Tuesday, July 15, 2014

NatSTOC July 11-13

July means South Dakota! Made the annual trek up to Spearfish to spend the weekend with the ST-Owners.com folks. Derby's first big motorcycle trip too, she did fantastic. Weather was near perfect, traffic was very light, it was our favorite South Dakota trip yet. Only bummer was most everyone left Saturday morning, instead of Sunday morning like years past (we always come up Friday night). Must've missed a memo. :( We'll try and adjust the schedule next year so we can have more time to spend with people.

We took the direct route up, ended up doing more interstate than usual avoiding some storms. We got one good soaker in, figured out closing the side vents and just the top mesh screen on Derby's bag will keep her perfectly dry even in a frog soaker as long as we're moving. Woohoo! We leave early afternoon so we both can get some work in on Friday, so we arrive kinda late. The ride up was very dramatic, cool and cloudy with the one big storm and kinda spit on us the rest of the afternoon. Wyoming is incredibly beautiful under these conditions and smells of lush, moist grassland.

(sorry for the tiny maps, my friend John still had my SPOT from his southern California trip so I'm improvising!)






Stunning Wyoming sunset!! After shooting with my sister's Canon DSLR over her wedding though I have some serious camera envy.





Got into Spearfish just as it was getting completely dark, excellent timing. A quick sandwich in the Subway parking lot then setup and sleep at the Spearfish City Campground where the event is held.

ST-Owners.com banner at the campground.


Said goodbye to as many folks as we could early Saturday morning, had some breakfast and suited up for our usual Black Hills day loop. Thank you to our friend Carole for these pictures!


"NatSTOC" is the name of this annual event.


Love this little ride.Usually the last bit of the day involves a bunch of great twisties following a narrow gauge railroad and going through Nemo, but we detoured on a main route due to rain (did that long, straight bit twice, usually we only do it heading south). No problem, we've done those twisties before and we would again!


One of the wonderful things I'm learning about riding with a dog is that you take more breaks. This is great for me, keeps my brain in the moment. I mean really, what's the rush?? I used to ride so hard and long that I missed almost everything. This is way more fun.

Here's our first little break just before hitting the Needles Highway.


Wonderfully cool day (as long as you were moving!) and impressively little traffic. Excellent. Needles:






Had ourselves a little lunch break in Custer State Park. Derby had a nap. Good experience for her, learning how to rest on the bike. I imagine next trip she'll do even better and not tucker herself out quite so much. It was cute to watch, she'd want to run around like a crazy person as soon as we'd let her off the bike, then BAM, naptime. Ha.


Custer State Park is my favorite part of this loop. These open spaces and rolling hills capture my imagination.




Great roads too! Really got to enjoy them with so little traffic! A first for us in all the years we've been coming, usually this is slow going requiring plenty of patience.


Check out what we found around another corner. Sweet! Blackhawk pilot put on quite the show.




Derby sees something to our right...


The big guy was completely unfazed by all the noise.


We saw the usual pronghorn, wild donkeys, even a whitetail and her fawn. But no herd of buffalo yet. This was fine with us, we'd discussed earlier being a little concerned not knowing how Derby would react. We agreed if/when we hit the herd (as we do every year), we'd thread our way through traffic (cause car drivers always stop and create a 30+ minute backup in the MIDDLE of the herd) to get away from the big animals as quickly and safely as possible. So... Where were they?? Well... Didn't have to wait long and holy crap the herd was massive!! Usually we see 50-75 head. This one was easily 150+. They were everywhere!! All over the road, teenagers butting horns, males humping the females, babies and mommas... Yikes. We threaded through and had a few car drivers yelling at us (really people?? You're safe and secure in a steel cage!). Derby was a saint. Not a peep. Didn't lunge or try and jump out. Perfect dog. I will trust her in the future with any wildlife, this was certainly the biggest test of her brains and self control. Karla managed to snap a quick picture as we were figuring out how to get through the next bunch of buffalo.


Got up to the top of the hill next to Rushmore and hear BOOM!!! Oh boy, better check the radar. Quick break at a nice picnic area with bathrooms (had the place to ourselves, where was everyone today??) Radar shows a big blob of red and purple heading straight towards us along our intended route. We agreed to keep moving forward and find a place to take shelter. Ended up being under one of the three fantastic curly cue bridges!! We had hoped to video each other riding over these, instead we took cover!


Heads up!



Duck!! Can you see the inbound piece of hail??


LOL, body posture says it all.


Awesome.




One of the best pictures of the day!


A very angry, but small storm. Rain quit and off we went. Usually this sign is packed full of folks waiting for a picture, not this year! Snagged the opportunity.


A quick pow wow, we decided to skip the rest of the day's twisties and boogie back to the campground. The roads were SOAKED, doesn't make for much fun in the tight stuff. A stop at the grocery store for dinner provisions and a 6 pack, then back to the campground.


Thankfully there was a small group of fun folks staying Saturday night. After a tasty dinner we had a blast sitting around the caveman tv (campfire) drinking and telling stories.

Treated to another nice sunset. Those are Honda ST motorcycles in the foreground. I used to have a ST1100 like the third one back which is how I met everyone.


Derby had no issue falling sound asleep shortly after this picture while we stayed up. Good dog.



We slept in a bit Sunday morning, atleast as long as the hot sun would allow. Oatmeal and tea breakfast then got packed up.


You can see someone isn't ready to face the day yet...


"Huh? I'm up!"


I love this route home. Fast, fun 2 lanes with long sweeping twisties and wide open empty spaces. Only 30 miles of interstate at the very end. Our kind of day!


Hahahahaha, bloopers picture!! (Derby is off running in the flowers somewhere)


Ok there we go. Derby hates being held but she's learning to tolerate things for photos.



Picnic lunch stop in Lusk, WY. Weather was dry and warm, not scorching or super windy. Woohoo!


What a great trip. So proud of Derby. Karla's new hard bags worked brilliantly. Weather was near perfect and we felt like we had the area to ourselves on Saturday. It will be hard to top this one, but we'll certainly give it a shot next year!

Full album



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