After a ridiculously long time on the road, I’m about to head back to Bama. I’m going to be riding my motorcycle back (finally!) so I decided to take the scenic route and take my time.
I’ll be posting up tweets and Instagrams so follow me @DCOffline on both platforms.
Here are the routes I’ll be taking:
Would love to hear from all of you during my trip! Send some biker prayers up for me for a safe trip.
Biggest day of the trip so far – made some breakfast here at the camp (scrambled eggs and sausage) and geared up for the Legend’s Celebrity Ride.
Just to give you an idea of the scale of this thing – we’re talking over 300 bikes, celebrities from the bike and entertainment world, $150 ticket just to ride in it, and we got in absolutely free with our Bling Johnson MEDIA badges. In fact, we were escorted right to the front and put in VIP with the CMT media crew who were filming footage for the Orange County Choppers show.
Our trip took us from Deadwood down through Nemo and back to Sturgis. All escorted by police, no stops or traffic issues of any kind. I love that kind of thing – makes me feel like a somebody. I rode next to this girl named Jessi for most of the trip. At our first stop I asked her, “So are you supposed to be famous too? What’s your deal?” Her response cracked me up – “Yes! I’m on TV! :-)”
Turns out I was riding next to Jessi Combs – she’s got two shows where she builds bikes and the soft-tail she was riding? She built it from the ground up and was auctioning it off for charity the next day. Google her and check her out – what a sweetheart.
We wound up at the Buffalo Chip where we were treated to a free VIP dinner and bikini models getting body painted. Yeah, that didn’t suck at all.
We made our way to the front of the crowd at the Doobie Brother’s concert and were literally one row back from the front of the stage. These guys really know how to tear it up – still. Without Love, Jesus is Just Alright, Listen to the Music and many other hits just came one after the other. They acted like it was their first show ever – totally brought the energy.
And then – Kid Rock. What can I say? This is probably the best show I’ve seen in a long time – the last time I had seen him was in 1999 in San Francisco when he opened for Metallica. His game has improved immeasurably. From the hard core rock and roll to the ballads to the scratch DJ’ing (phenomenal!), he literally owned the stage and the crowd from open to close. Watching a few thousand people throw their hands in the air and scream “Only God Knows Why” at the top of their lungs is an image I won’t forget.
More good stuff to come – stay tuned!
Sunday was one of my favorite days of the entire trip. We left around 11 to make our way down to Mount Rushmore. The 62 mile trek ended up taking us 3 hours with all the stops and the twisty roads, but it was worth every minute.
I find myself on these roads, looking up at these hills and thinking I have never seen country more beautiful. I’m resisting the urge to compare it to the scenery in NM and AZ that blew me away at the time – I guess it’s some combination of the forestry, grassy meadows, sparsely scattered log cabins and mountain homes, canyons, cliffs and tunnels. The whole scene ties together in some kind of Paul Bunyan-esque fairy land.
We stopped midway at the Sugar Shack – which is this burger joint that sits at the intersections of two country roads. It claims to be “The Best Burger in the Black Hills” so I had to try it out. Turns out, they’re right. Cat, the bartender, made me an off-the-menu sauerkraut burger with jalapeños and Swiss cheese. O. M. G. Amazeballs.
About 10 miles from Mount Rushmore we crossed over Pactola Lake. The vistas here were unreal. Crystal blue water surrounded by cliffs on all sides. Apparently back in 1903, Teddy Roosevelt created the Reclamation Project that built dams, lakes and reservoirs all over the West. Today, 17 states depend on this project for water, irrigation and sustainable living conditions. I’m always inspired when I see things like this – it reminds me that when we come together with common purpose we can do more together than on our own. Ironically in today’s political environment, we would never get a project like this out of a conference committee – or perhaps even INTO one. It comes from an era where DOING things was more important that talking about them.
We took the back way through Hill City into Mount Rushmore rather than coming in from Keystone. Cat at the Sugar Shack had given us this suggestion and it was right on the money. Coming around the bend in the road to see Washington’s profile jutting out from the mountainside was truly breathtaking.
