vendors and two gates one north and one south. You quickly learned to hold up your wrist for the checking of the wristbands before you were allowed entry. The stage was mammoth and awesome! Incredible lighting by the campground and each band brought their own special effects as well. Very cool! We sampled a brew and a shot and then we had a party with 1,000 bikers(??????) to watch the band “McGomery Gentry” right up front at the stage with country rock and bike engines revving into the late night. It was a feast for the eyes and ears. There were all kinds for feasts for the tummy too! Domino’s Pizza, and Taco Bell set up booths. There was even a General Store open 24 hours. A large bike ramp was built to ride up onto a platform for viewing the crowd from above. Of coarse you were allowed to ride your bike right into the middle of the area and watch the band. What a party!!!
On Sunday morning we jumped on the bike and rode into Sturgis for breakfast at the Full Throttle Saloon, we waited in line and watched the parade of bikers and bikes, what a show, even at the bars already swarming with bikers imbibing at 10:00 am and watching barmaids dance on the bars. Two beautiful barmaids performed a Strawberry Dream: one maid lies down on the bar and the other covers the belly of the one lying down with whip cream and licks it off and then gives the girl a strawberry to eat from her mouth! After a hardy breakfast of tangible and visual treats we crossed the street to the bike wash. Needless to say after over 1,000 miles of travel, rain, hail and dusty campground roads our bike was dirty!! The wash was setup for four bikes at a time and they used high powered water hoses by hand. And bikini clad girls would wipe down the bikes afterward for a shiny clean ride. Surrounding the bike wash were many displays of custom bikes and inside a huge building were photo displays, art and award winning bikes on view. One dad created a custom bike for his son after the theme of Superman everything on the bike commemorated Superman comics. We rode into Sturgis and hung out and shopped, then headed out to Deadwood. Now let me mention about the weather in South Dakota, the sun does shine but the temp stayed below 83 degrees the entire time we were in Sturgis. The nights were cold, in the 40s and 50s. We had to buy two more blankets to keep us warm. It was nice to snuggle in our tent!! It was beautiful during the day and each place we visited we had wonderful weather. We enjoyed a meal and site seeing in Deadwood. The town sits in a valley surrounded by the Black Hills. Kevin Costner’s saloon & casino Midnight Star is located in Deadwood as well as a casino every ten feet. After a full day of riding we rested at our tent home and then dressed up biker style for the Styx concert that evening. They performed a super show and each side of the stage has two huge big screens for close-ups as they performed. So every seat is a good seat at the Buffalo Chip Campground Stage area.
Monday we rode 30 miles to Spearfish Canyon. What a ride surrounded by hills and bikers! The canyon
Is filled with beautiful Ponderosa Pine trees, rocky cliffs, waterfalls and streams of crystal clear water.
Now is when you really understand why riding a bike gives you the freedom of the moment in such beautiful scenery. Nestled into the center of the canyon was a beautiful lodge with a huge fireplace inside and large windows to view the scenery. They made great accommodations for the bikers with a patio setup for resting with food and bars and music. The canyon circled around to Deadwood so we just had to stop and visit again and enjoyed a great steak dinner and lots of biker watching. We settled back into camp that evening set up our chairs in the stage area and rocked out to a blow out concert by the fantastic show from ZZ Top!!! Even Peter Fonda showed up on stage to make a toast with us!! What a treat and such a blast!
