OK, I need to honest with you, I was beginning to think that I was going to have to start making up interesting things/events in order to keep your interest, because you can only write so much about beautiful mountains and streams. That was until I left Helena, MT. on my way east. Helena is a quiet little town set in the vast landscape of Montana. Upon existing Helena, I quickly moved from a town setting with grocery stores, motels, etc. into a farm style residential area with homes spaced out every few hundred yards. They really cherish their space around here. After about 5-6 miles of this style of landscape I crested a ridge and to my utter amazement saw nothing but a butte on the horizon, nothing else in any direction! The land was slightly rolling and totally barren except for prairie grasses. I’m traveling on a narrow two lane road with no shoulder and no pull offs, whatsoever. As I start my travels east I notice that there are no cars in front of me for miles, and looking into my rear view mirrors, there is no one behind me. For the next hour I don’t pass a single car or truck and only six cars pass me going westbound. Having grown up in the Midwest you become accustom to having people and buildings in your world. During the first 10 minutes of this ride I quickly determined that I was going to be totally alone in the middle of nowhere, going 70 MPH for the next 90-100 miles. Realizing that I was going to be the only traveler on the road gave me the chills, and created some anxiety for me. The best way to describe this experience would be a form of sensory deprivation. The one thing I did see were small black dots lining the hillside in the far off distance. I quickly learned that these “black dots” were cattle grazing.
A lot of thoughts crossed my mind as I traveled eastward, not the least of which is for my own safety. The good news is that Judi was tracking my movements with Spot, the GPS locator unit I carry. The other is how difficult it would have been for the early settlers to cross these plains, traveling at 3-5 MPH on foot or horseback. They were one tough group of people. As the road eventually came upon civilization, a gas station and general store, I was thrilled to see people and structures. I ended up in Miles City for the night where I met Josh, a fellow BMW rider from New York, who was heading out to Oregon for the Annual BMW motorcycle rally.
I saw Josh at the breakfast bar at the Super 8 and struck up a conversation about bikes, rallies, etc. On a hunch, I asked Josh if he was Jewish. It turns out he is, so I told him about the Jewish Motorcycle Alliance (JMA), which is an organization of over 40 clubs worldwide. At that moment in time I can pretty much be guaranteed that we were the only two Jews riding motorcycles in Montana today!! We parted company and I headed east, while he took off for Oregon.
As I rode toward Sturgis, SD to get my bike serviced I noticed that the cows were on the outside of the fences that were meant to keep them in. It is my understanding that they have “open range” in Montana whereby the cattle are free to roam wherever they wish. This was a little troublesome for me considering they outweigh me at least 3:1 and would ruin my day should I encounter one on the road. At $40 for a 12 oz. steak dinner, you would think that the farmers would keep better tabs on their inventory.
I motored onto Rapid City, SD to check into my motel. With blue skies in every direction, except for one large, very dark cloud over my section of Rapid City I made it to within six blocks of my motel when the skies opened up and it started a combination of heavy rain and hail. I draw the line at hail, so I quickly decided I needed gas and pulled into the first service station with a canopy. I waited the proverbial five minutes, and sure enough the skies cleared and the rain had moved on. Now for a well deserved dinner and time with my IPad.
Miles and miles of nothing
Pictures of Rapid City, SD