Jul 26th

        The trip today should be all freeway. The big excitement of the morning was getting fuel. We had selected a place but after we pulled in we couldn’t find a diesel pump. Then we discovered there was no place to turn the rig around to get out. We ended up doing a u-turn through a Subway that had not opened for the day so there were no cars in the lot. We finally found fuel about 35 miles down the road. The drive was fairly uneventful with the exception of the wind. The route took us through so very open areas. Cross winds in these areas really had an impact the camper but I managed to hang on and get to the next campground. We were assigned an open site and our satellite worked just fine. Our mapping program indicated that there was a Taco Bell on the south side of town so we set off to find it and lunch. Sure enough it was where it was supposed to be – right in front of a Wal-Mart. The place was packed with young people. There were four large vans in the parking lot and this group seemed to be traveling together from Texas. Judging by the “Jesus” themed t-shirts and similar signs on the vans we decided they were some sort of Christian youth group. Once they and their vans had been filled up they left together and the place got a lot quieter. After a relaxing lunch we returned to the campground and I set out to find internet access. PeoplePC did not have a local access number but the Earthlink number that was listed on the bulletin board was happy to take my login. I stopped on the way back to the camper to talk with a guy parked about 4 sites away from us. He had two satellite dishes on the top of his unit and I was curious why. He explained all about getting internet from the second dish. Something I will have to check out when we get home. Supper was found at the local Pizza Hut. The pizza was very good and extra cheap. They had a mistake on the bill of about $8. OK by me – I had paid way too much for many of the meals we had along the way and this would help to restore the balance. We left the money on the table and departed with our leftovers. A little TV filled out the night.

Jul 27th

        Rita was hoping to go to Buffalo today to find a Harley store. We did some checking before we left and discovered there wasn’t one there. With the day’s plans kind of on hold we headed to Taco Bell to regroup. We ended up going to Wal-Mart as well. There always seems to be something we need from Wal-Mart. Back at the campground I picked up a couple of tourist books and Rita spend some time going through them. We decided there really wasn’t anything we wanted to go see so we spent the day at the camper. A couple of beers at the picnic table latter in the day was followed by some time spent fixing the pins on Rita’s hat. SciFi was doing an encore showing of the 2 hour premier episode of Star Gate Atlantis followed by the first regular episode so the night was completely planned. A little left over pizza and we were good to go.

Jul 28th

        Today we head for Sturgis! I also got to turn to the last page of our itinerary. Only four more campgrounds before we get home. To avoid having to drive through the entire campground to get to the exit we backed out of the site before hooking up the Jeep. Since we were then completely blocking the exit road we hurried through hookup and finished just as a line started to form behind us. The drive today was easy and short – only 218 miles. The campground was located just off the freeway on the north end town. The sites were very open so the satellite was sure to work but the campground provided about 75 channels on cable so we didn’t really need the satellite. It was nice to be back in Sturgis. We found lunch at a Taco John’s we had visited when we were here two years ago. The place had been a dive then but had been completely remodeled and had turned into a much nicer place. After a bit of reminiscing we decided we should make reservations to return to Sturgis for bike week in 2005. We stopped at the Harley Davidson store downtown. It was the largest HD store we had ever been in. Even so Rita was unable to find just the shirt she wanted. From there we went to the Buckle Tree. This is the store owned by Fred Lange. Fred and his crew print t-shirts for the rally and each year Fred designs a new belt buckle commemorating the bikers as well. I have a collection of these buckles so we stopped by to pickup the new edition. Fred and Marian took time out to chat with us at some length. Fred even tried to give me his cat. The next stop was at the Knuckle Saloon. This had been our favorite bar when we were here before and the place was just as we remembered it. Happy hour had started so 16oz Bud Light taps were just $1. After a few rounds we thought we should get back to the campground before my driving was not up to par. After a quick supper of leftover pizza we walked over to the campground bar. The campground has a large recreation building that they open for the rally each year. Today was the first day it was open for the season and there were very few customers. Just like downtown the beer was priced at $1 for a 16oz tap. Cheap beer is a weakness for me and I consumed at least my share before we walked back to the camper. A little TV and one final beer called an end to the evening.

