2015 Sturgis 75 Plus!

The thick, light red line represents this years journey. The other lines represent all my journeys, as do the lines on my face.

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The Grateful Dead

It seems that the Grateful Dead and I are both celebrating our 50th birthdays this year. When I first heard about the 3 final shows the Grateful Dead would reunite for, I readied myself at the computer and clicked away being repeatedly rejected as the 3 nights quickly sold out. I soon gave up hope of participating at this final event on July 4th weekend. Then in April my good friend Brian offered me a Sunday night ticket to the last Dead show ever in Chicago (or anywhere else for that matter) as a birthday gift. Thanks B.

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July 4th weekend came around and it was time to get to Chicago. Many of my friends were headed there from various places. Some of them were flying in, some rented a car then would fly home, but no one was road tripping in both directions between NYC and Chicago. So I hopped on Bonnie and headed west.

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I hadn’t time to plan or pack properly. I tried to pack as if I were going on an extended journey. I tried. Immediately I began to realize I had left things behind for a long trip. Whatever, I was going to Chicago regardless. Nothing was stopping me. Then POP! My rear inner tube blew! I’ve always wondered what happens in such a situation. In this case, it turns out it wasn’t that bad. I heard a muffled poof and felt a jiggle. Then it felt like bumps in the road. But when I pulled over I saw my rear flat tire. I called AMA for help. They are a reliable service. But while the operator put me on hold to check for places in the area, this guy from the Indiana Toll Road Service showed up. His name was Dennis and he was super helpful. Before the AMA operator returned to the call, Dennis had already dispatched a tow and called his wife to check the size of an old tire he had in the garage. He said I could have the tire and his wife would bring it to the place where I was being towed to. Thank you sir!

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It turns out my tire was fine and I just needed a new tube. The tow truck came in a short while and the bike shop was in the nearby town.

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Tragedy averted. The truck brought me to North End Cycle, a fully equipped bike shop and showroom.

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My inner tube had completely exploded! They had my size in stock and I would be on my way toward Chicago in a little over an hour.

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Besides a large showroom of new and used bikes, North End Cycle had this classic police trike in the back.

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Back on the road. Another 200 miles and I rolled in to Chicago!

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Because of the blow out I arrived in Chicago much later than planned. At this point all my friends had gone to the show already. I found the hotel where I would be staying this night, dropped off my bags, parked the bike, hopped on the subway and headed to Soldier Field.

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I had no ticket for this night and I had a lot of company in that respect.

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Folks all over the surrounding area of the stadium walked around with their fingers raised hoping for a ticket into the sold out show.

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People everywhere were looking for tickets.

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That dude on the left is holding up a wad of cash instead of a finger.

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I figured there was no way I was getting into the show this night.

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Then as I approached one of the tunnels into the stadium I heard someone offering someone a ticket for $250. Then he quickly went down to $200. The guy rejected the offer. I walked up and said that I just rode in from NYC and would love to see the show. He said “New York City! Do you know AJ?”  Uh, no. Then he offered me the ticket for face value! YES! I was in!

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Amazing! I met up with my friend Gral and more than 70,000 happy people to see the end of an era.

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There was some question about Jerry Garcia’s replacement. Those huge shoes were filled by Trey Anastasio from the band Phish. Trey took on the task with the enthusiasm of a kid in a candy store and did an exceptional job.

JULY 3, 2015, SOLDIER FIELD, CHICAGO

Set One

  • “Box Of Rain” (Phil Lesh lead vocals)
  • “Jack Straw” (Bob Weir and Phil Lesh lead vocals)
  • “Bertha” (Trey Anastasio lead vocals)
  • “Passenger” (Bob Weir and Bruce Hornsby lead vocals)
  • “The Wheel” (Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Trey Anastasio, Bruce Hornsby vocals)
  • “Crazy Fingers” (Trey Anastasio lead vocals)
  • “The Music Never Stopped” (Bob Weir lead vocals

Set Two

  • “Mason’s Children”
  • “Scarlet Begonias” (Trey Anastasio lead vocals)
  • “Fire On The Mountain” (Bruce Hornsby lead vocals)
  • “Drums”
  • “Space”
  • “New Potato Caboose” (Phil Lesh lead vocals)
  • “Playing In The Band” (Bob Weir lead vocals)
  • “Let It Grow” (Bob Weir lead vocals)
  • “Help On The Way” (Trey Anastasio lead vocals)
  • “Slipknot!”
  • “Franklin’s Tower” (Phil Lesh lead vocals)
  • “Ripple” (encore, Bob Weir and Phil Lesh vocals)

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I bumped into Rob, a guy I hadn’t seen in over a decade. And coincidentally he had sold my other friends extra tickets for Saturday’s show! Woo Hoo! I was good for all three nights!

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The next day I moved to my friend Jake’s Hotel at the Langham. This joint was first class! Thanks Jake!

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Happy 4th of July!

On Saturday we left early and headed toward the stadium.

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Grant Park is between the hotel and Soldier Field. The Art Institute of Chicago is within the park much like the MET in NYC.

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Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate is aside the museum. Commonly known as The Bean, it reflects the city and all who approach it.

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The crew.

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Also in the park is the beautiful pavillion designed by Frank Gehry.

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We brought a nerf football. B Fox nabs a long toss from Elks.

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Today there was time to do the whole scene. On the south side of the stadium is the parking lot where the Deadhead equivalent of a tailgate party is taking place. This is what is missing at any other event that has taken place in Dead reconfigurations or solo acts in the past twenty years. This scene is strictly Grateful Dead.

