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Sorry this is so late (we got back almost a month ago now), but I finally got around to sorting through the pics and footage. This is a more traditional ride report, and I hope to start posting the videos by the end of August. Hammy and I have discussed doing a "part 2" of this years trip consisting of a quick run to Northern Saskatchewan for some riding/fishing in mid-August. If that pans out, I don't want to start any editing until everything has been shot. Anyway, here's what's happened so far....

After a few years always heading west, we mixed it up a bit and decided to head southeast. This year's trip would be a bit shorter than the ones in the past (only about 6 days), so it looked like a quick loop through Saskatchewan, the Dakotas, Wyoming, Montana and Alberta. That meant for once, I'd have to make the first run solo to make it from Edmonton to Hammy's place in Saskatoon. The countdown counted down, and the excitement mounted as departure day approached. I had scored a sweet deal on some Happy Trails panniers (thanks Big Dan!), and I had modded them to fit on my stock Suzuki rack (the rack they came with was for a 1000cc V-Strom). I also had a set of TKC80's on still from last season. They were a little worn, but nothing too serious. I was all loaded up and ready to go.



I knew my first day run to Saskatoon would be a boring one, just straight flat prairie road for 5 hours. I decided to skip the Yellowhead highway and took hiways 14/40 just to mix it up a bit. I also had an alterior motive for taking the 14. About 2 years ago I was introduced to the beef jerky from Meatco in Wainwright. A few of us in the local V-Strom club became addicted to it, and started to call it crack-jerky. I had to stop and get my fix.



From there it was a pretty boring striaght shot on the slab to Saskatoon. It had rained pretty much all morning, but the sun finally came out at the Saskatchewan border. I rolled into Hammy's place to find him in the garage, loading up the Versys.



He had only gotten back from the field the day before, so he was just putting the final touches on his equipment. It didn't take long to button everything up and before you knew it, we were into the rum (shocking I know) :jawdrop:





We polished off the half bottle Hammy already had going then finished off a fresh bottle of Cruzan (Mmmm good).We rounded out the evening out on the deck with some BBQ Hammy-burgers and discussing our route.



One of the highlights of this year's trip was supposed to the Beartooth Pass, but all the recent reports had it closed due to snow. We still had a few days till we'd be in that area, but it still had us a little concerned we wouldn't be able to do it. Ahh well, no point worrying about it yet, so we called it a night.
The next day we got up, geared up, hopped on the bikes and took off. We were both fresh as daisies despite the copious amount of rum consumed the night before. It was a beautiful day and we had the whole trip in front of us. We had arranged to meet a couple of fellow riders at the nearby Timmy's for a coffee. Adam and Ben met us there and rode with us to Davidson (about an hour south of Saskatoon). Great guys to ride with. Ben has a 650 Strom (smart guy :thumb:) )and Adam was riding this sweet old Honda 750.



After grabbing another coffee in Davidson, we said goodbye to the boys and kept pushing south. Ben had made a good reccomendation and we ended up taking a few back roads and secondary highways around Regina. Another advantage of this small detour was we got to go past Rouleau Saskatchewan, the place they filmed the Canadian TV show "Corner Gas". We stopped for a photo-op, threw a whizz behind The Ruby and kept pushing on.





As per our usual MO, we kept to the back roads and hit the border crossing at Oungre/Fortuna. We must have raised a few eyebrows, cause we had 3 border guards come out and go through our bags. After about 10-15 mins, we were allowed to cross and we kept pushing south towards Williston. It was as we were cruising down the road that an on-coming semi kicked up a golf-ball sized rock that came up and hit me right under my right eye. I always ride with my visor open and this thing hit right between the bottom of my sunlasses and the bottom part of the opening in my helmet. It hurt like a bastard, and I was immdiately tempted to pull over, I took a quick look in my mirror and it didn't look like it was cut open or anything, but it rang my bell pretty good and damn did it hurt. Hammy had his helmet cam running and you can actually see the rock come off my head and then bounce past his bike.



