The Bumblebee and the Vespa 2014

I think it's time for me to redefine what this new blog is about. In the past I've posted individual blogs for motorcycle/motor scooter rides to places like Alaska, Nova Scotia, Key West, Mexico, Canada, New York, etc. That's all well and good but it seems nowadays I'm dividing my rides into shorter ones comprised of two or more weeks each on different bikes. The total time and mileage is about the same, it's just split into multiple rides with a break somewhere in the middle.

The summer of 2014 serves as a good example of that wherein I rode south to Tombstone, AZ on my '92 BMW R100GS Bumblebee/Ural sidecar rig, (phew!) then returned home for a few days and set out again on my '07 Vespa 250ie motor scooter to visit Canada. That summer has gone and the seasons have changed as will the reports, some will be about shorter rides, some will be about maintenance, and maybe on occasion I'll post a photo or two just for interest. I may even introduce other bikes, a few of which are lurking under cover in the barn...

Navigating this blog is easy, just scroll down the list of posts by date to whatever interests you, click on it and you're in. Photos can be viewed in larger format by clicking on them.

Finally, if you'd care to post comments please do so, I'd love to hear from you. CLICK ON "NO COMMENTS" TO ENTER YOUR REMARKS. That seems really silly but that's how it works. The entry window is located at the bottom of each screen. Thanks for visiting, I hope you enjoy your stay.


Saturday, July 11, 2015

Jul 11 - Day 09 2015 Tour - Valentine, NE

First priority this morning (after a really meager motel breakfast...arrrgh!) was to wizz on up the road and check out the big boy heads on the mountain. OK maybe that sounds disrespectful but on the other hand if those guys were around today they might be in a pickle given their questionable social practices. Like owning slaves for instance. Tsk tsk...
Note how the handlebars are canted sideways? The front wheel was stuck in a really deep rut & I damn near didn't get out of it. A family of spectators stood by watching my ordeal Probably posted it on  Facebook. 
Long, long shot with a cheap camera operated by a shaky photographer 
Used my Fuzzy lens for this close up. Yup.
After topping off the gas tank I rode up the mountain, took two or three really fuzzy shots from the roadside, pulled a U-turn and headed for my real goal of the morning: The Slither Circus! aka Reptile Gardens. I've no idea why they call it a "garden", probably should look that one up.

Oh man, this is THE place, the real deal!

It's like, Wally World on steroids!
I arrived just a few minutes after they opened, got the special senior discount - zero - and headed straight for the bad boy snake department. I mean, gators are cool and all that but slithery slimy snakes are the main deal, right?
They're all in here, the snake palace, the Taj MacSnake, Whoa!
The folks don't appreciate your taking high intensity flash pics of the critters and I've yet to figure out how to disarm mine so I tried just one time with crappy results.
No doubt he's still seeing green circles
After the snake fest I moved outside via their jungle-like display of flora, fauna, birds, lizards, and one big honking Boa Constrictor hanging just overhead on his branch. The bushes were teeming with little lizards who will no doubt grow up to be big ones provided the birds don't snack on them first.

This guy tried to say something to me but his English isn't so good and I couldn't get what he was saying. 
Birds can be somewhat feisty around tourists. Unfriendly even. Bad bird, no cookie!

Yeah, like I'm gonna touch that sucker? I don't think so.
Outside the sunny day was perfect for reptile watching.  

The next stop was the lecture on snakes, big monster ones, itty-bitty venomous ones, squeezers, biters, even hissers. Fun stuff all around.
The snake handler was showing how unfriendly Cobras can be if startled. Definitely not nice critters.
He put on a fascinating show, draped a huge Python over his shoulders - it weighed over a hundred pounds. I kept thinking how it might looked all filleted out ready for a big iron skillet. More hissing.

When the snake show was done everyone headed over to the gator pond for another show.. Same guy shows up to do the lecture, Mr Multi-tasker himself. He fooled around with them, told us what the differences are between gators & crocks. I already knew, crocks make better shoes. I stayed for the show just the same, you never know what you might pick up in the way of tricks, like how to mount up on a gator, stuff like that. Handy stuff..
Easy there sweetheart...

Alright, let 'er rip!
There was another show following this but I'd had enough for one day and decided to move on. The morning was nearly over and I'd begun thinking about food. Back on the slab I rode east for another forty miles or so when all of a sudden there were signs for Wall Drug Store. The Big One. The Granddaddy of them all! So much for my day's mileage goal, this was turning out to be fun!

Inside there were at least a jillion touristas milling about looking for ways to spend money. The Wall people really have things figured out, I managed to escape with only one item but doing so took all my will power.

Tell me everything you know about Lyndell's big longhorn. Don't leave anything out.
While visiting Wall's I stumbled into a small shop selling pharmaceutical items and I remembered I'm supposed to be taking something for my low-level "electrolytes", the cause of muscle cramps. Pickle juice isn't all that easy to carry around so Gatorade is the next best thing. I asked the lady clerk where I might find some and she pointed me towards Wall Foods two blocks down the street, "you can't miss it." I missed it twice. The third time I found a gas station complete with a convenience store that sold Gatorade and a Subway shop! I'm now an old hand at ordering up a meat-a-ball sub weetha mozzarella and plenty-a-marinara ona Italian bun. Lunch today was a replay of yesterday with the left-over half saved for dinner.

Leaving town slightly heavier than when I arrived I came upon a tempting sign posted by an exit, another unscheduled diversion but highly compelling. 

It turned out to lead nowhere and I was tempted to see if I could pinch it but being unfamiliar with SD laws regarding such matters I left it as is. A little further along I decided seeing the infamous Badlands was in order, I felt sure I could find a place to stay the night if the hour grew late.

I set off down the road leading into the National Badlands Park but before I reached the entrance I stopped to see what the Prairie Homestead attraction was all about. Stopping in their parking lot to take a couple of pics I was nearly ran over by an aggressive tourist vying for a parking spot. There were only a hundred or so available but he seemed anxious so I cleared out of his way. Maybe his air conditioner wasn't working right.
This was the place, still don't know what all the fuss was about
Deciding to pass on the Prairie Homestead I headed on to the park entrance where I waited behind a half-dozen cars. By the time I reached the ticket window I realized the Badlands Loop Road would take me back to Wall where I'd already been. Bummer! I U-turned and got back on the slab heading east. Before long the Gatorade kicked in and I pulled into a rest stop. While there I took the following pic of a sign posted on the lawn. You have to admit it, SD is an interesting state.

I was riding through the Rosebud Sioux Reservation and stopped for what I thought was an entrance to their tribal offices. Turned out to be a cemetery. What is it with cemeteries and me anyway? I didn't go in.

That was about it for the day's picture taking. I stopped for gas and continued riding but now I was off the slab and really enjoying the ride. The land around me was greener than what I'd been seeing earlier and everything seemed to be prospering. I arrived in the town of Valentine where I would spend the night at the EconoLodge. It's a brand new facility and one of the nicest places I've stayed at so far. Dinner turned out to be a real surprise, Gatorade and half of a meatball sub. Mmmm....

Tomorrow? Why east of course.


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