2022 Sturgis Trip

A milestone recently passed for me. April 10 was 15 years since I bought my first bike and began this blog. I sure hope you have enjoyed traveling with me.

The following are the compiled posts of last Summer’s journey to Sturgis and back. If you follow me then you know I do not take direct routes. This was a fun trip.

NYC to Ohio

It’s time to roll again! Before I get into my present journey I have an admission to make. Back in March, there were a couple of unusually warm days in NYC. With that, I saw an opportunity. I packed up the bike and took off for Florida. I didn’t post a thing about it. For that I am sorry. I’ll get to it at some point.

Now let’s get back to the present. I am on the road again! My plans are loose with two exceptions. I am going to the AMA Vintage Days at the Mid-Ohio Racetrack and then I am headed back to Sturgis. Other than that, I am trying to keep things spontaneous. Let’s go!

Due to incredible storms I delayed the trip by a day. Since I missed a day, and left late the following day, I didn’t frolic on small highways. I hit the Interstate. My destination was a bit further than I realized. I should more accurately say, it took much longer than expected to get there. I booked a campsite at Sewanee State Park in Pennsylvania. That ground you see below looks flat and smooth. It wasn’t. I arrived late and pitched my tent by flashlight. This was going to be a quick in and out as it were.

The second day began the type of journey I appreciate. The two-lane highway is my preferred route of travel. I began going west on Route 30. I have ridden much of Route 30 further west but had never been to this part. I did a quick U turn when I saw a large unusual structure in the middle of an old cemetery. This is a log church built in 1806.

I walked up to the door of the old church and was surprised to find it open. I was immediately brought back two centuries. It was a place I had previously known only in movie sets. It was easy to picture the place packed with people quietly sitting in this tiny space dressed in their old-timey Sunday best.

Then I saw a staircase in the corner leading to another level. It led to seating that wrapped all around so everyone could see the preacher in his elevated pulpit equidistant between his parishioners above and below. It really was spectacular.

Also along this part of Route 30 is the Flight 93 National Memorial. I have always wanted to stop here. I had mixed feelings. Being from NYC, I remember the day all too well.

I was of course curious, but at the same time felt a self-conscious morbidity about that curiosity. It is a sight of profound tragedy. Nonetheless, I rode on. I decided not to go into the Visitor Center. I didn’t need to see the day replayed. I just wanted to see the point of impact. It’s now not much more than an overgrown crater. Near the tree line in the photo below, you can see a brown boulder depicting the exact site of impact.

There is a memorial. A wall made of white marble slabs with the name of a victim carved in each. The white wall aligns with the final flight path. There were a few with additions to some of the names on the wall, like Captain, or Flight Attendant.

One of the marble slabs was especially touching. Next to a woman’s name was written: “with unborn child”. It was uneasy to read this. “Unborn Child” is a strange and interesting term when applied to today’s conversations regarding the abortion debate. I wondered how far into term this woman was? It didn’t say. Does it make a difference? It’s interesting to consider when applied to today’s debates. I found It to be the most profound of all the slabs of marble.

At the other end of the wall is a wooden gate. Beyond the gate is where the plane went down.

I rode south a bit before heading west to Ohio. Along the way, I passed through a quaint town with this interesting birdhouse.

I stopped when I saw this strange old vehicle parked in front of a building.

As I looked around the building I noticed more old industrial machines.

I have no idea what this thing below is for. Actually, I wasn’t sure what any of them were used for.

This marker below depicts the final resting place of General Edward Braddock or at least most of him. In 1755 General Braddock was mortally wounded by French and Indian troops. A young George Washington, (who suddenly found himself in charge) ordered that the general be buried under the road so that the enemy would not find him and desecrate his body. Unfortunately, his body wasn’t discovered again until 1804 when workers were repairing a stretch of the road. His remains were moved to the site below, but not before some souvenir seekers pilfered his remains. It seems not all of him was buried under this monument. Some of the bones from his hand ended up in the Peale Museum in Philadelphia. They were then sold to PT Barnum and later lost when his American Museum in NYC caught fire destroying all his inventory.

After my long haul across Pennsylvania, I crossed a river into West Virginia. At first, I was puzzled and thought I had traveled too far south. However, if you look at a map, West Virginia has this one part that sticks way up like a middle finger. And on that finger is a giant wart. This is an ancient Native American mound. The town is named after it. Welcome to Moundsville.

Directly across the street from the mound is the West Virginia State Penitentiary. I would love to take a tour one of these days, but leaving the fully packed bike here didn’t seem prudent.

Continuing into Ohio I came across the barn covered in old murals.

I finally made it to my second campsite in Dillon State Park. It was getting late. I set up the tent and decided to put up the tarp to block the morning sun. The problem is, I didn’t know about the impending storm. That tarp was fine for the morning. It was not prepared for what would be coming that night. Below is the first time I am adding video to a post. What you see is the calm before the storm.

I slept in after a long night with that storm. I mean it was fun and exciting, but I wasn’t sleeping through it. That tarp didn’t have a chance in the storm. The ground is soft here and these spikes did not hold for long. In the morning I hung the tarp again and crashed. I thought I’d have time to see more, but I did visit a couple interesting places. Before I took off for the day I heard some action below me. The campsite overlooks a disc golf course.

Then I took off toward Columbus, Ohio. On the way, I passed this amazing office building shaped like a giant picnic basket. Looks good eh Boo Boo?

This sculpture of stacked stones depicts Chief Leatherlips. He was called this by the local white settlers because he never broke a promise.

Within the city of Columbus is this remarkable topiary garden. It depicts the famous painting by Georges Seurat, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grand Jatte.

The original painting can be found at the Art Institute of Chicago. They even had figures in boats on the pond.

I got a new point and shoot camera for this trip. It has a great zoom. Should be fun.

After Columbus, I returned to the campsite. As it was getting dark I could hear a kid riding down the hill on a bike. He was ahead of the pack and yelled back at his trailing parents. ”Did you say be careful? I don’t need to be careful. I’m too old to be careful!” Ah, the beginning of the ”I’m indestructible” phase.

I had a good night’s sleep on my second evening here at Dillon State Park. It was hot in the morning as I packed up but the sun soon moved beyond the tree above to provide some needed shade. I took a shower (perhaps my last for a few days), and headed North toward the Mid-Ohio Racetrack to camp out at the AMA Vintage Days event.