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Chicago was truly welcoming to the Grateful Dead fans. Security was present but unnoticeable and people freaked freely!

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This motley medly of friendly folk surrounded the stadium.

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Pin Heads!

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Captain Jack!

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This dude was super proud to have ridden his bike down from Saskatchewan, Canada!

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These ladies were offering ecrutrements as a little extra flashy accessory.

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I’m Uncle Sam. That’s who I am!

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The parking lot grill offering yummy kabobs!

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I bumped into this girl who had done a cross country trip of her own which she proudly displays as a colorful tattoo on her arm.

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People of all ages prepared for the big July 4th show.

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…and young.

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Of course people drove their old buses to the show.

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This camper was hooked up.

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They offered me a seat and a bottle opener as I passed.

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You will see your share of cool old cars too.

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And the vanity tags which say, “Please pull me over!”

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It would not be a Dead show without a Hare Krishna pass by.

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The files of people calmly flowed closer and closer to the stadium.

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On this night, I didn’t need my ticket. I had one, I just didn’t need it. As I approached the stadium someone threw the door open at gate 5 and started waving people in. So I entered Soldier Field unimpeded. Between the Doric columns from the original 1924 facade and the 2003 renovation The flocks flowed for a second night of good times!

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JULY 4, 2015, SOLDIER FIELD, CHICAGO

Set One

  • “Shakedown Street” (Bob Weir lead vocals)
  • “Liberty” (Bob Weir lead vocals)
  • “Standing On The Moon” (Trey Anastasio lead vocals)
  • “Me & My Uncle” (John Phillips cover, Bob Weir lead vocals)
  • “Tennessee Jed” (Bob Weir, Trey Anastasio, Bruce Hornsby lead vocals)
  • “Cumberland Blues” (Trey Anastasio, Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, Bruce Hornsby vocals)
  • “Little Red Rooster” (Willie Dixon cover, Bob Weir lead vocals)
  • “Friend Of The Devil” (Phil Lesh lead vocals)
  • “Deal” (Trey Anastasio and Bruce Hornsby lead vocals)

Set Two

  • “Bird Song” (Phil Lesh lead vocals)
  • “The Golden Road (To Unlimited Devotion)” (Trey Anastasio and Bruce Hornsby lead vocals)
  • “Lost Sailor” (Bob Weir lead vocals)
  • “Saint Of Circumstance” (Bob Weir lead vocals)
  • “West L.A Fadeaway” (Bruce Hornsby lead vocals)
  • “Foolish Heart” (Trey Anastasio lead vocals)
  • “Drums”
  • “Space”
  • “Stella Blue” (Bob Weir lead vocals)
  • “One More Saturday Night” (Bob Weir lead vocals)
  • “U.S. Blues” (encore, Bob Weir lead vocals)

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This dude climbed the lamp post like a monkey and swiped a few of the Steal Your Face banners hanging along the road.

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I lost everybody I was with at this show, so I took the long walk back on my own and snapped some night shots.

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This is it! The last show ever. But it’s more than that. It is the end of this scene that only happens at this event. An era in a place where even the grumpiest folks wear a smile.

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JULY 5, 2015, SOLDIER FIELD, CHICAGO

Set One

  • “China Cat Sunflower” (Trey Anastasio and Bruce Hornsby lead vocals)
  • “I Know You Rider” (Tossi Aaron cover; Trey Anastasio, Bruce Hornsby, Phil Lesh, Bob Weir vocals)
  • “Estimated Prophet” (Bob Weir lead vocals)
  • “Built To Last” (Bruce Hornsby lead vocals)
  • “Samson and Delilah” (traditional, Bob Weir lead vocals)
  • “Mountains Of The Moon” (Phil Lesh lead vocals)
  • “Throwing Stones” (Bob Weir lead vocals)

Set Two 

  • “Truckin'” (Bob Weir lead vocals)
  • “Cassidy” (Bob Weir lead vocals)
  • “Althea” (Trey Anastasio lead vocals)
  • “Terrapin Station” (Phil Lesh and Bob Weir lead vocals)
  • “Drums”
  • “Space”
  • “Unbroken Chain” (Phi Lesh lead vocals)
  • “Days Between” (Bob Weir lead vocals)
  • “Not Fade Away” (The Crickets cover; Trey Anastasio, Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, Bruce Hornsby vocals)
  • “Touch of Grey” (encore 1, Trey Anastasio, Bob Weir, Bruce Hornsby vocals)
  • “Attics of My Life” (encore 2, Trey Anastasio, Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, Bruce Hornsby vocals)

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The fireworks on this night were phenomenal!

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We were sitting high, so the explosions were right before us!

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So much fun was packed into a solid weekend with 3 fantastic shows and great friends!

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Instead of flooding out with the masses we watched the 70,000 people slowly filter away corralled by the gentle touch of the hired security.

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And then it was over. At least for most of us. We all packed up and headed to or respective homes. Most of my friends flew home. I packed up Bonnie and did a solid two days of riding back to NYC. My boy Gral however went to Gibson’s Steakhouse and had one last GD experience. Nice one Gral!

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The ticket stubs to my first show March 7, 1981 and my last show July 5, 2015! In the middle is the first night of the weekend. The mail order tickets were printed from designs of envelopes people had sent in, (a Grateful Dead tradition).