OK we did have about one hour of bad weather on our ride to Sundance, Wyoming. It was cold and misty rain, that is not fun on a bike but hey we are bikers! I didn’t know my face and lips could get so distorted in heavy wind. We rolled into Sundance at the foot of Sundance Mountain. Very small quiet and quaint town with friendly natives. After a nice cup of Joe to warm our hands we peeled out to Devil’s Tower. Now that is an impressive site to see rising from the landscape as far as10 miles as we rode the twisties to the site. At the entrance to the park were wonderful concession stands with great burgers on the grill. We stopped and rested after the cold ride and yippee the sun began to shine and it was a beautiful day! The ride up to the tower is so beautiful surrounded by pines and birch trees. A large area was preserved for a prairie dog town with hundreds of dog mounds and little doggies peaking out and scurrying about. As you wound up the mountain to the tower you could see it peek through the trees at you and then wham it was there enormous and strong! We decided to trek around the entire tower and viewed some great scenes of nature and even different vegetation as we walked the 1.3 mile journey, due to the size of the tower the vegetation is different from the amount of sun it receives on different sides of the tower. A ranger was available for questions and answers as we approached one side and we were curious about the climber’s history. He said one climber held the record of 18 minutes to the top!! We did see one climber that day and he was half way up. Eagles soared around the tower and it is a sacred place to several tribes of Native Americans, who still refer to the tower as “Bears Cave.”
After an inspiring time with nature we traveled back to camp and enjoyed a rocking Beach Boys concert. With the addition of new members to the band the guys have added some good timely rock as well…but hey how can you not love a great song like “Help Me Rhonda”? The crowd did go crazy for “Cocomo”!
We had to sleep in our SUV tonight, it was sooooooooooooo cold!!!!!
Wednesday, August 11 was the perfect day to ride to Mt. Rushmore a long 60 mile ride but oh so worth it because of the scenery and views and the grandeur that is Mt. Rushmore. A remarkable tribute to American and the vistas of the area. The park is such a great creation for enjoying the sculpture, the entrance is so lovely as one approaches the faces of our presidents. Flags of all fifty states wave high above the crowd in a beautifully designed walkway to the mountain. A large amphitheatre rests at the base. A pathway to get close as possible to the monument winds around to the Sculptor’s studio and home. Inside the studio is a study of the sculpture on display as well as photos of the step by step process of sculpting the fabulous faces of our presidents. High powered binoculars are available to get an up close view of the sculpture; you could see birds nesting in the eyes of the presidents. It is just remarkable how this monument emerged from the mountain, the dangerous accomplishment of men that should last for thousands of years because the rock only deteriorates one inch in one thousand years. The weather was again beautiful but turned very cold at night so we just snuggled again in our tent after getting those two extra blankets and just could not make ourselves get up for the Heart/REO Speedwagon concert, but we could hear it from the tent before we passed out to sleep.
For all you “American Chopper” fans like us let me tell you we waited two hours to get autographs this Thursday morning and we thought is was worth it. As we got closer to the booth several of their famous Orange County Choppers were on display. Spiderman Bike, Fireman Bike and even the new iRobt bike!!! The craftsmanship on these bikes is just awesome! Just as we approached the signing booth Paul Sr. and Paul Jr. switched places with Mikey and Vinnie and we had purchased two posters and a t-shirt for them to sign, Mikey was busy signing and when Vinnie finished he looked up and offered his hand for me (Margee) to shake!! OK ladies he is just so handsome in person and friendly. We did get to see Paul and Pauly wave to us before they scurried into their huge RV! It was a perfect day to just hang out in Sturgis and eat at “One Eyed Jacks” wonderful steak and ribs. Back to the tent to rest for the concert.
And what a concert, we had VIP tickets for the Kid Rock concert. We could go backstage to a party area set up with a great bar with unlimited drinks. An area was sectioned off in front of the stage as well for VIPs and we could enter there and be close to the stage to watch the Meanest MF you have ever seen…Kid Rock!!! He gave a super performance and played every instrument on stage as well as a disk jockey jam on the turntable. He dressed up as a sequined rockin’ Uncle Sam when he first ran out on stage. The entire area, every inch of the entertainment area was packed with fans! I got stuck next to a
chubby mean bouncer that was trying to control the crowd on the other side of the VIP section. The crowd was crazy and girls would get up on guys shoulders and flash! For a few hours we really felt young again!!! After the performance we went back into the VIP party area and hung out with Vinnie and Mikey, they were just right there with the crowd. Mikey was a the bar and we were too. He was just talking to everyone and acted the same way he does on TV…just himself. Of coarse, women were trying to get his attention and he did not mind…he even wanted the barmaids phone number. We went up stairs to a section with seats to watch the stage crew and it was amazing all the people packing up the equipment into 4 semi trucks backed up open to the stage. Tony got to get up to this area during the show. I stayed by the stage up front. We went back to the party area and toasted a great performance and fun evening here at the Buffalo Chip!!! And Dominoes pizza takes really good at 2:00 in the morning after a concert.