I took a lonely road North. So lonely that I began to worry about gas since my light gauge went on. I was hungry too. I finally came across a gas station. I was determined not to eat there. I was craving a turkey club. I needed a diner. At the very next town of Mount Vernon there was the Sunrise Diner. It was a damn nice diner too. Clean as could be and everybody working there was super nice. It always takes a couple days to get into the road vibe. This diner sure helped.

I looked at Atlas Obscura while I waited for my lunch. It told me of the ruins of an old glass factory right here in Mount Vernon. I went to check it out. This was once the PPG Glass Company. It churned out glass products of all kinds for 40 years. It sat crumbling for years before being converted into a park.

There were piles of this blue glass placed around the park with signs saying ’ Stay off the glass’.

From the old glass factory, I was headed for the Mid-Ohio Racetrack. I made one last stop to photograph this dancing bear. It’s a Grateful Dead thing, (for those that don’t know). I took it as a sign that it was going to be a great weekend!

AMA Vintage Days 2022

I rolled into the Mid-Ohio Racetrack for the American Motorcycle Association’s Vintage Days. This is a fun event. I got there fairly early on Friday thinking it would be no problem to find a space to pitch my tent. Ha! Seems everyone else arrived on Thursday. The place was packed. Fortunately, people are kind here. This guy Darren told me he had no problem with me pitching my tent next to his van. Technically that space was not on his site, so I asked another guy (with the flags in the photo), Brent if it would be OK. He said it would be fine. I wanted this particular location because it is the only area with morning shade. The rest of the place is an open field. All good!

This event is filled with things going on all day, every day. There are races on the track throughout the day. Different races for every type of motorcycle. Races are broken up according to the size and various types of motorcycles, from vintage machines to super sport bikes. There aren’t that many great vantage points to see the races up close and personal. You are looking at some major zooming in these photos below, but regardless, it is cool to hear them ripping past.

Besides the races, this is one of the largest, (if not the largest) swap meet east of the Mississippi. If you are working on a vintage bike and need an obscure part, chances are you will find it here.

It’s not just parts. You can pick up a good deal on a variety of bikes ready to ride away. Someday I just may take advantage of that when I become a man with a van.


When I saw this vehicle below, I asked, ”Are those old pick up truck fenders?” The guy lit up with a smile and said, ”Yeah! I just bought it! The guy had no idea what it was.” He told me it was from a 39 Chevy and the headlight was from some other vehicle from the 30s.

There were Triumphs everywhere you looked this year. Both at the swap meet and at a show down the hill.

Remember this is a racetrack, and not just for motorcycles. This pile of discarded race car tires is at the other end of the swap meet.

Unlike the place I am headed to in South Dakota, this was one of the few vintage Harleys I saw.

Another awesome attraction here is the Wall of Death. The Wall of Death is always a thrill to watch.

Below you can see this old timer scaling the walls. He is 70 years old riding an Indian even older.

Then this guy from New Jersey did the more death defying rides around the wall. A crowd favorite is to hold out a dollar bill.

Then the rider grabs them as he rips around perpendicular to the ground.

Video is something new to MyBonnie. Hope you enjoy them.

As cool as the races are on the paved track, my favorite event is watching the impromptu riding of the guests on an oval dirt track. This is an anything goes event, that lasts all day and through the night. People of all ages and gender ride all kinds of vehicles around this track from vintage full size bikes to quads. It’s a blast to watch.

This dude’s name is Brandon. The sidecar is called the Drunk Tank. We’ll see him again later at the burnouts.

Notice the sign behind the kid who crashed. There will be an interesting video of that Punk Rock Tonight later in the post.

Kids were having a blast too. These young ladies were fearless!

A short but heavy rain storm blasted through making the place a muddy mess. This guy in the quad was enjoying fish-tailing as he passed groups of people, spraying them with thick gobs of mud. I caught a baseball size clump on the top of my head.

This guy (I forgot his name), was camping with Brent and a bunch of guys where I pitched my tent. He wasted no time getting out there after the storm.

It may have stormed but I still needed to get out for groceries. I braved the mud and made it back with no problem. You can see the treads on my tires solidly packed with that same gooey mud that slapped me upside the head.

A few years ago I began fish-tailing as I was leaving this place after a rain. The bike swerved left right left. I was fully packed and thought I might go down but I kept that bike upright. As I was pulling away I could hear cheers from some folks who also thought I was going down.

In the evenings there is an area where people do burnouts. Folks line up their rear wheel on an old board and let ’er rip as viewers pour beer down their throats. It’s a riot. For this part, video is an excellent source.

This kid was, let’s say, enthusiastic.

Here’s the Drunk Tank side car that we saw at the dirt track earlier.

After checking out some burn outs, I was curious what the punk rock sign was all about. Well, let me show you. I introduce you to Body Farm.

I mentioned earlier that the dirt track mayhem went on through the night as well. Check out the Jet Ski motorcycle in this last video clip.

I’ll wrap this post up with a look at the vintage bike show. Below is the original version of the bike I ride now. The T120 Bonneville. Beautiful!

Like I said at the swap meet… this year is heavy on the Triumphs.

What the #$%@!!! A Honda Davidson?

BSA had a flair for style. That Gold Star above is a classic emblem and the older design below represents what the company actually was Birmingham Small Arms.

This was a Moto Guzzi with a turbo engine. I heard it starting up as it was taking off from the other end of the field. It made a wild whistling sound.

This muddy mess of a Honda was parked outside the bike show area as I was leaving.

This was my third time here at the AMA Vintage Days. I was hoping to see a bunch of guys from Rochester who I have hung out with in the past, but it seems they didn’t make it this year. I hope everyone is alright. I know they like to visit the swap meet in Rhinebeck, NY as well. Maybe I will see them there.

Now, which way to Sturgis?

On to the Mississippi

I headed west after leaving the Mid-Ohio Racetrack. I had a plan to take some small roads I had never taken before.

