On the road again

Day 37 Friday 9th August 2013 – Sturgis, SD to Lusk, WY

Overnight it rained. I woke to damp morning. I had to break camp today, but I preferred not to pack everything away wet, so I decided to I would wait until lunchtime for things to dry out before packing them away.

Six Pack hadn’t had the same luxury of choice as me. His investigation of flights back home and turned up flights way too expensive. He’d had to settle for taking a Greyhound bus, but he needed to be at the bus station in Rapid City at 6am that morning in catch it. Mike had gotten up at 5am to run Six Pack to the bus station. Someone had commented that the bus journey would take nearly as long as it would have for Six Pack to ride home, but Jakyl said it would be quicker as the bus wouldn’t keep stopping to pose for photos. I hadn’t seen Six Pack after Lynyrd Skynyrd, so we didn’t get the chance to say goodbye, but Kentucky was one of the states I would be visiting later down the road, so perhaps we would meet again.

When I came to pack up after noon, I found that the week of partying had caught up with Jakyl, but the thought struck me that maybe Jakyl had the right idea, it was certainly much quieter at camp in the afternoons, so perhaps the afternoons were the best time to get some good sleep.

From South Dakota, August 2013

Breaking camp always takes me much longer than I think reasonable, which is one the reasons I seldom camp by choice when I am on the road. When all the gear was stowed on the Trooper, it came time to say my goodbyes. Despite looking forward to meeting Doreen in Denver, I felt a lot of sadness to be saying goodbye. I had met a bunch of great folk in our little corner of the Buffalo Chip. They were people I would definitely want to spend time with if they lived back in Scotland. Some of them I would see again, as they didn’t live too far from my route in the coming weeks. Kyle, I could visit when I went to see Iron Maiden in Kansas City; Mike and Donna, I could see when I crossed back into Ontario at the end of the trip; and Six Pack, I could probably see when I reached Kentucky. Jakyl was the only one I probably wouldn’t see again on this trip. I had already been right by his town in Illinois when I had ridden Route 66 and I doubted I would get close to it again on this adventure.

After the goodbyes were done, I set off out through the Buffalo Chip, on through Sturgis downtown, and then out to Deadwood. Having got past Deadwood, the rain started again, but not before I saw it coming. I’d stopped in Deadwood to pull on my waterproofs. The rain followed me, on and off, for the rest of the day. Coming from Scotland, I am used to riding in the rain, even if I detest it. This didn’t seem to the case for some of the riders I was passing. As soon as the rain hit, they were slowing down to a crawl. The road was running with surface water from the sodden downpour, but the Trooper and I soldiered on. Despite the rain, it felt good to be on the road again.

Even with the my late set-off, I had planned to reach Cheyenne, Wyoming before stopping for the night, but after several hours of on-off rain my enthusiasm was beginning to get dampened. But the thing that made me stop wasn’t rain, it was hail. After a brief dry lull as I approached Lusk, I rounded a bend to be hit be a solid wall of hail. I knew I was only a mile or two from the town, so I gritted my teeth to the stings as the hail hit bear fingers, and ignored the hail steadily accumulating on the road, I slowed my speed and grimly carried on until I reached a gas station with a canopy. I pulled in quick, filled the Trooper’s tank and then just parked up under the canopy and watched the hail revert to rain.

I wasn’t the only one to decide it was safer under the canopy. Nearly a dozen bikes had followed my lead before I left.

From Wyoming, July 2013

Having found a relatively dry spot to shelter in, I was finding it difficult to muster the will to head out in the rain again. When I heard that hail showers were hitting the whole region, I decided I would head out again, but only briefly, just long enough to find a motel for the night. A couple of blocks down the road, I pulled in at the first motel I saw and took their last room.

Once I had unloaded the Trooper, the rain had abated enough for me to venture forth in search of beer and food. I’d noticed a pub opposite the gas station where I had taken shelter, so that is where I headed.

They had cold beer and I ordered a burger, and was just enjoying the first few gulps of beer, when a long haired, bearded biker took the stool next to me at the bar. Mark was from Des Moines, Iowa and had been touring Colorado with his buddy, and was hooking around to South Dakota not their way home. His buddy wasn’t in the greatest of health and even walking a few blocks was a struggle for him, so Mark had come in search of a cold beer on his own.

Mark was the president of an electricians union in Iowa, and he was a delight to talk to after my wet afternoon’s ride. He was a smart, friendly guy, and we spent a long time talking about and contrasting working conditions and laws between the UK and the US, dissecting the global economy, and generally putting the world to rights. Mark is one of the few people with whom I have broken my own rule of not talking politics with. I think Kyle, Mike and Donna, and Roo and Brian are the only other exceptions I’ve made on this trip so far (I don’t count Graham and Sarah because Graham is Scottish). One thing all these people have in common is they are bright, articulate people, who already voice a reasoned, thought-out view of the world around them, before I feel confident to offer any of my own opinions on American politics. Usually I just find it simpler to keep my mouth shut, lest I offend.

We’d both eaten our burgers, and sank more than a few beers, before I commented on the Slipknot sweatshirt that Mark was wearing.

“Oh my nephew got that for me” was all he said.

“I really like them” I said “They’re one of the best live bands I’ve seen.”

Since Mark was sitting to my right, I indicated to the small Slipknot tattoo I have below Rob Zombie. It was only at this point that Mark let slip who his nephew was, Joey Jordison. Joey is Slipknot’s drummer. But Joey is a talented guy and is not content with just that. Joey also had a stint as Rob Zombie’s drummer for a time, until Slipknot and Rob Zombie commitments conflicted and Joey had to chose his original band over RZ. Joey also plays guitar in the Murderdolls. These are all bands I have seen Joey play in. The only thing I didn’t see was when Joey stepped in and drummed for Metallica at the Download festival in the UK a few years back, after Lars Ulrich fell ill on the flight over. Joey had so much talent and energy, it is hard not to have a lot of respect and admiration for him.

I mentioned this to Mark, and he just shrugged and said he’ll always be little Joey to him. And since Joey only stand around 5’4″ that’s probably true. Mark told quite a few tales of Joey Jordison, from seeing him playing his first few shows with Slipknot, long before their were famous, to being with Paul on the tour bus the night before he died.

Joey is a talented guy, and he has a really cool uncle. I could have stayed and talked to Mark for a lot longer, but I knew I had a long ride the next day, so I decided it was time to leave once I began to feel a bit wobbly on my feet. It turned out we were staying in the same motel, just a few rooms apart, so I chatted more to Mark as we walked back.

 

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