(Posting this the morning after because there was no reception last night.)
This morning I rode back up to Mt Rushmore to see it in daylight, then I had breakfast and headed west on route 90. I stopped at Sturgis – home of the enormous annual bike rally – and visited the motorcycle museum there. Then a long stretch on 90 into Wyoming, where I forgot that at altitude the bike burns a lot more fuel. So somewhere between Gillette and Buffalo, 90 miles after getting gas – usually indicating at least 1/3 of the tank left – the engine started to sputter and I had to switch to reserve. (At first I couldn’t believe I was out of gas, so I thought maybe I had a flat, or the chain was broken, but there was nothing wrong.) Luckily there was a gas station way out there in the middle of nowhere, with old fashioned pumps and highway-robbery prices, but I wasn’t about to complain.
Theoretically, my final destination was Yellowstone Park, but when I got to Buffalo around 6 it was clear that wasn’t realistic. So I had dinner at the Cowboy Saloon in Buffalo – it was Mexican food night so there was no menu, just a plate of delicious TexMex fare – then continued west, planning to ride a few more miles and find a place to camp.
I pulled into a campground in the Bighorn National Forest. This is my first night of “real” camping – i.e. not a fancy campground with bathrooms, showers, drinking water and telephones; none of that here. (No cellphone or internet reception too, obviously, hence I am posting this a day late.) A fellow from Texas named Lawrence is at the campsite next to me, he gave me some firewood he had chopped and some lighter fluid and I tried to get a fire going but I couldn’t get it to stay lit. I made some soup and hot cocoa on my stove and chatted a while with Lawrence. He’d been here two nights already, and he warned me that it gets really cold in the morning, in the 30s and with a frost, so I’m going to sleep in several layers and have more next to my sleeping bag in case I need them. He also told me that the next town west is at least 40 miles away, so I’ll probably backtrack to Buffalo to get gas before continuing west. There’s also a stream and a rocky hill nearby which I might explore before I leave in the morning. I have several liters of water with me, so I won’t drink the stream water (even though I have purifier tablets should I need them) but I can probably wash my dishes in it.
Once again hoping there are no bears and the ground doesn’t get too cold…good night.