It is our last day in Sturgis, Friday, August 12. We cruised over on the bike to the high school for breakfast to support the local ROTC. They had a huge US map that you could stick a pin into where you lived, OK was packed! Took a spin on the bike to Kevin Costner’s “TaTunka” (Lakota for male buffalo and we are relatives) just one mile north of Deadwood. This place tells the story of the buffalo in relationship to the Lakota tribe culture as well as all Native Americans. Displays of costumes from the movie “Dances With Wolves” and photos, stuffed buffalos and teepees tell the story of TaTunka. The area is beautifully arranged on a mountain overlooking the scenic black hills. As one walks a pathway an amazing metal sculpture showing the hunting and corralling of buffalo off of a cliff to capture by Native Americans appears with a backdrop of beautiful music. By setting this sculpture onto the hill in the grassland and spilling over the cliff one can truly imagine being at a hunt…absolutely breath taking. As you return to the museum area Native American performers, dressed in authentic costume, play flute and drums, and tell you about the Lakota tribe and history of the area. We learned that Lakota is also the same as the Sioux tribe and the Dakota tribe. After such a peaceful educational experience we cruised back to Sturgis and went shopping and throttled up to the Broken Spoke Saloon. There is street after street of motorcycle displays: West Coast Choppers and Arlen Ness as well as lots of custom brands. Traveled back toward the Buffalo Chip and just had to drive our bike right into the middle of the Full Throttle Saloon. A great place to sit up high on the platforms and watch the biker show of hundreds of bikers and bikes and how they ride them into the saloon. There is a burnout cage setup to watch them burnout there back tires. And what would a biker bar be without…midget wrestling? We watched the Pissed Off Dwarf take on The Toad, midgets that were only 4’6” and 300lbs!!! OK now I think we have seen it all!! When we returned from shock back to the Chip we decided to park our bike in the entertainment area and come back later to watch the Nickelback concert. Of coarse we old people didn’t know who the band was but obviously the rest of the crowd did; they would sing every word to every song!!! I felt young at the Kid Rock concert…but old at this one!!! We did rock out with them anyway!!! A biker dude came up to say hi to us when he saw our OK tag on the bike. He grew up in Beggs, OK and lives up north now. To get the band to play an encore with bikers watching on their bikes they rev up their engines until the band comes back…believe me we lost some of our hearing on this trip!! After the revving the band would run back on stage for one last song. Rock on!!!
Up early on Saturday and back to reality, heading back to OKC with lots of unforgettable memories, and one big huge adventure at Sturgis Bike Week…ride to live, and live to ride!!!
Here are some little tidbits and highlights overall:
The bikers in camp would rev their engines all night long, even right next us and we would just sleep through the night!
We saw everything imaginable on bikes, a real woman’s bra on the front of a bike, stuffed toys, blow up dolls, a parrot on a rider’s shoulder, a wheelchair strapped on the back of a bike and two cases of beer strapped on the back of a bike heading back to camp!
Mt. Rushmore was a lot of twisters.
In the 80 mile radius of Sturgis there was motorcycle traffic at all times. Lots of twisties and hills and views.
If you managed to read all of this to the end you just read over a total of 3,000 words and four hours of typing in the car on the laptop! Love to all, Tony and Margee Gaeddert