No serious damage done, (just a good-sized rasberry on my cheek) so we just kept pushing south. Nothing else too exciting happened other than us getting a little lost trying to get out of Williston. We headed about 20 mins east of Williston to the Lewis and Clark State Park. It was starting to cloud over a bit, so we wanted to get set up as soon as possible. The clouds ended up just missing us so we had a great evening camping at the edge of of Jessie Lake.





The lake was really high, as was every other body of water in the area. One
guy at the gas station said this was the most rain North Dakota has had in 150 years. It was while camping here, that we started what would become a running gag for the rest of the trip. Our firepit had a strangely shaped hole in the side of it. At first I thought either it was from corrosion or some drunken jackass had taken a cutting torch to it. Upon closer inspection we realised it was an outline of Lewis and Clark, pointing west. The same sillouette image that had adorned the hundreds of Lewis and Clark Trail signs we had passed that day.



Once we figured that out, we started to refer to it as the "Lewis and Clark hole". We were probably a little over-tired and had already dipped pretty good into the rum, so that struck us as really really funny. For the rest of the trip, little comments would pop up like; "Man, was that ever a long time on the bike, my Lewis and Clark hole is killing me!" or "Did you see that truck cut me off?...what a Lewis and Clark hole". It was with that bit of high-brow humour that we called it a night.

to be continued....
 

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Hey thanks for the mention, I am glad you enjoyed my recommendation. Sounds like it was a great trip even if it was a short one. I am looking forward to the videos.
Let me know if you do go ahead with that Northern Sask trip.

Ben
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Will do Ben. Right now it's looking like mid-August, but with Hammy's schedule, who the hell knows.

The next day we woke to a downpour. It was coming down in buckets and looking at the horizon, it didn't look like it would be ending any time soon. We packed up as quickly as we could and bombed back into Williston for breakfast. Finally back in the States, Hammy couldn't resist the call of biscuits and gravy.



With a hearty breakfast in our bellies (along with a few advil and multi-vitamins to battle the mild hangover), we filled up the bikes and started heading south. As we headed out of Williston we saw first hand the result of all the rainfall in the area. The Missouri River had flooded the banks and the entire river valley was flooded. The water was less than 6 inches away from cresting the roadway in places, so we figured we had better get across before they closed the hiway (like so many of the side roads we had passed already).







We didn't get very far before we started to hit some road construction. We were stopped at one bit of construction and it was clear we were going to be there awhile, so we got off the bikes to stretch our legs. Immidieately this big older guy in a cowboy hat saunters up and starts chatting. He was orginally from Texas, but had spent a lot of time in Calgary working the oil and gas sector. We quickly dubbed him "Hoss" and chatted with him untill we could hear the engines of the cars in front of us start up again. We raced to get our helmets back on, and Hoss sprinted back to his car just as traffic started to move. Fortunately we were only about 6 vehicles back from the front of the line, so once through the construction zone, we passed those half dozen cars and had nothing but open highway in front of us.

We made (what we thought was) good time and stopped at a gas station in Belfield to fuel up. As we were grabbing a sip of water, who walks up to us again, but Hoss. We must have sat and chatted with him (again) for the better part of an hour before we finally said goodbye and saddled back up. We took another little detour here and jumped east on the interstate to check out this section of rural roadway called "The Enchanted Highway". We took the turnoff and started what was a largely dissappointing run down this tourist-trap bit of roadway. It's about 40 miles or so, and every so often there's a giant metal sculpture off to the side.



We got tired of that pretty quick and headed west to get back on our original route as soon as we could. We had a late afternoon meal at this tiny ice cream shack in Bowman. I think it was called Eats and Treats. It was a nice little break as we were both getting a little punchy from being on the bikes all day. We saddled back up after a good break and figured we could make the last dash all the way into Deadwood no problem. All afternoon there were really dark clouds to the south of us (the direction we were heading), so I was worried we were riding into a rainstorm. We managed to stay just behind it, as we often had wet roads, but really didn't get any rain for more than a minute or two. We rolled into Deadwood a little late and got a camping spot right in town at a place called Whistler's Gulch. It was right up the hill from an amusement place that had go-karts, mini-golf, and bumper boats. We figured that ought to keep us entertained. We rolled in about 5 mins before the office was going to close.We got a spot way at the end of the tenting section, bought a bag of ice from the store and started to unpack. Now Hammy was a good dozen yards away from me the night before and I could still hear him snoring, even over the rainstorm. Since there was no one else in our section of the campground we stretched the limits of our site and tried to get as much space between the tents as possible.