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Fare Thee Well

Sturgis Bound!

Plans change!

My original plan had me headed west from Chicago after seeing the Grateful Dead. Plans changed. I was exhausted and in my haste I realized I had not packed well for a cross country adventure. So, I went back home to NYC.

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No worries. Truth be told, I was having fun in NYC hanging with Jillian and friends. We went to a friend’s restaurant to celebrate Bastille Day!

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I kept setting dates to get back on the road and for one reason or another I justified a postponement. If it’s not too hot NYC can be a place to hang. Here is a situation of a guy who definitely paints what he sees. There are naked people in the sun all over his painting!

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This painter chose a shady setting with a less shady subject matter.

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Another cool thing about NYC is the things you run into. Here is a model shoot by Bethesda Fountain.

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But here’s my favorite model. Jillian took me to see the new Whitney Museum before I made my way West!

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Donald Judd make for a nice frame.

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Time was passing quickly. If I was going to get any motorcycle adventure going I had to go. Now it was do or die. The coast to coast ride was out of the question. But I’ve done it 6 times and ridden 48 states already. At this point there was just not enough time for #7. But one thing I’ve always been determined to do was to go to Sturgis 75! Me at 50 and Sturgis at 75. It seemed like two solid numbers that had to be united!

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One last kiss and it was time to hit the road!

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And he’s off!

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So I am on my way. I couldn’t bare to take the same route as I did when going to Chicago, but I had to make time. So I took the Interstate but a different one than I had taken to see the Dead. At Harrisburg I shot north for my first night of camping at Clear Creek State Park. It was good to be back outdoors again!

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I heard about a ghost town in Northwestern PA called Pithole City. It was the site of the first commercial oil well in the United States. More oil strikes nearby prompted Pithole’s population to rapidly increase to 20,000. Within 12 years time the oil was tapped. That and some raging fires dwindled Pithole to a ghost town status.

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Here is a diorama of how Pithole looked in it’s heyday! Unfortunately for me there is nothing left but a small museum and impressions of some of it’s streets. Any evidence of it’s structures had long disintegrated or burned to ground.

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The next day I crossed into Ohio. I took Route 244! I felt I had taken this road before. 244 seemed real familiar to me. The site of this grand old house confirmed it. I zipped passed it a few years ago heading East and neglected to take a photo of it. Not this time.

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As I rolled through these old Ohio highways I realized there were no State Parks in the area. The only thing I could find was an off the beaten path private campground. In the past I haven’t done well at these types of places. Most are designed for RV’s. This one however had a great little tent spot right on their lake. It was like I was the only person there. So a thumbs up for Powell Creek Campgrounds.

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And here’s it’s namesake, Powell Creek.

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Last year I introduced Bonnie to Bonneville Dam in Oregon. This time around I notice a Bonneville Mill on the map. Or so I thought. My eyes aren’t as good as they once were. When I arrived at the mill I saw that it was actually Bonneyville Mill. It was still a nice stop on the journey.

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I guess they put these red and white tape strips on the chromed out oil tanks to prevent people from taking selfies.  I am not really sure why they do it. Anyone out there know?

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On this night I was headed to Johnson Sauk Trail State Park to camp for the night. I had stayed here a few years back. It’s a really nice wooded campsite and only cost $8 for the night. On the way I saw some vintage machines in a nearby town.

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I was taking photos of these beauties when a garage door open and a guy rolled out on a Bobcat. His name was Lynn and he invited me inside to see his man cave garage. Super cool! Inside he had it decorated with all sorts of automotive antiques. Also inside was this rare 1957 GMC Suburban. Beautiful!

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We hung out and talked for a while. Turns out Lynn is headed to Sturgis too. See ya at the Chip Lynn!

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And here is the campsite. Hammock heaven!

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Someone didn’t finish their meal.

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One of the coolest things at this park is an old round barn stable a farmer had made in 1910 for his Angus Beef herd.

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I love riding cross country but for one thing. Storms. Further north there was a monster of a storm. I headed south to try to avoid it as I moved West. Unfortunately I still caught the tail end of it.

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I finally crossed the Mississippi River a lot further South than I had planned.

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As I entered Burlington Iowa, I figured I would have to change all my plans and set a new route West. It’s strange after leaving NYC I kept seeing the Statue of Liberty. There was one in the middle of a river in Harrisburg PA and here was another in Burlington Iowa.

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Also in Burlington is Snake Alley the once recognized crookedest road in the States by Ripleys Believe it or Not.

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I decided I could go North and resume my original plan. I was going to ride around this giant storm. On my was along the Mississippi I stopped by an ancient Native American mound site. They can be found up and down the Mississippi River valley.

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Then came a genuine treat to my detour. If you’ve read this blog you know I love to visit places of historical significance. But this next stop would take me to a site of significance that wouldn’t come for another 300 plus years! Welcome to Riverside, Iowa, future birthplace of Captain James T. Kirk.

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I moved North through Clinton, Iowa. I passed through this town once before to try some Flava Flav’s Fried Chicken only to find out it had already gone out of business.

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I crossed the Mississippi again and headed up it’s East coast for a bit.

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After a crazy day of zig zagging in all directions I was wiped out. Tonight I would get a hotel in Dubuque, Iowa. In the morning as I was packing up the bike, I noticed that my kickstand was glistening. Then I noticed a drip stain under the bike. Uh oh, something was leaking. Not cool.