I flew past this sight below! As I approached, it looked like an altar of some sort. As I got closer, I could make out three separate parts. Even closer, I could tell the top piece was carved. And finally, I saw that it was a semi truck. I had to turn around. I was wondering if the two top parts of that altar were carved from one piece? And was it carved from the tree that once stood there? Well, the answer to both of those questions was yes. Carol was there to tell me that she had this sculpture made for her husband. They had long feared that the tree might fall into the highway in front of their house. They thought the tree was dead. Turns out it wasn’t. Bummer. But she had this made with the remains of the old tree. It’s a replica of her husband’s semi that is parked on the other side of that beautiful house. You can barely see the truck’s nose peeking out in the photo below.

Here is full size photo of Carol’s husband’s big rig.

I was told things looked good weather wise when I left Mid-Ohio but I didn’t check the radar myself. As I rode along, the sky just didn’t look right. By the time I checked the radar, I had one choice. I needed to move south and do it fast or I was going to get very wet. I rode fast toward Dayton and got a room for the night. It had been days at the racetrack and they don’t have showers, so I was looking forward to a room and a bed.

National Museum United States Air Force

I may have been brought to Dayton by running away from a storm the day before. As it turns out, I was running toward a remarkable museum. This is the National Museum of the United States Air Force. It is impressive.

The history of flight is captured with many of the actual planes that made that history.

These planes are displayed in massive, connected hangers.

Hangers are arranged by their place in history and according to war campaigns.

Last year I got to see a Flying Tiger in action at an air show in Lakeland, Florida. It’s an awesome plane.

Looking at the nose of this plane, you can see the hand made patchwork of hammered out metal and rivets holding the skin in place.

This is the Memphis Belle. Made even more famous in the movies, this was the first heavy bomber to return home to the United States after flying 25 missions over Europe in WWII.

It was wild to look up and see into the bomb bay. You can see how the bombs drop in succession like you see in vintage films.

This little sucker looked like it was right out of a Buck Rogers movie.

There are a number of planes at this museum that hit me in an emotional way. This was one of them.

This is the Bockscar. The Enola Gay is often referenced in history books and lore because it was the first plane to drop an atomic bomb during a war campaign. Soon after Bockscar was dropping the Fat Man on Nagasaki.

Here is what the Fat Man looked like. On August 9, 1945, this atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, Japan, killing between 60,000 to 80,000 people.

There were hallways between some of the hangers that displayed signs of the times.

Another hallway had a display of actual bomber jackets from WWII. These were cool.

35 missions!

And Good old Stinky!

The B-52 Stratofortress is insanely large.

This plane below with the skin removed was fascinating. Look how all that stuff packs into the structural frame.

Occasionally I would hear the knowledgeable dad, proudly sharing everything he knew about each plane in great detail with his patient, loving family. I am sure this is a sentimental pilgrimage for many veterans of the Air Force.

This was the other plane with a profound emotional impact.

I feel silly admitting this but when I was a kid riding my bicycle, I would pretend I was the pilot flying the President. It was my mission to provide the smoothest ride possible. I’d look for every blemish in the terrain that lies ahead. In NYC I’d occasionally hit a cobblestone street in the neighborhood where I lived. I would quietly say to myself, “Sorry Mr. President, we had unavoidable turbulence”. 

This was no bicycle I was on here, it was the actual cockpit where the pilot who flew the President would sit.

On one tragic day in November, a pilot would have to sit in that seat and safely fly two Presidents. One had recently been assassinated and the other was sworn in while in flight. This was the plane that brought Kennedy home from Dallas. Below you can see LBJ being sworn in right here in the space I am occupying. 4 seats were removed in the back of the plane to make room for the slain President.

The most recent part of the museum displays more modern craft and spacecraft. We now have The United States Space Force.

I believe this craft below is what Steve Austin was flying at the beginning of each episode of The Six Million Dollar Man.

She’s breaking up! She’s breaking up!

This is that craft you always see on those UFO shows. “…Or, could it have been mane made?” Then they show a clip of this vehicle wobbling around between some hangers on an air base.

This is Chris. He was parked right next to me as I walked out of the museum. I had never seen a Moto Guzzi built for touring like this one. He was telling me how he sealed his rear spoke wheel so that he could run tubeless tires. It sounds like a lot of work but it would be nice to not worry about tubes. Why don’t they just make them that way? Keep the look with spokes but seal that wheel. I mean, Triumph doesn’t mind putting on fake carburetors to keep a vintage look. I have popped tires in places where they didn’t have the tube to fit my bike. I once re-used a tube when replacing the tire due to wear because they had no tube. C’mon! Seal the wheel!

They had a flew planes outside. I said a quick hello to the Warthog and was on my way.

Wait. One more plane? This is far from the museum. Just a Corsair II hanging out by the grain mill.

A milestone on many journeys is the crossing of Route 66. Here I am crossing at Pontiac, Illinois. Last year I rode the entirety of Route 66.

This was my third time crisscrossing through Pontiac on my many journeys. I had never stopped at the auto museum until now.

It’s a fairly modest museum but has a few choice vehicles. The Judge GTO.

A Pontiac Phoenix Hatchback. It’s got some junk in the trunk.

This is an old suspension bridge in Pontiac.

I said farewell to Abe in Town Square and continued west.

I crossed the Illinois River into the town of Henry.

As I planned my route toward the Mississippi, I realized I would be passing by a town I knew well. I had camped just outside this town a few times. One of those times I met a guy in the nearby town, so I gave him a call. He told me to stop by. On the way, I saw a familiar spot. The Psycho Silo Saloon. This sign below didn’t exist the last time I was here.

I expected the gate to be locked as this bar is unfortunately only open on the weekends. However the gate was open, so naturally I rolled on in.

I saw a guy who seemed to be doing some work there. I asked if it was cool to walk around and take some pictures. He directed me to an older gentleman who told me this place was the brainchild of his son Troy. He told me to feel free to look around. He said Troy likes to do all kinds of interesting things with old vehicles and such as he pointed out a motorcycle placed high in a far away tree.

As I walked around, Troy drove up. We talked for a bit. I was admiring how much it reminded me of the old Full Throttle Saloon before it burned to the ground. He acknowledged that and talked about possibly opening up for a few weeks so travelers to and from Sturgis could enjoy the place.

It must be so much fun here when it is open. I’ll have to travel through on the weekend sometime.

