Why You Should Add South Dakota To Your Bucket List

Meet Mike and Al.Harley Davidson, South Dakota, Things to do in South Dakota, Sturgis, Deadwood, Keystone, motorcycles,

These two grew up in a tiny, itty-bitty, town in Utah called Millville.

Their school mascot is the “Millville Mud Ducks”.

You can’t make this stuff up.

One day, the new kid in town, eight year old, Mike (we call him Mikey) went to the mailbox with his mom.

Meanwhile Al (my dad) was standing at the top of the hill. Alan thought it would be hilarious if he pushed his bike down the hill with no rider on it. He thought it would freak the neighbor ladies out to see a passenger-less bike rolling down the street. The bike rolled right by Mikey and his mom.

Mike thought that was the funniest thing he had ever seen! He ran up the hill and introduced himself to Alan. They spent the rest of the day pushing the bike into the ditch to see how many flips the bike would do, and seeing how long and far they could make the bike go by itself. They laughed and played all day.

These two have gotten in so much trouble together over the years. If I could label them with one word it would be mischief! These two old men, pictured above, have been best friends

 SINCE THEY WERE EIGHT YEARS OLD!

Now that is what I call best friends!

 

 Whatever one of these boys does, the other is never far behind. So when one of them decided to buy a Harley Davidson, the other had to have one too. Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum. You get the picture.

 

I love riding on the back of my dad’s Harley. If you haven’t ridden on one, I suggest you change that A.S.A.P. I know it sound so cheesy, but you really do feel free! You can’t help but enjoy your beautiful surroundings. You have no other choice than to just be in the moment, smelling the fresh air!

Harley Davidson Motorcycles are good for the soul.

Anywho, years ago, my friend JoLinn was telling me that she went to Sturgis with her dad on the back of his Harley. Of course I told my dad about it. That was so cool to me!  I told him it was on my bucket list.

(Little did he know it was on my HYPOTHETICAL bucket list. Ya know, the things you THINK you want to do but never actually do. This was right up there with sky diving! I never ACTUALLY planned on going through with it!)

Cut to Daddy Daughter Trip 2017

So here I am, a lame housewife with three kids. All leathered up, ready to cross America in ass-less chaps, on the back of a motorcycle! What is happening to my life?!?!?!?!?

 


 

Who am I?!?!?! I don’t even know!

 

I kept waiting for excuses to come my way. But, the stars aligned. My mother was able to watch my kids so my husband didn’t have to miss work, my dad’s schedule was clear, my schedule was clear. THIS. WAS. HAPPENING!

HOLLLYYYYY SHIZZZZZ!

Mike asked his daughter, Nikki,  if she wanted to go and she said “Are you crazy? Heck no!” She is also a mom of three. But, she also works at a big, fancy, bank job. In a twist of fate, her schedule cleared and she changed her mind and came!

The first part of the day was fantastic! I thought this was going to be a breeze. We looped and swooped through beautiful canyons, drove past Jackson Hole and into the Tetons Mountains surrounded by wild flowers.

 

Then we hit Wyoming…..

They don’t call it the windy state for nothing!

I might lose friends and offend people by saying this… but, I do not care!

I AM NOT A FAN OF WYOMING!

 

There are no trees, there are no towns, there is nothing to look at except a straight road ahead of you. There is nothing to stop the wind! At one point the wind was blowing so hard our bikes were at a forty-five degree angle to the road.

It was miserable.

Imagine driving down the freeway, in a hurricane, with your head sticking out of the window. 

At one point I got scared. I was praying for protection and I was almost in tears. I thought I might not ever make it home to my sweet babies. 

Now this might be too weird for you guys to handle. But, it was so real to me.

My uncle died of cancer a few years ago. He was the third piece to the Mike and Al friendship triangle. My uncle also had a Harley and frequently went on road trips with my dad and Mike.

I was wearing his leather coat and chaps. This coat weighs a good seventy five pounds. Ok, ok it might not weigh thaaaaat much. But it felt like seventy five pounds!