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I’d keep riding and hope it was a minor issue. I would then go to a magical place just outside of Dubuque. If you have seen the movie Field of Dreams then you know what I mean.

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The movie set is kept in pristine condition just as it was in the movie.

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Kids play baseball on the same field where Ray Liota emerged from the cornfields as Shoeless Joe Jackson outfielder for the disgraced 1919 White Sox team.

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Also on this day Frank Dardis one of the ghost players from the movie was in attendance.

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I continued on up the river but that oil drip was really started to worry me.

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On this night I would camp out at Frontenac State Park just outside of Red Wing MN. I bought a quart of oil to keep it topped off as it leaked.

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I figured in the morning I would go to a Triumph dealer in Minneapolis, but when I started up the bike that drip was nearly a pour. It was really spewing out and I couldn’t figure out the source. I also couldn’t loosen  the cap to put more oil in. Luckily I caught Coach Ken as he was pulling out. Ken is a super nice guy, former teacher and football coach who happened to have a huge screwdriver that helped my pry that thing open. Thanks Ken.

I called a shop in Red Wing knowing I couldn’t make itand they said they could take me right away. It was just 10 miles away but with all that oil dripping I was afraid it might grease my rear tire and take me out. The problem could have been anything from the filter to a crack in the engine block. Lucky me, it was the filter. It ruptured. I was in and out of the shop in 15 minutes. Amazing! A big thanks to John at Red Wing Motorsports!

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Then I could resume my real purpose for being in Red Wing. I was there to see the worlds largest boot!

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The next stop is a place I’ve wanted to visit for a while. The Runestone Museum in Alexandria, Minnesota. The Runestone is a tablet discovered in Kensington that dates back to the 1300’s with Viking writings on it.

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In the museum are also some creepy dioramas.

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Outside they have some old homes, a school, a church and some cabins that were moved from their original locations.

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The creepiest display of all was this one with a stuffed dog on a carpet. But it was good to finally see the Runestone.

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I zipped across Minnesota and camped out at Roy Lake in South Dakota.

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I got a beautiful spot right on the lake. Very nice.

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From here I had one last stop before Sturgis. I wanted to visit Sitting Bull’s grave. So I crossed the Missouri River and paid a visit to one of the greatest Native American leaders of all time.

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Sitting Bull’s grave overlooking the Missouri River.

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On the same day I crossed the Missouri River I would make it to Sturgis.

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Welcome to the 75th Anniversary of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally!

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This year at Sturgis would be the most crowded ever as the 75th Anniversary was predicted to draw over a million bikers!

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My Bonnie celebrated the 75th in style as the odometer made that turn which represented the 75,000 miles of America’s highways and byways that we have traversed together. Thank you Bonnie and Triumph for making one tough and dependable motorcycle!

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The Buffalo Chip

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I arrived at the Buffalo Chip before dark, set up camp and immediately met a guy named Moose. Good start. That’s my site on the right beneath the camouflage tarp.

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Alice Cooper

The first big show at the Chip would be the legendary Alice Cooper.

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Besides ripping through some of his greatest tunes, Alice rocked some classic covers like Break On Through, Revolution, Foxy Lady and My Generation. I hadn’t seen Alice Cooper in over 20 years.  It was an excellent show!

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Feed My Frankenstein!

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The last time I visited Sturgis I had only one regret.

I didn’t bowl a midget.

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On this visit there would be no regrets.

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I grabbed Samson by the ankle and whipped him down the aisle! He is funny as hell and tough as nails.

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I bowled a strike earning the honor of being raised above the Great Samson’s shoulders!

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Motorcycles as Art

Motorcycles as Art was a jaw dropping display of unpainted meticulously machined masterpieces.

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The show was curated by Michael Lichter the famous motorcycle photographer and included his photography along the periphery.

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The raw mix of vintage parts with modern tweaks and touches complimented each other to create what truly is Motorcycles as Art.

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The bikes were beautifully spaced out in this large hangar-like space.

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I was also fortunate to be here at a time when there were no other people around. It was great to leisurely check out these fantastic bikes.

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Twin Engine Motorcycle Dragster Stage Fright Triumph Bonneville Tiger T110 T120

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Excelsior.

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The next morning I got up to get a new pass for the day. Instead of going out of the gate and around to the box office, I decided to park the bike within the fence and walk around to the box office. When I returned to the bike there was this awesome triumph T-Shirt on my seat with a note on a business card.

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Then a guy called out. It was Danial James. He designed this bad ass Triumph shirt and left it there for me. So cool! Made my day!

We talked a bit. He said I should stop by their shop on Main Street and he wold hook me up with other Triumph stuff! Man, that was real nice.

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I understand overpacking and bringing all the cool stuff you like to have with you, but you gotta keep it tight!

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This dude’s bike is rad. It’s covered with all kinds of shit and if I’m not mistaken, he said he hadn’t changed the oil in 8 years. He was entering the bike in Thursday’s Rat’s Hole Contest. I don’t know how the bike did, but he won best beard and perhaps the tattoo contest as well.

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Besides the big stage with the major acts, there are numerous stages throughout the Buffalo Chip. Bands play and rotate all day and night.

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This Japanese band had a slick cool Western vibe.

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The Living Deads had a solid, rad, rockabillly twang.

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But of all the bands Mothership was off the hook bad ass. I will be keeping an eye on their tour calendar. If you like good solid hard rock n roll, I recommend you check this Texas trio out.

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And there’s the dancing girls! Some dance for tips!