Now I was continuing west to meet my friend Lynn who I had contacted on the way. Below is his grocery store. It was a theater back in the 30s. Maybe 20s too.

I met Lynn years ago when I was snooping around taking photos of the vehicles you see below.

As I was taking photos that first time, Lynn approached me cautiously curious but friendly as could be. I’ve hit him up ever since if I’m passing by.

The magical surprise of that visit was the huber man cave behind the walls of the garages I stopped in front of. It has changed a bit since I was last here. The vehicles are different. And there are more tables and chairs for sure. It’s a wonderful place.

I noticed a seam in the wall and asked if it was a door. Lynn then showed me a bit more of his cavernous collection. The hubcaps below were one wall of a continuous collection of car artifacts. He had rooms connected with cars and collectibles along with remarkable projects he is working on. It was so cool!

Lynn has been organizing a car show on Father’s Day. He said it has gained quite a following from a handful of cars to 150 cars. This last car show Frank Fritz from American Pickers stopped by. Lynn showed me a photo of them together. Unfortunately, Frank has had a severe stroke and apparently isn’t doing all that well. Wishing you a speedy recovery Frank!

This is an old 4 way stoplight with a spotlight that would have shined down to the center of the intersection.

Lynn set up this scoreboard above a pick-up truck bench up for his daughters’ high school graduation, so the graduates could all take photos with it. He made the score 20 to 22, (or whatever the year was). He’s crafty. He has an idea to turn a dry cleaning carousel into a rotating bar and he has the smarts and skills to make it happen. I look forward to having a seat at a traveling stool someday.

Lynn had a bunch of people over after a car show. He said one of the guests got very excited, calling him over. The guy said, “That phone booth. I know that phone booth.” It seemed an unusual and unlikely possibility. But then he said, it’s from Alexandria, Illinois. Lynn asked, How could you know possibly that? The guy told him that the phone number written in the booth is to the local bar in Alexandria and he still has it memorized!

I mentioned Frank Fritz a moment ago. Now here I am at the original home of American Pickers in La Claire, Iowa. This means I have crossed the Mississippi.

These are a couple of bikes NOT FOR SALE. They are part of Mike Wolfe’s personal collection. I can only imagine the vastness of the rest of that collection.

The store is fun. If you watch the show you will recognize some of the more dramatic picks.

You may recognize the old rusty car outside beyond this flathead. In fact, while I was in that hotel in Dayton, I was watching TV and saw the ladies break that pinball machine in an episode.

I have taken many routes across this nation. This time I am going to cross the river again and follow it north on the Wisconsin side for a while. See ya on the other side in the next post.

To the Dakotas

After checking out Antique Archeology, I looked around La Claire a bit before heading north.

This car had Tennessee tags. I wondered if it may be Mike Wolfe’s ride. I heard an employee at the picker’s shop tell a customer that Mike was in town and frequents the local bars and restaurants.

I continued north on the Iowa side of the Mississippi. My original plan was to camp in the area. I had a reservation at Maquoketa Caves State Park. A few days before arriving, I got a message on my phone telling me that my reservation has been canceled and my money would be refunded. Huh? No explanation was given. I was reading the news the next day and I found out why. There was a murder in the campground.


The roads along the Eastern edge of Iowa are fun to ride. Lots of swooping hills and curves with nice scenery. Straight out of a Grant Wood landscape. Or visa versa.

When I got to Dubuque I crossed the Mississippi River again. I wanted to continue north on the Wisconsin side.

I thought I hadn’t ridden this side of the Mississippi but then I came across this place. This is not a place one forgets. Welcome to the Dickeyville Grotto and Shrines.

The last time I visited I took a bunch of photos. This visit would be a quick visit.

Iowa can get 3 syllables out of only 4 letters. Trempealeau is a bit more excessive.

I sat and had a sandwich at a park along an offshoot of the Mississippi. The train also ran along the great river.

Full disclosure. I am embarrassed to admit it but I nearly ran out of gas. It was a messy day. Rain was intermittent. In between rainfall, it was warm. This sucks when you are wearing a rain suit. It gets steamy. As I rode north I passed a town every once in a while. I knew I would need gas soon but the last town I rolled through only had a BP station. I still hold a grudge against them for the big spill in the Gulf of Mexico. So I figured, fuck them I will get gas in the next town. There was no next town. After about 40 miles I began to see houses, but my electronic gas indicator was quickly ticking to zero. I saw a station and it was out of business. When I got down to one mile left, I pulled into the driveway of Phil and Ellen. Not only does Phil have this awesome vintage gas pump in his front lawn, but he also had a plastic container of the good stuff in the garage. These kind folks helped me on my way and I was able to make it to Superior for a fill-up.

The next town as you head North is Duluth, Minnesota where you can find the childhood home of Bob Dylan.

Dylan lived in the house from 1941-1947. The lady here at this home gave me the name, address, and phone number of the guy who lives in the home Bob Dylan moved to after this one in Hibbing, Minnesota. I would have given a call and visited but it was out of the way, and with the crazy on and off rain I just wanted to get to my campsite for the night.

I did make one more stop in Duluth. I saw a large sign on the side of an old brick building on my way to Bob Dylan’s house. It said Aerostitch. This is the place where they make Aerostich motorcycle outfits. Many touring folks consider these to be the best.

It’s a simple enough outfit. This is the showroom. I imagine most of their business is exported from here but this is where they are made. It’s an old building and you can hear the sewing machines rattling above as you walk around the showroom.

Further on down Route 2, I came across the Big Fish Supper Club. It looks like something you might expect to see along Route 66.

Here is Paul Bunyan and his blue Ox, Babe. They are a monument along Lake Bemidji which means I am close to camping for a couple nights.

This campground was nice and well kept. I liked my site as it was more elevated than many of the others.

In the morning as I was having coffee, I noticed a movement on the edge of the tree in front of me.

Oh wow! It was a cicada climbing out of its shell.

It was mind blowing to watch this transformation. I had never seen this before. It almost looks alien.

After climbing completely out of the shell the cicada let its wings stretch out and dry.

Once fully extended, the cicada began slowly climbing upward into the tree and out of sight ready to take on its new life. It was an amazing thing to watch.

Here is the park’s namesake Lake Bemidji.