When I was scared I thought of him. Once upon a time, his heart was beating on this road, inside this coat. Right where my heart is beating now. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that my Uncle Wayne was on this trip with us. When it was all over, and my dad and I were safely at home. We both bawled like little babies when we hung up his coat. 

My uncle Wayne

 

Also, (as if Icouldn’t get weirder). My cousin that I was super close to, had also recently passed away.

I moved far away from my family.

When she moved into the same town as me, She un-knowingly moved a couple blocks away from me.

We bonded and became more than cousins, that girl is one of my best friends.

We used to walk to each others houses and talk for hours!

I miss her so much. She had the best bear hugs ever! She was obsessed with the singer Pink. (That little detail will make more sense later). I could feel her hugging me and I could feel her protecting my back. 

My cousin Annilee.

(Chill out guys, we didn’t actually kiss.)

I love and miss her so much.

PHEW

Ok, so we have all come to the same conclusion.

I MUST BE CRAZY.

It’s ok, you can say it.

I have been called worse things.

But I was protected.

That first day was a nightmare. We rode for about twelve hours straight.

The next day I cried a little. It was going to be another twelve hour day. On the back of a motorcycle, in cold, windy, dreary Wyoming. My body ached from the hard seat and my heavy coat.

I DID NOT WANT TO GET BACK ON THAT MOTORCYCLE!

Nope! Nope! Nope!

But, I am so glad I did.

 

 

We finally made it to South Dakota! Man oh man, this place is SO COOL! It is so beautiful! (Maybe it seemed more beautiful because I had been staring at nothing for two straight days.) It is so rich with history and there are so many things to do and see! I would love to go back and explore more!

 

So in case you are confused. Sturgis is a town in South Dakota. Every year they hold a motorcycle rally. Bikers from all over the globe gather in this tiny, run down town. 

My dad totally freaked me out. He had me convinced that I was going to be kidnapped.

At the very least, I would probably end up in a brawl with some crazy, biker chick.

My dad swore he would never leave my side.  He held to that promise. He never let me out of his sight.

BUT I HAD TO LAUGH.

When we pulled up, there were old tourists with fanny packs, and cameras around their necks. There were children getting their faces painted. Sturgis was totally safe. I mean, if you are looking for trouble there, I am sure it is not hard to find. But we steered clear of trouble and we had a ball.

Sturgis is a BIG DEAL!

In 2015 739,000 people attended!

Even the police ride Harleys in Sturgis


Soooo many motorcycles!!!!

 

 

Anyone want to go 4-wheeling?

 

A few miles out of Sturgis is a town called Rapid City. There is a big convention there during the Sturgis Rally. There are booths full of everything you could ever want for your Harley. Cup holders, accessories, gear, tools, and parts.

A guys dream… I felt like this was karma for all the times my dad came shopping with me. Nikki and I hung back as these two guys shopped till they dropped.

There was a crowd gathering, turns out Carey Hart (Pink’s husband) was there!

It was instantly confirmed to me that Annilee was truly with me in spirit. I didn’t get to meet Carey, But I didn’t care, I would rather hang out with Annilee any day!

 

 

 

I did see ladies with their clothes painted on, and, I did see some inappropriate body parts getting tattooed. But, I’ll save those stories for another day.

South Dakota is so rich in history.

Did you know that it is where Mt. Rushmore is located? 

 

Mount Rushmore is one of the coolest places I have ever been. You just have to see it in real life. It feels like you could just reach out and touch their faces. And the detail! Wow! Pictures truly do this place no justice.

South Dakota, Harley Davidson, Mount Rushmore,

 

Fun Fact: I collect squished pennies everywhere I go. They are the best souvenirs because:

1. they are cheap

2. They don’t take up too much space in your luggage!

3. They are just so cool!

 

 

 

Funny story. As we were walking up, we were chatting about all the presidents and why they deserved to be on the mountain.

We could not figure out why Thomas Jefferson made it to the mountain.

(Keep in mind, my dad went to school in Millville and I am a ditsy blonde.. History isn’t exactly our strong suit.)

 

 

 

 

Thomas Jefferson was the principle author of the declaration of independence. 

BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY…

 

 

 

 

HE INVENTED ICE CREAM!