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And some dance for corporate sponsors. Here’s The Jagermeister Girls.

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I knew Fox made motorcycle jeans but I thought they offered more protection. These are The Vape Girls.

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The Rat’s Hole sponsored various competitions throughout the week.

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This one had no registration fee and various awards for best bike in it’s class.

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The tank is the only thing Triumph on this bike below.

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I got to talking to these guys Eric, Shawn and Bernie. That’s Bernie’s bike with the skeleton and Eric’s bike is the chopper. I believe Shawn is their machinist. Anyway, the subject of the Grateful Dead came up and I mentioned I had gone to Chicago. Bernie asked if I got into all three shows. As I was telling the story about getting a rear blowout on the way and negotiating a ticket for the first night, Eric interrupted and said “and you got it for face value!” Bernie says,”How the hell would you know that?” Eric says, “I read it on the internet.”

https://mybonnie.wordpress.com/2015/07/06/what-a-long-strange-trip-its-been/

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Later in the day I ended up riding right next to this dude on the bobbed out Triumph. We started talking as he rode to my left. I’m slobbering over his bike, but he really digs the new Bonnie’s too. Then he extends his hand. Hmmm, this was my first handshake while riding and I do believe it’s harder from the right. All formalities were taken care of cool and cordially without any signs of me thinking “I hope I don’t fuck this up”!

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The first year I came to Sturgis I pitched my tent next to a 6’4″ trucker from Wheeler, Texas. Everytime I have come here since, I make sure to track down Randy. Things are going well for Randy so he’s not driving those big rigs anymore. Randy is a great story teller and good company.

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Dee Snider played a great set. Like Alice Cooper, he did his own standards from Twisted Sister and Widowmaker but also some excellent cover tunes like Rocker, Real Wild Child and Rock n Roll.

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Dee Snider was opening for Godsmack. Between bands I noticed some lightning on the horizon. Mind you there was nothing in the weather forecast that called for any precipitation on this night…But this is Sturgis. And when it comes to the weather, the only guarantee is that there are no guarantees! As Godsmack began their set I felt one big drop hit me. I wasn’t taking any chances. I headed back to the tent. Just as I got there KABOOM! Heavy rain and hail came pouring down. I had my gear buckled down tight. I wasn’t sure my tarp would hold up under heavy winds but it was doing fine so far and I was enjoying having a dry seat under my vestibule while watching the storm crash down around me. I planned on staying dry under my tarp when I heard a neighbor in crisis. One of my neighbor’s tents was not faring so well in the heavy rain and this dude Richard was out there by himself trying to help out. I went outside to lend a hand. So despite my awesome shelter which kept my stuff dry, I got soaked anyway. No big deal. It was fun.

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My inner sanctum.

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Downtown Sturgis

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The bikes were lined up as expected and I was happy to join that line.

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Tons of bikes lined the street. This isn’t a show. These are the riders and Main Street is the parking lot.

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Indian Larry’s shop had a bike displayed along Main Street.

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Even the side streets are lined with motorcycles.

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I was doing laundry at the Buffalo Chip when I heard the sonic boom of a B-1 Bomber overhead. Lynn (who I met on the road) sent me this photo of the B-1 Bombers destination. It did a fly by right over Main Street!

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Also on Main Street in downtown Sturgis there is a real decent little motorcycle museum.

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This museum is packed with vintage goodies.

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This Panhead was totally chromed out!

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Triumph was well represented.

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After seeing a woman in a vending booth eating a salad, I realized I had to do some shopping. One can not live on BBQ alone. I saw this guy with a classic do it yourself style chopper as I went to the grocery store.

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Then I stopped by the Uhl Studio shop to see Danial James who had left that T-shirt on my bike. You can click his name to read more about the artist.

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Danial was super cool. We talked about everything from motorcycles and riding to painting, Photoshop and technology. And how he partnered up with David Uhl to created Uhl Studios. I had seen David Uhl’s work before a few years ago at the Broken Spoke. Great stuff! True to his word, Daniel hooked me up with some beautiful Triumph shirts for Jillian and another for me with a Brando Wild One theme. I will be doing a separate post on Uhl Studios in the near future. Meanwhile link up with their site HERE. And some of the shirts are sold directly on the Triumph website HERE. Thanks again Danial!

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 Lukas Nelson

Lukas Nelson was the only early act I really wanted to see from all the days I was at Sturgis. Lukas is Willie Nelson’s kid and he rocks! Jillian and I got to meet Lukas when he played with his dad here in NYC.

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During Lukas Nelson’s set the Budweiser Clydesdales made their way across the amphitheatre.

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The Clydesdales weren’t the only celebrities to grace the grounds of the Buffalo Chip.

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This dude lives for Skynyrd! And tonight he had front row on his decked out bike with portraits of all the original members of Lynyrd Skynyrd beautifully painted on anything that wasn’t chromed.

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And Skynyrd did not disappoint, playing a classic set of their unique Southern sound!

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Lynyrd Skynyrd was by far the most crowded of all the shows at the Chip this year.

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In addition to the Jagermeister girls on the bar, there are the shot girls. You can have a shot of Jager poured into your mouth by this woman on stilts.

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Or if you find tall women intimidating, you can have a midget pour you one on the down low.

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Mount Rushmore and Deadwood

Riding around during Sturgis can be a little nuts. It is so crowded. Especially this year. But I figured I’d take a ride to Mt. Rushmore then return through Deadwood.