After chilling by the lake for a while, I noticed some people shooting bow and arrows. I went to check it out. It was something the park offers. I hadn’t done this since I was a kid. I was doing OK, but then I broke the bow.

That sucker snapped and smacked the shit out of my arm. Bruised me up pretty good. I got another bow and finished up. Nice grouping, as they say. Below is the broken bow.

There is fungus among us!

I could imagine this thing below freaking out an unaware passerby like a Richard Hambleton painting.

I saw some people posting signs earlier for Erika Bailey-Johnson. There was some kind of political event going on to support her. Between a few speeches, Corey Medina & Brothers rocked out some bluesy jams. I must be in the front row!

Another bonus to the political event was a food truck. I was shocked to see muffulettas written on the side of the truck. This is Teresa’s Wicked Tasty Food (WTF). I mentioned that my family was from New Orleans and Theresa was eager for my opinion of the muffuletta. I was pleased to report that it was really good. I said the bread is a little different. She said someone else from New Orleans said the same thing. Then Theresa gave me a second muffuletta for free. A lagniappe, I said. Although she practiced it, she didn’t know the term.


I have to say, I give Lake Bemidji State Park a big thumbs up.

I always like to see a repurposed Muffler Man. In this case he stands outside an Indian Trading Post.

I kept that second muffuletta on ice so I could enjoy it on the banks of the Mississippi. The origin of the Mississippi is a few miles from here.

I came across a car show as I rode west on Route 2. I love stumbling upon a car show.

Ah, the Mach 1 Mustang. I had one of these in the 80s. Mine was 72, red with a 351 Cleveland. It looked just like the one James Bond used in Diamonds Are Forever as he rides through the streets of Vegas causing mayhem.

This hard top convertible was really nice.

This 58 Chevy was in pristine condition.

The engine was running as I passed this old timer. I said it has a great sound. He said, “Yeah! And when the rubber band is done winding, we can get going.”

Just before I crossed the line into North Dakota I saw some out of place old structures to my right. This was the Polk County Historical Society Museum.

Inside were many artifacts of the local past. I love some of the old advertising labels.

There were rooms converted to look like they did in years past.

I asked about the fella with the propeller on his head. Larry the curator was pleased to say that it was his childhood toy.

Larry also plugged in this stove to light up for a photo. He explained its importance as it sometimes gets down to 40 degrees below zero here in the Winter.

Perhaps Carnivorous Flora? I thought it looked like the witches hat from the Harry Potter movie.

In addition to the museum of artifacts, the Polk County Museum has buildings outside. Some are historic like this old schoolhouse below. Some are large warehouses for other items on display.

This hanging globe was amazing. I asked Larry if he had ever seen one before. He hadn’t. Me either.

In one warehouse were old cars and an airplane.

The Polk County Fire Department keeps this warehouse up to date and in tip top shape.

This is an old steam tractor. It still runs and is used in local parades. Larry was proud to tell me that the whistle on the tractor belonged to his dad and is a real attention grabber at the parade. I was really unfamiliar with the Case brand. After I left the museum, I passed 3 Case dealers. They are still making them today.

The next day I visited Fort Totten. We have a Fort Totten back in NYC. It is part of Queens. This Fort Totten is a former military post. It was active from 1867 to 1890 when it became a boarding school for Native American children. Since 1891 it has been the property of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

And here I am in another old school room.

They don’t mess around here. They come right out and call it Punishment.

There were some nice size yellow gourds growing beneath these large green leaves.

Inside the flower there was a bit of pollinating going on.

This flag on the wall was dated 1945.

I am not sure what the purpose of this wall hanging was, but it sure has some cool, interesting depictions.

As you pass through Rugby, North Dakota you encounter the Geographical Center of North America. I had been to the Geographical Center of the Lower 48 in Lebanon, Kansas before, but this is the center between all of Mexico, The US, and Canada.

My final stop before heading to Sturgis is Minot, North Dakota. This is the Gol Stave Church Museum in Minot.

It is a full size replica of an original church constructed in the 13th century.

This is the only thing I went out of my way to see here in Minot. My real reason for staying here was the great deal I got on a hotel to rest, finish up this posting, and do some laundry. Tomorrow I head south to Sturgis for nearly 2 weeks of camping and motorcycle fun. Oh boy!


I left the comforts of my suite in Minot, ND, and headed for a week and a half of chaotic camping at the Buffalo Chip in Sturgis, SD. I took some lonely roads southwest and was surprised to see this:

I spotted these three flags flying together 2 days before when I rode through Rugby, ND at a monument for the Geographical Center of North America. Apparently, that designation in Rugby was roughly calculated by a U.S. Geological Survey mathematician 90 years ago and is inaccurate. Recently it was determined that the actual center of North America is 145 miles Southwest of Rugby, coincidentally in a town called Center, ND.


Road construction can be expected, but this one kind of ticked me off. We waited nearly 15 minutes for the lead car to return from the other end. When it arrived we followed the lead for 8 miles on a one-way road due to construction. However, we traversed the whole thing and nobody was working. Both sides of the road seemed perfectly fine. WTF! They are making people wait on each end and nothing is going on! Once released from the construction hijacking, I was behind all these cars on tar and loose gravel. I was getting pelted with rocks. It was a no-passing zone but I flew past the lot of them.

Once I passed that pack of vehicles it was a long ride across the plains, south to Sturgis.

After a long day of riding, I arrived at my destination, The Buffalo Chip.

I was early this year. When I arrived I pitched my tent and met my neighbor in the yellow and orange tent. His name was Warlock.

I didn’t really consider the lack of shade at the spot I chose. It wasn’t that hot the first few days. That would soon change.

I rode around a bit and stopped at Sasha’s Cycles.

Sasha has a nice collection of bikes around the shop.

We talked for a while. I mentioned that I had retired from teaching and began painting in the past year. When I showed him a sticker I had made, he took it and slapped it in the front window of the shop.

In town, the rally hadn’t officially begun yet but parked on Main Street was this Shelby Cobra. During the rally, no cars are allowed on Main Street.

Standing before the Full Throttle Saloon is another converted Muffler Man.

At the campground adjacent to the Full Throttle is a big pool. It was a nice place to chill before the rally officially started.

I slapped up another sticker outside of the pool. The stickers will come up a few times during this post. I will explain more about what I have been doing in the art world in another post, but the stickers are part of it.

