Click for larger imageSaturday, June 7th:  Rain, rain, rain, rain, rain, WIND, motorcycles, rain, rain, rain.

It rained all night.  It was raining when I awoke.  It was raining as I headed onto the freeway.  It rained harder once I was on the freeway.  I thought to myself:  "Damn, it's coming down."  Then it rained harder.

The wind was blowing all night.  It was blowing when I awoke.  It was blowing as I headed onto the freeway.  I thought to myself:  "Damn, it's windy."  Then it blew so hard I thought my little car would be discovered in a tree somewhere in Texas.

Click for larger imageGiven my long drive yesterday, I needed to cover just 141 miles to reach Rapid City today.  With no reason to hurry, I thought I'd drive through the towns of Sundance and Sturgis on the way.

I had the odd idea the Sundance Film Festival was in Sundance (as the Cannes Film Festival is in Cannes and the San Francisco Jazz Festival in San Francisco).  As I drove through Sundance (in the rain), I said to myself: "If they show movies here, they must use the local gymnasium."  There are no theatres in Sundance because there is no festival in Sundance.  The festival is in Utah - which is good, because the rain would short out the projectors in Sundance.

Click for larger imageEvery year, 500,000 (yes, five hundred thousand) motorcyclists descend on the town of Sturgis, South Dakota.  This annual event leaves the town a leather-queen's wet dream:  leather stores, motorcycle shops, questionable bars (including one with a dungeon), cheap food, sleazy image.  Sturgis is Folsom Street Fair without the questionable South of Market yuppies to complain someone pissed on their BMW.  

It was raining (see above) as I drove into Sturgis.  I located a diner where I'd be least likely to be beaten with a drive chain and dragged behind a muffler-less chopper.  (Actually, the people of Sturgis are pretty nice and my waitress looked a fair bit like KD Lang.  That KD Lang has become a biker bitch in South Dakota might explain why she hasn't produced any decent albums in recent memory...) 

Click for larger imageAfter visiting the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum (complete with bikes dating back to the 1920s), I wandered over to the Harley Davidson Dealership.  I suppose there are all sorts of ways to get attention in Sturgis, but it seems the best way to get attention at the Harley dealership is to show up in a MINI.  For twenty minutes I gave the MINI sales speech to road hardened Harley riders who stared through the windshield and inquired whether I might consider trading it for a motorcycle.  Some of the bikes offered in trade were tempting but as the sky opened up once more, I renewed my appreciation of this little car.

(Picture a three hundred pound, six-foot-something, Harley rider in leather and untrimmed beard asking where he might get a MINI.  Now picture him using it for grocery shopping.  Such a scene was suggested today in Sturgis.)

Click for larger imageNow I am in Rapid City, South Dakota, with three new Harley-Davidson shirts in my luggage. The clouds have begun to separate and I can see blue sky over the hills.  Tonight I will wander forth to see what nightlife exists here.  If you don't hear from me again, refer to the paragraph above about the muffler-less chopper.  

Tomorrow...1880s Railroad, Mount Rushmore (I'm not kidding when I tell you the Republicans are attempting to add a face to the mountain.  Can you guess who?) and maybe a big cave... 
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San Francisco to Maine, twenty two states, two countries and 8,000 miles...[More]
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