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The one stop light in Keystone was enough to back the traffic up for miles. Most of these guys gave up on letting the bike idle and cut the engines allowing the mighty hill do the work for them.

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I pulled to the side of the road for a look at Mt. Rushmore but didn’t park and go in.

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Bikes were darting around in every direction. Notice George in profile.

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In Deadwood a green girl on a green bike promoted this shop.

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Saloon 10, where Wild Bill Hickok was killed while playing cards. Deadwood actually burned down a few years after Hickok’s murder. This bar was built as an exact replica of the old Saloon 10.

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Uhl Studios

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David Uhl was taking a break from painting when I visited his studio in Deadwood.

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Here is a painting David Uhl made of Dale Walksler unveiling his Crocker. Danial at the other studio was telling me a story about Dale. He had an auction going on back in North Carolina at his museum Wheels Through Time. He was auctioning off the Crocker. It turns out however that North Carolina had a law which forbids anything to be auctioned with a value over $250,000. The Crocker is worth three times that much, so the auction had to be cancelled. However those who bought raffle tickets will have their money returned and they get to keep a print of the awesome painting seen below!

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I drew that same Crocker engine a while back from a photo I took of Dale’s bike.

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Headed back to the Chip!

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John Fogerty

Fogerty blasted out all the Creedence classics.

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And of course he played his solo hit Centerfield with his baseball bat guitar.

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The Miss Buffalo Chip contest was down to 3 contestants last I heard. The one in the middle was the crowd favorite.

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If you are up for it, you don’t have to miss the show to get a tattoo. There is a parlor right in the concert arena.

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This guy was forging interlocking hearts.

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Then came the big Rat’s Hole Contest where the big bikes compete!

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Evel Knievel’s truck, Big Red.

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Doug Danger and the Evel Knievel Stunt Show

Today Doug Danger would attempt to do a jump that Evel Knievel had tried with disastrous results.

I was raised on Evel Knievel so I was psyched to see this event!

Here is a promo video they played before the jump.

When I first saw this new path at the Buffalo Chip I though they were just making improvements. Turns out it’s the lead in to the jump ramp.

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After a little Chip style hype it was time for Doug Danger to take the stage.

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He came out on Evel’s bike wearing Vanson leathers in Evel Knievel’s style outfit.

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Evel was in his 30’s when he tried it. Doug Danger is attempting this feat at 53 years of age. The same jump was attempted by Bubba Blackwell a few years back. He also crashed.

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Here the guy who owns the $350,000 motorcycle gives Doug a final thumbs up as he burns through the amphitheatre for a practice pass.

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Doug takes a last look from the ramp before his final attempt at glory.

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And here he comes at 80 mph approaching the ramp.

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And he’s up!

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Up!

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And Away!

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You may see many crazy jumps these days in Red Bull competitions and such, but this jump was being done on Evel Knievel’s 1972 Harley Davidson XR-750. That’s a heavy machine!

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I wasn’t expecting him to get such height. It was incredible!

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As he descends one wonders…Will he make it? The excitement was insane!

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Looking good!

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He cleared it!

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And he nailed the landing! Incredible!

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He made it look easy. Smooth! The crowd went nuts!

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Doug then road back up the ramp where he just landed to bask in the crowd’s adulation!

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And his crew joins him in the celebration.

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He then cracked a brew and gave his thanks to all. After many a tumble and conquering stage 4 cancer Doug Danger beat the record that Evel Knievel attempted on the  same bike over 40 years ago.

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Here is a YouTube video of the jump.

I spent most of my time at the Buffalo Chip but I did stop by to have a look around at the Full Throttle Saloon.

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The owner, Micael Ballard was on hand to do some shots of their Sloonshine!

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Earlier in the trip I visited the world’s largest boot, today I would take part in the world’s largest motorcycle sculpture.

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They directed us where to  park our bikes and then we just waited for a photo op from a helicopter above.

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This is John. He and his wife Shannon were camping with a group next to me.

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And here is the shot from the air. I am at the crest of the bottom wave just to the left of the mermaid.

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Styx opened for The Guess Who. I never really like Styx. Still don’t.

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The Guess Who on the other hand put on a great show.

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The chick lighting a cigarette punched a dude right in the face for being too close to her bike.

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It was time to pack it up and hit the road. Richard (the guy I was helping during the storm) was have some electrical issues with his bike. Good luck with that Richard and hope to see ya at a future rally!

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Time to hit the road!

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I wish I could have hung out with more people, like Cliff who I met out on the road years ago in Montana. It looks like he enjoyed Sturgis as well. I swiped this shot from his FB page.

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There’s Lynn who I met on the way out. We kept shooting messages but never did hook up! Every time I have visited Sturgis I have made new friends and revisited old ones. Tyler from Sioux City, I hope to read about your travels in the near future. To the gang from Oregon and the crew from Sacramento I camped with, it was a pleasure. And Randy! See ya next time brother! Sturgis is a fantastic event, but it was time to move on. I have another vacation planned so I needed to head East so I can fly back West. Fortunately one of the new folks I met gave me a pass to cut through the Badlands. As I was leaving the Chip, Richard gave me his receipt from having visited the Badlands the day before. It was good for the whole week! I had planned on riding south and around the Badlands. Cutting through made the ride shorter and lot more pleasurable. Thanks again Richard.

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I have been through the Badlands before. Camped here a couple times as well. It’s a wicked, surreal landscape. Today was overcast so I didn’t get too trigger happy with the camera.

