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Monday, August 3

Today is the day that the Sturges event begins for about the next six days see tens of thousands of people about this area on every sort of bike in every sort of dress, and every shape!

We set off this morning to go to the Devils Tower, and found it was basically on the Road to Sturges so we could drop in to see that and then carry on to see the largest collection of motorbikes in the world.

We got to the Devils Tower the place was packed with motorbikes, we had motorbikes going in all directions going to the tower, we had an ambulance going the opposite direction followed by two motorbikes and about 10 miles later we saw a police car with what looked like a Harley Davison down on what I guess should call the wash, a little bit later we saw another ambulance so I guess with so many bikes in town is inevitable.

It was always considered in the past if you rode a bike you'd buy yourself a set of leathers and usually from Italy. From what we've seen today that is quite old-fashioned and is not even considered, now the clothes you would wear for that moment and it was a hot day and you're female that could be a bikini doesn't matter what the Road will do to you skid along it, perhaps the outlook is if you are not wearing a crash helmet you won't survive anyhow!

With all the bikes are Devils Tower they have cured us from the thought of going into Sturges so we carried on towards South Dakota and the Black Hills. Little later in the day we saw a small motel – campground's we pulled into their paid for a parking space for the night and the proprietor complimented us on our decision not to go into town, she said it is absolutely mad and there, walking the streets you are shoulder to shoulder. We are told that people come in from all around the world and we saw two bikes today with Netherland numberplates, but you sort of expect to see them everywhere.

Tuesday, August 4

 We headed off towards the Crazy Horse Memorial, it is touted as being the world's largest sculpture, I'm sure I read somewhere that the Mount Rushmore Memorial land was claimed by the Sioux Indians and that has been in limbo now for decades, so with their building of the memorial to crazy horse, making it larger and on their land they have to me proved a point and getting lots and lots of visitors for which they charge a fee to enter and they now have a captive audience for all of their souvenirs, no matter what, it is a massive memorial and while worthwhile stopping on the way.

Of course the whole car Park was full of motorbikes of every brand and design and was well worth a while just walking through the bikes to see the wide variety.

The next stop was to the Mount Rushmore Memorial and the four carved heads, it was really just paying an entrance fee, parking the motorhome, walking a few steps to get a clearer view of the sculpture and then on our way again. We decided to drive in further to the park but the Road was winding and very narrow and after a close call with a large Harley Davison we decided to turn round and just at the entrance to the park where a group of people milling around their bikes and I could not help but notice an extremely slim girl dresed in leathers, black of course, with black high heel shoes! I assume she must been a passenger and I also assume should stand out amongst all the other ladies on the back of the bikes.

The next stop was Rapid City and that is quite close to Sturges on what looks like a fast motorway, again the whole city was full of motorbikes and along one of the major roads I think the exhibitors had chosen Rapid City as an overflow exhibition space because we saw a whole lineup of displays along one of the major roads with lots of motorbikes milling about so we were glad we were not on that road.

We found the builders supply shop called Lowe's and they always have a free Internet signal so we downloaded our emails, then went and had a look at Walmart and they had large signs saying no overnight parking, so we decided to move on towards the Black Hills so got on Highway 90 and very soon we started seeing roadside signs talking of Wall Drug offering a glass of ice cold water or a cup of coffee for five cents and lots and lots of other things which ended turning a small little drug shop in 1936 into a town sized business with thousands of people stopping there every year. We ourselves decided to stop and took the last camping spot with no services that they had in the basic campground.

Wednesday, August 5

We set out early this morning to go through the Badlands Park, the first Road we saw was a drive around what they called the crater rim and it was a narrow shingle Road so we drove down there got a few photographs and at the first decent parking site to the U-turn and back the tar sealed Road.

We then drove on the scenic by way route 240 and there was certainly some amazing sites the results of the weather on the ocean floor that had been thrust up what must've been several hundred feet or more from under the sea some several thousand years ago but it certainly made a lot of interesting photographs.

We then drove back to Custer Park to drive through the scenic route with the hope of seeing some of the animals of the park and we did see some buffalo off in the distance, and some donkeys who have worked out where they get treats, we saw several galloping towards the crowds that had collected on the side of the Road and within walking amongst the admirers as if they had been doing it all their lives.