The liquor store across the street only had a few bottles of rum, so we were FORCED to get a 1.14 L bottle that night. We settled in nicely and spent the rest of the evening drying out our camping gear and having a few rums around the campfire. :cheers:

 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
We woke the next morning to some cloudy skies and cloudier heads, but fortunately no rain. This day would be a new experience for us. Today would be the first day we would do a day-trip out of a "base camp" where we'd actually stay more than one night. We left camp with stripped down bikes (no tents, sleeping bags, other camping gear), and rode across the street to grab some breakfast. It was more bicuits and gravy before we headed back outside to explore the Black Hills. The clouds had rolled off while we were eating and the sun was shining as we headed up the hill to the Mount Moira Cemetary. The final resting place of Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane Burke.





We toured around the cemetary a bit and saw some pretty cool stuff. At one point he cemetary extends out onto this point of roack that looks out over the town.



We had absolutely no destination for the day, in fact the next 12 hours was characterized by one phrase: "hey, wanna check that out?" We had ridden down a main hiway for about 10 mins when Hammy saw what looked like a crazy-twisty back road to a tiny place called Silver City. "Hey, wanna check that out"? he says. I agree and off we go. It was an amazingly twisty bit of pavement and both bikes tore it up. Before we knew it, we were in the hamlet of Silver City and saw another cool looking road on the GPS, this one was a mix of dirt and gravel. It was AWESOME! we had an absolute blast tearing down this logging road. There were little ATV and dirt bike trails branching off all over the place, and we had an awesome time exploring this area. Eventually that road spat us back out onto the hiway and we rode a little further down the road to the Crazy Horse Monument. We pulled over and took a few pics from a distance.





We toured around the area until we found ourselves at the Cosmos Mystry Area. it was almost identical to the Montana Mystry House we visited in 2008, so we went in and sacfrificed our $8 in the name of having a good laugh.





In that last pic you can see the rasberry still on my cheek from that rock that hit me on Day 1. We left the mystery area with smiles on our faces and just kept exploring cool looking roads in the area. One of the highlights was the Needles highway and Iron Mountain Rd. Amazing roads that just never stop twisting. Great scenery and lots of wildlife. In fact the wildlife gave each of us a good scare going through Custer National Park. We came around a corner to see an absolutely HUGE herd of Buffalo crossing the road in front of us.



We might not always be the smartest people around, but we're not complete idiots, so we pulled over and waited it out. it took about 45 minutes for the herd to cross and we decided to try our luck. There were still a few stragglers that walked back up onto the road as we got close. This one old cow with a huge bleeding gash along her flank paniced on the roadway once Hammy got close. She stared him down from a few yards away before he could angle himself away from her and slowly ease on by. Her focus then turned to me and she started to snort and stamp her hooves. I can tell you right now, the pucker-factor on my Lewis and Clark hole jumped by a factor of 10.



After that little adventure we kept running the amazing roads until the sun started to go down. We had planned on being back in Deadwood in time to catch some of Wild Bill Days, but by the time we got back to camp, we just wanted to shower and sit around the campfire with a boil in a bag and a bottle of rum.



It was while we were enjoying another beautiful evening around the campfire, that we dedcided to check on road conditions for our travels west to the Beartooth and Yellowstone. The news was not good. Beartooth was closed as were most of the roads at higher elevation in Yellowstone. We made a quick decision. We enjoyed our day-trip from a base camp so much we decided to stay yet another day in Deadwood, and maybe this time we could catch some of Wild Bill Days. So it was with a belly full of dehydrated Pad Thai, some crack jerky and of course rum, we called it a day.