My friend Frank and his crew from California showed up and we went for a ride in the Black Hills. Below is a photo of a tunnel you pass through. In the background, you can see Mt. Rushmore.

At the end of another tunnel, we discovered a stormtrooper interacting with riders.

There’s that sticker again. This is in the interior of a bus used as a bridge to get to our camping area.

The first concert of the week was Quiet Riot. The original band was formed in 1975. None of the guys on stage were part of that original band. Rudy Sarzo the bass player on the left in the photo below joined Quiet Riot in 1978. He left Quiet Riot to play with Ozzy Osborne and a bunch of other bands. He returned a couple years ago.

It was fun and they sounded great, but it’s strange that they are all replacements.

I rode into Deadwood the next day.

These two were a sight as you can see by the heads turning by the pedestrians on the sidewalk. The couple on the bikes was tiny. They looked like children. It was impressive to see them handle these big machines.

Next to the casino in Deadwood was a bike show. I dug this tough-looking, low riding panhead with a teardrop tank.

This knucklehead was badass with a slick 1970s seat.

These bikes below were not in the show. They rolled up while I was looking around.

When I got back to the Buffalo Chip I rode up a ramp that brings you to an upper level bar where people do burnouts. Below is the concert area.

I bumped into the lead singer of Buckcherry while looking around for merch.

I returned to Sasha’s Cycles where they were having a block party.

It is rare to see 4 fully functional knuckleheads together like this. And, as I was taking this photo, a fifth knuckle rolled up.

One reason for returning to Sasha’s was to see Mad Stork. That is Mad Stork’s knucklehead and his rolling museum in the background.

Mad Stork is a NY guy. He is from Yonkers and was a firefighter with an artist I knew.

Jef Campion was that artist. He was a first responder at Ground Zero during 9/11. As an artist, he went by the name Army of One. Jef was an awesome guy and had a powerful personality. He was passionate about the human condition and focused on anti-war themes in much of his artwork.

Unfortunately, Jef took his own life. It was a shock to those that knew him. The last time I saw him was at a July 4th event where he and the guys from the fire department would raise money for Ronald McDonald house. Jef is gone, but I keep being reminded of him. In April I rode to Miami and hung out with a dear friend of Jef’s. Just before I left for this Summer trip I was offered an opportunity to buy a piece of Jef’s work, but the seller reneged his offer. And now, here is another piece by Army of One. It is part of Mad Stork’s Art and Motorbike Museum. Mad Stork drives his van to Motorcycle Rallies around the United States. Check him out on Instagram @mad_stork.

This camping setup was behind Mad Stork’s van in Sasha’s backyard. Now that’s a shade tree!

Mad Stork let me put one of my stickers on the back door of his museum van as he filmed it.

When I returned to the Chip, someone had pitched a tent and parked this old Honda Magna in front. I loved this bike when it first came out. This one is a 1987 Honda 750 Super Magna model with some extras.

That night Buckcherry (who I did not see perform) opened for Ice T. Snoop Dogg was supposed to be headlining this night but he apparently canceled his entire tour. Ice T was the replacement and he did not quite vibe with this crowd. He seemed perturbed that people would show their gratitude with the throttling of their engines. It seemed to piss him off. Of course, this only riled up the bikers more and they let their engines rip.

I honestly only walked up to this booth to take a photo of the FUCK sign, but there were extra participants.

The next day, some of us went up to the Broken Spoke to have a beer and check out a bike show.

Later in the evening, someone showed me photos of this Harley Davidson snowmobile getting busted. The owner has wheels that attach to the skis so they can be ridden on the street. The Sturgis Police Department did not act kindly to this thing being ridden on the street and stopped him.

All the shows this year were packed with people and motorcycles.

Tonight was a return to the 90s as BUSH headlined.

More people had moved into our camping area, and as you see my tent (on the left) is perfectly placed to receive direct sun all day long.

A few of us decided to ride out to the Badlands. 5 of us on 4 bikes began the journey. Frank and Nancy led the pack on Frank’s Indian Chief. I rode second, a guy named Auggie rode third, and Craig in the rear. About halfway to the Badlands I realized Auggie and Craig were no longer behind me. When we stopped at Wall, SD, we found out that Craig was hit by a car. He was shaken up but OK. He decided to ride back to the campsite but Auggie would still be joining us, so we hung around in Wall for a while.

Then we hit the Badlands.

Frank (on the left) met Auggie (Center) in Gallup, NM on his way to Sturgis.

This is Craig who was hit by that car on the Interstate. He is lucky to be alive. The car hit his crash bar and bounced him off the road. It just so happened that an exit ramp was right where the accident occurred and Craig veered off onto the ramp. Had the exit not been there he would have flown off the road.

This night Lynyrd Skynyrd would play. Or would they? The last time I saw them there was only one remaining member of the original band left. I was surprised when I realized that Gary Rossington (the last surviving member) was not amongst the folks on stage.

These two guys come close to being part of the original band. Sort of. Rickey Medlocke (left) played with Lynyrd Skynyrd back in the early days but was not a member. On the right is Johnny Van Zant, the brother of the original singer Ronnie Van Zant.

Below is AJ. I had met him the night before with Warlock. He is a miner. He once worked in a copper mine in Arizona that is 7000 feet deep! I thought he was drinking a bottle of water in that bottle behind his windshield. Then he handed me that bottle of water. He said, “‘make sure you sip it”. Ah! This was some hard moonshine.

After the show I bumped into Travis. I met Travis about 7 years ago and hadn’t seen him since.

Here is a good look at the place I like to camp at the Buffalo Chip. These days the Chip is filled with RVs and golf carts. This small area is surrounded by a moat and only motorcycles can access it. I also moved my tent to a shady spot. You can see it just to the right of the bus that crosses the moat.

Tonight Rob Zombie was headlining.

These two couples were at Sturgis for the first time and I am glad they were there. Matt and Ashley (on the left) were from North Dakota. Brian and Tammy (on the right) were from Massachusetts. These guys got along great with everybody and both were hilarious!

Brian had told Tammy she could put stickers on the upper bag of the bike. She plans on covering it with stickers. Mine would be the first. Thank you very much.