We did see many deer and goats in the natural habitat and it was around this time we discovered we had what has become a yearly problem, first the water pump in the motor went in China, last year the house water pump went on the Trek twice and this year it has ceased to work which means although we have plenty of nice freshwater we can't use any of it!

So we headed for Rapid City a place that had many RV garages and one in particular which was a Cruise America agency they called themselves Black Hills RV Centre, the GPS took us right to their location and we parked out the back, they had on the front a petrol station so I walked forward to see when the service centre opened, and the people there told me that they owned it and then the guy who I feel must been suffering from constipation told me he could not look at my RV for at least 14 days and in any case he did not have a spare pump and then went on serving some people in the shop that wanted to buy sweets.

We parked out the back alongside two of the cruise America rental vehicles and then we had to visitors, one the wife who said under no conditions could we Park there overnight, followed by Mr constipation who went through exactly the same story, so much for the friendly American who will help somebody in distress, they probably have never heard that story in Wyoming. So we had to leave the spot in the dark, in the rain and went back to a campground close by to a campground that was obviously profiting from the Sturges motorbike event.

Thursday, August 6
Today we headed for Sioux City, possibly the closest location that we will be able to get service done to our RV, some 350 miles away, on the long drive we kept on searching for RV repair stations and reach the conclusion that there's not much in South Dakota. On the way we stopped off at 1880 town a town that was established in 1969 as the result of a movie set that wanted an authentic 1880s Street and was rather interesting walking through it seeing all of the items that they have collected from the era to make it all more interesting, then we moved on and we stopped for the night a campground near Chamberlain where we can hook up to the town supply water which bypasses the pump so at least we can wash!

Friday 7th of August

Was nice having unlimited water last night and this morning but all good things must come to an end so we disconnected from the town supply and started heading towards Sioux City.

After we had got on the main motorway I 90 E. we saw a road side sign for Goo's RV sales and as this was on the correct side of Sioux City we set our GPS for that.

We are still getting motorbikes passing us from Sturges, pickups with motorbikes on the back, pickups pulling trailers with motorbikes and large 50 foot motorhomes pulling 20 foot covered trailers again I would guess with motorbikes, so you got all levels of people going to Sturges, some and 50 foot motorhomes and may ride their polished Harley Davison from the campground into town decked out probably in the most expensive motorbike gear that got than the others that have biked from across the country but they all have one thing almost in common almost all of them are not wearing a crash helmet.

We saw some Australians the other day they had motorbikes and a car were obviously touring around again they weren't wearing crash helmets and a Canadian I saw the other day was not wearing crash helmet but he had one in his bag for when he crossed the border.

We eventually got to Goo's to be told they could not help us, we found out later the reason was all of their staff was at Sturges however they had a good supply shop and a choice of at least three pumps so I asked if I could stay in the forecourt and change the pump and the woman in the shop was not terribly bright and said as long as we don't get busy and I said well can I stay until you do and she thought about that and thought it would be probably okay. So I went out the motorhome and decided I had to pull the pump out but to do that I had to dump all the water, so back I went in to Miss Brightness and asked it would be okay to dump my freshwater tank on their forecourt and she thought about this for quite a little bit and I hasten to add that is just like rain, she says I've never been asked that before but I suppose it will be okay. I thanked her sincerely.

The dumping tap did not work so we got our water hose under the connection held the hose over the outlet pipe and got rid of the water that way, the pump came out quite easy, took it in and got one that was closed to it, fitted it back in, connected up the wires, and the pump worked now all we needed was some water but they had no facilities for that, they had about 50 5th wheels there for sale, some extremely expensive, I wonder if they have to do what we did and drive 7 miles to a trucking station to fill up with water but nevertheless I thanked Miss Brightness, drew her attention to the fact that we had not made a mess in the forecourt and we were on our way to the trucking station. There we filled up with water and set on the main road to Edina.

When we got to Luverne we saw a sign to a motorcamp and follow the signs until we got to Magnolia where they had a town park with provision for RVs and even though they were wanting $10 a night we decided to stay.

At the motorcamp there was a very old RV sitting about five spaces from us, the owner was obviously working on the machine so I wandered down to have a chat, the first thing I noticed was a flag for the Marines, then the guy that was working on the RV was black, we had quite a long chat, he told me of being born in Alabama and growing up during the civil unrest period, of enrolling in the Marines when you are 16 and lying about is age, being in the Marines during the Vietnam period but not making at there and its troubled life since a lot he put down to the colour of the skin.

