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USA: Iron Horses and Devil Tower

August 2019

Sturgis Motorcycle Rally 2019

Sturgis - Meeting of the iron horses

Since 1939 the "Sturgis Bike Rally" takes place annually in the Black Hills in South Dakota. Every year more than half a million bikers come to the 7'000 inhabitant hick town to party together. The whole state is booming and vibrating like earthquakes, mainly because of the sound of the Harley's. There's really no lack of fun, because bikers are brothers and sisters and together they celebrate as much as possible. Shrill are the impressions: hard steel, hot wheels, old rockers, adventurous women, pierced, tattooed and fat people with their heavy motorcycles.
Among the countless motorcycles is hardly a helmet-wearing driver. Yes, in this state only helmet is required for drivers under 18 years. But those who ride without a helmet must wear glasses to protect their eyes.

Races are organized, but essentially it is about the display of man and machine. During the day, groups are driving thundering thru the Black Hills and on the Main Street the hell is going on as again and again bikers drive up and down. Some other people screw on their motorcycle, treat themselves to a new tattoo, tongues are pierced or nose rings pulled in. Getting married in Sturgis? However, if you intend to do so, you have to register long in advance, because the dates are in great demand.
Everywhere there is casual entertainment such as limbo dance, drinking competition, beer belly duels, mud wrestlings, stunt shows, drag racing or beauty contest. Some women are as busy at the bar at night as they are during the day with their heavy machinery.
Allowed is what pleases and what sounds good. No front wheel brake, exhaust stubs without damper, no problem, it cannot be loud enough, and the police officers look generously.

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Drinks in the bars are served by girls who, wear apart from boots, a tight string and two nipple stickers. In America, no woman is allowed to walk around naked. So the exhibitionists under them tap their nipples. There is also a solution to the ban on drinking alcohol on public streets. Many people put their beer cans in a paper bag, because then nobody will see it.

For the locals, the whole thing is a vexation and a monetarz blessing. Still far away, every mattress, every campsite, front garden and toilet is rented out. Almost everyone is trying to make some money. During the Sturgis Rally room prices suddenly rise ten times. After all, 700,000 people have to stay somewhere.

The police force is gigantic, safety is a top priority in Sturgis. Grotesque scenes take place when bikers in outlaw outfits barely make any headway at right-to-left intersections under the eyes of the law because of all the courtesy, meticulously pay attention to activating the turn signal when turning, stop on the spot as soon as a pedestrian even gives the impression that he can play with the idea of crossing the street in the near future.
In any case, far more had been going on earlier. Especially when rocker gangs invaded the park and torched Japanese motorcycles. A horde of drunks had dumped gasoline across the four-lane road, then crashed full throttle through the wall of fire with their Harleys - the riders were naked. These are the stories that made Sturgis a legend - and ultimately ensure good business for the locals.
Harley Davidson spread the feeling of life. Many bikers always reaffirm: "Life without Harley is possible, but pointless.

During our four indescribable days at Sturgis we recovered and slept in our truck camper 10 km outside the village, in a quiet area, in a forest.

Wall Drug Store

Wall Drugstore

On our way to the Badlands, already more than 100 km before the village of Wall, we noticed original advertising, which made us wondering. The visit of the Western Style shopping mall, with its huge collection of shops with kitsch, encouraged us not to buy but to flee.

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

At the time, the settlers said that the land was unsuitable for agriculture and called it bad land = Badlands.
A 160 km long rock formation with sharp peaks and steep cliffs offers stunning views. Fascinating are deep ravines with changing coloring of the soil. We spent a few days at the edge of the brink and saw buffalo passing by during the day and generous starry sky at night.

Motorhome street-legal

Truck Camper with Austria Sticker

We parked in a large parking lot of a monument next to a truck camper, which had an A sticker for Austria at the back.
When we returned after a tour, the owners were ready to leave in their vehicle. We spoke to them about the sticker, assuming they were Austrians. They replied that they had bought the camper like this, and no, they didn't know what this A stcker was for. Now they know what and where Austria is.

Fort Laramie

Visit to Fort Laramie

Originally, the site was built by two trappers and, because of its strategic location, was bought by the US government in 1849 and converted into a fort/military base. Several peace treaties between the Whites and the Indians were signed and repeatedly broken. A place rich in history, but hardly tells of Indians. Many buildings were restored, elaborately reconstructed and furnished in detail with objects from thence. The visit gave us interesting insights into the life situation of that time.

Devils Tower National Monument

Devils Tower

The local Indians regard the monolith as the residence of the grizzly bear and is a sacred place for them. The former volcanic vent, whose magma solidified into hard basalt, is an impressive appearance and looks simply magnificent. We also could observe prairie dogs from the closest proximity.