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This particular wolf ran with a pack.

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This one did not.

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From the Badlands I was off to camp out just on the other side of the Missouri River.

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As I look at this photo, it occurs to me that I have a way of holding the camera that could easily be mistaken for a rude hand gesture by anyone passing by.

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So I parked the bike and had a look at the Missouri River. It was wide here and they call it a lake as they had near Red Wing along the Mississippi. When I took this photo I thought that’s as close as I would get to the river.

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Then I met these folks. While I was setting up camp, two guys approached. Jack and Pumpkin were their names. Along with a bunch of their friends, they rent all the lakeside cabins for a week each year and have a reunion. Jack used to ride and is eager to ride again now that the kids are all grown up. They were super nice. Jack and his wife Heather brought me some food and even some fire wood. Then he said if I was up for it, I could join them for the nightly midnight, shotgun a beer and swim in the river event. And so I did!

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In the morning Jack and the gang were going golfing. They invited me to join them and from the sounds of it I would have fit right in with the skill level, but I had to make miles. So thanks again for breakfast and everything else! Send those pictures when you can!

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I have grown an affection for Casey’s General Store. If I get a choice where to stop for gas, I choose Casey’s. They always have these chocolate peanut butter rice cakes by the door that (along with a Red Bull) bolster the moment with a solid sugar rush to get the motor going.

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I continue to hit the brakes and turn around when I see a bit of America’s past slowly decaying. This time when I hit the brakes I really heard the sound of metal grinding. See, I have been without rear brake pads for a while now. I’ve known about it since my blowout on the way to Chicago but never took the time to get ’em replaced. Basically I have been downshifting and giving the soft touch to the front brakes to slow down this whole trip. Oh well, I’ll make it home.

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Crossing into Iowa I took some scenic roads. Saw this old service station in Pisgah.

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This guy was proud of his 73 Charger. Or was it his wife’s? Either way, he said they replaced the old engine with a 450 that runs on alcohol and tears it up!

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I set up camp and let my feet air out. Feet get pretty beat up on the road. Unfortunately I left those puppies airing out after the sun went down. I got to talking and having a few beers with a guy named Mike at a campsite down the way. Mike used to ride but had a few too many spills so he gave it up. While hanging out by the fire my legs got chewed up. I never even saw a mosqito but they sure saw me.

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Another nice family next to me had me over for breakfast in the morning. They were local farmers camping out for the weekend. Biscuits and Gravy. That was a heavy meal. Thanks y’all!

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After a week at Sturgis, BBQ was the last thing on my mind but the bus sure looked cool.

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I was slowly rolling along the local Iowa highways when I realized that if I hopped on the Interstate I might make it to Anamosa and see the motorcycle museum before it closes. I meant to stop there on the way to Sturgis but the weather was impossible as I headed west. Now was the time. This was it. I hopped on I80 and flew toward Cedar Rapids. It looked like I might not have enough time or maybe they wouldn’t let me in this late. I got there around 4:30. They closed at 5. I said to the lady at the register right away, “I know it’s late! Just let me see what I can before you close.” I must have looked crazed. There was chrome everywhere. I saw my reflection. I know I looked crazed! For the last few hours I had been blasting through heavy teaming, truck traffic weaving at 85 mph plus!

Now I could slow down and look at some gems.

The National Motorcycle Museum

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This museum is packed with vintage bikes spanning motorcycle history.

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An Indian Larry portrait hangs on the wall as does vast amounts of motorcycle memorabilia and other artwork.

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This is a Harley Trike chassis and transmission providing the armature for a vehicle hand built in the 1940’s from 14 different cars.

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Below is a steam powered motorcycle.

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In the reflection of this Honda tank is the most beautiful of bikes.

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The Brough Superior.

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It is the motorcycle on which Lawrence of Arabia met his fate. In fact he owned 7 of them. He named each one George with a number. I-VII. And behind the bike hangs a painting.

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This is an original David Uhl painting.

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It was nice to see an actual painting with it’s original texture as opposed to a canvas print.

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The brush strokes were fiery over the wheel illuminating the frame of the bike. Nice!

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Now back to the Brough Superior. I was talking to an old gentleman at a Casey’s in Iowa a week earlier when my bike first started leaking oil. He was close to if not past 80 years old. He was telling me of the many rides he used to have. I told him how I missed seeing this museum in Anamosa on my way out. He said he went there once specifically to see a Vincent Black Lightning as ridden by Rollie Free when he broke the land speed record back in 1948. And then he said, “But the most beautiful bike of all was the Brough.” However he was saying unlike I had been saying it for years. “Bruff” is how he said it. Bruff? I have been saying “Bro!” He said no, it’s “Bruff”. Then he told me it used to be just Brough (Bruff). It was a father/son team but then the son wanted to go on his own and made the Brough Superior. Well it’s a mighty fine machine. And there are a few of them here at the museum.

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PS…My girlfriend was just walking by the Ralph Lauren store in NYC and said there was a Brough Superior in the window, but this one’s new. New? Yup! They are making these babies again. Check it out!

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Back to the museum.

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Old biker club jackets lined a counter filled with motorcycle merchandise from another era.

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There were many Triumphs besides this beautiful chopper in a workshop display. The only complaint I can think of is that this place doesn’t have more space. The bikes are fantastic! I wish there were more space to move around all of them!

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The Triumph Thunderbird like Brando rode in The Wild One.

