Spearfish, Sturgis, “Ride Sally, ride”!

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Spearfish, Sturgis, “Ride Sally, ride”!

With our Sleep Number bed on order, (with sales tax added 😦 based on our delivery location) we moved on down the road toward South Dakota. Our destination here was the Elkhorn Ridge RV Park. The OUTSTANDING park was “the cat’s meow” (for those old enough to understand the term). It is Bou-ti-fullllll! All the spots are wide, paved, exactly level, with lush lawns, shade trees, great shower houses, and laundry facilities, a general store, swimming pool, tennis and basketball courts, cabins, disc-golf course, hiking trails and a HUGE dog park!!! This is the place you want to stay if you’re ever in the area. The place rates a 12 on the 10 scale as far as amenities and the friendliness of the staff. You really should just go see for yourselves! Bring your camping rig, or rent a cabin. It’s worth the drive! It’s worth your time, it’s the model for what ALL RV parks should be like! I Love it here!!!

Dog parks are near and dear to my heart these days, as Finnegan LOVES to be off leash (and that doesn’t just happen easily, since he runs at about 20 miles per hour when he is). This dog park is subdivided into “Little Dogs” and “Big Dogs” section once you’re inside the fenced in area. Finnegan quickly determined that he is a “Big Dog” as he immediately ran into the larger enclosure area to begin his “run-about”. The playground was his favorite and we visited it daily during our week-long stay in the area.

We arrived about a month earlier than the 75th Annual Sturgis Bike Event simply because:  a) we were here now and  b) the price of everything skyrockets during the actual event. The area in and around Sturgis has great roads for riding with beautiful scenic drives and great small towns to stop in along the way. We spent most days touring the area on the motorcycle and Dan took us out to see the world renown Full Throttle Saloon one afternoon, where a live, full grown (real as can be) jackass greeted us just inside the door. I think he’s there in honor of the many other “jackasses” who visit the bar during bike week. The guy just wanders around in and out of the building at will, and the sign on the bar clearly states: “Don’t be ass and don’t feed the jackass” or some such thing.

Even through we’re early for bike week, there are lots of people “previewing” the area with us. The locals tell us that they are expecting up to 1,200,000 people to descend on this area for the big event and that accommodations are already booked for 100 miles in every direction of the event, at sky-high prices. Many of the locals in this area even rent out their homes for prices that cover many month’s of their mortgage payments while they drive off to visit places that are not part of the big week-long event!

We spent the 4th of July in the small town of Lead (pronounced Leed) for the fireworks show and met up with of the locals in the area who provided us with great recommendations for things to do in and around our travel route. We enjoyed a great dinner at the steakhouse inside the historic Franklin Hotel in Deadwood one evening and walked the streets of the town another day, taking in the touristy sites and seeing the location where Wild Bill Hickok was shot, a very long time ago.

With the utmost sadness, we packed up (because alas, the resort would not allow us to stay longer, due to being booked up for the big upcoming Sturgis event). I can’t even imagine what the spaces go for in this great spot during bike week, but I’m thinking it’s thousands of dollars for a week in our space. With a tear in each of our eye’s – Dan’s because he loves riding here, Finn’s because he no longer has a great place to run, jump and chase tennis balls, and mine because I’m sure that another such beautiful RV park may not exist we began making our way East; we slowly leave for our next new state destination – North Dakota.

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Sturgis – Where is everybody?

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OK, so I admit we’re here two weeks after the rally has closed down, but c’mon!  Where’s the loyalty?  The camaraderie?  The other guys?  I guess they all went home after the music stopped.  Anyway, we’re here.

If it’s not the week of the Sturgis Rally, there’s really not much going on here.  As a bonus from the RV Park, when we arrived there was a car show going on, with some really nice cars, and later Saturday evening they brought in a band – a pretty decent band – to serenade the car enthusiasts and campers.  Carol and I sat down and watched a set and had a couple of beers, but other than the fact it was a live band, not much else was that exciting.  And, it started to get cold, so we closed out our big Saturday night in Sturgis.

Of course, we had to do Mt Rushmore, and it’s always the coolest thing to do in the area of the Black Hills.  We made the big loop through the Black Hills, drove through the Eye of the Needle area, through all the iconic tunnels with a view of Mt Rushmore.  It was really a little weird driving through the area without seeing a ton of motorcycles.  Of course, there were still quite a few, but nothing like the rally.  We went into Sturgis for dinner one night (deserted), made a day of it driving through the Black Hills, spent one day in rain in the coach.  Then we read the weather forecast – SNOW!! – coming the day after tomorrow.  I thought we were still in August!  So, pack it up, we’re outta here – next stop Des Moines!

On the way to Des Moines, we developed some engine problems.  Whenever we tried to accelerate, or hold our speed on a hill, the coach lost power, and started kind of “bucking”.  If I let off the gas, it kept running smoothly, although losing speed on inclines.  To me, it felt like a clogged fuel filter.  We called around desperately and found a Cummins Power Center in Omaha and another in Des Moines.  Omaha was closer, but they couldn’t get to it until after the weekend (this was Thursday), so we opted for Des Moines, who said they could look at it on Friday.  We limped and bucked our way into Des Moines, picking up speed on the downhills, and dropping every mph we had picked up and then some on the uphills, finally making it into the Cummins service center around 6 pm.  We dropped it off, spent the night in a motel, and drove around Des Moines all day Friday revisiting everywhere Carol thought she remembered as a little girl.  It turns out there is a Costco, so we spent as much time (and dwindling money) as we could there, waiting on “the phone call” from Cummins, telling us the coach was either dead, or ready to go.  At this point, I’m ok either way.  Around 3pm that afternoon, we got the call – the fuel pump was not putting out the correct pressure – so it was either algae in the fuel which had caused the fuel pump to clog, or the fuel pump had just given out – in either case, it was going to be around $1400 to fix it.  I gulped hard, looked at my life flash before my eyes, and gave the “go ahead and fix it” they were waiting for.  The good news was, he said “If I was you, I wouldn’t rent a hotel tonight – we’ll have it finished for you today”.

Carol’s Aunt Sharon and Uncle Jerry (the reason we had driven to Des Moines) had turned around our invitation for us to take them to dinner, and instead invited us over to their house for dinner Friday night.  A little home-cookin’ sounded much better than another night at Applebee’s, so over to Jerry and Sharon’s we went.  We enjoyed a wonderful evening there, visiting and “catching up” on all the latest news and happenings..  Carol’s cousin Janice came over for dinner, which was devoured like we hadn’t eaten a home-cooked meal in weeks (actually, that WAS the case), and after dinner Whitney, her fiancé Josh, and children Haley and Kendall all came by to visit.  It was great catching up with everyone.  Around 8 pm we got the phone call that the coach was ready to be picked up (Cummins’ hours are 7am to 11pm M-F, Thank God) .  Reluctantly, we said good bye to family, and headed off to pick up our hopefully “runnin’ without buckin'” coach.

We went over to Cummins, was told our bill was actually cheaper than what they’d estimated (small sigh of relief), that it wasn’t algae but just a failed fuel pump (another sigh of relief), and then the presentation of the bill.  After putting another $1253 (not exactly a lot less, but less) on the old Credit Card, we were outta hock (kinda).  We stayed the night at the Cummins parking lot, and next morning headed off down the road to Decatur, IN.  Guess why we are going to Decatur…don’t know?  MORE REPAIRS!!!  That’s where the American Coach factory, parts, and service locations are, and we have another list of items to be repaired/replaced, etc.  Look out Credit Card, here comes another blow!