Life on the frozen tundra of South Dakota Life on the frozen tundra of South Dakota

07/20/2006 Through 07/23/2006

07/20/2006 Through 07/23/2006

My idea to take this trip actually started in an unlikely way. Myself and a few of my fellow brothers in our chapter of the Set Free Servants motorcycle ministry were thinking about riding our bikes from our home in Sioux Falls, SD out to Los Angeles for the annual Set Free Tribal Convention. Problems with obtaining vacation time and finances weeded out the others from the trip, until I was the only one remaining who was still planning to make the ride.

In the spring time, my wife (who's the youth pastor at our church) found out that the camp to which she takes the kids every summer was scheduled for the same week that I was going to make my trek to California. If she went to youth camp and I went to California, there would be nobody to stay home and take care of our son. So, by default my California trip was cancelled.

Feeling bad that I had to change my plans, my wife suggested that I take three or four days later in the summer and go on an extended ride. So, looking at my handy dandy atlas, I started to chart out some possible trip ideas. I would be taking this ride solo.

I had never been to Yellowstone, and had heard great things about the park and the Beartooth highway out of Red Lodge, Montana. Looking a the map, this would be quite a stretch to pull off in four days. Previous to this trip I had taken a hand full of 500 - 700 mile rides spanning two or three days. My longest single day's ride had been about 350 miles. To accomplish Yellowstone and back in four days my shortest ride day would be 400 miles. This was going to be a challenge, but seeing as I have been intrigued by some day attempting an official Iron Butt ride, this would give me a good idea of whether or not I had the kahunas to pull it off.

I began careful planning of my specific route. Sometimes it's fun to just go in a direction and fly by the seat of your pants, but in this case I had a limited amount of time to try and see a maximum amount of sights. Here's the things I had decided that I wanted to make sure and see:

  • Beartooth pass (highway 212 south of Red Lodge)

  • Old Faithful (in Yellowstone)

  • Grand Teton National park

  • Big Horn mountains

  • Chief Joseph Highway

  • Something in Idaho, just so I could say I've been to Idaho.

Over the course of two months, I carefully planned a route that would allow me to travel from South Dakota, see these sights and return within four days time. I made hotel reservations, and planned out my gas stops so that I wouldn't unexpectedly be stranded somewhere. My wife was actually impressed with how much thought I put into this trip, as usually I don't worry about such things. I also gave her a copy of my itinerary and maps so that if I turned up missing she had something to give the authorities that might help them find my remains.

The week before I was set to leave I started getting very excited. Two nights before my departure, I had a hard time sleeping which disturbed me as I wanted to start the trip as well rested as possible, and I knew my nerves wouldn't be any calmer the next night.

The evening prior to my departure, I gassed up my '99 Yamaha Road Star and gave it a good wash (for some reason I like to start trips with clean vehicles, even though 200 miles down the road they're messy again.) I loaded up my luggage and strapped it to the bike. I got my clothes laid out, so the next morning when I woke up I could do minimal preparation and be on the road ASAP. I tried to be in bed early in order to get some rest, but you know how things go. I finally laid down around 11 PM, and after vibrating with excitement for a while I fell asleep around midnight.

I've logged each day of my journey on it's own page. Note: these pages are pretty image intensive, so you may have to be patient while the page loads!

Continue on to day one...

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This page last updated on 06/28/2018