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Just look at this place. And here I am again, as I was in Sturgis, alone amongst all these amazing motorcycles.

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It was well past 5 now but the lady running the place never said a thing. She let me check the whole place out.

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I could have easily spent another hour leisurely looking over the museum, but I sure did appreciate not being rushed after trying time and time again to get here.

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THE ROADOG. I remember the first time I saw a picture of this beast. I was at Deals Gap after first riding the Tail of the Dragon for the first time. And here it was in person.

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Fantastic Museum!

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From here I would head east to the Mississippi! I would try to cross  the river and make camp before dark.

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I crossed the mighty river and made it to Mississippi Palisades State Park.

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I made it to the park before dark, but once I realized the sun was going to break at just the right time, I ended up pitching my tent in the dark.

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In the morning there were butterflies all over my bike. That’s why I took this photo. I didn’t notice it at the time, but this is the first photo in which I see that my right muffler has become dislodged and is sticking out diagonally.

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As I checked out my maps for today’s travel, I realized I could criss cross the town in Illinois where I met Lynn. I texted him and he said to drop by the grocery store. He had told me about the grocery store before. It used to be the town theater. Then when television came around, the theater went kaput. His grandpa bought it and opened the grocery store you see today.

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Here is Lynn. If you don’t remember, he had that cool man cave garage from a few posts ago.

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Lynn seemed to understand my taste for old Americana and asked if I wanted to see an old wooden grain elevator that this guy was converting into a saloon. He also seemed to understand my taste for steaks and he treated me to one from his store. Thank you sir!

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So after lunch I followed Lynn down the road a while to this cool old elevator.

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The guy who owns it wasn’t here today but he told Lynn we could stop by and have a look. During the week it’s quiet but on the weekends he turns it into the Psycho Silo Saloon.

Check out their Facebook page HERE.

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The service station below is actually the rest room for the saloon.

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This silo is made of stacked 2 x 6 planks. That’s solid!

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This guy is serious about making this place a great establishment.

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He has plans on expanding the grounds and adding a campsite as well. If you are rolling down Route 6 in Langley you may see the giant BEER sign on the side of the silo. It’s also a short distance from Route 80. So if you are passing by Langley over the weekend….Check it out!

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While we were at the grocery store discussing places of interest, George the butcher mentioned the canal. Then he got back to making the ground meat. No additives at this grocery store I assure you. Anyway, after parting Lynn’s company at the silo I came upon the canal George mentioned.

The Henepin Canal was built to connect the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers. But due to political strife and bad timing, the plan was delayed repeatedly. By the time it was finally financed and built, barge travel on both rivers had grown beyond the limits of this small canal and it was never used for it’s original commercial intent.

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Also sitting next to the canal was this old Pontiac! Sweet!

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Sitting before the roaring train and clanging signals with a front row seat is always a thrill.

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However, on this second occasion it afforded me the chance to check out an old house I noticed while passing.

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I went back to see this house in the Illinois River valley as the long train passed. While I was there to take the photo, the only two cars to pass by both slowed down to make sure I was OK. Kinda nice!

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Not sure if James Brown played this one.

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This is an old photo of a clean shaven Abraham Lincoln as he looked when he was a young lawyer in Illinois.

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And here is the courthouse in Metamora where Lincoln handled over 70 cases through 1858. On October 10, 1857 Lincoln defended Melissa Goings, a seventy year old woman accused of killing her husband. While in the custody of the sheriff she managed to escape. The court bailiff accused Lincoln of chasing her off, but apparently Lincoln turned to the judge and said, “Your Honor, I did not run her off. She wanted to know where she could get a good drink of water, and I told her there was mighty good water in Tennessee.”

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Damn storms again. If I continued east as planned it would have been a bad wet day, so I shot south for a while.

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It was good to see Richard Serra expanding to middle America.

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Then I noticed what I mentioned in the butterfly picture before. The two bolts that hold my pipes flush with the frame were gone. Maybe all that oil splashing around earlier in the trip had loosened them up. I was concerned that leaving it sticking out might cause added strain to the pipe clamp and I could lose the whole thing while riding at 75 or more. So I made my annual trip to Home Depot for some do it yourself rigging. I wired her up pretty good. Good enough at least. It was go time. Time for an Interstate blast back into the the East Coast mayhem!

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The last couple days of the journey were all Interstate. It was however the first time I made it around Indianapolis without making a wrong turn, so that was good. There was only one last stop to make. Shartlesville, PA.

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Besides that old log home above, Shartlesville will greet with with a couple of giant Amish people.

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And a paddle boat out of water.

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But the reason I pulled off at Shartlesville was to see Roadside America.

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Roadside America is visible from the Interstate in Eastern PA. I have passed it so many times but I am usually in a hurry to get out of town or in a hurry to get back home. This time I would take the time to pull over and see the World’s Greatest Indoor Miniature Village.

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It’s all in the details. And to make sure you don’t miss the village’s nuances, small notes are left about. Like this one to Note the fustrated hunter. A little rabbit jumps in and out of a hole fustrating the hunter. Can you feel the fustration?

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Here is a tribute to the man who created Roadside America.

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Various buttons surrounding the village will give you control over some of the mechanics or trains.

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Was it worth the price of admission? I have no regrets! A last pose with Lady Liberty reminded me that I was close to home.

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My final approach to the big city!

Thanks for joining me on another exciting journey.

Looking forward to the next!

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