By Maggie -- Aug 10, 2014
In our brief time in South Dakota, we survived a thunderstorm and a motorcycle rally, both of epic proportions.
Sturgis was not on our original route, but Ryan really can't resist anything that has to do with motorcycles, and I couldn't resist an opportunity to people watch. We drove through the main street of the packed little town, and knew right away that we were going to stick out like a pair of sore thumbs. So many beards, beers and boobs. So many huge motorcycles draped with leather and offensive patches and animal fur. It was a different side of motorcycle culture that we've never experienced. It's nothing like the Venice Beach vintage cafe racer hipster vibe, which now seems tame and almost elitist compared to these hardcore leather junkies. This was the 2 packs-a-day, gut-busting, loud-talking Harley Davidson for life crew. I was in awe and slightly afraid at the same time.
We parked and walked around the huge three story "saloons" and "taverns" and decided to stop in one and grab a drink and people watch. We played "I spy" for awhile. "I spy with my little eye a haggard drunk lady with no shirt on" and "I spy with my little eye a guy with face tattoos and a beard braid". It was a special experience. Between the engine exhaust, cigarette smoke, body odor and fried oreo smells, I actually did get physically ill after about an hour and we had to head home early. I guess I just can't party with the biker gang.
When we arrived back at the campsite, we put some soup on the stove and relaxed in our peaceful trailer, far away from the testosterone fest. That is until the storm hit us, and boy did it hit us HARD. First the wind, then the pounding rain, lighting surrounding us, thunder right above our heads. We didn't have tree cover like we usually do, we were right next to a lake, and we were a prime target for a big bolt of lightning. Our trailer shook back and forth in the howling wind. The motorcyclist campers next to us were in tents, which either blew away or collapsed completely. Some of them headed to the picnic shelter for cover. We sat on our bed looking out the window like little kids.. then.. BAM! A lightning bolt struck a fence only 50 yards away. Ryan said he could see it's width, and we felt it rattle our trailer pretty good. Curling up on our bed and waiting the storm out was all we could do, and it was surprisingly kind of fun.
For someone who has never lived with thunderstorms, and who was scared to the point of tears during thunderstorms at the beginning of this trip, I have come a long, long way. I had my camera and captured the storm while it was happening, and I didn't freak out! Ryan was more interested in killing flies than the storm itself. There's a terrible fly problem in North and South Dakota - they're EVERYWHERE and get into your trailer through tiny cracks or osmosis, I don't even know. It's messed up. But he spent the evening swatting them to death with a fly swatter that his mom gave me for my birthday. She knew what I needed to survive the rest of this trip! (Thank you Mama Kaplan!)
This morning we packed up and drove through the Black Hills. We're currently in the middle of Wyoming. It's just one big wide-open stretch of golden rolling hills as far as the eye can see. We'll be in Jackson, WY tomorrow and spending the rest of the week exploring Yellowstone and it's surrounding areas. If you don't hear from us, we're probably out trying to tame some buffalo or something.