He come to South Dakota to work in the oil fields, then the price of oil fell through the floor so there was no work, of buying his 20-year-old motorhome for $2500 and being told there are only done 58,000 miles, and then the whole motor collapsing on a few weeks later, of having no money and not being able to beg for some on the street because of the city bylaw.......... yes America is the land of opportunity, for some.


to top right....

Saturday, August 8

We set our GPS to Edina, a suburb of Minneapolis, we stayed as much as we could on the back roads, and looking at the GPS Trail on the map we ended up taking a direct route to Edina arriving in the city about 1 p.m. after having lunch at one of the rest areas.

Luda had a long conversation with her grandson in Russian and I'm sure the words that the 10 month old were uttering was possibly in the same language!

The shower door replacement was waiting for me along with some LED bulbs but the numberplates were nowhere to be seen so Monday will tell us where they are hopefully!

Monday 10th of August

Last few days were been visiting with Ludas daughter, husband and our grandson. We have been on the outskirts of Minneapolis and haven't bothered to venture into the city, we of course have been wondering where the number plates are and this morning we found out when I telephoned Phoenix and it appears that they will send the number plate on Friday which is just seven days before the temporary plate is due to expire so I certainly hope there are no mess ups.

Now that we know what is happening with the plate we're carrying on East and have asked them to send the number plate to a New Zealand friend that now lives in London Ontario.

We are tonight in a town called Plainview in a car Park of a sports ground, which is a few miles from Potsdam and Rochester neither of the last two names of any historical fame.

Tuesday 11th of August

It had to happen sometime in all of our travels and last night at 11:00 p.m. we had a loud banging on the door and a couple of police officers were there to tell us that the park closed at 10 p.m. and legally we could not be there, I had to get dressed and open the door for them after ascertaining that at least the uniform and the badge looked real, so we had a quite a long conversation, one suggested I go to a farm a mile out it a friend of his for the night, and then they both came round the thought that leave me there for the night which is the way it ended and they went off having done their civic duty and we went back to bed.

This morning we had an appointment to see Doug Nopar the son of my friend Dick Nopar who owned Edward Fox Studio in Chicago, possibly one of the largest wedding studios in the country, it had passed its hundred year Centenary and recently the family have sold the business. Doug had is office in a country town called Lewiston, centre of a farming community with a dismal main Street that was once grand.

Doug had an appointment in Chicago so we carried on our way South on as much of the back roads as we could visiting a town called Winona and deciding we'd been through that last year, the first went up to the lookout that looked out over the the city and the Mississippi basin giving a wonderful panorama of the whole area. Then we Carryed on South to we got to a town called West Salem where we found a basic campground where were staying for the night.

Wednesday 12th August

We set our GPS for Baraboo the stopped in La Crosse on the way to have a look at the view from Granddad Bluff where we got overview over the La Crosse Valley with the mightiest Mississippi wandering through the Vista a truly remarkable view.

From there we carried on to Baraboo which was the town that is the headquarters for Ringling Bros Circus
they have now expanded their property on either side of the Baraboo River to include a Circus World Museum where you can view over 100 years of Circus history including snippets of the circuses that Ringling Bros incorporated into their Circus and showed photos of the grand old days when the Circus was on the move on the monstrous train that was required to move everything and it spoke of the large expanse of land required to stage a show. They are still in business and apparently still travelled the country on a smaller scale, but put on a daily show at the Circus World Museum.

Like all circuses the show at the Museum is geared towards the children with rides and performances are what we found extremely interesting in the Museum were all the wagons that were used in the past to transport and to show the animals, the wagons for the performers which were a very early version of a motorhome and an all the Museum was a must see for anybody that has ever been to a Circus or is interested in its history. An interesting fact was the Ringling that started this Circus started with no money and grew it to the largest Circus in the Western world.

We parked for the night in the car Park beside the Circus, beside the river for a very peaceful night.

Thursday, August 13

We set out on the short drive to Madison to visit a young lady by the name of Carolyn Tretina a upcoming photographer I met through Dayton Drake. We had a little bit of a chat and then left for her to deal with her portrait and she asked us to return in a couple of hours for a deeper conversation so we went off to a shopping centre and Macy's and Luda enjoyed is some shopping.