Jul 29th

        Today we planed to see the Crazy Horse Memorial. Rita remembered that we had found a Fuddruckers in Rapid City during our last visit so that became our first objective for the day. After a great lunch we made a stop at the nearby HD store. This was also a very large HD store. They were expanding their parking lot in anticipation of the rally. They hold a mini Sturgis right in their parking lot complete with vendors in white tents. The place was very busy and packed with stuff. While we were checking out one of the employees explained that as packed as the place was they still had truck loads of stuff to put out. Every thing was focused on the rally. Crazy Horse was pretty much the same as the last time we saw it. We took a few pictures and got back on the road. The next stop was to be Deadwood. Along the way it started to rain like crazy. There was even a fair amount of hail included. It was still raining when we got to Deadwood so we decided to drive on through and possibly return on a dry day. Rita whipped up a salad covered with chicken chunks for supper while we watched a little TV. Feeling the call of the rec building we eventually walked over to see if the crowd had improved. There still weren’t many people there but we sat and had a few beers anyway. Don the bartender was in his usual good spirits but the crowd of eight or ten slowly dwindled to just five. I overheard the three guys at the end of the bar talking about Wisconsin so I wandered down to join the conversation. It turned out they were from three different areas of Wisconsin and had come out to see the rally. Unfortunately they had gotten the dates wrong and would be leaving the next morning well before the rally started. We all thought it odd that the only people still drinking were all from Wisconsin. What does this say about Wisconsin people? Don was ready to close up so we stuck together and managed to hold the place open for an extra hour. We invited the guys to visit us if they were ever in our area before we headed back to the camper and they headed for their tents. Rita and I watched a little TV and chatted about the day while we had a ‘summary’ beer. Last stop – bed.

Jul 30th

                We got a late start out of the camper today. I spent the morning writing up several days of notes before heading off to the office to collect e-mail. Though they have a nice campground and we like it here they could certainly improve their internet access. They unplug their credit card machine and let you stand behind the counter to make use of that phone line. Of course if anyone comes in and wants to pay by credit card you have to get off so they can run the card through the machine. Not the best setup. Rita received an e-mail she had been waiting for so the Post Office was added to our list of things to visit. Deadwood had been put on the list for a later trip as we had seen on the news that they were having a big festival in town over the weekend. First stop – Taco Bell in Spearfish SD. After a delightful lunch we headed out to find the Lehman Trike factory. Lehman started a trike assembly plant here in Spearfish back in February so we thought we would take the tour. The staff was all wrapped up in getting ready for the anticipated traffic from the rally but they got around to conducting the tour after a short wait. Nice place and beautiful bikes – we are still thinking we should get a trike and it will likely be a Lehman Trike. From there we head back to Sturgis and begin the hunt for the Post Office. It is a good thing they don’t have much competition as they sure don’t advertise their location very well. After stopping for directions at the local Cennex we did manage to accomplish our task. Now for some last minute shirt shopping. We visited several vendors on Main St before selecting a shirt at Fred’s store. We bid Fred and Marian farewell and promised to come back next year – no, we didn’t take the cat. A quick stop at the Knuckle and a swing out to see the road construction by the campground we had stayed at in 2002 eventually brought us back to the camper. We had decided that we would not be visiting the campground bar tonight since we would be traveling the next day. Anyway, there were lots of StarGates available on SciFi so we had plenty to do. Back on the road tomorrow for two straight days of travel.

Jul 31st

        We had to get an early start today. Over 300 miles to our next stop and we loose one hour due to a time zone change as well. More bikers have arrived overnight at the campgrounds. I felt bad about having to leave but the idea that we might be coming back next year gave me hope. I checked over the camper and even added some oil before we finally hit the road about 8:30. Even though the guy in the site next to us told me that he uses his camper to pull his trailer at over 100mph, I felt much better at just the speed limit of 75mph. Even at this modest speed I had to pass people regularly. We stopped for fuel in Wall SD. It was one of those pumps that stops at $75 so I had to use my credit card twice to get my 66 gallons at nearly $2 each. Back on the road again, we managed to average well over 60mph for the 4.5 hours it took to get to Mitchell SD. We had been to this campground three times before so there was no problem finding it or getting parked. The cable TV they provided was good enough we didn’t bother with the satellite system. It had been an extremely hot drive today and Rita and I were looking forward to getting the A/C on as fast as we could so I plugged in to the 50amps first thing. I chatted with the guy in the next site who told me all about the wonders of RVing in Texas after I mentioned we might be going south next winter. He and his wife have a Monaco Windsor that they have dressed up to look like a Prevost. Custom paint job and chrome panels were just the start. Nice looking camper and nice people. They suggested that we try the New China Buffet for lunch so once Rita was cooled off from the drive we headed there. Nice selection of food and reasonably priced. Back at the camper I discovered that we were in range of a wireless network that was being offered by a truck stop nearby. I had to pay $5.95 for 24hrs but at least I had good access. The remainder of the day was spent in the AC of the camper watching TV and surfing other than for a quick stop at the local Wal-Mart. Tomorrow we get back to Wisconsin. OK, only as far as La Crosse but that counts.