Riding below on the trike is Baltimore Bob. Bob is 81 years old and sleeps in a small one man tent. Most folks call me Pat, but Bob is an old gentleman and always calls me Patrick.

I took a ride to see Mt. Rushmore. On the way, I passed this T-Rex.

The town just below Mt. Rushmore is Keystone where you can catch this old train for a ride through the Black Hills.

A short twisty ride up the mountain brings you to Mt. Rushmore.

People ride here from all over the United States. Many need a tire change. Well, some, like those above need a change for other reasons.

Meet Killer. He is Nancy’s dog. Well, his name was Tripper until Nancy met Frank. Now he will answer to either name. This dog is spoiled rotten and amazingly popular. When we go places together there is always a non-stop stream of people wanting to pet Killer. I mean Tripper.

Frank and Nancy had family business in Iowa and Kansas respectively, so they were leaving a little early. I don’t blame them. The music lineup for the rest of the week wasn’t all that great. The day before, Frank reached the 98,000 mile mark on his Indian.

One of the guys who left early gave me a token to get a free prime rib dinner. Unfortunately, you have to wait in line.

My friend Cliff stopped by the Buffalo Chip. I first met Cliff in 2009 at Crow Fair in Montana. Cliff is the President of Redrum Motorcycle Club. He also organizes many charitable events as well as numerous pow-wows in the NY tri-state area. Great to see him and ride with the club on a ride for Vets.

While I filled up with gas for the Vets ride, I met these fine pups.

Before the ride, there is a raffle. Here Cliff presents the winner below with a Knuckle Chopper. It’s a hatchet made by Nash Motorcycle Co. and Jason Momoa, (who is a member of Redrum MC).

Ironically the guy in the wheelchair won the raffle for the boots. He graciously offered them for auction and they fetched a fair price for the cause.

After a ceremony, we were off with a police escort all the way to Rapid City.

When we arrived in Rapid City, Cliff was interviewed by the local news.


Below is a specially designed motorcycle for the vet who was leading the ride.

When I got back to the Chip, Auggie pulled up with a special guest.

I was going to stay at the Buffalo Chip until Sunday, but the music wasn’t really worth hanging out for and the place was quickly clearing out. I decided to do the same.

I bid farewell to the Chip, but I wasn’t going far. I booked a room in Keystone.

Tonight would be a full moon and I was going to visit Mt. Rushmore at night.

When I first arrived, I was not able to see the monument. It wasn’t lit and it was way too dark to make it out at all. As everyone faces the darkness, a video presentation is displayed on a screen below in the amphitheater. A history of each of the 4 Presidents is presented with a dramatic patriotic soundtrack. Then the lights go on. It’s a little hoaky and I am glad I did it!

After a good rest in Keystone, I decided it was time to head east. I had thoughts of continuing westward but not this trip. It is homeward bound for me. Now to find an interesting route to get me there.

Keystone to NYC

Whew! Some time has passed. Let’s wrap up this Summer’s journey already!

I left Keystone on Sunday, the last day of the Sturgis Rally, filled with South Dakota delicacies. I had quail, elk, and buffalo.

A few diehards were still around, scattered about with their bikes packed with rally comforts and necessities. A few diehard birds were high in a tree as well, waiting for some fresh roadkill.

My thoughts of continuing the journey west were now lost with thoughts of getting back to my artwork.

I decided the best route would be south to Nebraska then head west. While filling up at this gas station an old Dodge pulled up.

I planned on riding through the Pine Ridge Reservation on the highway directly across the gas station, but the road was blocked due to police activity which caused me to go directly South.

As I zig-zagged through Nebraska, I kept feeling something on my boots. It felt like rocks being lifted from the ground as I passed, but there was no loose gravel. As I zoomed along, I realized this area looked familiar. Suddenly, a small flock of birds approached from my left and began flying across the road. Oh shit! That bird isn’t getting higher! One of those birds wasn’t going to make it. BOOM! A bird slammed right into my face! SMACK! I was OK but I assumed the bird was not. I just kept riding, but damn! That was nuts! Not only that, I realized I was within 30 miles of where a bird had flown into my bike a few years ago. That bird was alone. It was on the side of the road and just flew directly into my flyscreen. It was as if it meant to do it. At the time I chalked it up to depression. Poor bird. Now I get it. Those stones on my boots were actually grasshoppers. This area is so loaded with grasshoppers that these local birds are able to feast all day. Later in the day, these big fat birds try to take off like they normally would but don’t realize they have gorged themselves to twice their body weight. When they take off they don’t have that lift they are used to and WHAM-O! Dead bird.

I pulled over to literally get my head together at this old trading post. Unfortunately, it was closed on Sunday.

With no damage to my helmet and a fresh pair of earplugs inserted, I was on my way again.

I have noticed over the years that more and more hotels in the United States are being run by Indian families. I don’t know what to think about that but it comes with additional reading material.

The skies were looking dark again as I crossed into Iowa. I stopped at the welcoming center where they had a museum and historic buildings like this cabin below.

There were numerous artifacts in the various buildings.

The one-room schoolhouse has become an unintentional theme on this journey. Here was another old schoolhouse.

I asked the lady at the front desk if this wanted poster was real. She said as far as she knows.

This wooden culvert was of interest to me because there used to be one that looked just like it running into the East River back in NYC. When I first noticed it at low tide, I thought it was really old. Now I see it was probably from the 1940s. Unfortunately, the one back in NYC is gone now. Wiped out by Hurricane Sandy.

I stopped in a small town with brick roads to make some rain gear adjustments.

Every once in a while I find a Statue of Liberty in a small town.

I always stop for an old service station.

I met a funny guy at the gas station. He told me that he met one of his best friends at Sturgis. He said that this good friend was a woman but kept insisting that they were just friends.

I returned to the National Motorcycle Museum. I hadn’t been here for a few years.

I had planned on visiting the museum on my way west. The murder at a local campsite I mentioned a few posts ago isn’t far from here. As a result of that campsite cancelation, I changed my route and missed this museum.

Many of the bikes here are the same as I had seen in years past.

Even if you have seen them before, some of these bikes are works of art. The eye never tires.

I am not sure if Hooper’s bike had joined Captain America the last time I was here.

The bike below is from another Peter Fonda biker movie called The Wild Angels.

