Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Day 17- Badlands and Bad Dudes

Today was pretty mellow in comparison to our recent adventures, but it was still a great day. We headed out towards our destination, the Badlands National Park. Along the way we once again saw dark clouds on the horizon, so we pulled over and put on our rain gear once more. Fortunately, we actually missed the rain this time.
Our first stop was in a little place called Scenic, South Dakota. We were going to visit a famous old bar on the Indian Reservation called The Longhorn. The bar used to be a place where weary cowboys taking their cattle across the land used to stop for a drink. In more recent times it was a bar where weary bikers used to stop along their travels. When we arrived, we were sad to see that the bar was actually shut down, and for sale, along with most of the little town. It was a common site we had seen along many places on the road. Lots of businesses, and even entire towns, that had closed shop for good. A sad reminder of the current economic situation.
We left scenic and rode the remaining 30 or so miles to the Badlands National Park. It was a spectacular, and alien landscape. Giant hills and little towers of rock and sand dotted the landscape. It felt more like riding through mars than South Dakota. As usual, we were surrounded by a myriad of other bikers also enjoying the sites. When I think about it, the variety of landscapes I have ridden through in just over two weeks is unbelievable. If ever you get a chance to travel the country like this, whether by bike, car, RV, or any other means, I highly recommend it. It is as if every state is its own country with unique environments, people, and cultures. Traveling through so many different places has made me realize just how diverse the U.S. really is.
After the Badlands we stopped in a town called Wall, South Dakota, for lunch. The place we went to happened to be the hangout for one of the many real biker gangs that came in for Sturgis. The way it works is that each gang essentially takes a different town near Sturgis as their headquarters for the week. Just a few of these gangs include The Mongols, The Bandidos, The Sons of Silence, and of course The Hells Angels. They are some pretty rough looking dudes, but so long as you don't mess with them, they don't mess with you. In biker terms, they are known as the one percenters. The idea being that of all the bikers in the world, 1% is the criminal element. Most of these gangs are so proud of that fact that they actually wear a 1% patch on their vests.
After lunch we headed back toward Sturgis. Betty Boop and I decided to come back to the hotel and take it easy for the afternoon, as we have both had our fill of the Sturgis rally. The rest of the crew went to visit the famous bar, The Full Throttle Saloon. If you want to know what that place is like, you can check out the reality show about them on TV. It is the largest biker bar in the world, and from what I hear, a pretty crazy place.
We met up with the crew when they returned and headed out for dinner just down the road. It was delicious, and I am stuffed.
Tomorrow we leave Sturgis and head for Cheyenne, Wyoming. I am excited, but at the same time sad, as it will be my last full day on the trip. Come Wednesday, I am flying back home to prepare for my Acupuncture licensing exam. This has been an incredible journey, and I will savor every last moment of it before I return home.

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