SAYYYY WHAAAAAAAATTTTTTTT!!!????!!!???

That deemed him worthy to have his face carved into a mountain in my book!

THOMAS JEFFERSON IS MY FAV PRESIDENT!

 

I bought myself a cone featuring his ORIGINAL VANILLA RECIPE! (Which was totally delicious)  And also a scoop of pralines and cream because… yum.

This is the view driving past and behind Mount Rushmore. Kinda cool eh?

 

The Crazy Horse exhibit is a few short minutes away from Rushmore. Totally worth the trip.

 

Crazy Horse Website

 

This stop was FASCINATING to me. I could have stayed here all day.

Mike did not feel the same way.

I had just read the book titled “One Thousand White Women” It was such a fascinating, quick, page turning, well-written, book about an American woman who goes and lives with the Indians. It was such an interesting perspective. You can truly see the pros and cons of civilized cultures vs. wild and free Indian tribes. Because, there were definitely pros and cons TO BOTH CULTURES! I highly recommend reading this book before going to the Crazy Horse exhibit. It helps you understand the true weight of this monument and gives you a greater understanding of what these people went threw and how they lived. Also, if you need more incentive, there are a few steamy love scenes in the book. This book is a must read.


 

My favorite part of the Crazy Horse Memorial was seeing all the bead work. I mean look at these moccasins!?? Come on! I am pretty sure I need the pink ones. Just look at all these colorful beads!

So. Many. Colors!

The exhibit is huge! Much larger than I thought it would be.

This exhibit is funded 100% privately. No government funding here. Progress is extremely slow for that reason.  

Fun Fact: Crazy Horse is HUGE! When is is finished it will be 86 feet tall. Mount Rushmore is 60 feet. 

 

 

Do not miss out on this stop.

Fun Fact: The Black Hills are not actually black. They were named “The Black Hills” because they are so densely covered it pine trees they appear to be black! Who knew! 

There was a big thunderstorm coming so we decided to leave early. Because, as we had learned earlier, Nothing is worse than driving a motorcycle in a storm.

One more little side story before this becomes a novel;

Since it was so windy, I couldn’t hear anything.

No music, no radio, no talking, no book on tape!

Nothing could cut through the sound of the howling wind.

At first, this was really hard.

My brain was desperate for that next hit of information.

But then I couldn’t help but think.

(I had A LOT of time to think.)

I couldn’t help but think how much we are constantly putting into our brains. Our brains are always receiving massive amounts of information all the time. On this long drive I did nothing but think! I was able to sort threw my wild and frantic thoughts about EVERYTHING! I feel like the motorcycle kind of rattled away all my useless thoughts. I had taken out the trash and made room for new thoughts and ideas.

When I got home, I was truly a new woman.

My head had started out as a big mess of tangled wires. On this trip I was able to sort them all out and get some peace.

My head was clear. I had made goals. I had established what was truly important to me, I had left all my self doubt and useless thoughts on the road. All I can say is WOW. That was a bummer that turned into the biggest blessing in disguise.

Silence and meditation are greatly under-rated.

 

 

Next time I go back I would love to stop at

Wild Bill and Calamity Jane’s Grave Site in Deadwood, South Dakota.

We stopped in Deadwood for a bit. I love this cute little town. Definitely worth a stop!

Chris Ledoux’s Grave

This country star’s grave is a popular stop on the way to Sturgis.

Wall Drug

Wall drug is a giant souvenir shop. I so wish that I could’ve stopped here.

But, it is probably best!

We would’ve had to rent a trailer to haul all my crap home! 

The Badlands National Park

I wish so bad that we could’ve stopped here. We planned on stopping here but changed our mind due to the rain.

Next time South Dakota! I’ll see you next time!

Yes, I would totally do it again. (Some people never learn.)

 

 

 

You definitely need to add South Dakota to your bucket list!

 

Ill write again soon and let you know:

What to wear to Sturgis

What to pack.

Also ill give you some tips on how to ride long distances on a motorcycle.

So keep your eyes peeled for that!

Thanks so much for reading this! Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Xoxoxo 

Peace~ Lou

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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