The Wild Angels was actually Peter Fonda’s inspiration for writing Easy Rider.

An old Triumph with a Von Dutch paint job.

An original Von Dutch helmet.

I remember the first time I saw this monstrosity was on a poster (like that black and white photo on the wall) at Deals Gap back in North Carolina. Here is the real thing.

That Vincent Black Shadow engine is another masterpiece.

Steve McQueen’s Indian.

This has always been my favorite. The Brough Superior.

This Supercharged Vincent Black Shadow.

Here’s Johnny! A ’53 Triumph Thunderbird like Brando rode in The Wild One.

This panhead below is up for raffle. Hmmm.

A few miles down the road from the motorcycle museum I came across yet another one-room schoolhouse. This one holds the claim to fame that a young Grant Wood attended school here.

This part of Eastern Iowa does sometimes look like a Grant Wood painting with its rolling farm hills.

Finally, the inevitable Mississippi crossing was ahead.

On the Illinois side, I saw a sign for a covered bridge. It was here that I first noticed a difference in folks. As I stood here taking this photo three cars passed. I waved at each passing car and not one person in any of the three cars waved back. One dude stared at me like I was nuts. Welcome to the East Coast.

I wanted to stay on small two-lane highways. A detour brought me to the town of Rensselaer, Indiana where there were many murals.

Rensselaer really doesn’t have any regular commerce traffic coming through. It is in a very remote part of the state. It was surprising and amazing to see all this art.

I continued east. After crossing Route 66 I came across this round barn. I have only seen a handful of these as I’ve traveled the States.

I rode all the way to Mansfield, Ohio. I was tired and wanted a bed. I figure the Quality Inn would live up to its name. Not so much. This hotel was not run by an Indian family. It was run by an African American family, or maybe a bunch of families. Kids were running all over the lobby when I got there. In and out of doors, screaming and hollering, having a blast. It was rather chaotic. There were adults meandering about as well. It seemed like a family reunion. I went to the desk. The guy was not very friendly, but I got my room key. When I got to the room I saw a Do Not Disturb sign on the door. I thought, Hmmm. Maybe I had better check again before entering. So I went back to the front desk. The guy said, “Someone probably just left that on the door. No one is in that room”. So I went back, opened the door, and saw a dark room with the TV on and a pair of feet hanging off the bed. Fortunately, the person didn’t wake up. That or they were too freaked out to move. Either way, there was no conflict. But damn! I went back to the desk and the guy seemed put off that I was asking him to give me another room. In the morning I went to get breakfast. I was trying to get some coffee when some lady came in and yelled at me. That’s broken! OK. I recognized her from the night before in the hallway. Then she returned and slammed a thermos of coffee down.

This nice couple was sitting there having their breakfast as all this was going on. We got to talking as we packed our bags. We giggled about the ‘quality’ of the Quality Inn. We actually talked for a while. Sadly, I have let so much time pass that I have forgotten some details. I think his name is Bill and somewhere in all my stuff is her business card. I found it! Sally! She is a Veteran and a major rider! She’s been everywhere on her motorcycle. He was on a Harley trike. She was riding an Indian Scout. They were headed home to Kentucky.

Amongst the many other fine qualities at the Quality Inn, they pointed out the pool sign that draws you into the place.

Then there is this sign blowing in the wind, taped to the door. Pool closed.

My real reason for being in Mansfield was a desire to revisit The Ohio Reformatory.

This is the place where they filmed Shawshank Redemption.

You can do a self-guided tour and explore pretty much the whole place.

I saw a guided tour go by and they seemed to be going through some doors that I didn’t have access to.

The balcony above was not accessible. Notice on the wall before the doorway to a cell it reads, “Forgive Me”.

Aside from the massive tiered prison, there are administrative offices.

Below is the warden’s office.

This view shows a cardboard cut-out of the sadistic guard.

In the movie Shawshank Redemption, Brooks is set free. He works in a grocery store bagging groceries and lives in a hotel. His hotel room was actually a set made up in one of the rooms of the reformatory.

After a quick bite with the fellas, I continued across Ohio and into Pennsylvania. I decided I would snake my way northward and meet up with my old friend Route 6.

In Titusville, there were quite of few of those old big money homes.

This sign memorializing John Heisman was displayed right next to a football field where a high school was practicing.

Back on Route 6, I felt comfortable. It is such a nice, lazy east/west highway crossing Northern Pennsylvania. The lonely two-lane highway is a relief from the hustle and bustle of the east coast that I felt after crossing the Mississippi River.

After dealing with rain throughout the day it seemed like it was going to be a clear night. There was even talk of a possible aurora borealis sighting on this last night of my journey. I decided I would camp out at the darkest place in the east, Cherry Springs State Park. I had been there twice before in the past. Both times it was cloudy and I was the only one in the entire camp. I was psyched to see a nice starry night. When I arrived at the campsite, it was fully booked! What the? Luckily there was another campsite about 6 miles down the road.

There was only one other occupied site at this campground. Some young folks were there. I had a drink with them and chatted a bit. There was definitely a generational divide. One kid wearing a Grateful Dead shirt was amazed that I saw the Dead with Jerry Garcia. Is there any other way? The sky didn’t disappoint. It was dark and there was no moon for most of the early night. I saw many shooting stars and satellites.

In the morning I packed up my gear and had some coffee. I’ve had that knife, spoon, and fork set since I was 9 years old. I got it at a Boy Scouts store they used to have in NYC. As I remember it was right on 5th Avenue.

This old feller below has been through some changes. It was once a long bus with the shed attached. The shed behind it has been completely replaced and the bus has been halved.

Below is a photo I took in 2008.

I rolled along Route 6 and saw a sign for the oldest house. It is indeed an old house built in 1780.

There was a guide who took me and another family throughout the house sharing generations of detail.

I always love a good mannequin setup.

In the frame below is the discharge paper for a Union soldier after the Civil War.

Behind the old house was once a canal and a railroad. Even further is the Susquehanna River.

The journey ends with a rainbow. I apologize for the long delay in writing this post. I have also mentioned the artwork I am doing. I have been busy. In fact, I just finished another mural in Brooklyn. There was also a huge ride down to Florida this past Spring that I didn’t post. What can I say? More to come!

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