One of my favorite movies is North by Northwest – an old Hitchcock classic of mistaken identity. The climactic scenes are shot at Mount Rushmore: both at the base of the monument and finally with the stars actually climbing down the faces of the Presidents. Fabulous film if you haven’t seen it – which you can do for free on Netflix. The pictures I got from the Presidential Trail that goes along the base of the monument are fantastic and I’ll post some up when I get a better signal.
That night, we grilled some burgers and then headed down to the Broken Spoke Saloon for the Black Crowes. The pictures are ridiculous and you’ll see a bunch of them up here once I get back into some functional internet coverage.
Saturday morning. Rolled into the Broken Spoke campground at 9am, pulled in the trailer, unloaded the bikes and started getting set up. This RV literally has buttons for functions I didn’t even know existed. Like this one button that expanded the RV out on the sides and created a master bedroom and fairly functional living room.
“First time in a limo, doctor?” … “First time in a limo this SMALL.”
First thing we did was to saddle up and ride the bikes down to Deadwood. I am in love with this town – full of history and full-blown casinos. There’s the bar where Wild Bill Hickok was gunned down and almost right across the street is the marker where they caught the “assassin” who took him out. Kevin Costner owns a bar called Diamond Lil’s and upstairs the only 5-star restaurant in the Black Hills: Jake’s. The walls are covered in memorabilia from his movies and you can tell he takes a personal interest in how the place runs.
While we were on our ride, Lee and Robert had gone to Buffalo Chip to interview their friend Xavier, the drummer for Buckcherry. While they were there, they got a few of us hooked up with all access wristbands to every show at Buffalo Chip for the entire rest of the week – shows that included Buckcherry tonight – then Doobie Brothers, Kid Rock, Led Zeppelin and more.
Gonna be an epic week ahead!
Time is bleeding together – here we are at the end of Sunday and I’m just now posting the first of the many “Tales of Two Wheels” installments.
So – our story begins at 4:45am on Friday morning. When your’s truly woke from a not-so-deep slumber to put the final touches on his packing for the 10-day trip to South Dakota. And when I say “finishing touches”, I mean “actually begin packing”.
Not to worry – I’m an old-pro at packing and was done in 30 minutes. How complicated can it be? Some underwear, a few pairs of jeans, some socks, boots, deodorant and a toothbrush. #boom All the electronics I used to have to pack are now conveniently included in my iPhone. One charger handles everything. I love technology.
We managed to get all loaded in and on the highway at a decent hour. So decent in fact that we were already at West, TX by the time we were hungry for breakfast. Chris Leonardi FINALLY had his first Czech Stop kolache – you’ll have to tweet at him to see what he thought of it (@hashtagleo) but from the look on his face, he was pretty happy to have crossed something else off his Josh Abbott bucket list.
Watching Lee drive an RV pulling a trailer with 5 motorcycles for 11 hours straight after getting exactly one hour of sleep in the previous 48 hours … scary. But only if you KNOW that he only got one hour of sleep. Otherwise you’re thinking to yourself, “Damn, this guy can drive an RV.” Maybe I’m just easily impressed. Or maybe it was because I was co-piloting from the Captain’s Chair for 90% of the drive. Yeah, probably that.
One of the eye-opening moments of the trip occurred fairly early as we stopped at the first casino we could find in Oklahoma. First of all, their twitter people corrected my “Oklahomans” misnomer (thank guys!) and secondly they take a $.50 rake on every blackjack hand. Leo’s famous comment, “Wait, so the odds are already against me and now you want me to bend over?” didn’t go over so well with the Pit Boss, but hey – we’re from Texas and this isn’t even a real state.
Oklahoma looks a lot like Kansas. Which looks a lot like Nebraska. Which looks a lot like most of South Dakota (sorry Mel!). All the gas stations are alike with the same mixture of coffee-flavored “cappuccino” machines. The only thing that broke up the monotony was the odd “caffeine” creamer. Yes, that’s a creamer you can put into your coffee that actually contains more caffeine. #Nice
I think the grand total of drive time was: Leo = 3 hours, Josh = 45 minutes, Lee = 18.5 hours. Thanks guys for delivering the cargo on time and on schedule. Wait – that’s two ways of saying the exact same thing. Whatever.
Next post – Day 2. Which ironically starts without any sleep.