At 3:30 p.m. we returned to Carolyn and spent the next two hours helping her the financial management side of her business.

Then it was on towards Chicago stopping at or a Walmart car Park for the night.

Friday, August 14

Back in New Zealand we hear a lot about how bad the Christchurch roads are after the earthquake, what I'd like those critics to travel with us over some of the main roads and motorways leading on to Chicago and I think everyone would be quiet.

We carried on our drive to Wilmette a suburb on the north side of Chicago to visit my friend Dick Nopar, I first met Dick on my 1971 of America to get new ideas and returned to New Zealand and after that nothing was ever the same on wedding and portrait photography in New Zealand again.

Dick was the running probably one of the largest wedding portrait studios in America, they did over 2500 weddings a year, he and his son took it into the digital age and then sold it to a school photographer who figured he did schools in the wintertime and he could do weddings in the summertime. The Edward Fox studio was featured in the Kodak magazine Studio in the late 60s.
We spent quite a bit of time catching up on each other's activities since we saw each other last and then it was time to go and battle with the traffic and we all went downtown to go on a boat tour into Lake Michigan and up the Chicago River inspecting and photographing the skyline during the two hour boat trip.

For many years I've heard that if you want to have perhaps the best pizza in the world you must have a Chicago pizza, well I am pleased we did so now I know how to answer people that tell me that again.

Saturday, August 15

We woke early, and got away early, for our drive across Chicago, we were told there would not be much traffic, but to us it was quite busy, much busier than Ashburton during rush hour, but we had a nice clean run and we got across the windy city in one hour, now to offer that as a measurement, yesterday they were quoting 1 1/2 hours to get downtown from where we started so we were pleased.

We drove up the edge of Lake Michigan, I think we saw the Lake three times on our drive, we had thought we would have been driving along the shore but instead we are driving through the suburbs with expensive houses between the Road and the Lake. Again the Road made Christchurch roads look smooth.

We came to a town called Holland which we found very interesting, they had a little Dutch village with windmills et cetera to prove its Dutch heritage, I use my fluent Dutch to ask where my Dutch friends lived, and became obvious they weren't quite sure of what I was talking about.

Whilst we were in Holland, we decided to spend the night in a state Park out by the Lake so we drove about 9 miles and reached a long line going into the park, to be told that we passed the booking office about 4 miles back so they told us to go back to try to make a booking. We turned around and as we drove out we passed an extremely long line of cars waiting to go into the park and we realised would have to go through that again so that was placed into the too hard basket.
We also went through a town called Zeeland and no reflection on the Dutch but in these areas that we were driving were almost wiped out twice and thanks to the good brakes on our current motorhome we survived. We spent the night in the Holland car Park of Walmart.

Sunday, August 16

We started heading towards Canada with today's destination being Flint, it was time to start looking for propane for the motorhome and we eventually found some by traipsing through the truck stops on our way towards the Canadian border and found one 35 miles away from our current position. We stopped and Walmart car Park to do some shopping and whilst there I finished wiring in our 400 Watt inverter which is now running or for the house battery and is available hopefully all the time.

Monday, August 17

We went into Walmart and bought Luda's Russian grandson one of the Xbox games, then off to the post office and centred on its way then as we had the inverter wired in we decided it was time to make a TV part of the standard equipment so we went off to a Pawn Shop picked out 15 films, TV and DVD player now the interesting thing will be where we fit the TV, if we fit it, and just what we gonna do. So was time to head for the Canadian border and we had one last bit of shopping to do before we left the land of the free, which turned out to be a good move because we went on to the bridge from a side Road with no one in front of us were as the queue beside us stretched back into the distance.

The border control officer was basically interested in the answer to her question "do you have any guns on board" I explained to her that New Zealand was like Canada and the answer was no.

Around this time Craig Starkey rang and we made arrangements to meet him in a couple of days and collect the numberplates that have arrived at his house.

Now in Canada, we headed up the Lake Huron on route 21 towards Goderich and like most roads that appear to go along the coastline we drove through beautiful countryside, beautiful trees either side of the motorway, but not a speck of Lake insight. We did look at camping on the shore briefly, but they promised to tow any vehicles that were there between 11 and 6 a.m. so we carried on into town and again we are in the Walmart car Park.








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