-Whitey Jr
 

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Discussion Starter #6
We woke to another sunny day in Deadwood, and loved the fact that we didn't have to pack up camp. We made some coffee in the jet-boil and even did a boil-in-a-bag of scrambled eggs and bacon. It actually wasn't too bad. The night before we had pretty much scrapped our plans to pack up camp and keep heading north west towards the Beartooth Pass (maybe next year) and figured we needed to do a short “day-trip” out into the region. We noticed that were pretty close to the Wyoming border and Devil's Tower. That's the geological feature that was in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The mountain Richard Dreyfuss sculpted out of mashed potatos.

We decided that was a good target for a short day trip, so we could be back in time to catch some of Wild Bill Days in Deadwood. we headed west out of Deadwood towards Lead. The riding this morning wasn't as good as the day before. Right off the bat, the road we were on was under construction and had recently been "roughend up" for re-surfacing. The extra vibration wasn't doing my hangover any favours. What was more, was that I had started to notice serious wear on my tires. The rear was down to the wear bars and the front was cupping badly. The extra weight of the Happy Trails panniers (and all the crap therein) had accelerated the wear on my tires more than I anticipated. So I was a little distracted on the ride to Sundance Wyoming worried about my tires. We stopped in Sundance for some water and to stretch and we took in some of the local colour.



Eventually it was time to hop back on the bikes and make the last push to Devil's Tower. We stopped a little down the road first to take some distance shots, and one classic pose Hammy couldn't pass up.



We drove down to the base and took a few pictures, but didn't go into the park itself. By this time it was mid day and we needed to start thinking about getting back to Deadwood to take in some of Wild Bill Days.



Wyoming is a little more like Alberta or Saskatchewan than the area Deadwood is in, so the roads weren't as spectacular as we had enjoyed the day before. we made it back to camp, cleaned ourselves up a bit and took the $1 trolly into the festival area downtown. Once into the downtown area we grabbed a $6 "Wild Bill Days cup" (which was full of beer) and started walking. It was pretty cool.



You could walk around wherever drinking, as long as it was out of one of the festival cups and any bar/pub/casino in the festival area would refill it for you for $2. We walked around and checked things out, and drank our faces off. Eventually we found ourselves at The Old #10 Saloon. We were just in time to see the assasination of Wild Bill Hickok by the coward Jack McCall.



That was pretty cool. We got some more beer and wandered around a bit. Grabbed a giant plate of nachos at one of the casinos and then hit this really cool tobacco bar. Hammy grabbed some crazy cigars and we wandered back to the trolly which would take us back to our campground. Once back at the campground we realized we had gotten some neighbours while we were out, and we hoped we werent going to get into any trouble for our liberal interpretation of our campsite boundary. Turned out to be a non-issue and our tenting neighbours pretty much kept to themselves. It was while we were sitting around the campfire that Hammy got a call from home. He and Mrs. Hammy are brand new first time parents and their little baby is only a little more than 6 months old. It seems the little tyke took a tumble off the bed and had a bit of a shiner and a bump on the noggin. Mama was understandably upset, and I could tell as soon as Hammy got off the phone that he wasn’t going to be thinking about anything else. Seeing as we were already 2-days past heading off to Yellowstone, we decided to start making our way back home. One thing we didn’t realize though was that our original route (to Beartooth and Yellowstone) also had us moving slowly north. We hadn’t moved an inch in 3 days and were still as far away from Saskatoon as we were going to get. Hammy’s priority was getting back to his family, and with my rapidly deteriorating tires, I didn’t really fancy the idea of heading back to Edmonton for 3 days by myself. We poured over the maps but no matter how we crunched the mileage, the quickest way back to Saskatoon, was likely the exact same way we got to Deadwood, but in reverse. Tentatively making that our plan, we finished off the night with a campfire some cigars and a few drinks.





To be continued......
 

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Hey guys great trip report. If you guys do a trip to northern Saskatchewan you have to check out the Olive Tree Restaurant aka the Black Top Diner. It will make for great videos and pictures plus an awesome meal. I went there June 18th and just finally finished the trip report.
If you curious you read the trip report and view the pictures at www.placesnotgone.com

Ben
 
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