Posted by: mckenzie68 | September 10, 2010

Rushmore, Crazy Horse to Deadwood ah ha!…September 9 or Day 144

Rae was up early and I struggled to get out of bed, quite literally.  My shoulder continues to cause severe problems in terms of mobility, pain, and sleep or lack thereof.  Regardless, I was so excited to do some riding in the Black Hills of South Dakota, especially considering so many fond memories from the 2003 (now Kawasakiworld) Rally.  Rae and I had so much fun riding the area and hanging out with some pretty cool people, those were good times!

We loaded up the bikes with no particular place to go and headed into the black hills.  The weather was perfect, not to hot, not too windy, and of course some winding roads!  We headed south from Rapid City and along the eastern edge of the black hills to highway 36.  There was little to no traffic making the ride blissful!

We decided to take highway 16A north towards Mount Rushmore as it was a very scenic, windy road, with several tunnels on it, some of which provide a view directly onto the monument!  The road was narrower than I remembered it, and although there was not much traffic, the vehicles that were on that stretch of road were being piloted by people with less than stellar driving credentials.  The biggest issue is people taking blind corners in the wrong lane, which indicates to me either a lack of skill or too much speed or both.   I was riding about 100 meters of so ahead of Rae and driving very conservatively, lucky for me, because as I rounded a 30 mile per hour left hand corner, there is a car in my lane, completely!  I hit the brakes hard, straightened the bike up, and headed for the side of the road, and literally missed the car by about an inch.  I actually thought it hit my left leg, but that was the wind blast.   I was incredibly upset and it took everything in me to refrain from doing a quick u-turn and chasing this incredibly dangerous driver down.  Ultimately I decided that it was not worth the risks involved to get a plate number or give the driver a piece of my mind, with my luck I would get shot for my efforts.  In any event it was an extremely close encounter that poor Rae got to witness, and I am glad it turned out as it did, everything happens for a reason, so I have to contemplate the reasoning for such an encounter…hhhhmmmm.  (Rae here – I must say that I couldn’t believe my eyes when I watched that female driver miss Ray by a hair in his lane!  It was so shocking!  She was still in our lane when she passed me looking completely stunned, like she was amazed that there was someone else on the road.  I hit my horn, which admittedly doesn’t sound very intimidating, to show my upset with her driving.  It’s a dangerous road with no shoulder, tight corners and drop offs and this person is driving recklessly.  All I can say is that I’m very grateful that Ray wasn’t hurt and that we rode through without incident.)

Rae and I stopped at each of the tunnels and tried to take creative pictures of Mount Rushmore through the tunnels, not easy with cars, buses and trucks all trying to get through at the same time!  We made the best of it and laughed while trying to do our typical self portrait pictures.  We had both been to Mount Rushmore before so we took some pictures from the highway in front of the memorial, and headed off towards the Crazy Horse Monument about 12 miles away.

We arrived in short order and were surprised at how busy it was there, the parking lot packed with tourists!  We had to drive around for a while before we found a parking spot, no easy feat I tell you!   We locked our gear, and headed into the visitors center, which turned out to be quite large.  There was a complete history behind the Crazy Horse Monument, the mechanics of sculpting the granite, and the native history behind it.  It was, in short, awesome!

We took pictures of the monument, some of the memorabilia, and “Gracie” the cat who resides in the visitors center.  After some refreshments we decided to head north towards Deadwood, a true wild west town!

The ride north to Deadwood was very scenic, and uneventful despite the obvious deluge of poor drivers just about everywhere.  I even noticed emergency rescue vehicles parked along challenging stretches of road waiting for the next accident to take place.  It took us a while to reach Deadwood, but the reward was lots and lots of scenery, and interesting roads to keep us engaged.

We found accommodations, unpacked and set out to explore the wild west main streets of Deadwood!  It was not long before we found the actual location where Wild Bill Hickok met his death, at old Saloon No 10 which had, in the past, burnt to the ground.  We found the new Saloon No 10 across the street, and ventured inside to see if there was anything to the legend of ole Wild Bill.

The bar is clearly old western with saw dust on the floor, old wooden beams throughout, and antique memorabilia everywhere.  There is even a chair that is supposedly the one that Wild Bill Hickok was sitting on when he was shot in the back of the head by Jack McCall.  Even if it is not the actual chair it was still pretty cool the way they had it mounted above the entrance on the inside of the bar.

Lucky for us we got to see the last live re-enactment of the events leading to the murder of Wild Bill, the next show is scheduled for May 2011!   It was very entertaining and informative, especially as neither Rae or I had much of a background in wild west activities in the late 1800s.  We even did a self portrait with two of the main characters after the show, which was very cool and the picture actually turned out pretty good!

We continued to walk around and observed a film crew in front of the Bullock Hotel.  Of course, Rae had to ask what was going on, which seemed to entertain the director/producer.  He thoroughly enjoyed  chatting with Rae, telling her little stories about filming, and then when she asked if what he was saying was true he would just smile.  It was very funny, and she fell for every story!  Finally he came clean and told us that they were filming an episode of Ghost Hunters…which should have been obvious since one of their vehicles was parked a short distance away.

We saw a giant rain cloud rapidly approaching and started to head to the hotel, and literally as we entered the door, the skies opened up and the thunder roared!  I love thunderstorms!

We decided to kill some time by playing some Vegas style slot machines. Deadwood is full of gaming machines and poker games – it must be a throwback to the the spirit of the town as it was when the gold rush was on.  I won $52 and quit playing right away, knowing that I had just won dinner for us!  Yay!!!  We had a bite to eat, and then continued to explore the area after the storm had subsided.  One place we stopped was the Celebrity Hotel.  It’s full of actual movie memorabilia and items from various stars.  There were things from the army uniform worn by Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump to one of Evel Knievel actual jump bikes!  Very interesting to be sure.

Rae and I chatted lots and we realized that this was the last portion of our western leg, the rest of the trip would be almost straight north.  I have mixed feelings about heading home, I am happy in one way that I will be able to get healthy, and have some stability in my life, but I am very sad that we will be leaving the nomadic lifestyle behind.  I truly believe that we would continue our adventure if my health was better, which really is the sad part, because I know with certainty that Rae is enjoying the trip.

Who knows what the future holds…all I know is that tomorrow is a gift.




  1. On your way North back home don’t look for much lodging in the Williston Basin Area….lots of oil activity.

    Always welcome guys

    • Hey Jeff, sorry for the delay in responding, we are going to head straight north, Rae and I are sad that we will miss you on this trip, but we will definitely be down in this area again! Rae says to say hello, so hello…

      We really wanted to stay on the road, but the reality is I need to have my shoulder fixed.

      Stay safe!

  2. Hey guys,
    Glad to read you are well (minus the shldr issues). Just reading about the car in your lane I was getting anxious. Let me chase down and give her a driving lessen with my boot! Someone once said, “Commonsense isn’t common” especially when it comes to driving driving. Just stay away with people and on their cell phones and get home safe.


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